Thursday, April 10, 2008

Religion, again

Today's Top Serious Fourth Grade Question: If you don't have a religion, then do you just not believe in anything?

My response: I believe in joy. I believe in my own mind and the things I can do. I believe in my relationship with you, and your relationship with me. So I think I believe in a lot of things.

They responded with smiles and we moved on.

(Also, I told them that homosexuals were targeted in the Holocaust along with Jews. "What are homosexuals?" one kid asked. Half the class called out, "GAY!!!")

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Apparently, today was Controversy Day in my classroom

The novel the class is reading had a part in it about a rampaging ox. The kiddos weren't entirely sure what an ox was. I told them. They asked if it was the same as a toro and I said no, they were neutered. So of course they asked what neuter means. Then they asked what testicles were. Sometimes I'm really glad that the administration doesn't pop in randomly.

Later, one of the kids asked what racism is. The class consensus was that they all had some vague idea, but didn't really know for certain. Some of the kids thought that racism was using the n word. Of course, several of them (remember, bilingual class, first year in English) didn't know what the n word was-- and this is where I hesitated. But I answered. One of the girls raised her hand and said, as she was cringing back into her desk with embarrassment, "Ms. Güerita, I'm not trying to be rude, but what does nigger mean?" This whole discussion was making my skin crawl in a way that the testicle talk ever could. I told her that it was a word that has been used for many, many years as a weapon to hurt African Americans (the kids were using that phrase at this point, so I stayed with it), and that it was very hard to give it a specific meaning. THEN one of the kids asked why it was okay for African Americans to call each other the n word, but it was bad for someone else to. One of my boys said he felt like he understood that, but he couldn't put it in words. I let them talk amongst themselves about it, then I told them that that question was very controversial, and that people from every race disagreed about it, including blacks. Then I asked them how they'd feel if a white person came up to them and said, "What's up, raza?" (Yes, J, this one is dedicated to you!) That got several pairs of eyes narrowing, then lighting up. Then we had to get back to prefixes and suffixes.

They did ask me if we could find some reading materials with a racism theme, so if you can think of anything appropriate for late elementary students (non-fiction, novels, short stories, graphic novels, anything), then put it in the comments.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Classroom, the Dadaist Theater

Today was out of control, non-stop silly.

I've been very hoarse, so my student teacher has taken over teaching a little early so I don't fuck up my voice any further. So this is the rundown of today:

1. Within 5 minutes of the kiddos coming into the classroom, one of my Special Super Sweethearts, Suly, started singing a song I didn't recognize about killing all the teachers. I could tell it was more something stuck in her head rather than any actual hostility or naughtiness. Well, perhaps some naughtiness. Anyway, she had the trashcan next to her seat, so I walked over, casually picked up both her feet, and deposited them in the trashcan. She immediately quit singing and nearly fell out of her chair laughing.

2. My student teacher was picking on me, telling the kids that they should pester me all day because I can't talk back. So I picked up the conduct sheet and added the student teacher's name to it and a list of her offenses. Mute teacher strikes back!

3. Student teacher was complaining about something or other while her back was to me. My computer monitor is hooked up to a tv screen above my desk. A few moments with google image search, and I put the crybaby image on this post on my screen. I pointed at baby, then at student teacher. Hilarity ensued. I suspect she will attempt retribution. I'm ready.

4. There was a turtle in the classroom. Or rather, there was not a turtle. I refuse to acknowledge this creature's existence. The turtle IS. NOT. THERE.

5. Something else that is not there: food in my classroom. Our lunchtime is ridiculously early, so everyone is hungry by the afternoon. I eat, they eat, I ignore it until they don't pick up their trash. So now and then they will tattle on each other for eating (usually when they want what the other person is eating) and I just look at them blankly and change the subject.

I can't believe how happy they were to see me after the break. I already knew I'd be happy to see them. And I was.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One Hurdle Jumped

The writing test is done. There were no obvious disasters. I was on my feet eight hours. I am tired as shit.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Tomorrow is the first major standardized test of the school year. It's the writing test, which is unique to 4th grade. I want to write more, but I have a headache and my asthma is bothering me. I guess this is what they call stress.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jesus H. Christ

Today was chock full of drama. Non-stop. I will have to detail it later because I am too damned tired right now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unintentionally Hilarious Spelling

There was a question on the latest science test about animals that can be trained by humans for some specific tasks (I forget which, I'm not the science teacher). The correct answers were dogs and monkeys. Only, in reading class, there was an article about miniature horses being trained, too. One of the kids who is, shall we say, not one of our best spellers filled in her answer blank as, "dogs and small hores."

