Category Archives: Classroom management

No Rest For the Wicked

I have only taken a couple of days off this year, and they were for good reasons. One was due to a family emergency, and the other was for some training and/or planning session I had to attend. I don’t feel as though I can take a day off for mental health this year. I have too many needy individuals who require the presence of the Ironclad Woman to behave properly. There is at least one needy person in each hour of the school day. Neediness ranges from those who don’t care about school or themselves, those who won’t do the work, those who have emotional problems, those who want to be handheld over every little step, those who need to stop having fits like a toddler, those who need my eyes on them as a reminder to do their work, and those whose parents are negligent. There are more, but this is enough.

I say no rest for the Wicked because at the end of the day, I feel like the Wicked Witch. “You can’t use a dictionary during a vocabulary quiz.”

“You can’t wait two minutes to go to the restroom? I’ve been waiting two hours.”

“Stop touching each other in the hallway.”

“Give her back her pencil.”

“Sit down. Turn around. Do your own work. Mind your own business.”

“Be quiet.”

“Walk down the hallways.”

“Are you telling me the truth?”

“What do you think you are doing? What possessed you to do —? When have I ever allowed you to —-? The fifth of Never is when.”

“Read your book.”

“Pick up your trash.”

“Too much chatter that does not matter.”

“I have an ARD this week?”

“What do you need?”

“Whose phone went off? Bring it to me.”

“Spit your gum out.”

“Are you mumbling under your breath?”

“Are you speaking to me like that?”

“Wish granted. Go to ISS. And take your things with you.”

“I want to hear a ‘Yes, ma’am’ and see your feet moving.” After doing this all day long, it can be exhausting.

I encourage young teachers to take a day for themselves after creating enough work to keep the Looney Tunes Road Runner busy all class period. I have a “packet of death” to complete. No one wants it, but it may be used during the last week of school. I am keeping the lions at bay by keeping them busy, busy, busy. We have sixteen full instructional days and two days of STAAR testing for our sixth graders. And I cannot relent, let go, or quit. I have taught while sick. I have taught with migraines. I have taught with little sleep. I have taught in good weather, bad weather, and in a blackout. So when the weekend comes, I actually need to stop thinking about what’s next. I need to stop feeling guilty that I didn’t get everything finished by 4:00 on Friday afternoon. Telling me that it will wait until Monday means my pile grows exponentially. At the end of the school year, June 1, I plan to walk out of the building with my head held high because I finished. I may sleep like a dead woman after our teacher work day on Saturday, June 2, but I will know that finally I can rest. Without another list of “to-do’s” coming tomorrow. Even the Ironclad Woman needs to take off her armor and rest.

RLT

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I Simply Forgot

Yesterday I forgot to tell my language arts classes that their brainstorming page was homework. I had said, “Finish it before you write your draft. We will work on the writing in class tomorrow.” I had planned on an easy-for-them daily grade for doing the work and showing me in class. I received an email about this assignment because it wasn’t on my school’s website. I had emailed it as an attachment to the parents. It was not written in the agenda as homework. I was not trying to be confusing or difficult. I felt even more micro-managed than I already have been.

“Have them write ‘HW’ on homework or ‘classwork’ on in-class work.

Have him take a picture of the agenda with his phone at the beginning of class.

Receive an email at 9:12 A.M. during a class. Receive another at 9:30 A.M. chiding your slow response to the first email. Receive another email at 9:43 asking if you’ve seen the previous emails. Class ends at 9:53 A. M. Another one begins. Still no response to email. Call the assistant principal about the teacher not responding to emails in a timely manner. When I click the mailbox icon to check my email, I see several from one parent in my inbox, an all-staff email about a school-wide directive, an invitation to an ARD or Section 504 committee meeting, a notice about some paperwork for a student who’s taking meds, fourteen hundred pieces of junk email, a reminder about that meeting that starts in three minutes, and a reminder about a staff meeting after school this week. This is a slow day.

Take data for Special Education students accommodations. Each six weeks. Record how they are progressing in your class. Reading goals. Writing goals. Behavioral goals.

Keep up with Section 504 students’ accommodations. All of them on a daily basis. This means reminders to be on task. Preferential seating. Learning lab privileges. Copies of teacher notes. The copier is jammed, or the person who copies entire dictionaries is just starting her print job, and the notes need to go home with Janey Sue before her dental appointment this afternoon. Mom will email you if you don’t get them to Janey Sue before she leaves for the day. You had her first period, and she is not in your hallway again until fifth period. It is now fourth period. You’re late for the meeting trying to find an open and working copier.

During lunch, sit and email parents to notify them if their student’s grades are slipping. At least once or twice before the six weeks grading period ends. This could help when they say, “I didn’t know Jim Bob was failing.”

Manage aberrant behavior in classrooms with strong-willed personalities determined to break your resolve. Calmly. All of the time.

Come up with an enrichment or remediation lesson for students who need it. For both subjects. And decide which one deserves priority this week. Oops. You chose incorrectly again.

Monitor students in the classroom and hallway at the same time.

While standing in the hallway/doorway, field questions asked over the music in the hallways about what is needed for class while holding a sign that lists the needed items. I have held up a sign that read, “Bring colored pencils.” To me it is obvious that if a student does not have them, then they would not bring them. I will have several stop goggle-eyed and say, “Do we need colored pencils?” Others will state, “I don’t have any” and stand almost dumbstruck. I make them go inside the room by saying that I have colored pencils. By the way, I have had colored pencils in my room since day one. They don’t remember that. They haven’t any problems telling me what they don’t have or if something is “unfair.” Oh, and make sure you unstick the locker of those students whose backpacks, jackets, etc. clog the mechanism. The veins in my arms and forehead bulge out as I strain to pop them open. Oops, those recalcitrant kids are off-task again in my room.

So, I love what I do, and I do it well. However, this time, I simply forgot to say the assignment was homework. Oh, I had better check my email. ✉️

RLT

My Special Day

I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow. Yes, I will be at school. I did not take the day away to be on my own schedule. That respite will come another day once I get my sub plans together. One needs restoration after trying days, classes, and moments. Phone calls with exasperated parents trying to understand why their child is doing or not doing. Emails detailing how a parent can assist with homework and keep up with assignments. Some say, “It’s the child’s responsibility to keep up with their work, not Mom and Dad.” I agree; however, that is not the case. Tomorrow, I plan to keep my youngsters busy enough to stay out of mischief. My youngest sister has threatened a scary clown delivery of Hurts Donuts. We shall see. I’ll let you know how it goes. HBDTM (Happy birthday to me)

RLT

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

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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