Saturday, January 30, 2010

So glad I don't teach the upper grades!

The last half of last year was really hard for me...just check out the very beginning of my blog.

One of the worst days was this one.

Ms. Tours has not improved her classroom management skills. A bit earlier this year, many of the teachers came together and complained at the same time to Sr. Callejo. Her classes are out of control, children are getting hurt (because Ms. Tour can't keep control and teachers weren't finding out about the injuries ((children getting shoved off the stage)) until parents came to complain about them and students coming back from performing arts in such a state that no teaching could happen until they calmed down. Sr. Callejo had a meeting with Ms. Tours and she was told to create a behavior plan and stick to it. Months later, nothing has changes which became painfully obvious on Tuesday of last week.

She was not paying attention and a fight between Cosmo and Zarahe broke out. A serious one. Kids were egging them on, screaming and shouting. Zarahe started the fight, with Cosmo deflecting at the beginning and then (guessing at this part) said "F*%# it" to himself and fought back hard. The fight was about 25 seconds long (I know this because the kids decided to record it on their cell phones and I saw it later that afternoon) and wasn't broken up until the woman who works in the cafeteria came and broke it up. Ms. Tours could be heard in the background telling the kids to "stop it," she also asked some of the other sixth graders to break the fight up instead of doing it herself. (Um. Helloooooo.)

But this sort of begs the question. Now that we have middle school kids, what do you do if the kids start fighting? I got in between Cosmo and Fonzo last year (they had stopped throwing punches, but would've started up again I hadn't been there. I always thought that I would try to get between them, stop it, pull them apart. Ms. Hernandez said that she would never do that because the kids can get so angry and she wouldn't want to get hit. (To that I say "Bring it on.") But she also mentioned that she knew of teachers who had done that and then gotten into trouble for "man handling" the kids.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ah, Redemption

So the last half of last year with the sixth graders was really really hard. Very little real teaching went on. I walked into school three goals; to keep everyone alive, get one thing done in reading and one thing done in math. If I accomplished those three things, I felt like I was successful. Awful isn't it? Five months of awful.

On the days that they drove me most up the wall, I would go and vent to Ms. Hernandez, who worked with them for about an hour everyday for Social Studies. I haven't written much about Ms. Hernandez, but she really is one of my rocks. She's been at ALDR since the beginning and the kids truly both fear and respect her.

But I have to say that she always said that if she was in charge of the kids they would be beautifully behaved and that they would do all their work.

Well. She's teaching them now. Not all day long, but in a rotation with two other teachers. It's only taken from August 'till now, but she is fed up! They don't listen, they don't care, they don't do their work, Ms. Hernandez was ticking all the these things off on her fingers.

So in my head, I did little back flips, jumped up and down and did a little dance. But outwardly, I ticked off on my own finger all the things that worked for me, which parents to call and for whom it worked to take away recess.

Because...I try to be a good person and I felt for her. But honestly, it was all I could do to not say, "I told you so!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finally being in control...

and having it all taken away from you. That's what happened to me this afternoon.

So the first day or so after the kids came back from break were fantastic. They were calm, ready to listen and mostly (in fact I'm sure) still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes from having to get up so early for the first time in awhile. Those two days ended so fast. Since then, it has been a constant fight to get their attention for anything (even recess, RECESS people!) But...

(For those of you non-teacher people; that's a behavior chart!! That kid must go to school on the weekends though!)

I've tried as many (perhaps even more) different kinds of behavior management styles as I have ways of keeping track of the writing implements in my classroom. I've tried those behavior charts with the color coded pockets. I've tried putting everyone's name on the board and keeping those in for recess that have two or more check marks. I've tried yelling (after asking nicely more than once.) I've tried keeping everyone in at recess. I've tried the-put-your-hand-in-the-air-and-wait-for-silence-method. I've spoken to parents. I've tried shutting the lights off. I've tried a password. I've tried the good cop/bad cop method. Some of these things worked for a few days, some for a few weeks, some for an hour. I couldn't get anything to stick for any real length of time.

A few years ago, these were the sorts of things that would get me all in a tizzy and keep me from sleeping for days and sometimes months at a time. I would be stressed out because my days were so awful in the classroom because it felt like I always fighting against them. Very little good teaching can go on in that type of environment and so I constantly felt like I was failing them and not doing my job. Which at the end of the day would only make me feel worse and cue the no sleeping bit.

Today was a tough day. There wasn't much teaching going on, some of my pencils (my beautiful mechanical pencils!) were stolen, I was lied to, kids hit each other. I was standing there, trying to teach a lesson about place value. I had somewhat of a break through. I realized that I wasn't internally panicking. (I learned a long time ago that you can NEVER outwardly show panic. They are very much like animals. They smell the fear.) I realized that I was calm. I was ready. I was going to deal with it and have it be done. It was a very empowering feeling. I was on top of the world.