Years ago, when I taught private school in Hare Krishna land, one of the students was writing an autobiography. She was, apparently, born in "West Vagina." That was the queen mother of all misspellings. I should've kept it to have it framed.


Friday, February 15, 2008

The Things We Do To Kids

There is a girl in one of my classes who I will call Shannon. I care about all my students, but there is always a handful of them who I just click with. Shannon is one of those. She's infinitely precious to me. I have pieced together a little bit about her family situation. Her parents are divorced and her family is poverty-stricken. One time the class was reading an adaptation of a Poe short story. I gave them a little background on Poe and mentioned his alcohol abuse. Shannon raised her hand to comment, but instead of commenting on the story, she started talking about how her mother had a boyfriend who would do drugs and drink and then they would all have to take care of him. I had to gently (if abruptly) steer the discussion elsewhere.

Shannon has serious trouble with being wrong. When she misses something in her work, she becomes angry and incredulous. If she is wrong when answering something out loud, she seems disproportionately affected by it. She is intensely competitive. Also, she is exceptionally bright. Hard-working. Aware. Sensitive. Creative. Eager to please.

Yesterday the other teacher who works with her said that Shannon had been very rude during class. She had pitched a fit over getting a bad grade on some math work.

I took Shannon aside and I guess she could sense it was a serious thing, because she became uneasy. I sat her down on the stairs with me and said, "You can miss every question and fail every class, and I will still think you are smart and I will still love you."

She immediately burst into tears. She just lost it on me, sobbing and red-faced and leaning against me. She told me that her father said if she wasn't the best, she'd never get into a good college. She's ten years old and already a hard worker. Her father probably had the best of intentions, saying that to her. He's setting her up for some misery, though.

"I love you because you are Shannon and you are so lovable. Not because you get all As or because you beat everyone else with your scores."

I feel like I am indulging myself here, to an extent. I needed to hear those words when I was ten. And it feels good to say them to her, it feels good to mean it. And, most of all, I think she really needed to hear it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another Lesson In Cussing

I gave a lesson on "dammit" today. Also, "damn" and "goddammit." See, many of my kiddos have no understanding of the connotations of certain words. After Héctor's inadvertent pottymouth episode yesterday, one of my girls dropped something in class and let loose with a "godDAMMIT!" and not one child so much as batted an eye. So I pulled the door shut and said, "Okay, guys, time for a talk. The words "damn," "dammit," and "goddammit" are not school words. You know I don't really have much of a problem with that sort of thing, but I am afraid that one of these days someone from the district office or a teacher who really does care will be around when you say it and you won't understand why they flip out. "Damn" is as bad as saying "maldito," okay?" There was a collective gasp as I said the word. Héctor got to look all wise and say, "I knew that!" I didn't reveal to the class that he had only learned this important fact yesterday.

Last year I gave a similar lesson on "fat-ass."

I told them that I dare them to go home and tell their parents their teacher was cussing in class, because if they did that I'd have to tell them all the delightful things their children had been spouting, unintentionally or not. "WE WON'T!" they chorused. So, yes, a lesson on "dammit."

On an unrelated note, Valentine's Day gives more loot than Xmas! My desk was piled with a veritable mountain of chocolate-related goodness. I am astounded at the sheer amount of truffles I have been awarded. I couldn't carry it all home so there is a small mountain (a hill, I guess) remaining on my desk for tomorrow. I don't feel like writing about this now, but there was also a "pay a dollar to send someone a carnation" sale that pissed me off badly. Ten-year-olds do not need to be sending each other Valentine's Day flowers. It led to hurt feelings and the childish beginnings of calling a girl who inspires your jealousy a slut. They didn't use the word slut, but if they were thirteen or so, they would've. It sucked and I am not going to let it happen in my classroom next year, school policy be damned. God-damned. Dammit.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Play In One Act

Scene: After school math tutorials. About eight bilingual students are in the classroom.

Student: [chatter chatter chatter chatter] BASTARD!
Teacher: Héctor! You can't say that at school, that's a naughty word. [ed. note: Can you tell I was not the teacher present?]
Student: (pauses, looks confused) DAMMIT!

