How do you teach responsibility?  How do you instill responsibility in 6th graders? I’m trying by giving them responsibility. The problem is that if I give them full consequences for not living up to that responsibility then they might end up in a hole from which they can’t recover. How much of a “soft-landing” do I give these kids as we look at the transition to Middle School?

I realize that Middle School is an adjustment for kids. Is it too much to expect them to bring basic supplies to class? Is it too much to ask them to follow basic instructions about behavior in class and working on assignments? Is it too much to ask them to get a paper on Monday, work on it each day and put it in their binder so that they have it for the next day, and then turn it in? Is it too much to ask kids to protect papers from their dogs? “Sir, the dog ate it. I had Cheetos in my backpack and the dog came to eat the Cheetos and he slobbered all over the paper.” I laugh now, but he actually expected me to a) believe that excuse and b) accept it. I told him to get his mother to write a letter telling me what happened and I might give him a new paper. Amazing how many kids are upset that I won’t believe them, but won’t ask their mom to write a note.

If they learn to be responsible, it will make life so much easier for them in the long run. It will make class so much easier every day. But so many of them would rather find a way to blame someone else rather than deal with their lack of responsibility. How can I instill in these kids a sense of responsibility?


Teacher’s Pain

I saw some students in the office the other day. They complained that they were in the office because the teacher hated them. I took the time to let them know that teachers are teachers because they want to make a difference and help kids. No teacher starts the year looking at the list of their students thinking, “I’m going to like this one. I’m going to hate that one.” Etc. Just then the principal walked by and when she asked what was going on. They gave her a little bit more information than they had given me which I thought was interesting. Then, the Superintendent of Schools came in and the principal went to her meeting with him.

I have a student that thinks I don’t like him. He is my teacher’s pain. He disrupts class. He says that he doesn’t care about himself. When I asked him what he cares about he said nothing. He won’t do any work although he is not only capable, he is more than able to get A’s in my class and help other students at the same time. He has the potential to do great things. If I could reach only one student this year I would make him the student I would reach. He is the student I would light a fire under to find a way use his full potential. I would have no greater joy as a teacher than the joy of seeing him take advantage of all his abilities. When I have to deal with his lack of caring about himself, though, that gives me pain. The inability to break through his shield is my teacher’s pain.

Teacher Talk

So last night I went to one of THOSE talks. Yep, the one where the financial adviser buys you dinner and then explains about your retirement options. We need to take care of a few things before I even think of retiring, but I have to think about retiring in order to do those things, so last night was good for me. (And no, I’m not ready to retire yet.)

So at lunch today the discussion turned to retirement. Rules have changed and people who are considering retirement have some deadlines that need to be taken care of immediately. Some of the discussion contradicted what I heard last night. But since I’m not ready to retire this year, I have plenty of time to look into it..if I don’t put it off. Then after school, another teacher talked to me about looking at retirement! He’s doing the serious investigation. He’ll be making his decision soon.

On a lighter note, one of my three air conditioners is working now. Got down to a chilly 77 in the room. Kids complained less too. Now…to get caught up on grading!

The Day After

Now that jury duty is out of the way, it was time to get back to work today. First order of business – read the notes from the sub.  You never know exactly what a sub’s gonna do or how the kids will react to the sub. Overall they did ok. Many of them did tell her that they had finished their assignments when they hadn’t…and she allowed them to play computer math games. Unfortunately she had no way to verify whether or not they were finished for real so that just means that the next time I have a sub – “No computers for you!”

Of course, I have a new test idea. They will need to write the procedures, step by step, to submit work online and to attach work to an email when they are late. O, we’ll go over it. I will take the test directly from their notes. I’m hoping that they pass the test.

I should also note that I am truly the hottest teacher on campus – except for the PE coaches who work outside most of the day. Of course, I would prefer that my air conditioners get fixed so I can lose that title. It’s been two weeks since the AC units went out. I’ve gotten enough heat!

Finally … chess club. OOPS! Forgot to run off problems for the kids. Today I passed out the flyer for one tournament and told them about the other. Then I let them play. I did some teaching near the end on how to checkmate with a King and Queen against a King.

Oh well, random thoughts for the day….

Terrifying Words

So I didn’t show up for classes today. I spent the day hanging around the courthouse. See, they sent me this great invitation to come down and spend the day and I heard that I would get paid to do it. What a deal! So I snuck into the school and dropped off some plans for the sub, said hello to the people who were in the office including my immediate supervisor and headed down to the courthouse.

I got there and found out that the invitation wasn’t so exclusive. There were about 300 or so other people there and I didn’t see people I knew. Hard to enjoy a party with people you don’t know well. It wasn’t very exciting either. They told us to come in and sit down. No refreshments. Everyone was quiet. I talked a little bit with the people around me, but everyone was quiet until the leader had us all say the pledge of allegiance together. Then they talked about wanting to take our blood. At least those folks had refreshments and probably a more comfortable place to relax.

