target practice

here's what happens in my school when you ask for some support with a kid who's being a jackass and disrupting the class:

1. you're told by someone whose job it is to guide the child, that they're just 'off their rocker'

2. you're told by someone responsible for discipline that 'that shit don't fly'

3. you're told by the principal that 'the child has come a long way'

4. you're told by the parent to continue to call if there are any more problemos.

and after you're told all that:

1. you get docked 80 minutes of approved per session time you already worked and filled out timesheets for.

2. you get a formal directive letter from the principal sent via the secretary and hand delivered to your door.

3. you find out through a number of people that you're being talked about by the principal, who is quoted as saying, "why should i care what goes on in her classroom? if the child is being a problem only to her, the problem must be her"

did i mention i love the weather right now?


when the going gets tough

the tough get blogging.

i took a hiatus.

here's a rundown of what's happened over the last 6 months:

-i was targeted at my job and picked on daily
-then that stopped
-my girlfriend decided with some prompting from me that it was time for our relationship to end
-i adjusted my attitude so that both work and home life didn't suck
-i started to enjoy teaching kids to do stuff
-i moved to a new neighborhood
-i asked my principal to help me deal with a child who's been giving me some trouble
-i'm being picked on again
-i've been at this school 2 years and patterning says it's time to move on


extended hopefulness

one of the three showed up.

then three more appeared on the roster, ones who attend resource room while their class has tech, so three i've never met before. it does make sense that i'd work with them to boost their ELA skills though, for sure.

wednesdays are my excessively long days. 6 teaching periods, plus extended day, homeroom duties, one lunch and one prep. somehow i still found time to hound the union guy about what exactly 'mandatory lunchtime meetings' mean in terms of the contract. i don't know why i bother.

the positive is that every student in four 8th grade classes now have their own blog to use in social studies and ELA. teachers are excited, kids are excited, i think it's a good thing.

i'm hopeful for the future, but i'm not counting any chickens yet.


don't lie to me

over the weekend i had the opportunity to have an amazing discussion with a woman who happens to be an AP at an elementary school in east new york. she was more than willing to discuss problems that school administrators deal with, including the current removal process for an incompetent teacher in her school. speaking with her, i began to hate her, but then felt an odd kinship, an understanding that we were both doing what we had to do, me, trying to make meaning in the world for kids, and her, trying to perpetuate a system that prefers kids to be robots. i could never do what she does, i have no idea why anyone would want to be a school administrator, and if i had no door on my classroom, i would never have lasted this long in the public schools.


i received my roster today for extended time. 3 students, all 8th graders who are failing ELA. i checked in with their ELA teacher and asked for any materials that they could use to improve their failing grades. i requested materials from the F-status (part time) literacy/teachers college liaison, as specified by scarecrow. i checked in with scarecrow to say i'd done these things, and that while my students were not in this morning, could i expect them tomorrow. scarecrow said the students would be informed today of their new morning class and would be expected to show up tomorrow.

interestingly, and randomly, two of the students happened to stop by my room at the end of the day, after dismissal. i asked them if they'd received scarecrow's message about the new morning session. they hadn't, though they did recall seeing scarecrow in the hallway "8" (they seriously said 8) times today. scarecrow did not speak to them at all today. the students seemed understandably disappointed that they'd need to get to school 40 minutes earlier than usual to study ELA with their computer teacher. i promised to make it fun, with some online literacy games. if you know of any good ones, please share.

on my way downstairs, i stopped into scarecrow's office for the 2nd time today. i asked scarecrow if there had been time enough in the day to inform the students on my roster of their new morning program. scarecrow said they'd all be personally notified, and hopefully they'll show up tomorrow.

scarecrow has no idea who those three students are, and never told them anything. i wonder if they'll show tomorrow.


a meeting? how revolutionary of you to suggest

staff meeting at 8am today, held in my room, of course. last year i requested that staff meetings (and things like baby showers, surprise parties, and locks for love hair cutting events) not take place in my room due to the food-eating (and hair everywhere) nature of these types of events in the proximity to computers. logical to me, not so much to P.S.Q.