Ha. After I heard the story, I explained to him what those words meant in Spanish. He was mortified, not just because he had said those things, but because I told him exactly what they meant in Spanish and I used the full words. I don't think he'll be saying any of that again within earshot of the teachers.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


We had a field trip. It was dumb. I got a sunburn (wtf?!). My students think my inhaler is absolutely fascinating. I use a spacer with it and they have taken to referring to it as la teta. Teta literally means "tit," but it's what people colloquially call a baby bottle. The Big Writing Test is very fucking soon. I have a small handful of students who are going to fail no matter what anyone does to help them, and that is always sad. Maya seems to be improving. She isn't red-eyed every day now. I am still watching Nsima for anything I can report. Anything.

One of my students, Sandra sat with me at lunch during the field trip. We talked a little while and she said, "I don't feel like my father cares about me at all."

Anyone reading my other blog knows I Have Issues. So hearing her say that made me tense immediately. I asked her why she felt that way and she repeated some things he said that sounded careless to my ear. And on the tip of my tongue was, "Oh, of course your father cares about you. I'm sure he loves you very much. You just misunderstood." But, Jumping Christ on a pogo stick, what does that really tell the kid? "You are wrong, wrong, wrong." And what if her father really doesn't care? Mine didn't.

"I care about you very much, Sandra, and I am enjoying your company right now for our lunch. Do you feel like you can tell your father exactly what you told me? You don't have to, but it might be good to let him know how you are feeling instead of keeping it all inside."

I don't know if it was the right thing to say, but it was definitely better than telling her she was wrong.

One of my boys was afraid to go up in a high elevator, but he decided he would do it. I would have had no problem with him remaining below if he wanted. I went with him and held his hand. He said it was really scary and horrible, but he felt okay that he had done it. The other kids were really good to him about it and there was no mockery of his obvious fear. Meanwhile, a boy in another class stayed down below with his mother. He was scared of the elevator too, and cried. She decided to protect him from the terror of the elevator. I see her at school every day and I like her very much. I wish I could tell her how she is completely smothering her son with her need to take care of him. The child is morbidly obese and is having a great deal of trouble doing anything for himself. If she doesn't stop it, he's going to hate her.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Creeping Crud part 3948207825702834298

So it seems like half the school is sick. It can't be half, because that'd make the news, but it's roughly a zillion people. Anyway, I have an acute case of the creeping crud myself.

Today some of my students asked me what I wanted them to do, in regards to some classwork. Instead of answering their question for real, I more or less howled at them, "STOP COUGHING ON ME." Yes, I spoke in all caps. They were momentarily speechless with shock, then they seemed to reach a sudden consensus that it was sheer hilarity.

About two minutes later, I accidentally (really!) sneezed all over a table full of kiddos. They were completely wide-eyed with horror and the indignity of it all. I threw my head back and spoke (in all caps again), "VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD!" Sadly, they did not recognize the quote. And they are almost all católicos, while I am a scandalous non-believer. Tsk.


Friday, January 25, 2008


I had to make a report to child protective services today about my student, Maya. Her mother indicated to me that there is alcoholism and verbal/emotional abuse in the home. Maya has been very subdued and withdrawn lately, constantly saying that she feels sick to her stomach. She's even vomited. I always feel really shitty when I have to make these reports. Like it's a betrayal. I told Maya's mother that she and her daughter didn't have to deal with this alone. I hope CPS can get them into contact with some kind of help. The mother seems to want help.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ah, shit. No, no, really. Shit.

All right, I've had some radio silence here about a student I mentioned awhile back, Nsima. For the longest time, I've just been too disturbed (and irked) about the situation to write anything down about it, but today was kind of the icing on the cake. The shitty icing. On a shitty cake.

I don't know what it is about this class, but they can't keep what's within from coming out. It's not my homeroom, it's the other class I teach. They have had more puking incidents, RIGHT ON MY FLOOR, than I even want to recount here. Smelly puking incidents that the custodians were too busy to come in and clean up for, oh, an hour. Can you study Main Idea while there is a pile of hot, steamy, reeking puke two feet away from you? I didn't think so. Me neither.

Anyway, this didn't happen in my class (it's about time), but rather in my co-teacher's room. I saw some of it with my own horrified eyes, and she filled in the rest.

