Stop the presses! Wait for this news! I actually got to spend all day today in the classroom! That’s right. I wasn’t needed to help a committee. They didn’t need to call me back and teach me how to set up the changed website. I got to spend all day in my classroom with my students. For the most part, they appeared to be glad to see me back, too. At least a few said they were glad to see me. I think the meant it.
I had an interesting question from one member of a class that likes to see if they can try my patience. He asked me why it was other students told him that I laughed and smiled with them while I didn’t with his class. I handed him a small poster that I have. It says in effect: if you want a nice teacher, behave and do your work; if you want a mean teacher, don’t behave and don’t do your work. I then told him that I had pointed that out at the beginning of the year and that I promised I would respect their wished. Since he is one of those whose talking tries my patience, he’s one of the major reasons for the teacher they see.
So…need to get grading done for the progress report time. The reports will go home just before Christmas. Wow. That’s no fun! I hope some kids get some work turned in before I need to finish turning in grades. Of course, I need to get a lot of grading done. So why am I here instead of grading….
Two days in a row I’ve had to leave school in the middle of the day to go to a meeting. Both were actually worthwhile meetings. Still…it’s hard to be out of class and to have 2 days where the same half of you schedule works with you and the other half works with a sub. How do I insure the quality of the teaching or the help. You can only do so much to make lessons fool-proof. Too many kids want to prove you wrong if you try to make lessons foolproof. Oh well….back to the real world tomorrow!
So a few weeks ago, I got an email telling me that I was on some committee for the district. As I read it, I didn’t see how I fit into the group or the purposes – although, to be honest, I couldn’t really tell what the purpose was. So I emailed back and asked how I fit in. I got no response. So, I asked my principal if she had suggested me for this committee. She didn’t know anything about it. With no responses and fear of getting an email telling me that I had really caused problems by not showing up…I showed up.
Seems that they weren’t really expecting me since I had written to ask how I fit in. I had taken their silence as “shut up and show up” and they had taken my response as “I ain’t showin’ up!” They let me “play” with them anyway. It was the Performance Based Monitoring Analysis System. If you don’t understand that, I can sympathize. It’s educationalese for “some things ain’t working and we gotta find ways to fix ’em.” And I only know that because I went to the meeting. They did quickly make me a table card for my name. After a few minutes of being there and looking around I suddenly realized that I was not a big fish in a little pond: I was a little fish in a small pond. Half of the people, or more, had their doctorates. Feeling out of place and intimidated I did what comes naturally to me: I shrugged my shoulders and participated.
We were looking at data that measured the performance of students on last year’s state test. I like that kind of disaggregation of data. We were then to take that data and discuss ideas for how to develop a plan to find ways to address those needs. Overall, it was a good time. I met some people that I had worked with over the phone or email. I met some new friends and saw some old friends and I think we did some good work. I still missed my kids, though.
(This was yesterday…thought I had posted it and found out I hadn’t. I hate it when I do that!)
As bad as Thursday started for me (and continued) Friday started great. I was excited. Things just fell into place the right way on all the little things. I did get a note about a student being in in-school suspension, but someone was already in there. I didn’t think much of it since the only extra work was printing an extra copy of the assignment. Then, the lady who sent the email walked into the room right at the end of class. I figured she needed to tell me something about the new child in ISS. She looked at me and said, “I need to watch your class. You’re needed in the office.”
Normally, that would be bad news. I was excited. I told the kids what they needed to do to finish and I began walking outside. Yes, it was cold, but I didn’t feel it. The reason why I was excited was that I had pretty well decided that Friday was the day that the Corpus Christi Education Foundation would be delivering news about grants we had written back in September. I was hoping that a grant I wrote with another teacher, well, she did most of that work, would be funded. I thought it was a good grant. I had also written two other grants, but had doubts about them. As I walked down the hall, I saw the other teacher and I smiled. Then, I turned the corner and saw two other groups of teachers and nearly started crying. If my calculations were correct, and they were, all three grants that I was involved with had been accepted and funded. Here’s the picture of the three checks. A quick funny on that was that one of the CCEF people said that I must be good at writing grants and I should keep on doing it. I replied, “that’s why I’m here.” I don’t think she realized that I was speaking of another grant, another source and the grant that forced me to change schools.
The Cunningham Cougars Grant recipients along with our fantastic principal and members of CCEF
When I went back to my room, I surprised the kids. In the privacy of my room, along with those who had been watching and my students, I let out a giant whoop and a holler! Many of them hadn’t seen me smile all year – behavior issues. They seemed to be excited too…and were pretty good the rest of the class. A couple other good things happened throughout the day as well.
Then, at the end of the day, got some news that sucker-punched me. I won’t go into details here. Horrendous, tragic news involving a friend I’m reminded again of the frailty of life. And then we had what should be a minor issue confronting my wife. This should be taken care of quickly, but it’s an annoyance nevertheless.
All of the sudden I realized that we’re back in school and I haven’t updated things. I had the chance to show one of my favorite videos in class the other day. It’s the video of an old Nightline feature on the IDEO Design Company. My kids are learning about the design process and while we’ve seen the sterile: “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…” approach in class, this video highlights each of these steps wonderfully, but in the actual messy process that the design process is. This video includes the phrase that I ought to have plastered over my door to warn students as they enter: “This is where the crazies live. This is where we do our work.”
Two of the classes will be able to see video clips again. (And did so today) I will have to make other arrangements for the other classes. That was frustrating then. Today started off with a bunch of little things that were annoying. Then, everything just got worse. Nothing major of course…just everything accumulated. My professional advice about a situation involving my class wasn’t only ignored – it wasn’t solicited. A decision was made that tried to solve a problem and, in my professional opinion, will only make any alleged problem worse as far as my class is concerned. We ended the day with a parent meeting with the child present who has basically shown that he isn’t going to work. It isn’t lack of effort by me, in my classes situation. He just won’t do it. I care for each of my kids – perhaps too much. I know that I often care more about them than they do themselves. But if we want to see how many times more I care, we usually can. With this kid, I’m dividing by zero…or a negative number and that messes up the division.
I was supposed to accomplish a lot at home tonight mainly because I didn’t accomplish a lot of grading at school today. But anytime I can’t reach a kid, it gets me down. Any time things are made worse for my students, it gets me angry and down. So I do things to get my mind off of school. And it works for awhile. Then I realize the other kids deserve the best me that they can get. And it’s time to get back to work again.