Saturday, January 22, 2005

Five hours into it, and getting dark

It looks like there's at least four inches of snow out there. It has not stopped, and like I said before, it's supposed to just keep on going. Is that all a blizzard is, just lots of snow without stopping? I thought it would be a stormy, frenzy of snow...or something.

I'm definitely thinking about the project deadline for Monday. With this snow, I'm not sure how we're going to do things. Or how I'm going to try and orchestrate it. I think I need to wait until tomorrow after the snow stops. I could let them turn things in on Wednesday, but no time in class to do it. There's a reason I made the deadline on a Monday, so that the kids could meet up and go to the library and everything. During the week, a bunch of kids do the after school program and don't get out until 6 or something, and then they and their parents complain about them not being able to get on a computer. There's no way I'm going to extend the deadline a whole week, especially since grades will be due next Tuesday. No, I think Wednesday might have to work, and they'll just have to do what they can to finish it up. Thank goodness it's a group thing and hopefully one person in each group has a computer and can type stuff.

Regarding the most recent comment here:
"...You don't sound like you have the patience to be a teacher. If he is a problem child, you need to give him extra attention....i mean that's your job!"

I've been trying to think how to address this, without just reacting. Negative comments bug me for the obvious personal reasons, and sometimes I can let it go without defending myself. Because really, these people may read this, but they don't know me. They're not in the classroom with me. These kinds of personal judgments and name-calling, that's not okay with me. So here I am, I'm going to respond to this, to try to shed a bit more light on the issue.
I have several points I need to make, so bear with me. Let me know if I'm articulate enough.

1. Giving a struggling student extra attention is one thing. That IS my job. That's not the problem. The problem in this case has several aspects that you may or may not have gotten from my entries. First, most obviously, the abuse of my personal time. SIX PHONE CALLS IN LESS THAN TWENTY FOUR HOURS. That is not okay with me. Occasional calls to check up on things, or to clarify an occasional homework assignment, I have no problem with that, I'm more than happy to help. But that's not what this is.

I'm not getting calls from the student himself. I'm not even getting calls from his sister on his behalf. The calls are on HER behalf. Her words are always things like, "I don't understand what he's supposed to do," not something like, "He's confused about this part of the assignment."
Do you see the difference?

Here's one example from the Friday conversation. She told me that she asked him what his group said, but that she didn't understand him. So she was like, what should he do? I told her, "He needs to call his group and find out. *I* don't know what they said. It's up to him to remember or call them. I am not responsible for their work, THEY are. You need to talk to him, not me. "

Like I think I mentioned, this child's homework is clearly not done by him, so the phone calls are for her to tell the tutor what to do. Does this make sense?

If he was paying any kind of attention at all in class, he might have a clarifying question or two now and then. That's cool. But I get these calls on a regular basis. So clearly, he's not doing anything in class, and instead of making him responsible and accountable for what happens in school, she just calls me, asks me what to do, and then has the freaking tutor do it anyway.

He's not the one getting extra attention here. SHE is. He is the one that needs it. I let him know about my suspicions yesterday, and next week I plan on calling his sister and talking to her about it, to figure out how we can make sure he is understanding and doing the work. THAT IS MY JOB. My job is not to constantly answer redundant, repetitive questions. That is just dumb and it gets on my nerves. I don't deal well with people who act stupid or ignorant like that.

Let me see if I can help you understand this. Imagine someone coming up to you and asking you the time. You respond and say, "it's 2.45" or whatever. Then they stand there and say, "so do you know what time it is?" You try not to roll your eyes and repeat that it is 2.45. They reply: "So it's 2.45?" "Yes." "So you're saying it's a quarter to three?" "YES." Would that get on your nerves? I'm not joking, that's the type of conversation I had with her on Thursday AND Friday nights.

2. There's so much focus on students' progress and stuff (which, of course, is the whole point of school), but the teachers get ignored. It seems like there are a lot of idealists out there who believe that all teachers are or should be mellow, loving, hippy-dippy sorts.

Well, two things about that: one, any teacher like that, at ANY school level, in New York City schools would seriously get their asses handed to them. I'm not even mellow or loving, and these eleven-year-olds keep trying to walk all over me. My colleagues tell me over and over to get meaner and bitchier, to make them feel bad about themselves so they'll behave. It's a completely different world here than where I went to school.

Second, teachers are people too. We are not blank robots who spew out times tables or parts of speech without reacting to the students or teachers around us. We have emotions and problems and all that. Each teacher is a unique person with their own characteristic strengths and weaknesses, and as long as they are actually working hard and doing their job, there is nothing wrong with that. It sounds silly and obvious, but it's true. We are doing our best. I am doing my best. I am learning every day.

Patience IS a virtue. I would be the first to tell you that I am far from perfect, and that I have plenty of things to work on, in my personal and professional life. This job is beyond difficult, and anyone not in the profession really cannot empathize with that. If you think that reading the blog of a teacher enables you to know what that person actually goes through every day, and gives you the right to judge it and them, then you are mistaken. You are not in the classroom with me. Judge what you like from this site, but you need to realize that you are not making a fully-informed decision, as you only see part of the picture. Yes, often that picture is a frustrated one, because this is the toughest year of my life. So deal with it. That's all I'm trying to do.

If I hung up on her, or refused to answer her questions, or yelled at her, or some other inappropriate thing, then go ahead and tell me I'm not doing the right thing. I'd agree with you. But I'm standing up for myself, my integrity and privacy, and goddamn it, I have a right to do that. I'm also trying to stand up for the integrity of this kid. Projects and homework are not assigned for parents or siblings to DO for the students. Helping is one thing. DOING for them is wholly another.

1 comment:

Jubileee said...

Don't let that comment get you down. It's tough being a teacher, and like you said, unless you are in the profession you will never really know. Your students are lucky you even accept phone calls on your personal time. I never make phone calls on my own time - my personal time is mine alone. I won't be a teacher 24/7, I don't get paid enough for that.