Category Archives: Classroom

Worn Out

By this time of year, I have written multiple office referrals, failure notices, detentions, and mandatory tutorial schedules. I have kept records of my interventions with the students who fail every test and quiz I give them. I took a two hour nap yesterday (Saturday) and another two hour nap today. I am worn out. Students want to be out of school. We still have 39 days left at this point in the school year. I want to be on my own schedule, too, but I know that I must wait for my reward. That is part of life. It’s “normal” to feel worn out in the early spring.

The misbehaving students, the hormonal students, and even the “on the fence about my behavior choices” students test our limits and patience. Kids have fights. They bring unacceptable items to school and get suspended. They sneak their mobile phones into the classroom and play silly games when you don’t happen to be right over the desk. They stare into space and dare you to make them learn. I would accomplish more if I truly had Mom and Dad insisting on better behavior at school. If some of my students who made poor choices were disciplined at home and contrite at school, I think I could accomplish quite a bit more. I cannot enrich my higher achievers because I am asked to do something about my failure rates. Those same kids perform poorly in multiple classes. My social studies class requires some reading acumen. Read the text with understanding. Answer questions that require thought. Make an effort to participate in discussions. Bring a pencil to class. Make sure you have the correct binder. Arrive to class on time. Please don’t make my time with you an ordeal of nerves making sure I am ever vigilant about managing your off task behavior choices. Please allow me to expend my energy expanding your world instead of controlling your impulses. Please. I am worn out. I go home and melt into a puddle. My family gets my leftover energy. I don’t have creativity for cooking innovative meals. I haul your work that I still have to grade home. If I have school aged children of my own, I have their homework to check over and their daily living to experience. I must manage bed time, adolescent angst, sports teams, and my marriage. Sometimes, if I ask you to sit for five minutes and read quietly, this gives me just a moment to breathe, regroup, and prepare for the next class. It is not laziness that makes me sit down with my shoes off after school. I have a life outside of school, and all too often at this time of year, I am too. One weary to do anything about it. Please show some mercy to your teachers. We are worn out. Worn. Out.

RLT

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A Wee Bit of Advice

This is the text of an email I sent to my students a couple of weeks ago. I need to make a poster or something that will stick to their minds permanently.
 
The fifth marking period begins Monday, February 25. Students, make sure you do the following:
 
1. Write your homework in your planner.
2. Complete your homework and turn it in on time.
3. Have a quiet place to study for tests/quizzes/completing HW.
4. Come in to tutorials for questions or a quiet place to work.
5. Clean your room. Pick up your laundry from the floor.
6. Take advantage of retakes when you need to do better on a test.
7. Remember to be kind, and do good.
 
Why did I write this informational list? I still have students who don’t write down homework assignments or want to email me the night before a test to ask me what they need to study. At that point, I don’t feel particularly polite, but I can write cordially like the best of them. My face probably looks like I’ve eaten or smelled something foul. They email to ask what is due the next day. Was that assignment we worked on homework? When is it due? Generally speaking, I don’t email back until the next day when I deem a question unworthy of answering at that time of day. At this point, I know who the jokers are. I wait until I arrive at school the next morning and then respond. I only use the student’s school-related email and carbon-copy their parent(s). No one can say my tone or text is improper. And they can’t hear my grumbling in my brain, either.
 
RLT

MVP

I had to explain to some students that even if LeBron James or Attila the Hun walked into my classroom, I am the MVP. Period.

Looking around at your friends, being off task, and not following directions is not an option. Futures are at stake. Period.

RLT

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Hopeful to be Adopted Kid-1, RLT -0

In class I was telling my kids that I was weary of finding backpacks, pencils, lunch bags, etc. I expressed myself vehemently. One student raised his hand as I finished my rant. I loudly proclaimed, “I’m not adopting you!” with mock rage. His head dropped in feigned sadness and his seat mate comforted him. “It’s okay.”

I relented and deigned to inquire, “Okay, hon, what was your question?”

“Have you found my water bottle?” I stared at him for a beat. My class burst into laughter as I covered my head and ears with my hands in a gesture of defeat. I didn’t answer him. He won. Today.

RLT

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Are You a Bear?

I take off my shoes after the students leave. When it’s warm outside, I go barefoot or don an inexpensive pair of flip flops. The other day was warm, so I had no shoes on. No, I’m not a Kenny Chesney No Shoes Nation type of girl. A student who isn’t in my class says, “Every time I see you, you’re barefoot.” I looked at her in disbelief and asked her to repeat herself. Inside my jaw had hit the carpet.

