Monday, October 30, 2006

Training just didn't prepare me for this

Esperanza: What is Viagra?
Carmen: Yeah, Ms. Güerita, what's that? I heard of it.
Me: Um.
They look at me in total earnestness and suddenly the whole class is very focused on me.
Me: It's something adult.
Esperanza: But what?
Me: It's not something I can really discuss with my students. It's something that can only be used by adults.
Carmen: I'll look for it on Google.
Corazon: Me too, I know how to look it up.
Me: Please don't do that.
Everyone: Why not?
Me: It's something for adults and it has to do with sex.
Everyone: Ew. Not gonna Google that.
They abruptly lose interest.

Sometimes I am terrified of what they tell their parents about goings on in my classroom.

I got home at about seven tonight. Had a three hour meeting with the principal and my team teachers. It was the very rare meeting that actually feels productive. She says that she is really pleased with all of us and she told me that I am doing well beyond what she expects from a first year teacher. It's a huge relief. As hard as some of my job circumstances are, my colleagues in the certification program seem to have a lot less support and general well wishes of their principals. I definitely plan to stay at the school where I teach for a very long time.

Two things to discuss in the next entry:

1. Dual language vs. traditional bilingual programs.
2. Corazon. I wish I could keep her as my own child.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


He's gone.

Friday, October 27, 2006


This weekend, my husband of eight years moves out. Next month, we file papers.

I am at an inservice whose content I've already had.

I think that's enough for this pseudo-update.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Friday the 13th

Ms. Güerita is beautiful.
We love her so much.
She is a wonderful teacher.


There is very little as humbling as turning around and seeing that had been written on my blackboard when I wasn't looking. Tara is thirteen years old and in the 4th grade. She has an undiagnosed reading problem (I spent about four hours doing and redoing the paperwork last week to try and make sure that she finally getsdiagnosed and helped). If I read a selection to her and ask her questions about it orally, she does fine. If I give her a selection to read by herself and have her answer written questions on her own, well, that's another story. She slipped through the cracks. And when she is sixteen and has (maybe) just made it to the seventh grade, she will most likely drop out. Who the hell wants to graduate high school at... well, she can't graduate before age twenty at this point.

It touches me really deeply that Tara wrote that. Tara is a girl that I suppose the typical middle-class white American would see as a hardened ghetto girl. I haven't done anything out of the ordinary for this girl, except treat her with dignity. I don't want to think that treating her with respect is something out of the ordinary.

There are two other thirteen year old girls in 4th grade. One is Demetria. Demetria failed first grade twice, second grade once, and fourth grade once. I am also working on the paperwork for her special education referral. She was transitioned out of a bilingual classroom at some point in her educational career (at another school), but she still can't speak English at an academic level. Since she has transitioned, though, we are not permitted to put her back in even a transitional bilingual classroom, which is what I teach. She is with my team teacher in an English-only class. She is actively asking for help with her English and for Spanish support in her studies. She is quiet and gentle and beautiful.

Rosario is fully bilingual, fluent and unaccented in both English and Spanish, as are all her brothers and sisters. She is respectful, responsible, and engaging. She is the other thirteen year old 4th grader. Every child in her family has a reading problem that is yet undiagnosed. I am also doing her paperwork for special education services. She has, like Tara and Demetria, failed several other grades.

I don't know what to say. I really love these girls and the future I see for them includes dropping out, having babies way too young, working shitty jobs, and becoming their mothers. This shouldn't be happening. Someone should have caught this sooner. They should be going to their first middle school dances and dreaming of high school. Or sitting in the bleachers talking about what a bunch of shallow jerks the football team and cheerleading squad are. But here they are, with me, in elementary school.

Oh, yeah, they took down the razor wire from around my school because someone is filming a documentary in the area and it doesn't look nice. Not sure how I feel about that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brief update

So far this week, I haven't made it home before 7pm. Two nights I got home at 9, today at 7. Jesus Fucking Christ.

We have three 13-year-old girls in 4th grade. I'll explain that later.