So, I said loud enough for only the kids sitting in first row to hear, "I'm taking a minute off your recess." The news spread quickly, but it wasn't until minute seven that something started to happen. They started to quiet down. I got back to teaching and the next time it happened, I didn't even have to say anything. I just added minutes to the board. They lost over half their recess. Later however, they earned it back by sitting ALMOST completely quietly during read aloud (both while I read and while another student read!!!!!)

I decided that when they can't earn it back, everyone comes into my room for the beginning of recess. After about a minute, I'll let the four (out of eighteen children) that I never have to ask twice, outside early and kept the other for the rest of the time. This way, I'm giving consequences for not behaving, rewarding positive behavior and (hopefully) encouraging other kids to just FOLLOW SIMPLE DIRECTIONS like "Sit Down Please."

So when the classes changed and I got my fourth graders, whom I can usually count on to bring me up after my third graders I was relieved. When we got back from lunch (which was CRAZY) I realized that it was not going to be an easy afternoon. I was lied to, disrespected, not listened to and one kid smacked another kid. Ergo, not much learning going on.

And so, I did the repeated the process I had gone through with the third graders. I finally got a math lesson going. Some kids were gone for speech and so when everyone came back, we paused and I called everyone over into the library to have a little chat. Everyone was silent. They could tell I was very unhappy. I hadn't raised my voice, but they could tell from the way I was talking that I was not happy.

So we all sat down. I explained how I was feeling and how it wasn't working for me. We talked about why we come to school. We talked about what will happen if they didn't follow directions. We talked about whether or not my "new" rules were fair. They agreed that they were. Just as we were finishing and I was about to send them back to their math assignment, Mr. Rama came in. (Presumably, but I didn't find out for sure about about another thirty minutes, to take Kismet for his afternoon break.)

Mr. Rama really makes me uncomfortable in a lot of different ways. The one that really annoys me is the way he acts so superior. He can be very dismissive of other people, without actually being dismissive. He'll say things like, "I don't mean to interrupt, but..." or "I don't mean to step on your toes, but..." or "I certainly didn't mean to take over, but..." When he totally DOES mean to do all those things. He says all the right things so that you can't accuse him of not saying all the right things. Then later, he'll come up and apologize again, to make it seem like he was really sincere about his faux pas. (He's done this to me in front of parents before. PARENTS people!) But he doesn't mean it, because he'll just do it again at the next meeting or during the next class discussion he happens to walk into.

Mr. Rama realized that we were having a classroom discussion, which is pretty much his favorite thing in world because he gets to go all mollycoddle on the kids, let's talk about our feelings, let's define our feelings, let's give examples of our feelings. So as I predicted the moment he walked in, he said, "Let me ask you a question. How do you feel about following directions?" and he looked at me as if he just remembered that I was leading the discussion and said, "I hope you don't mind but..." Since he had already asked the question, I wasn't going to say, "Well, no actually..." (But I think next time, I'll have the guts to!) All the children turned in his direction. I had just lost all the control. Done. Eyes were no longer on me.

Also as a preface, I've had lots of conversations about what what things like respect and following directions means on other occasions. During the day before, in fact and so I was being very stern, quiet and clear very much on purpose. I've had the kids come with their own definitions in their own words. (You might be surprised at how many kids DON'T know.) We done that. More than once. They know exactly what is expected of them. It was time for some tough love.

The conversation about what feelings mean, examples of feelings, examples of times the kids didn't follow directions went on and on and on and on and ON. All of the questions came from Mr. Rama (who also did some of the answering.) By the time it was over, he (I say he because he was the one REALLY in charge!) had used up our entire Science Literacy period. There was also a point near the end, where he decided to come kneel next to me (I was sitting in my chair, the kids were on sitting on the floor) to make the kids turn towards me again. (You know as if to remind me once again that I wasn't the one in charge.

If this was the first or even second time he pulled something like this, I wouldn't care. But I feel like I've gotten his routine down enough so that now, I can figure out a good way to stop him next time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Worst Cooks in America

Every night for the past few weeks, The Boy and I have been watching Alton Brown on the Food Network. (This was not my choice as he sort of creeps me out, but I usually hog the T.V. for background noise in the early evening and so I don't begrudge it...too much ;) He's sort of growing on me though. I'm becoming better at ignoring his uppity way of explaining things and I've stopped rolling my eyes (for the most part) when The Boy goes, "Yup!" (as in; he already knew that) and "Ohhhhh!" (as in, he didn't know that yet.)

But what I'm really enjoying are the commercials for "Worst Cooks in America." I would win this show. Hands down.