“Every time I see you, you’re barefoot. Are you a bear?” There were other students standing around.

“Do you know who I am?”

“Mrs. Johnson.”

“Yes, and I don’t think we have the type of relationship where you can say that to me. Remind me of your name because I am sure we will speak again.” I am not a bear.  I become Mama Grizzly on field trips; she doesn’t know that. This young lady was striving to be funny. Please make sure your audience is receptive to a humorous overture next time, hon.

RLT

Why You Make Me…

Take your hoodie because you keep putting the hood on after I said take it off? Now you’re cold, and I have no mercy. “Pick it up after school, and don’t be hard headed.”

Let you leave last because you try to dart like a deer out the door first? “You’ll be one of the last to leave class today.” Natural consequences.

Tell you to throw away your gum or lollipops that dangle from your mouth like a skinny cigarette? You saw the sign on my door. I overheard a student say, “You don’t chew gum this period.” Hmph. They know.

Assign a detention after school or before school? You know to sit down, keep your hands to yourself, and speak to me like you have sense.

Remind you that I don’t lend pencils when you announce you came to class unprepared? I don’t celebrate lack of preparation with a balloon or stick of gum. You earn a baleful eye and a question, “Where is your pencil?” Bonus winners get the phrase, “When the pencils I find and put in Grumpy Cat’s box run out, then what will happen?” I find at least one or two good pencils in the hallway carelessly left behind. I give them to my math teacher or save them for the Chucks-Outta-Luck who don’t bring squat to class.

Give you the stink eye? Do I ever let you come at me when I start class unless it’s blood, bones, or sickness? No, get over your hurt feelings, and move on.

Raise my voice to be heard when I get ready to dismiss class? Your conversation about the weekend or Snapchat is unimportant. Unimportant.

Close the door in your face when I tell you that the reteach session is more than halfway finished after you ignore the sign and locked door, and you show up late? It is too late. Come back another time. Make other plans. Deal. With. It.

Clean the desks because you draw on them? You will get to clean desks after school one day soon when I catch you.

Remind you that you aren’t grown up and get to talk to me like you’re an adult? I don’t have to explain myself. If I choose to do so, it is my prerogative. And you cannot cross your arms, ball up your fists, or roll your eyes at me when you have just barely been born. Step back, child. I am more than you bargained for.

RLT

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An Observation or Two

One ridiculous question begets another. They seem to be contagious like yawns or ever present like dandelions.

“What page is it on?” Wordlessly, I point to the reference on the board. Another hand goes up. “Where do we look?” Thank goodness I had not lowered my arm. Now I wiggle my index finger. The social butterfly lands, tosses her hair, and smiles. “What are we supposed to do next?” If I am cross, I respond, “I wasn’t paying attention either. I don’t even know what I said.” Mariposa (Spanish for butterfly) looks sheepish reads the directions. Slowly I lower my arm and survey the class. Where will the weed of ignorance sprout next?

Some students believe I will eat them up. I keep salt and pepper handy along with packets of ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, duck sauce, hot sauce, and taco sauce collected from my various jaunts to fast food establishments. I show the “pantry” to unbelievers who leave wide-eyed and wondrous, glad to escape with their lives. Yes, seeing IS believing in this case. I have smiled like a shark as I herded my “snacks” out of school. I win.

RLT

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Struggle is Still Real

Apparently my students have not had homework in their previous schools, so they are fighting me about doing their assignments at home. Grades are done for the first marking period of this year on Friday, and there will be a few surprises. I have become relentless about getting work turned in and even keep track of what I am doing to get the work from unmotivated students. Detentions will be issued today. Period. They will be fine once they get with the program. My face will show a different look when that happens; it will reflect the joy I have inside and not the disappointment I feel outside.

RLT

The Face

My face when I am looking at students who don’t turn in work and then look surprised when consequences start racking up.

Part of the Ship, Part of the Crew

This was taken on Monday after school for no good reason. I had their older siblings two years ago, and we have a connection. I can tell this duo has a great sense of humor already.

Somehow on the first day of school last Thursday, I spoke to one of them about sprouting wings. During our icebreaker we had a discussion about taking off (standing up), and I told them they could not flap their arms when they took off. That was it. They are in different classes for me, but I see them together after school like two peas in a pod. Meet the Wingmen!

RLT

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Hashtag Time

I had a great first day with my new students. When I left school, my tiredness was the kind that let me know I was on the road to a good year. Here are a couple of photos for my first day before and after school.

# Year24Teacher

RLT

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