Parent Contact Day, Round 1

I contacted several parents via email or phone to alert them about their students’ behavior choices and how that was impacting others and the students’ grades. Some seemed receptive, especially the mom I called about her son’s off-task behavior in class and the dad I called because his son stood up for me against some ugly under the breath muttering from one of my students who has decided that I hate him. No, I don’t like that Mutter Man doesn’t do his work in class or at home. I don’t like that he has chosen to fail school rather than be bothered with work. The only grades I will receive from Mutter Man will be what is completed in class such as quizzes, tests, and classwork. He has decided his academic fate unless something happens and his parents step in and make him complete his homework at home.

When I called the Defender’s dad, he was surprised to hear from me during the fifth week of school. I told him what his son did, and he affirmed his character. I told him I was grateful for his son being in my class this year. The fact that he talks a little more than he should makes him human but quite lovable. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

RLT

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Four Weeks. Done.

After four full weeks of school, I am tired and ready for a respite. The weekend arrived in time. I normally do not adopt a jaded tone in my posts, but this year will be a challenge to me as a professional educator. I have some students who are truly mean-spirited. They do not like each other. They mutter insults and cut-downs under their breath. I warn. I assign lunch detentions. Now they have to leave. They will go to the short-term removal classroom. They will serve detentions.

I have several who have anger management issues. They make a verbal outburst of words and/or noise when corrected. Mumbling under the breath is their means of fighting back. These are angry young people who are so miserable, they are spreading the misery to me as well. Sigh. I have two with parents who don’t care. I mean truly do not care. It saddens the heart and makes the mission more difficult. Feeling like this makes me question my mission. I was glad to hear the last bell today. My colleagues and I need strength for each day and bright hope for tomorrow. Keep us in your prayers, friends.

RLT

Kitchen Therapy

This year is proving a bit more intense than I had planned. Now I must maintain data for some of my students who need accommodations. I have some students who are still not school-ready. They resist my authority over even the smallest things like standing still during the moment of silence or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance respectfully. One loves to hum and make noises that distract and disturb others for some reason. Yes, they are 11 and 12 year olds. When I felt too overloaded last week, I told my team members I was going to go home and cry. I meant it with every fiber of my being. I kept myself together during the day, and no one saw me crack.

I did my crying yesterday in the morning while reading my Bible. I wept not only because of my frustration and energy loss but because my son has been gone for two weeks back to college. I miss his dark brown eyes snapping with laughter and merriment. I miss him.

When I get too overwhelmed, I turn to food. I bake cakes, cookies, and pies. Something about measuring the ingredients like flour, sugar, and vanilla extract soothes my mind. I made brownies and a 1-2-3-4 cake and will take them to school tomorrow. Perhaps my colleagues would like a bit of homemade dessert during the day. I just feel better as a result. I hope they don’t mind. I may have to donate some of my baking to my local fire department too. Just a thought.

RLT

A Chance Sighting

I was headed home after my hair appointment and happened to spot a group of six teen-aged boys walking along the street. I recognized four of them as former students from my campus and pulled in to the parking lot they were about to enter and said hello. They enthusiastically came over and greeted me. I was invited to their football and fall baseball games and put the times into my phone’s calendar. I would have loaded all six of them into the little Civic I was driving if I had room. How I wished I had driven my larger vehicle today. They would have been taken home safely and in air conditioning. I would have listened to their bantering and laughed until I cried. These young men reminded me of my purpose for what I do day after day.

I have two subjects this year–social studies and language arts. I was asked to take this on, and I did. My assignment gives me the best of both worlds. I had struggled with the late hours I have stayed at work these past two weeks and just had an epiphany. Because of my attention to detail, I prepare for both of them with a fervor akin to a first year teacher determined to not overlook some small detail. We are implementing a new way to reach students’ needs for enrichment and review during our homeroom time three days a week. Our students are being encouraged to participate in a positive behavior system. My son left for university on Sunday morning, and I am missing his merry eyes snapping with laughter, the ceiling fan he leaves on in my den, and the sound of his voice. I have several students whose puzzle boxes I must learn and solve quickly to establish any type of decent relationship I would like to have with them. I must have some type of connection to attempt to win them over. One of my students deeply concerns me because he cannot remember his locker combination or his daily schedule. I wrote it out and put it into his lanyard so that he could see it without worrying about carrying a steadily fraying piece of paper around with his schedule and locker combination. His locker is in front of my room, and I see him struggle to pay attention, follow directions, and arrive to class on time daily. I am searching for a way get the light bulb to click on to help him remember this most basic information.

