Category Archives: Students

Serving Notice

I had to contact parents of students whose grades were not up to the passing standard. No one wrote back to question the grade. I was surprised. Several of the parents heard from me twice since I teach both social studies and language arts this year. Now they know, and now we move forward. I gave them my tutorial schedule and several reasons why the grade was low. I placed the responsibility on the student. We shall see how my serving notice goes over in the future days.

Yesterday, one of my angry young men spoke out disrespectfully in front of his classmates after redirection to work. He still made no effort. I sent him to the in-school suspension room. As he left the classroom, I spoke up, too, “That was disrespectful and unacceptable.” The other students watched silently, and class resumed its easy demeanor.

RLT

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A Little Respite

I saw a couple of former students this past week. One was at the volleyball game last night. He is now a senior in high school. I marveled at his height and how grown up he looked. He was one of my Footies, a group of boys and one girl who were mad about football (their word for soccer). I kept up with Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid’s stats that year just to connect with them. I am no soccer expert, but catching their enthusiasm was fun.

I asked Papi to come see me after he finished up some work for math after school. I will be monitoring him as much as possible from my little corner of the world. I miss our daily battles, but now I can treat him with the frank affection reserved for a son (being embarrassing by showing up in his hallway without warning) and no one will be jealously saying, “He’s your favorite!” He was my favorite sixth grader last year; this year he is my favorite seventh grader. Period. Papi had that funny little smile when he saw that I had written my birthday in his planner. A son should always remember his mom’s birthday even if she’s his school mom and just there for a season.

RLT

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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

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

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

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

Completed.

The school year ended today. My being a teacher of record concluded as well. Next year will bring new faces to my classroom. 

My sick young lady was able to go to school and finish the school year with her classmates. I am glad.

Papi gave me another goodbye hug and consented to take a picture with me. I’ll include all three takes. 

I cried saying goodbye to my former students who were ending their eighth grade year and making a final walk through the school. I will probably cry a bit tomorrow at the last staff meeting because some will not return for one reason or another. My prayer is that their new endeavors bring them joy and a satisfying sense of a job well done.

RLT

What a Day!

One of my students collapsed in the hallway and was lying on the floor. I saw her feet and thought she was faking it. She was clammy and sweaty with an elevated blood pressure reading. I dropped to my knees and saw some girls in the hallway. I yelled at them to get the nurse. Track Star hit the bricks! Several adult ladies including our fabulous school nurse gathered to get my girl into an office out of sight of prying eyes. She just looked terrible. Just terrible!!! She went to the doctor, so I am praying for a complete recovery.

Due to the medical emergency, I was late to a second day of Japanese school lunch: kids eat lunch in the classroom. They were thrilled to sit in my room and enjoy fellowship. Seeing their smiling faces elevated my spirits although my mind was still on my sick little girl. Here are my lunch lambs.



At the end of the day, I caught up with Papi. He was in a different classroom all day long. Grrr! I looked at him and right there in the hallway I said, “Do you know how much I love you?” He hugged me, and I hugged him back. He said, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Johnson, it’ll be all right. Thanks for the year.” I let him go and had to walk away blinking back the tears that would not stop. I know that he cares for me and cares about my opinion. I know it. I know it. I know it. Here is the picture I snapped of him last week.


RLT

Dare Me?

I really need to buy this t-shirt and then wear it on the last day of school. Dare me to do it? 😜

I do my best to enjoy my lambs the last few days of the school year, and my goal is to leave work on that final day with happy tears only. I want the kids to have happy tears, too. Some will. Others will choose to be miserable and then try to spread their misery around. Nope! Slap a smile on your face, and get glad!! 😎 

A few may find out my actual opinion that I have held in. All. Of. This. Time. “I’m sorry you decided to be hateful and rude to me and to your fellow students. I’m sorry you were a liar and lost your parents’ trust. I’m sorry you are so angry with anyone who dares to correct you that you behave poorly as a result. I’m sorry you frustrate your parents’ best efforts to help you be a better person. I’m sorry you did not feel homework was important enough to complete or that it was worth it to fail tests and quizzes, repeatedly. Enjoy your existence.” Anyone who remains hard-hearted and hard-headed will eventually face an obstacle that cannot be moved. I have no plans to witness their comeuppance.

RLT