Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And In This Corner...

So, we’ll start with MG. When we have PE, he does the usual smack-talk/taunting stuff that you can expect from a boy-child goalie — but when the other team scores, and cheers, he cries and stomps off. He also lies like a rug. Then we have JM, who does what he wants and has no remorse. Ever. Consequences don’t bother him because at least he got to do whatever it was that entered into his mind to do. His mantra is pretty much “OK, whatever.” We have BM, who swears at kids, has been known to inappropriately touch another boy (same kid, same spot, twice), and will kick or hit or punch or throw to the ground whoever he feels like it, whenever that urge strikes. Finally (from my own room, at least), we have JC, who doesn’t lie because he has a hard enough time talking or answering questions, but has been known to call kids names (he likes to tell kids they’re stupid or idiots, apparently). So: Almost immediately after school on Thursday, EC comes back to the classroom. “Did you miss me already?” Of course he did, but that wasn’t the reason for his return. JM punched MG in the stomach a few times and ran. MG was now in the nurse’s office, and JM was gone home. The counselor who handles such things told me she’d be gone the next day, so here’s the information, and just handle it. Right. Let us note that we have had anti-bullying stuff until it’s coming out our ears. Kind of like in Syracuse when we spent a huge chunk of fifth grade in D.A.R.E., and it turned out that half the class drank alcohol during that time. So the next day, JM says that MG did “this” (and demonstrated) and called JM a girl during lunch recess. That Code of Honor culture that they mentioned in The Outliers? It is VERY strong here. However, there is a huge local (city-wide) bullying problem being played out in the media because in a number of schools (charter and high school, mostly, I think) kids are reporting bullying and absolutely nothing is done. Many parents don’t have the option to pull their kids from school, nor should they have to. So I get to school and run into the principal and vice principal, and tell them what happened. They are livid, because they were on the premises at the time and weren’t notified. (Not mad at me.) So JM gets in-school suspension and the work we’re doing so he can keep up. I remind him of the legal seriousness of what he’s done (nothing else matters to him). MG’s mother has, according to JM, pressed charges. So then I ask MG what happened. He claims that he stopped playing soccer and then went over to the fence and started doing jumping jacks. Seriously???? And he was breathing hard, but never said a word to JM. I point out to him that (A), he told me that his aunt’s electricity was turned off each Tuesday and that’s why he couldn’t do his reading homework and (B), since he spent a great deal of time avoiding activity and was a goalie because it didn’t involve much work, I had a very hard time believing that he suddenly decided to do jumping jacks for the first time all year. I told him that I’m not trying to “blame the victim,” but I was very much interested in his not spending his whole life being beat up (this has come up before, a few times). We also discussed turning around and walking away when you need to cry. There’s nothing wrong with crying, but if a bully can make you cry, then you’ll be a target. So here I’m thinking that life will be down to a dull roar soon, as JM is back in the room today. Yeah. Except that yesterday afternoon the assistant principal comes to me. BM was picking on a second grader while waiting for the bus. Picking on as in walloping him with his backpack or something. OK, I will escort him to the bus. He had like seven minutes of recess, so he promptly went outside and slammed JM to the ground. (JM is kind of small — Julia could probably slam him to the ground.) Really? You really need to do this?? I sent them straight to the office when I heard. Let him explain it to the principal. Then the counselor wants to see JC. This boy M (a real sweet guy who also gets bullied a lot) is saying that JC is making fun of him, etc. OK, I’ll deal with this, but I have to go into my room to take care of the rest of my class at the moment. They are still in the hall. After school, I get a call from M’s mother. She is upset because JC basically got a slap on the wrist or less — for telling M that he (JC) was going to sic his dog on M to kill him! Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiit! I hadn’t heard this part!! The mom said that maybe she should talk to M again. I said no — I know M. He’s a good kid and an honest kid, and I like him. (Mom was happy to hear that, but it’s true.) If he tells you something happened, it happened. This was simply the first I’d heard of it. So she wanted more done than a warning, which is what I think she said he got. I said of course, and we’re open until 4 — she should just come down and talk to whomever. She was at work though, so she couldn’t, but she was definitely going to follow through. I asked her to keep me informed. Since it’s Tuesday (and a very long one, at that!!!), we had grade level meeting after school. I told M’s teacher what happened with the phone call. A few weeks ago, they upped the anti-bullying thing by coming up with these forms that kids could fill out, and expect immediate results. So M filed the report about the threat like two weeks ago!! But nothing every happened. He filed more since then — nothing. Finally, today was the name-calling thing, and so his teacher told him to go directly to the counselor and make her listen. But there weren’t really any solutions we could come up with during grade level meeting. The problems don’t happen in my classroom. They happen on the playground. The playground monitors don’t really monitor (we’ve had that problem here since I got here). I feel like we’re playing Survivor. Only 4 more weeks!! On the plus side, yesterday I started this extra math unit (since we’re done with testing and not doing AIMS prep any more). We’re learning about checks. Yesterday they started with $100 to put in their check registers. They had to write a check to a classmate for ten dollars, deduct it, and give it to the classmate, who had to add it in on theirs. Then they had to write a second check in any amount to any student, and put it in. Today I handed the kids who were lined up on time to come in a check, but each check had a different amount on it. I pointed out that the teachers all do the same job, but we don’t all make the same amount of money. I knew they didn’t know that. For one math assignment they did yesterday, I paid them $5 math kit money for each correct answer. Then they learned to fill in a deposit slip with the cash, plus a check if they were on time to get one. Then they had to put the deposit in their check register. After that, they paper-clipped it together and put it in the basket that said Bank of Calderone on it. They also learned how to endorse the check I gave them. They are loving this, a lot more than the graphing unit lessons, although graphing isn’t bad either.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


OMG, the AIMS (tests) are finally over! Two tests per day times four days, and each test ends up running around an hour and a half, by the time everyone is done. Yesterday they were starting to look like they were ready for Exploding Brain Syndrome, so I got out paper lunch sacks and taught them to make puppets and how to write a script. They finished making the puppets this morning, and will finish the scripts this afternoon (in theory). Then tomorrow they can practice some more and present their puppet shows. We don’t have SFA (reading), so we will have the time to do that. For the entire testing period, plus before, I’m walking around in circles. That’s a lot of circles. Tuesday night I went to be shortly after I got home and slept until 5:30. Zzzzzzz. Today after the last test, we did “circle time” and debriefed. We went around the circle for each question: How were the tests the same as what you expected? How were they different? What did you do this school year that helped you do well? What did you do this school year that kept you from doing your best on the AIMS? What will you do or do differently next year? Debriefing is good. It doesn’t make sense to me to just move on after the test is over. There needs to be at least some small amount of processing. Some were surprised at how boring, long, and hard it was. They expected a little boring, a little long, and a little hard, but not like what they got. I have told them that I don’t worry about those who recognize that the test is hard, especially since every single question is written so that half the students answering it get it wrong. I worry about those who think the tests are easy, because they more than likely failed. You have to really concentrate on these questions (even I have had problems with some of the practice test questions), so if they can just zip through it, it’s a bad sign. Usually my “zippers” are those who can’t read at grade level anyway and have no clue what they’re reading. But, now it’s over, except for the part where a chunk of my evaluation is based on their AIMS scores and progress. Progress = FFB needs to move up to Approaches, A needs to move up to Meets, and M needs to move up to Exceeds. Um, yeah. Me, I’m happy if a kid who Meets still does the next year. Every year you have to get more answers right to get Meets, so getting the same level 2 years in a row IS making progress.