Nsima asked to go to the restroom in the middle of a lesson. This is a common ploy on her part to wander off. Our standard practice is to tell her to wait until break or at least until the lesson is over, but if it's an emergency, she can go. Only, she didn't go. Well, actually, she DID go. Just not to the bathroom. Yet. She instead crapped her pants. Anyway, she ended up in the restroom and no one had quite figured out what had happened yet. Fast forward to her skipping back into the classroom, carrying something in her hands that was dripping water everywhere. And with, um, messy pants. "What's that in your hand, Nsima?" asks her teacher, while the other students are starting to catch on and freak out. "Oh, that's my underwear!" the cheerful, unabashed response. Turns out, Nsima had some diarrhea and decided to wash her panties out in the sink and return to class. Her teacher sent her down to the nurse and threatened the students with DOOM if they dared speak a word of it further. Then, during the restroom break for the whole class, they got to survey the carnage in the girls' bathroom firsthand. Nsima had let loose all over the toilet and stall, and when she washed her panties in the sink, left several obvious deposits in said sink. All of which I was privileged to witness. Jen, the class' bathroom monitor, is a studious, gentle, mature girl. She gagged, looked at her watch, and told the teacher, "I just can't! I'm... I'm on my break now!" and exited the bathroom.

The punchline (or something) was when Nsima came literally skipping back from the nurse's office in new pants, her wet and soiled panties in a clear plastic bag that she was merrily swinging around. She was absolutely chipper. "Sorry for disrupting your class!" she sings out. She got her things to go home and skipped away, just as gleefully.

Now here is where I quit laughing. This child is so desperate for attention that I honestly think she let loose on purpose. All eyes were focused on her for a time and she is constantly aiming for this state of affairs. I have fears and suspicions about this little girl's life that are too nebulous for me to call in help, but distinct enough that I know something is going on. Something bad. I have called CPS numerous times in my two years with my own classroom, but I can't call until I have something concrete. And I hate feeling like I'm just sitting here, waiting for a tragedy to reveal itself.

On a somewhat related note to the story, when I took my class to a different set of bathrooms for their break, the boys entered their bathroom and immediately started screeching. I walked in and someone had flung shit onto the ceiling. I told the boys I was impressed and to try not to stand under it in case poo flecks fell down from the heavens.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Whatever works

Someone I know was selling the entire seven seasons of Buffy tolerably cheap, so I bought the whole mess. It makes a most excellent backdrop for grading papers and planning lessons. We have an hour mid-day where I work with two homogenous groups of higher-ability students, a half hour with each. So I'm going to do what I wasn't allowed to do at my last campus: read novels. In fancy teacher talk, it's Literature Circles. Whatever, we're reading novels. Anyway, one group is doing Among the Hidden and the other is doing Tuck Everlasting. When we finish with those, I am hoping we'll be in the routine enough so that the kids can choose their own books to read together. I picked these two novels because I'd read them, there were class sets in the library, and I think the kids will like them both. One dystopian novel and a speculative/fantasy kind of thing. Here's hoping it goes well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

One down...

This week marked the first round of standardized testing. It was the one I called the little test last year. It went a million times better than at my last campus, but I'm still not feeling so hot about it all. It's me, though. This week was very stressful and I'm having some trouble coping with stress right now. I was really not the kind of teacher I like being, these past five days. I've raised my voice more than I have all year. I've been terribly short with my students. They are a forgiving bunch, but I'm still unhappy with how I've behaved. It's important to me to speak to my students with the same respect as I'd speak to anyone else and I've not lived up to that this week.

I'll do better next week.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Letters I'll Never Send

Dear Josefina,

I'm sorry that you found your parents' divorce papers in a drawer. I'm pleased, though, that you are bright enough to understand what they are. Good reading comprehension skills. Anyhow, I'm having a meltdown of my own here. You see, when I was a kid, I thought that by age 30 I'd have my shit together. In fact, I thought I'd have it together long before 30. I thought that I'd get married to someone as brilliant as I was at about 25, have kids a year or two later, have a house, and have a good job. I have one of those things, so I guess I managed to do something right. But my point is, Josi, that it would be a good lesson to learn that adults are fallible and make really awful decisions, just like kids.

Also, I'm sorry that you know about your dad's sex life, and that he hasn't been faithful to your mom. When I was your age, my father was in the throes of his alcoholism and there were some nights he didn't come home. I knew that meant a couple of things: he wrecked the car and died, or he was with someone who wasn't my mother. Regardless of how alienated I was from my mother, I hurt for her. And I hurt for me, too. I mean, if he could fall out of love with my mom and run around with some woman I didn't even know, did that mean that he could just have new kids, too? And not want me anymore? Well, Josi, maybe it does mean that. But that's not your fault. If your dad doesn't know what a great kid you are, then he doesn't deserve you. You won't believe that, now, but maybe someday you can. I've only had you half a year, and I love you.

