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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