AP Scarecrow (if i only had a brain) stood watch at the door with a clipboard to see which poor saps would walk in 20 seconds after the 8:00 gong, and be faced with a letter in their file. terrifying.

it opened with PSQ discussing role models, and finding the professional you admire and making every effort you can to see and model your life after that person. charlie manson came to mind, briefly, but i knew that if i ever requested to attend a PD with any of the ed tech specialists i look up to, i'd be denied.

after the meeting, which included a gruff "AM extended day is NOT working and everyone may need to work PM" even though the numbers are equally as abysmal as the PM extended day, and we have an SBO vote that gives us the option to choose AM or PM, i was approached by AP Scarecrow and told it would be in our best interest to meet at lunch with PSQ to discuss my extended day role.

have i explained the debacle that has been my extended day role? i was told i would not have a roster of kids because i would spend the 40 minutes 4 days a week doing repairs around the building and training teachers. then i was told the lab needs to stay open, so i kept it open and tried to do both repairs and have an open lab. then the progress report debacle, which has been a complete failure since i haven't stood at the helm this year, and now the meeting.

preps periods 1 and 2 afforded me the opportunity to make a spreadsheet with all of the tech repairs i've done all year, which totalled 5 pages of requests. i gathered the sheet that listed all staff assigned extended day duties, which excluded my name, and the email exchange AP Scarecrow and i have had. i taught periods 3 and 4, and by the beginning of 5 was starting to panic.

UFT boy had said the only thing they have on me is possible insuboridnation. (only!?) because i did not begin doing my extended day in the afternoons this week as the email from scarecrow had requested, but continued on in the morning. he said grievance is a last resort, but certainly an option if necessary. we'd see what they were putting on the table first.

i hadn't eaten all morning, was too nervous. went into the meeting carrying my folder of files, heart pounding hard. scarecrow had a large binder, and PSQ mumbled something about closing her door for this meeting, and did so with a fell swoosh.

scarecrow started babbling about extended day not having as high a turnout as hoped. of course not. teachers don't want to spend an additonal 150 minutes a week doing test prep, and neither do low-performing kids. there's no chancellor mandate or consequence for non-attendance, so kids don't show. whose job it is to call parents on this is very unclear. why we don't offer exciting morning programs like dance, tech, drama, freakin comic book writing, music, and sports is beyond me.

uft boy wanted to know what the morning % was compared to the afternoon. scarecrow flipped through this huge binder but didn't turn up any relevant data on the subject. only photocopies of my hand written rosters of students who'd signed into the lab during my extended day mornings, and copies of the post its containing tech requests. photocopies - really.

psq said the extended day time is to be used for improving learning, meeting our learners' needs, and instruction, not tech support. if kids were not coming to tech in the am, they would come in the pm. um.... i don't have a roster. kids have never been told to come in the first place. all this will be changing though.

the meeting ended with scarecrow saying that for monday i'd have a roster of students to do ELA work with. (i'm so not an ELA teacher, but i'll find a way) and with me setting the expectation that 12 minutes of AM homeroom and 5 minutes of PM would not be sufficient time to provide adequate tech support to the school and that staff should be made clear on the new timing expectations and should feel free to contact central helpdesk if they don't want to wait for my visit. scarecrow agreed staff should receive communication. psq agreed. scarecrow asked me how i would communicate. i said i could send a memo, or email, or discuss on an as-need basis, whatever is preferred by administration. scarecrow agreed. psq looked out the window, bored, chewing on a hangnail or something. nothing was solidified regarding the best communication method.

the phone rang, psq got up, scarecrow did too, and so did uft boy, so i followed suit and made for the door. uft boy is willing to take this to grievance level if need be, as am i, but i'd prefer not to have to stand alone. luckily there are a few other teachers catching some flack for low attendance during AM extended day. interestingly they are 8th grade teachers. i wonder if 8th graders just don't want to attend extended day. maybe someone ought to ask them. the people whose extended day classes fail to show up in PM ext day don't suffer any repercurssion. that's likely b/c PSQ books out the door at 3pm sharp and isn't aware.

And my head I'd be scratchin' while
my thoughts were busy hatchin'