That is why seeing my baseball boys I used to watch play four years ago uplifted my soul. Even a veteran teacher needs some encouragement and reassurance from the most unlikely encounters. Those boys will never know how much it meant to me to see the joy in their eyes and hear it also in their voices.

RLT

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He Loves Me After All

Last week I started school. We will be out a week ahead of everyone else in the area when June 2018 arrives. I digress.

On the second day of school, I looked up before fourth period started. I see two former students headed down the hallway carrying their lunches smiling ear to ear. It was Papi and his friend Mijito. They hugged me hello and sent my heart over the moon. I was beaming!

Papi is on the football team. I was surprised since he had no interest from our conversations last year. I was on my morning duty last week before school started and saw him going to the counselor’s office with a posse. I sent the posse packing to find out what was going on. He needed a reminder of his new locker and combination in the 7th grade hallway. I have access to that information. While I was on the computer logging in, he said, “I just got the football schedule.”

“Oh.” Inside I am smirking and glowing.

“You want me to give it you?”

“No, that’s all right. I can get it. Would you be okay with me coming to see you play?”

“Yes, ma’am.” I found the information he needed and he was on his way. “Thank you, Mrs. Johnson.”

“You’re welcome, hon.” If it were cool for me to have done it, a tear would have rolled down my cheek. Papi still loves me. I have done my job as his “school mama.”

RLT

All Too Human

I was at a minor breaking point and felt I should taken a rock and bashed my brains in. I had made a really cool PowerPoint for Monday for my ILA classes. I decided to delete junk from my desktop and empty the recycle bin. UGH!!!! An hour’s work. Gone. Forever!!! I am only human.

I went home with take out from Whataburger for my husband and me since our son was still at work. We ate and watched a couple of innings of the Yankees-Red Sox game. My restless perfectionism kicked in. I finished my work while listening to Love, an album by The Cult. It worked. Now I am able to enjoy both days of my weekend. Whew!

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Setting Up

Before I added words to show that I am in the best of both worlds.

After I finished adding the word welcome in several languages and showing the elements of language arts.

RLT

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Reality Sets In

I attended a workshop yesterday for 90 minutes. We were learning the intricacies of ordering using our district's Print Shop aka Copy Center. The copy center Earth Angels are worth their weight in gold. Large jobs are completed in a timely manner, and I have no complaints whatsoever about their quality of work. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone. For example, I have desired stapled copies but forgot to request it. They don't read my mind. That's just fine.

Reality has set in because I have a two day workshop next week. The hours are 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. I will have to use an alarm clock to get up and drive in rush hour traffic. Hmm. In two weeks, I will be a part of the sixth grade orientation at my school known as Cougar Camp. This is year thirteen of Cougar Camp for me. Wow. School is really just about here.

In the meanwhile, I will sleep in, drink my coffee slowly, and complete laundry on a week day while the sun shines instead of madly cramming my housekeeping chores into one Saturday morning when I'd prefer to lollygag and recharge my batteries. It is still summer for a while longer.

RLT

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Happy Birthday, America!!

It is lovely to be able to celebrate freedom on Independence Day. I have time to relax over lunch with my family, read a biography about Winston Churchill, and watch our national pastime. ⚾️🇺🇸❤


RLT

Bring Me a Stick

I’ve read most of The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand. These stories were the basis of the movies Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns starring Emma Thompson. I wish I had a stick like Nurse Matilda. I would bang it and make some of my students behave properly. Oh well, it is fiction, and I do believe in giving students the choice to do good or evil. I encourage them to do good as they go along this life. Sigh. I still want that stick.

RLT