Tag Archives: Students

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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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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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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Be: A to Z

I wrote this as I was finishing out a tough school year for me. I wanted to say something positive and give them food for thought. This will be an annual tradition on the last day of school.

#BE

Amazing and artistic

Buoyant

Courteous, caring, and content

Dreamy, daring, and dressed for success

Engaged and exploring

Friendly, festive, and forgiving

Goal-oriented and generous

Hopeful and honorable

Interested

Joyful

Kind

Listening and learning

Marvelous and musical

Neat

On time and of good reputation

Pleasant

Quiet when writing

Respectful and reverent

Still and surprised by what life offers

Truthful and trustworthy

Understanding

Versatile

Well-mannered and willing to try or help out

Xtra careful with others’ feelings, property, and reputation.

Yourself

Zest-filled

-Mrs. Johnson

May 20, 2018

RLT

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The End Is In Sight

I realized that our class periods are shortened this week. This will mean a little less time with some of my troubled youngsters. That is not a bad thing. Less exposure to negativity is usually a good thing. I have learned that I am still a perfectionist, and I have learned that I am not elementary material. More than two class periods with some personalities drains my energy, wit, and good humor. Dealing with reluctant readers, artful dodgers, petulant toddlers in preteen bodies, and two-faced liars has taken its toll. Some of my students are really, truly damaged but perfect souls. Oh, LORD, heal them. Fill in the cracks of their little hearts, and make them whole. Some of their parents have not done this, so they seek attention and love (structure and boundaries) in any way possible.

By acting out.

By pouting and sitting with an attitude that dares me to engage them in battle. “Just try to make me do my work, lady!”

By not completing assignments so that someone will say, “Do this work, or else there will be a consequence.”

By running and hitting or kicking each other in the halls.

By being disrespectful because they see it on the TV and in the movies with parents and teachers being regarded as idiots.

By the games they play, pitting their parents against the teachers and not telling the full story. LORD, heal them, I pray, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train.

RLT

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Really? (Or I Regain My Joy)

One of my colleagues organized a thank you note writing campaign through our ILA (integrated language arts) department. Students wrote to two teachers. I received notes from some unexpected sources: current students who I am hard on about turning in work on a regular basis, former students who appreciated my humor, former students who recalled my words, and current students who brighten my day. I received my stack of notes during second period and put them into my bag later on. I took them out, sat in my recliner, and cried like a baby after reading some of their words. It was God telling me that my living, my striving to push the students I have, and my speaking the truth about life truly is not in vain. I was in sore need of those good words and sentiments after another long week. My troubled students’ ongoing behavioral and/or academic struggles, the normal toil of grading papers, attending meetings, and preparing for two subjects, and my concern about having my room “perfect” for state testing on Monday and Tuesday drained my energy.

Reading those notes about how I, a little middle school social studies and ILA teacher, affected some young people just blew me away. I had forgotten my prior actions and words. I just did not remember everything. But these children, these lovely, perfect souls, have restored the joy I felt I had lost. I had finally admitted it to myself two days ago and went about with a dark cloud trailing me. I had lost my smile and just felt adrift. Now, my joy is renewed, and my heart is light. I may actually shed a tear on the last day this year. I wasn’t sure that I’d feel like that, but now the bittersweetness of the end of the school year is settling in. Thank you for restoring my joy and reawakening the upbeat vibe I had let go to sleep.

RLT

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Papi and the Witch

Papi -1

Mrs. J -0

He worked on an English language arts assignment using The Outsiders. Because I want to keep up with what’s happening, I plan to re-read the book. I hope I don’t cry again like I did the first time I read it in high school.

As we walked out to his dad’s car  today, the rain drops began to fall with a bit more speed. I said, “I’m not going to melt.”

“Are you a witch? I heard you dressed up as a witch for Halloween.”

“Do I celebrate Halloween?”

“No.”

“Then I wouldn’t dress up as a witch for Halloween.” I sighed in disgust and ruffled his hair. That boy! Little does he know that I had formerly styled myself as the “Wicked Witch of the Compass Rose” years ago. I am not always good like Glenda the Good (from the North) nor do houses falling during cyclones scare me like the Wicked Witch of the East. And I don’t melt with water like the Wicked Witch of the West. Dousing me only earns my ire and some type of discussion in close quarters that usually reduces the miscreant child to tears. I was taken aback and did not respond accordingly. He has a small amount of latitude because I know Papi has a bad attitude about staying with me, but it’s too bad, so sad. We are in for the long haul, young man.

RLT

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Are You Even Listening to Me?

Inattentiveness is rampant. “Turn to page 300.” Students look around the room. One leans over to pick up the book. Two sets of hands go up, “What page?” My gaze hardens. Three stare into space. The eight that followed directions exhibit the impatience I feel at this point in the year. I see eye rolls from them and do my best not to say, “Yep!”

The rites of spring are soon upon me in the classroom. Longing gazes out of windows scream, “Can’t we go outside?” Resolving myself to maintain order amidst chaos, I reply, “No.” I hear groans and see lips puff out in pouts. “Other classes get to go outside.” “Yes, but I am talking to you. I am not talking to other classes. Crack that book to page 300, and let’s get moving.” Reluctant learners finally acquiesce to my directive, prop their heads on their hands, stare a hole through my heart, and outwardly comply. The irony in all of this is that they would be on their electronics playing a game or engaging in Snapchat instead of soaking up vitamin D while sitting still as a gentle breeze caresses their youthful complexions and reading their books in peace. No, they are not listening to me. I am a voice of reason and too overage to be “cool” or “in.”

RLT

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The Mean Season

We have been rapidly thrust into the “mean season” before state testing in May. This is when the students get on each other’s nerves.  Some personalities grate my nerves as well. This particular class has a larger than normal pocket of negativity that continually gravitates together in the cafeteria or hallway.  The adage of “birds of a feather” could not be truer than my class this year.

The badly behaved birdies make the better behaved students suffer through their actions. It’s a pain to feel like a gloved fist all day long and not uncurl and laugh a bit more with the ones who actually get my humor. Some days I am an iron fist in a velvet glove. Other times find me being an iron fist in an iron glove. My colleagues and I racked our brains but had no new solutions. Other teachers in our building who are the brain trust for school-wide incentives have formulated some plans.

We use incentive money (we are our own mint, and it’s not legal tender!) to reward kids doing the right thing without being prompted. Next week we will allow students who passed their classes to be outside for a “big kid recess” during our Advisory period. We have a store for kids to buy goodies like ring pops, pizza party passes, the privilege of listening to music on a device, or being able to take shoes off. I just need to remember to hand out my cash to kids I see doing the right thing the first time without reminders. I’ll just have to visit the bank and get some more moolah.

RLT

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