Then they started breaking us into groups. They kicked some people out of their seats so they could put other people in those seats. I guess it was a form of sophisticated musical chairs or something but I couldn’t see much point. They didn’t kick people out of the game until the end and those people weren’t mad, they were happy. Meanwhile, those of us with chairs were at least guaranteed our spots. I finally found a friend. She had a number right after mine, but I was the last seat on my row in the big party room and she was the first seat on the next row so we didn’t get much chance to talk in the big party room.

So how bad was this shindig? After making us sit down and be quiet for a couple of hours they sent us out to get our own lunch after warning us to make plans to stay late. Seriously? This thing would run late? I was hoping to sneak out early but they had these bouncers whose job was to keep people in. I decided to try this new BBQ place. I knew my pastor was bringing his friends later in the day. I thought I would eat, catch them coming in as they were leaving. I was wrong – but this was fun. They came in right after I got my food and they took pity on me being all alone and invited me to sit with them. This was new for the day: sitting with people and actually talking and laughing. Our church staff is a fun bunch!

I had to be back at the courthouse by about 1:30 so I arrived a little early because I heard some friends were supposed to go to the afternoon version of the event. I tried to warn them about how boring it was, but they showed up anyway. So, they took the group I was sitting with and brought us up to a private room. This room had one leader and two minions and a few other people milling around in some arena that they wouldn’t let us go to. So the leader talked a lot about the rules for this game which seemed like a strange version of truth or dare. I thought about asking for the dare, but neither the leader nor the minions seemed to have much of an adventurous spirit. They also had us doing these flash cards like they used to do at football games. I’m sure we did some great designs, but only the leader, the minions and the miller arounders could see it. I wonder if anyone got video.

So the leader ended his talking and his examples and was going to give us a chance to catch our breath from the excitement of his part of the game. As we were getting ready to leave the upstairs room to catch our breath the leader said some terrifying words. “We expect this [fun] to last 4 or 5 days.” Well, I just knew that my supervisor would be thrilled to know that she wouldn’t have to put up with me for a full week, so I let her know about the possibility. Then we went back into the room where the leader let the minions take their turns leading us in the flashcard version of truth or dare. After the two minions had their turns, with a refresher in the rules from the leader, then they played elimination truth or dare asking each of the people in my group individual questions. Then, when both minions asked one line of people their questions, they went outside in the hallway to see if they had won the game. Finally they got to me and I pointed out that one of the minions asked a silly question.

So we all went into the hallway and waited. A few members of the group went back into the room for private instruction in the rules of the game. Then they called us all back into the room and announced the winners of the game. I didn’t win. I wonder if it was because I pointed out the silly question. Anyway, I was getting tired of their fun and decided that I don’t care how many hundreds of dollars they might pay me for today and other days,  it wouldn’t be worth it. I was glad to lose that game. Now, I just have to go back to school tomorrow and read what my substitute had to say about my students. Now those can be terrifying words to come back to. I hope not, though.


A Quart Low

So, after last night’s inspired conversations that led to a late night collaboration in writing a grant and at least 3 hours of sleep…but not much more, I knew today would be rough. As I told my immediate supervisor “I had a blood test. My caffeine level was a quart low.”  I must admit that she did make a pot of coffee from her private stash that she allowed me to drink from. She not only cares about me but she wanted to protect my students.

I was pretty strong even working on getting grant papers signed and running all kinds of errands…until about the middle of the next to last period. The coffee had run out. I hit the wall. Fortunately it was only a virtual wall or my face would have been destroyed. Nevertheless, I held out until the day was over. Overall it was a good day. I’d say more…but I’m still a quart low.


Deadline tomorrow. CCEF grants are DUE! This year I would like to say that I didn’t procrastinate. The major part of the writing is done before midnight tonight. I have to get some info from some people who won’t answer me. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit unrealistic to expect people to be checking their school email at home at 10:45 at night…but hey, I’m writing things at that time. Why aren’t they as committed as me? (/bites tongue to avoid obvious jokes here)

Of course, it was a bit more difficult to finish before officially procrastinating since I had to work on phone calls. Yep…one of my classes think that it’s play time and I had to call a BUNCH of parents. I’m trying to teach responsibility in a couple of ways. It hasn’t started working yet. At least not for all of the kids. That being said, overall this is still a great bunch of kids!

But back to the grants. The last two years have been frantic after midnight texts and Facebook messaging trying to word things just right with the young lady that welcomed me to Cunningham. I had at one time promised NEVER to work on a grant again. (My friends will understand that.) Jennie got me hooked and I love seeking ways to help my kids. As much hard work as we teachers put into the grants, very rarely do they pay for the teachers to receive any funds. But, like most teachers, we’re ok with that since it means that instead of spending money out of our own pockets we’re able to get others to help us with the things we need/want to be able to teach our kids and provide enrichment they might want.

So…even while writing this another grant idea is coming to the fore. Jennie is creative and gets me thinking. We bounce ideas off each other and my membership in the “Just in Time” club has now been renewed…although I still haven’t sent in dues. The deadline is now, later today and we are now working on a new grant. Man I love the crazy frantic pace! Deadlines just make the creative juices flow.