As I'm not much of a foodie, I never really learned the craft of cooking. My parents both cooked, though very differently. When my mum cooked, I wanted to be the one that had to clean up. This was because when she cooked, she made yummy food AND cleaned as she went. I always wanted my brother to have the nights my dad cooked, because he made awesome food and usually left quite a mess. This is really my way of explaining that I wasn't in the kitchen much while the food was being made. I just never had the desire to learn...and so I never did.

When I moved out on my own, I was very happy to eat the same thing most of the time. I don't remember what I ate for those first few months I lived on my own and so I guess it really didn't matter much. I was good at Annie's Mac and Cheese, omelets, cereal, ice cream (which other people don't count as a meal, but I sure do) and steak. I do remember that I didn't really have to clean the oven in my first apartment when I moved out, because I could count the number of times it had been used on one hand.

It was at this point that I thought about learning to cook other things, not really because I wanted to, but more because I just thought I should. I tried to learn from my dad, but when I asked him how me made something or how much of a particular ingredient he added, he would just shrug his shoulders and say "Enough." For someone who needs all the details and lots of practice before she goes all freestyle, this was very frustrating and I sort of gave up.

My first Thanksgiving on my own is a great example of how little I knew about cooking by the age of 23. I was here in La Pasa and didn't really know anyone except my close girlfriend from Bennington, who left town for the holiday. I hadn't even met The Boy yet. I decided that it was silly to buy a turkey for myself and thought that a small chicken would do the trick. I can't remember if it was because I wasn't making much money, (I was an E.A. that year) because I didn't want to learn any more than one thing at once or because I just FORGOT to buy anything else but the chicken for dinner.

On Thanksgiving, I called home and got directions from my dad about how to clean my chicken, how long it should go in the oven for and at what temperature. The most frightening part of the process for me was definitely going to be deciding when it was done. This was how my dad described it; "Just wait until you can twist the drumstick just enough (there was that word again) and have the rest of the carcass (my dad likes that word, its used with love) stay still.

This description posed many problems for me. Because I had never cooked a chicken before, I had no idea what "just enough" felt like. What if I couldn't get the drumstick to twist? What if I let it cook too long and it got too twisty? What if I thought it twisty enough, got it out of the oven, cut it open and it wasn't done? What if because of all the times I've opened the oven to check to see if the drumstick was twisty, the oven lost too much heat and the chicken NEVER got twisty?

I followed my dad's instructions very carefully and got the chicken in the oven. It was the first time I used that oven. (Though to be fair, I had only moved into the apartment a month and a half before.) I sat down to wait. I can't remember the number of times I called home after checking to see if the drumstick was twisty and not being sure if there was the proper amount of twistyness. Over three hours after the drumstick was "supposed" to be twisty enough, I took the chicken out in defeat. I cut it open and discovered it was not cooked thoroughly. After this failure, my dad suggested buying an oven thermometer. I soon discovered the oven was about 70 degrees cooler than the temperature you asked it to be. That's the last time I cooked chicken.

A few months later, I ventured into the kitchen again. I have no idea where I came up with the idea for the recipe, but it was a very basic beef stir fry with rice. After working with the recipe six or seven times, I thought it was pretty good and would make it once or twice a week. It was soon after this that I met The Boy. I offered to cook for him for one of our first dates.

I spent a lot of time at the grocery store picking just the right beef and vegetables. I went to my favorite wine shop and picked out just the right bottle of doesn't-say-anything-about-tasting-oak-barrels-on-the-label red wine to go with it. The Boy came over and I made a big deal about being all up in the kitchen and getting everything together just so. I served the dinner, we sat down to eat and the dish had absolutely NO favor. I don't know what happened, but it just didn't taste like anything at all.

I wasn't mortified until the first time The Boy made dinner for me. It was perfection. A five course, wine matched bit of perfection. To this day he swears he loved that meal I made for him. It is however, hard to believe when I've been eating homemade stocks, home cured bacon, stuffed porkchops, fried pears in sugar, steak salads and chicken thigh, leeks and celery braised in champagne and served over home made polenta or something just as wonderful for the last two and a half years.

That is why I would win "Worst Cooks in America." Hands down.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Inspiring Article about Teaching!

I loved reading this article. Enjoy!

Multiplication Tables

I'm not a teacher that is a fan of having kids memorize things in general. However, I feel differently when it comes to multiplication tables. They are the one thing that I think kids just need to memorize.

I think they should know the 2's through the 12's (because the zero's and one's are easy) and the 15's and the 20's through to 12 (because in my own life I use the 15's and 20's a lot and wish they were as beaten into my brain as the others.) I use the 15's and 20's as extra credit for the kids who learn the 2's through the 12's. Whenever I begin the process with classes, they balk at the number of facts they need to learn, but actually, there's so many turn around facts that in the end it's always about two thirds less than they think it is.

