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Showing posts from February, 2010

How Not to Yell at Students

Step one: Get a part-time teaching job.  By the time you're frustrated, you're done.  This helps enormously. Step two: Agree with everything the disrespectful students say: Student: I wish we had our old teacher back! Me: I know, it's awful that you're stuck with me now. Student: You're so mean! Me: I really am!  People tell me that a lot. Student: You're the meanest teacher ever! Me: Pretty much, yes. Student: I'm going to get you fired! Me: You should definitely tell the principal to fire me because I'm making you work. Oh, this is way too much fun.

Sixth Graders

  I love them.  I really do. A student, let's call him "Jacob," who I'm tutoring in writing wrote me a story about a cat who fell into toxic waste and lived.  Then we played hangman.  His sentence? "[my name] will lose to the wrath of the almighty Jacob." My students answered some questions today in a writing exercise.  Here are some of the highlights: What do you want me to call you? Call me Ana but it's not my name. I want you to call me Mr. Ramos I don't care. Call me "Daddy." What languages do you speak? I speak English. I speak Tagalog, Visaya*, and English I speak english at school & a little filipino Bosnian, English, and a little of Spanish I speak English and Spanish and Samoan. I speak English every day and I could speak Spanish. I speack Bosnian at home and English at school. I speak english in school, spanish in spanish class and chinese at home. I speak english at school and Arabic at home. I speak

First Day of School

How often is the first day of school February 22? I am happy to report that I really like my new class.  I mean, I've met them for a total of 103 minutes, so that judgment may be premature, but I don't think so.  They are very diverse - not like my other district where "diverse" meant black kids - but actually diverse.  There are kids who came from Bosnia, Russia, China, Nepal, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Mexico, Central America, and a few other places I'm not sure of.  There are kids who didn't say one word and a couple who came in like it was their job to be a one-man (or woman) show. I'm impatient for Wednesday because at the moment, their sub of the last two months is still there.  The principal thought it would be a good idea to have a transition time with both of us.  I think she was worried that I'd be overwhelmed but I feel that I am now sufficiently experienced in difficult kids that I'm going to be just fine for two hours a day.  The s


I just posted about my new job - at a totally different but very geographically close district from the one I used to work in. I'm not sure I ever had a copy of the contract at my old district, but I'm looking through the contract for the new one and I am blown away.  By how many things did not happen in the old one.  I don't know if the old district had these stipulations in their contract too and they just got ignored or if they didn't even have them.  But either way, here is my list of Things That Are Exciting in My New Contract, complete with snarky commentary. 1. "The District shall provide each unit member access to a computer workstation with legally purchased and licensed software and/or network access necessary for the support of educational programs and to fulfill necessary professional requirements.  The District shall provide each unit member with access to at least one printer that is free from student access. Really?  We won't have to beg for

A New Job!

I've been wanting to get a part-time teaching job, because I'm not ready to go back to teaching full-time (I got awfully burned out - well, really I puked my guts out and then had sort of a seizure-ish reaction to the anti-emetic drugs and got big bruises from the IVs, etc).  So, I was pretty excited when a friend told me about a 33% position at a middle school nearby.  I decided to apply, even though I don't have the right credential.  More on that later.  I am happy to say that I got the job, and was even informed that there were more qualified candidates than me (since I don't have the right credential) and I got it because I interviewed so well. The job will be two hours each morning through the end of the school year. This district is right next to but very different than the one I used to work at.  The difference really is astounding in how people treat others and are treated.  The credential issue is frustrating however, and entirely due to No Child Left Be

One Major Problem With Standardized Testing...

... the people scoring it. Please read this.  I'm going to order the book and would be happy to share it.  I'm not surprised by this, but I wish I were: Farley tells of test scorers who arrived each morning hung-over, and didn’t make much progress on their daily quotas until they had taken several “fortified” coffee breaks, test scorers who were far more interested in studying for the bar exam than in carefully reading the papers they were scoring, and foreign-born scorers who could not understand simple English. These stories are funny until one realizes that students’ fates hung in the balance. The results of some of these tests, like the California High School Exit Exam, may determine a young person’s future. Others, like the fourth and seventh grade writing samples of the California Standards Tests, may help decide which schools are closed and which stay open..... Several years ago one of the largest high schools in the Oakland was moved to a more punitive level of


We had a meeting once with district employees about earthquake safety.  I think this was to update emergency procedures, which was kind of too bad, because the previous flyer we had was copied from a typewritten (yes, typewritten ) page that was entitled"   "In Case of Earthquake, Fire, or Bomb Treat." It was disappointing to lose the bomb treat  procedures (who doesn't love treats?), but I guess it had to be updated. Anyway, the district representative began to tell us about what to do in case of fire or earthquake.  She said that each classroom had two points of egress:  the door and the one window that opened.  I was in one of the portable classrooms, which had one door and two windows, both with bars on them that were fixed in place.  (The front window had a couple of bullet holes in them -- yes, bullet holes.)  I raised my hand and pointed out that in some classrooms, there is no secondary exit.  I said that my classroom only had one door and that neither of

Guest Blog: Anna

Today's post is from Anna, a social work student who volunteered in my class as an undergraduate.  She volunteered both in a group and individually, working with small groups of students.  I can't wait to see what she's going to do in the future because she is awesome.  These particular students are not easy and she never faltered for a minute.  At least she didn't show it if she did! When I first stepped into this class, I wasn’t quire ready for what was going on inside.  What I knew about elementary school was basic: the teachers taught and the students listened.  Volunteering at this school was vastly different than my expectations.  When I was an elementary student, I obeyed the teacher and would participate whenever I could.  I believe most of my classmates responded along the same lines.  This school, on the other hand, was completely opposite.  The value of education is not very high on the priority list.  Students would have difficulty staying quiet t

School Burglaries

Having your school burglarized is really, really awful.  It happened to us one year, in the kindergarten building, and it took weeks to clean up and the school lost a considerable amount of supplies - many of which were bought by the teacher.  In addition, the students' work was destroyed.  Technology doesn't come easily in some of these schools, and the computers were stolen or destroyed.  Of course, there's also the feeling of violation that comes from having your classroom ripped apart - for both the students and the teachers.  The teachers can probably hide it better but it's no less. This school has been burglarized a LOT recently.  It's really horrible.  I don't have any idea how to stop it or slow it down, but my heart goes out to them.  It's a horrible feeling to work as hard as you can to try to help kids only to have people steal your materials for doing that.