I'm sorry your dad's girlfriend is a horrible person, too. When you told me that she had been throwing dog shit at (and in, wtf?) your house, I admit that I wanted to do this nameless, faceless woman a little violence on your behalf. Instead, I'll just repeat what I told you today: Never forget how it feels to see a woman hurt another woman over a man. Or for any reason. Because if you remember that, then maybe you won't perpetuate it. You are such a loving person, Josi, and I hope you hold onto that.

Baby, it's okay to be scared, and it's okay to be really, really mad at both your parents. And it's okay to cry as much as you need to. And you aren't betraying anyone by telling me. Thank you for trusting me and loving me back.

tu maestra


Sunday, September 23, 2007


I really, really like my co-workers. I like them more than I thought you could like people you work with. Also, they make good margaritas.

One of the teachers at my school is out as gay. He brings his partner to staff get-togethers like Xmas parties and whatnot. I am ridiculously happy about this.

I am still in love with my students. But that happens every year. I do have my, um, moments, though. Last week had some of those moments.

I have two classes. I teach reading, language arts, and social studies to my homeroom. My homeroom is the bilingual class. Then my class goes to science and math and I teach the same subjects to the ESL/mixed class. My homeroom has a reputation for being angelic. The ESL class is the roughest class in 4th grade. I don't know what it is, it's just a wild group with more than its share of quirky kids.

One of the quirky ones is Nsima. The girl just can't seem to function in the classroom. She habitually loses things, but it's beyond absent-mindedness or even immaturity. I can hand her a paper and ask her to put it in the backpack right at her feet. She'll then lose that paper on the way from her hand to the backpack. She loses everything. I find her things all over my classroom, even in the sink. It's immensely frustrating. I even gave her a special bin to keep under her chair to store her things in. But it hasn't helped. She also has almost zero impulse control and doesn't get any social cues. She's pretty much a basket case and the other children just can't stand to be around her.

Last week at recess, a bunch of kids in Nsima's class came running up to me and their other teacher, freaking out and saying that Nsima had bitten Lydia on the thigh. I looked down at Lydia's pants and, sure enough, there was a ring of saliva on them, along with red residue from the hot chips all the kids eat. Nsima hadn't made it up to us yet, and before we could even look for her, another group of kids started howling that she'd slapped a boy. We hauled Nsima to the office.

It turned out that the kids had made up the biting incident, complete with fabricating evidence on Lydia's pants. She really did slap another child though, a boy who had nothing to do with the set up. Fully half the class was involved. The administrator who had to deal with the whole mess left right after giving them all detention. She just went home. I can't say I blame her.

Yesterday I had my very first puking incident. Right in the middle of a test, a kid in the ESL class just started projectile vomiting all over the fucking place. It was amazing. It was some kind of super-puke, I swear it was. I am not very squeamish about that particular thing, but one whiff of it sent me gagging uncontrollably. I really thought I was going to add to the mess.

Next week has to be better.


Quick Post

I really need to update this thing for real, but it's late and I have a bit of alcohol in me, so I'll just say this:

There are kids whose first language is Spanish, but their parents chose to opt out of putting their child in the bilingual program. We call them waiver kids, since their folks sign a waiver. Anecdotally speaking, since I don't know the research, these kids are worse off academically (especially in language) than the kids who went through the bilingual program. Even though the bilingual program kids had pre-K through 3rd grade in almost all Spanish, their English is better than the kids who, despite speaking Spanish, were placed in an all-English classroom for those years.

That pretty much tells me that, flawed though the bilingual program may be, it is doing its job.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Two Weeks Down

Two weeks of non-stop action. I come home and my SI joint is screaming, but what the hell, right?

I can't stop crowing about how much I love my new campus. I'm constantly astounded by the difference it makes when a student's parents are actively involved in their children's education. My school is, like the previous campus, a Title I school, which means it serves a large population of students in poverty. It's also a school populated overwhelmingly by racial minorities. But even amongst the poorest kids, there isn't the same feeling of despair and desperation.

And my kids are smart. I have almost 1/3 gifted/talented kids in my class, and those are just the ones who have been identified officially. But, aside from that, they are all very aware, inquisitive, and alert. They ask a lot of questions. Pertinent questions. They notice everything. I have had to reset my expectations completely.

