Back in the Title 1 Classroom

Reply Tue 28 May, 2019 03:21 pm
I’m going to miss my kids.

Almost summer.

We’re giving just one award for each class, and we could choose any category. Some teachers went with highest grades, highest state test scores... I am agonizing over not being able to give 20 awards for different things, but hey. My bestie teacher was even worse than me—she’s going to claim ‘ties’ so she can add a couple if kids. But, I made myself assimilate.

My high fliers and Honors kids are probably going to have their parents assailing me about it, but I’ve decided to award my kids who’ve turned it around this year. The kids who slept through my class in Q1, and now are honed in on everything we’re doing. They somehow just DECIDED to be good students.

It was hard to word the award, but I finally put together language that proudly states what they’ve done.

I’m so proud.

I’ll miss them.

Nobody is ever as cool as that first group in a new school.

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Reply Fri 5 Jul, 2019 03:53 pm
New principal, a mass exodus and a resulting influx. I feel like the Toccoa boys watching a trickle of replacements, but I welcome them.

I had a great year, but it was so debilitating. I can’t stay away from planning, tweaking, improving. I’m so damn excited about this year.

Q1 planning with my new team in a week. ✌🏽👩‍🏫
Reply Fri 5 Jul, 2019 03:56 pm
As you know, it's the pleasure and horror of an educator's life. Constant changes. Students. Parents/Guardians of the students. Principals. Teachers. Other staff.

You'll be fine.
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Reply Fri 23 Aug, 2019 06:19 pm
I feel like I’ve been beaten. My feet are loosely bound bags of bones that I walk on. Not advised.

The first week of school is relationship building, bluff-calling, and learning environment creating.

I went deep and one day was devoted to how to manipulate your 🧠 brain. We talked about stressors and de-stressors. I actually had four classes of middle schoolers doing tai chi, Qi gong, and deep breathing.

Later, an asshole bitched out one of my girls in Spanish, and my co-teacher saw her take three deep breaths before bitching him back. 😃. Baby steps.

Today, my class was silent, reading books they’d picked out. I don’t know why that’s such a big deal, but I’m crazy about all of them already. They wrote devastatingly authentic autobiographical poetry today. How many times did I rub chill bumps from my arms...

It’s the most horrible, incredible ‘job’ in the world.
Reply Sat 24 Aug, 2019 02:51 pm
How many times did I rub chill bumps from my arms?

I really don't know. It does however indicate that there is too much air conditioning in the classroom.
Reply Sat 24 Aug, 2019 02:52 pm
I wish. It’s a sauna. Smells like teen spirit...
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Reply Tue 27 Aug, 2019 04:08 pm
Lash wrote:

So I know my kids are as intelligent as the kids in the wealthier neighborhoods; that’s why I want to teach them specifically. I know poor kids are underserved—period. They score low on standardized tests, and the district, the community, and THEY define them by these scores.

I was bummed as **** by ultra low scores last time, so one day, I pulled my chair out into the front of the class and asked them what would compel them to really try on one of these big tests.

One kid says ‘a PlayStation party’ would be enough for him. This was a way above average kid who is just checked out academically. I ran with it, got the other teachers on board, admin approval, and now it’s a big deal.

The school is sorta agog at 40+, 30+ point increases across the board, but
frankly can I say here—**** admin—the KIDS are telling everybody who’ll listen about their increases. I’m in ******* hog heaven.

I wrote their names and the precise numbers of their increases on posters and taped them up in the hall. I felt like an idiot doing it because our student population would be expected by any sane adult to tear down anything on the wall immediately—but crowds gathered around it all day between classes and talked about it. I feel like we’ve made academic achievement sexy, and I am over the moon.

The growth is astonishing. The kids are buzzing. I am floating.

Good teacher day.

Some weird things have happened since this day. One made me cry, and I think in 15 years, one thing most people here probably know is I am NOT a cryer.

I asked my instructional coach what my kids’ specific growth scores were for the year. She said she wasn’t allowed to tell me. She’d always been free to tell me before. I worked my ass off teaching, modeling, helping, and I spent some of my money and a hell of a lot of my time planning, decorating, blah blah to facilitate the benchmark party and the graduation party.

I hated being shut out of my own damn information.

Long story short, today, in a meeting about something totally unrelated, my IC whispered, “I have to tell you...”. She said a few lines... “I have to tell you...the biggest growth...”. I asked, “in [my grade] ELA?” And she said, “in the whole school, by far. You brought the school score up.”

It felt pretty good, but I knew it was my gimmicks— the parties, but now we know they know a LOT more than they show on tests.

This is a full-on brag. Any teachers wandering by—feel free to crap all over me. Sturgis! You have no such invitation!! 😀

I feel like I know what I’m doing—and I have receipts.❤️🎉
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Reply Thu 19 Sep, 2019 08:23 pm
I’m a little worried, but almost equally resigned to do an in depth comparison of Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Glover’s This is America.

I think this is important, but the shooter imagery gives me pause.

Comments welcome.
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Reply Sun 22 Sep, 2019 02:20 am
My planning team loves the idea. Hacking out an awesome unit designed around protest. ✌🏽
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Reply Wed 25 Sep, 2019 06:31 pm
So, young G hasn’t liked me from the start, and I expect that. I made it worse by writing him up for a routine infraction, but he was disengaged and doing little to no class work because he was staring at his phone.

He stopped even acknowledging me when I spoke to him because he was furious with me.

After two such write ups and calling his mom both times, he began to ask if he could get the phone out after he finished his work. That seemed directly from his mom, and I wanted to honor her attempt to help her son stay within the rules, so I informed everyone that if they’d produce good quality work, they could get on phones the last 5-7 minutes of class.

Suddenly, this kid is producing higher quality work, attentive with everything we’re doing during class, and always coming to confirm he can use his phone
before taking it out.

I’m so knocked out by this big week-long change that I try to call his mom and thank her for helping me. Her phone is inoperable now, so I write a pretty specific, longish complimentary note to her and ask young g to deliver.

So, now he’s got a gang of about four guys, collaborating like scholars in the back of the room, and every day, one of them comes to my desk to ask permission to get phones out,. Their level of attention and work production has increased, and every three or four days, youngblood asks for a letter for his mom, and after school, a troop of about four young men walks into my room accompanying their fearless leader to pick up his note to his mom.

I’m still fighting for dominance in one class—I, by no means, have this issue wrapped—but this is one of the coolest things to happen to me so far this year.

He doesn’t say anything. He walks to my desk with his buds, I hand it to him wordlessly, he looks at how I’ve addressed it. It is sealed with a sticker. He walks away and carefully slides it into his pants pocket. Sometimes, sealing this little moment in my heart gets me through a multitude of administrative bullshit. It gets me out of bed or calms me through bogus school bullshit.

I don’t think young g wants me to know how much that means to him, and I sure as hell don’t want him to know how much it means to me.

Some days, teaching is ok.

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