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 Maya has been very subdued and withdrawn lately, constantly saying that she feels sick to her stomach.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