This year is going to rock. I am so incredibly happy.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pet Peeve

I will write a real post about my first week with my new kiddos soon. As for now, I'm up way past my bedtime, so I'll just say what's on my mind.

I am so fucking sick of ignorant, racist, privileged shit-for-brains people criticizing bilingual education. They see brown children with vowels on the end of their names and all the sudden they start howling about how Learning English Must Be Mandatory Because THIS IS AMERICA!!11eleventyone! "Bi" means "two." Two languages. In this district, English and Spanish. If a bilingual program is properly instructed, students exit the program fluent in BOTH languages. My current students are almost all fluent in both. Those who are less fluent are at least conversational enough to hold their own with a native speaker. Every single child wants to learn English, and every single child IS learning English.

If you can't discuss at least three variations on the bilingual model of education, then don't fucking comment on the subject at all. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kids and Laptops

There is an update on 60 Minutes right now about the One Laptop Per Child program. I am a big ol' sap (and a geek) because watching it makes me just a teensy bit teary-eyed. I wish that the kiddos at my former campus could be a part of this project.

They just said that next year the program will be available in the US! The caveat is that when you buy one, you have to buy two. One for your kid, and one for a child in a poor country. I wonder if there will be exceptions for US children attending Title I schools. I hope so.

I know there are cricitisms regarding the project, but I'm having trouble being critical, for once. I know what it's like to grow up thinking that the world is passing you by, and that by the time you are grown up enough to leave your homeland, you'll be so hopelessly behind that catching up won't ever be possible. I'll be watching how this goes, and maybe a kiddo will be getting a new laptop. From me.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Countdown: 6 Days

School starts for the kiddos in less than a week and I am completely unprepared. I know, you're shocked. I'm still loving my new campus. I hope the honeymoon is never over. But, seriously, teachers at this school actually read. Books. If I mention an article on education I read, a lot of times someone else has read it too! Same with children's books! I feel like I'm on a campus where I can learn things from other people. The last campus... not so much.

On a unrelated note (well, maybe related, I was shopping for school clothes), I set foot into a Gap store for the first time in my entire life last weekend. My friend looked at me funny today when I said that.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

I am practically peeing my pants here

... with glee, that is. GLEE.

My new campus is a whole slew of adjectives that boil down to awesomeness. I haven't seen a single rat! Or cockroach!

Okay, y'all. I am really excited about the new school year. Yesterday, two things happened. I will call them Happy Event A and Happy Event B.

Happy Event A: I saw my new classroom. I had to struggle not to bounce up and down while anyone was looking. Our grade levels are organized into clusters. So to get to 4th grade you open a door and enter a large common area. It has big benches, a TV, nice bulletin boards, etc. The classroom doors all open to the grade level common area. It's bright, spacious, and just really friendly looking. The classes all have reading lofts! Big ones! They also have counter space with an industrial double sink. Anyone who has ever taught kiddos will understand the GLEE factor here. GLEE. And my bulletin boards have already been covered with fabric and borders and stuff. That saves me hours of being annoyed! GLEE!

Happy Event B: I went through training with a woman I like very much. She has the same intellectual capacity and many of the same leanings as I do, but is completely different in personality. This, of course, means I really, really like talking to her. She went through a terrible year last year as she is an immigrant and, like most immigrants in the certification program, could not get a fucking work visa. A process that should have taken a couple weeks took an entire year for her. But she persevered and went through the program courses, even though she couldn't teach. She got her visa a couple weeks ago, finally, and has been feeling kind of frantic about finding a position so late in the summer. A position opened suddenly and unexpectedly in my cluster when the person I was to be teaming with decided not to return this year. I gave the administration her name, she interviewed, and she's in. She's going to be teaching math and science, and I'll be doing reading, writing, and social studies, while we rotate between two groups of kiddos. I am now extra super happy.

This school differs fundamentally from my campus last year in that it is a magnet school. That means students have to apply to get in, and are selected via lottery. They are there because they want to be there. From what one of my co-workers says, some of these kids and their families resort to staggering measures to get to school every day. So, while it's still a school that serves high poverty students, it's a school for kids who really, really want to be there.

