Monthly Archives: April 2017

Freak Out!

No, do not cue up C’est Chic’s “Le Freak” that was parodied in that adult beverage commercial featuring a captain’s face as a mask for all of the partiers on board singing karaoke in what I believe was Cantonese. Ahem. We started the last six weeks today, and I think this snippet of cartoon captures how teachers feel. Why?

1. Students who don’t care about keeping up their grades, bringing their supplies, and minding their manners.

2. Students who have torn their pants (crossed behavioral lines by acting like twerps) with multiple teachers with varying personalities. When the mildest teacher on my hallway sighs after certain names are mentioned, that is bad.

3. The number of students this school year who are failing multiple classes is more than the three or four previous years combined.

4. Parents who claim, “There is not enough communication.” We post information on our Learning Hub (website), send out a weekly newsletter, write our agendas on the board, and email regularly. I also personally send out classroom news  Tweets and texts via Remind. Really?! If the students don’t bother to write down information or recall simple facts when questioned, that is home training failure.

Example conversation with the Mumbler.

Me during an afternoon class: “Where is your pencil?” (Blank stare)

Mumbler: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Have you been to math?”

Mumbler: (Unintelligible response)

Me: “How did you get through math without a pencil?”

Mumbler: (Silence)

At this point of the school year , I may walk away shaking my head.

Pardon me while I also do the Bugs Bunny freak out.

RLT

It’s Okay to Say “No” to Sharing!

I just read an article about a mother who received dirty looks when her son did not share his toys with some perfect strangers at a playground. They ran back to their mommies and told how the Toy Man wouldn’t share. Toy Man brought his toys to share with his friend, not a pack of other kids. Tsk! That struck a chord with me. I have demanded that other students share with those who chose not to come to class prepared. No longer. I will have to learn to let it go and not seethe with rage when I see an apathetic middle school student sit there and do nothing. For forty-two to forty-five minutes. If they don’t have a pencil in their lockers, then that is what they will do. If they have supplies and don’t bring them, it will be a disciplinary issue. Three strikes means you serve a consequence.

Personally speaking, I paid money for my son’s supplies. I did not buy them to be shared. Other parents pay money for their own children, not some punk who won’t bother to bring his supplies. I am not speaking out against those who have an economic need. I take care of them with school supplies I buy with my dwindling budget. I try to plan ahead for the next year each spring. It is an expectation to have pencils, paper, colored pencils, rulers, etc. because “not every child has them.” When we use technology, I have to reserve enough devices or I am not allowing everyone equal access. That is a rant for another day. I am not advocating selfishness to one’s fellow man. Each student should be able to say “No” at the appropriate time. They should not be expected to give their prized pencils and/or erasers to someone who does not care and/or would not reciprocate. Mama bought me personalized pencils. That meant they were mine. All mine to use. Mine. The change begins the next time my class starts on Tuesday morning. Believe it.

RLT

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Discipline Hacks That Work!

I will bet you did not know that hair spray is an effective tool for maintaining order in the classroom. I have kept this secret under my hat. When a well-coiffured student acts out, I grab the travel size hair spray I keep in my classroom on my desk. I approach the student and ask if he would like me to comb his hair in the opposite direction. All of them refuse my offer. I am hurt.

Students love to move about whenever possible. I allow students to become camels while working quietly. They stand up behind their chairs and bend over like camels. I call them my little dromedaries.

One student loved to perform physical activities. I let him bear crawl down the hall one day after school once the other students had left. He was as happy as a lark. His mother was a coach, so I know what little I asked of him was insufficient to cause him pain or distress. He made me laugh while bear crawling.

Knowing all three names of a student can be extremely effective. Some despise their middle names, so they cringe in fear when I get that look in my eye akin to Momma and fix my lips to speak all three names. Little stinkers.

Lavender scented Air Wicks dispense calm, soothing lavender to some agitated young minds and bodies. It also helps to fight against any ODF students you may encounter (on-demand flatulence). I had one of those little cherubs last year. He sat right next to it and had probably realized that I was hep to the jive and kept that Air Wick fully stocked.

If you want to discourage the talkative, sneaky students, then demand that they share a personal journal on a volunteer basis. Cue the crickets. When I collected the journals, they began talking. I told them, “If you cannot share your journal writing, then you cannot talk now.” One of them had the unmitigated gall to give me a go-to-blazes look. I ignored her insolence and walked away.

Mr. Whistle works to curb my young runners who feel that lunch will escape without physical exertion. I reminded them that their food was already dead, so it would not run from them. Two loud blasts stops the sprints.

Allowing students to work in “vampire mode” is fun. I will turn off half of the lights to make it “half-vampire mode,” but these darlings prefer full vampire mode. I have five lamps placed around my room so that we are not in utter darkness. When they get too off-task in vampire mode, then we go back to “human mode” with all lights on.

Four Corners – students who have demonstrated weakness of character, bad manners, or need less socialization time earn the right to sit in the four corners of my classroom. This separates the conspirators who attempt to wreck my good humor, and the others learn that I did mean business despite warnings that went unheeded.

Utilize the “shark smile.” It actually is me baring my teeth with my lips shaped into a smile so that I resemble a shark. I call it my “shark smile.” They realize I am not smiling with joy but will soon mete out a consequence or invite them to a private one-on-one conversation in my office (hallway).

RLT

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Letting Go

I have had students who would not perform up to my expectations. They consistently sold themselves short and wasted time. I had a conversation with one of my current  charges who falls into this category. I told him I was not going to work harder than him. I was not accepting responsibility for his grades and performance in my classes if he would not try. I told him I thought he wanted to learn and get better at reading. I am letting him go. I will correct his misbehavior when I see it. I will let his parents take care of the home portion – doing homework assignments, basic care of needs, spiritual nourishment, etc. I can only “control” the forty-two to forty-five minutes I see him. Beyond that, I pray he has an appropriate catalyst to move forward, or I fear he will regress. I am releasing him to his own choices.

RLT