Tuesday, November 23, 2004

One More Day! Eeee!

So I've been home for two hours and done nothing productive but eat. It's because THERE'S ONLY ONE MORE DAY UNTIL THE BREAK!!! Ahem. Sorry.

Today, actually, went well. Started off with Class B, who, as I've said before, are very tame and quiet at the beginning of the day. Exploit the tired children for all it's worth, I say! The seemed to enjoy the limerick stuff. They came up with a bunch of rhymes for the example rhyme maps, and then we made up a limerick, line by line. Here was one:

There once was a boy named Jake
Who got bit by a venomous snake.
He did not feel well
So then he fell
With a big splash into a lake.

I gave the first line and added the "with a big splash," but the rest was all them.

Class A was in for just one period. "Trouble" was gone, and so was another very disruptive/rude boy And oh man, they were so awesome. Ms F was there for the middle section, so that helped, but even before and after she was there, they did really well. Every single table was on task, talking about rules for limericks.

So you know what I'm talking about, here was the lesson. I read them a limerick that was written on the board. Then we read it out loud all together. I said, now it's time for you to investigate. If you know that this is a limerick, what rules can you make about how to write a limerick, or what a limerick is? They actually got all of them, which were: The rhyme scheme is AABBA; the syllable pattern is 8-8-5-5-8, AND they got the beat thing (three accented beats in lines one, two and five); it has five lines; and it's funny. Then a student raised his hand and said, "They have a conflict." I was all, wow! Yes, you're right, and I didn't have that on my list, but I'm adding it. That's some great critical thinking." I was very impressed.

I showed them a meta-limerick; that is, a limerick about what a limerick is. Then I explained that it's easy to write limericks, you just need lots of rhyming words. So I demonstrated rhyme maps; they're just rhyming word webs. Class A had Mark, Queens, and Mall. They came up with words that rhymed with each of those. We didn't have a chance to actually come up with a limerick with them, but we will tomorrow.

The homework was to do rhyme maps for a person's name, a place name, and an action/event (like fell, shop, etc). Then they'll use those tomorrow in groups, and come up with as many limericks as they can.

Class C is my inclusion class (forty percent of them are special ed, and they have an extra teacher that travels with them; what a blessing to have another adult in the room every day). The special ed kids all went on a field trip today, so the class was down to fifteen or so kids. I didn't want to start limericks with only half the class. So we started with 20 minutes of reading, a quick response, and then did games. Whee!

First we played some rounds of Apples to Apples. [If you've never played it, ooh it's fun. Just some cards, but so much fun.] Instead of playing as individuals, I split them into groups of three, and they had to decide together which of their cards to play. (Group cooperation! Word study! See, it's educational!) I drew one that said, "Trustworthy." The cards they submitted were "Mustard," "The President," and "Gas Stations," plus two more I can't remember. I let them know that in my opinion the President is not trustworthy, and then chose "Gas Stations." Oh, the fun.
I rotated the judgeship to the groups so they could have the power, too.

Then we did a round of MadLibs. It took some extra prompting and "teachable moments," when students gave words like "puppies" or "Angelo" for the prompt "noun." Noun=/=plural noun=/=proper noun!

They seemed to really enjoy themselves. Education be damned, stick with the fun!

So yeah, parent issues from yesterday. I'll cover it quickly because I try to be all, "Each day is a new day! Lalala!" But I have another one to add for today too.

So yesterday morning, I'm crossing the street. It's like 7.20am, and this girl's dad waves me over. (He's a parent volunteer in the school.) These parents are of the over-zealous type that my peers in the suburbs are probably inundated with. Obsessed with their child's progress, every stinking detail, and why isn't my kid getting an A?? Anyway, the issue was his daughter kicking a student last Friday in class. She said he kicked her first, but I told her (like I've told MANY students this year), I only saw you kick, and that means you did the wrong thing.

So this father goes, "I have instructed my children to retaliate, and swiftly, if anyone lays a hand on them." I said, "I understand what you're saying, but that is unacceptable in the classroom. That is not acceptable." And he got all huffy, "I won't have anyone stepping all over my children, they are to retaliate, and swiftly. I will take responsibility, but they are to retaliate, and swiftly." I just said, "Okay," and continued inside, because jesus christ, I'm not in the fucking building yet and already some parent is trying to preach to me. Excuse me, but if all the students behaved like that, "retaliating swiftly" all the time, riots and full-scale brawls would erupt in a matter of seconds. That's just unacceptable, dangerous, irresponsible, etc. And what the fuck, RETALIATING DOES NOT PREVENT ANYTHING. It's strictly a reaction. No one wins. I want my students to learn to be the bigger person; don't get sucked into someone's self-important ranting, don't take the bait of someone name calling or talking about your mother or a stupid dare, just do the right thing. Jesus.

Then during seventh period, I got a phone call from the AP. He had me leave the room--I was literally midsentence in my reading mini-lesson when the phone rang--to talk to a parent he had in his office. It was the lady from last week's conference all upset about the homework two-minute policy thing. I probably should have explained myself more and defended myself, but I didn't want to seem difficult or reactionary to my supervisor. So he told me, in front of her, that he would talk to me about changing my homework acceptance policy, and that I would have to take the child's homework that he did not turn in on time. Totally undermined my authority and gave the mother the satisfaction that she can just bully all of us into doing what she wants.

She also had the gall to fight me on the fact that her kid never turned in his report. Utter bullshit. I would have accepted it late the next day, just as we talked about on the phone, but he never turned it in. And the typing thing; I told her that that was part of the requirements. It was on the information sheet that I sent home with the kids at the beginning of the project. She was all, "I don't recall reading that." I just repeated, "I sent it home with the students as homework." Implying, "NOT MY FAULT YOUR KID DIDN'T REMEMBER TO SHOW IT TO YOU! I DID MY PART! MAKE YOUR CHILD ACCOUNTABLE HERE!!!!"

I talked to the other teacher when I got back to class. She totally agreed with me on the homework thing. It's been my policy the entire time; as I told the AP, I have seen kids trying to dash off homework to turn in, even with such a short time frame. If a kid doesn't get his homework in one time, you can bet he will learn soon enough he'd better get it in sooner! That is how you teach responsibility and being accountable for your actions. Creating an academically challenging environment, people, is very important. I have high expectations (sort of), and that is meant to push the children to become better. Complacence never made anyone any smarter.

I think I should put that on a t-shirt.

Anyway, the one for today was less direct but no less inappropriate. This one girl, who is smart but is often distracted, talking or just plain not on task, has a conduct sheet so that her teachers and her mother can see her progress. Well, on the back of this week's conduct sheet, this girl's mother wrote this bully note about "this is the last damn time I hear about my daughter" having this or that happen to her. "Expect to see me at 7.30 sharp on Wednesday to talk to all of her teachers, and if this isn't resolved, be assured I will talk to the district personnel." The math teacher called me when she saw it, and felt the same way I did, namely, "What the fuck? Where did this come from, and where does she get off trying to order us around like we have nothing else to do?" I asked the girl about whatever happened in the note, and she goes, "oh, it was in science class. [Another girl] pulled my hair." (So we're all glad that her mother bothered to differientiate between her classes and teachers.) I said, okay, so nothing's happening in here? She said no. I reminded her that if anything did, she should let me know. She said okay. So again: what the fuck? Where did that come from? I'll let you know.

Deep breath. One more day. Today was a good day. One more day of teaching, and then four days of nothing scheduled but sleeping in, watching DVDs, and relaxed planning.

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