Did I mention that the building is beautiful?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I said goodbye to a lot of people today, but the one that's catching in my throat is Esperanza. I'm happy to say that she has been promoted to 5th grade. All my kids were, in the end. After school we went and sat on the bench together and she put her arms around me and laid her head on my shoulder and just held on for awhile. I love that girl so much. I hope she makes it out into the world and has the best of lives. They say there's one every year who is just yours, somehow. Espi was mine. I hope I have a daughter someday, and I hope she's at least a little like Esperanza.


Monday, June 25, 2007

The End of Days

Today my principal and I were talking and the subject of identity theft came up. She used a phrase that immediately set off my Jeezer Alert System. Beep beep cashless society beep beep. Oh dear, I thought, here it comes. And then she said it: In the bible, before there was even cash money like today, they predicted this. This is all End Times stuff, right here and now. I wanted to ask her to name the verse. I also wanted to ask her why she was discussing this with me, her employee, an atheist, at work.

Despite some of the issues I've had on my campus, I personally like my principal. When I was a cult member, I was deeply hurt by people not accepting my faith. But it works both ways. She knows I'm adamantly not religious. But because of the work environment and our relationship as superior and subordinate, I have to entertain her comments. It's hideously disrespectful and I resent it.

On a totally unrelated note: Holy, shit, I'm watching HBO's Big Love, and this kid on the show is getting a straight edge tattoo on his back. I am laughing so hard. He's pressuring another kid to "pledge" straight edge. Giggle.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Sometimes I really wonder...

... how administrators can get away with some of the things they do.

Summer school, with about a week and a half left to go, has been a fiasco. I am teaching the class of bilingual 3rd graders who are about to enter an transitional, almost all-English 4th grade in which they will have to pass their standardized tests (Reading, Writing, and Math) all in English. The group I had last year were pretty strong in their English ability, but for some reason this group has maybe four kids who are anywhere close to ready for this transition. I am also, in the afternoon, teaching 4th grade reading for a group that includes a couple of enrichment students, a whole bunch of special ed. students, and a hell of a lot of kids who will fail the 4th grade if they don't do well in summer school.

It isn't going so well.

Because of this school's high turnover rate (I'm not the only teacher finding a new campus next year), they are having to interview to fill several positions. But apparently they are completely unable to conduct any interview that isn't being done by committee. In other words, for the first two weeks of summer school (which is a 20 day session), teachers were being pulled out of their classes every day, for hours at a time, to sit in on interviews. I had to watch other peoples' classes as well as attempt to teach my own, and my class is already at maximum capacity. They were scrambling so hard to cover the classes during these interviews that at one point, they had a staff member's fifteen year old daughter doing it. This week, without any warning, one of our teachers was pulled for a week-long conference in another city. They haven't found a substitute. I was given his class today. As well as my own. If I were a parent of a child who, if they don't pass the test at the end of the session, will be retained, I'd be raising hell.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh, yeah, I'm teaching summer school. Yes, I am a masochist.

How To Ruin My Day...

... in one easy step:

Don't hire a sub for a teacher who is out that day. Today sucked.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's over.

Today was the last day of school for the students. It was all just a whirlwind for me. All last night I was up with a dying kitten. She didn't make it and it was a pretty painful, horrible death. My students knew I had a kitten who was sick. When I came into school this morning a little teary-eyed, my kiddos figured out what had happened and some of them started crying in sympathy. They wrote me little "cheer up" type notes on the sly. They are such great kids, and I will miss them all so much.


Friday, May 18, 2007


I have been hired at a new campus, so I won't be returning to the same school next year. I didn't actively search for a new position, but I put in applications at two schools I had my eye on before I even moved to this district. One of them called me within the hour. So next year, I will be teaching 4th grade ESL in one of the best public schools in my region. I'm kind of floored right now. This could be a very good thing for my career. I'll be teaching at the kind of school I'd like my own future children to attend.

I am pretty broken up about leaving where I teach now, despite everything. I have some other things to talk about, but I'll leave it at this, for right now.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Brief

I interviewed at another school, a school I wanted to teach at even before I moved to this state. I have a second interview on Monday. However, my principal asked me directly if my intentions for next year had changed, or if I was looking to transfer, so I had to answer her truthfully. I can tell she's angry. She has already done something I consider retaliatory in nature, and that really sucks for me. I had mixed feelings about the possibility of going to the other campus, but now I don't. I want to go there.

In other news, I had a meeting about Isaiah (aka Stabbity), with his mother in attendance. Hooboy. That will have to be a whole other entry when I'm not on my way out the door.