My classes use flash cards and they take home half sheets of paper corresponding the to the table they need to learn to help them practice at night. Every day at the beginning of math time, they take a quiz corresponding to the table they are working on. It's a laminated one by six inch sheet with mix facts and they have a minute to complete it with a dry erase marker. (The laminating idea was Sophie's and totally saved me paper and time!) This encourages the kids to stop counting on their fingers. They learn quickly that if they count on their fingers, they run out of time. I keep track of their progress on a big sheet that is hung on the wall of my classroom.

The homework part was the hardest to make a good routine out of. I found this fantastic website. Here you can get already made worksheets to give to the kids for homework. The site is mostly about math but covers everything from geometry to dollars and cents notation. I've used it with third to sixth grade to great success. It's easy for me to print stuff out, make copies and put them in a filing cabinet for easy access.

This year I've been really impressed with my both my third grade and fourth grade class in that they want to pass their tables. That hasn't always been the case as most of my previous classes have looked at them as a chore.

Here's a picture of the charts in my classroom (of course you can't see names or anything!) and the little quizzes and homework sheets.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Never Ending Search for...

Writing Implements in my classroom.

I don't remember much about the routines of my elementary school days. I know that in middle and high school we were meant to bring our own supplies. I don't remember any routine being as difficult or frustrating as it can be to find a pencil in my classroom.

Alma De La Rosa serves a predominately low income population and we are school wide Title 1 due to our high free and reduced lunch numbers. One of the tenets of the school is that kids don't have to have any of their own supplies. We provide everything from winter coats to backpacks to breakfast to pencils to uniforms for all our students in need. To provide all this we depend on the community around us. The church that adopted our school for Thanksgiving and Christmas can always be counted on if we know of a particular family in great need or we need a set of uniforms. The city runs school supply drives that we often reap the benefits of.

And the pencils. Back to the pencils. The pencils are the bane of my existence. The kids can't keep track of them. There have been weeks I've started with 100 of them and ended with less than ten. It's like the children eat them. (hmmmm yummy) I've tried so many different things to keep enough of these yellow buggers in my classroom and sharpened.

I've tried giving all the kids a box with two sharpened pencils, a big eraser, two cap erasers, a box of crayons, a small box of colored pencils, a pair of scissors, a book mark and a glue stick. On top of the two sharpened pencils, I also filled a cup on my desk of sharpened pencils and when kids needed a sharpened one, all they had to do was bring their old one to my desk and trade it for a sharp one. The boxes were soon taken apart, stuff strewn all throughout their desks instead of neatly arranged in their boxes. The pencils began disappearing and so my sharpened pencil cup pencils dwindled, even as I tried to keep up with the sharpening of them everyday.

There also was a time that I allowed the kids to use the electric pencil sharpener that I had. We went through two in three months time. We couldn't use those hand crank ones because we didn't have any walls to attach them to.

I tried giving each kid a pencil with his or her name on it and collecting it at the end of each half day so that the kid would have it for the next day. There were numerous problems with this plan; the name would rub off the pencil which would provoke children into fighting over the pencil with more eraser at the top, the kids would take forever to get their pencils from the cup, the kids would wait to get their pencils until I was in the middle of teaching the lesson, the kids would lose them before I could collect them and so on and so forth.

Then I tried sharpening pencils as they needed it, that was a terrible plan, a week of complete awfulness.

Then I decided that I was done with the pencil sharpener, it was on its way out anyway, refusing to make a point on a pencil, it's gears slowing and the whrrrring sound becoming more and more ragged. I went to Target (I know, I know, not really much better than Walmart, but I'm working on it!) and shelled out 20 bucks for some mechanical pencils, hoping that something with a little more permanence would help. This the end of the second week and it's going well. It can still be frustrating at times, but so far it's proven better. I've gone through a bunch of them, a bunch of them have been broken and I'm going to keep needing lead but all and all, best week for writing implements yet!

Monday, January 11, 2010


I've heard people say that Avatar was just a 247 million dollar re-make of Fern Gully:

I've heard still others (namely The Boy) describe it as "dances with wolves in space."

I however thought it was an amazing bit of movie making. Honestly, perhaps the best movie I've seen since Star Wars (and every other Harrison Ford movie of course!)

My brother and went to see it while I was home in MA. He offered to drive me all the way to Albany, NY to see it in 3D like he had. But 3D has never worked for me and I have no idea why. I remember being a little kid in Disney world with my family and everyone else was ohhhing and ahhhing at Honey I Shrunk the Kids...but all saw were wibbly lines and normal images. Those red and blue glasses did nothing for me. I thought maybe when I grew up it would be different. The Boy took me to a 3D movie two years ago and I went with an open mind. Still...wibbly lines and fuzziness while everyone else was ohhing and ahhhing.

And so I was thankful when 3D wasn't even an option at the Berkshire Mall. (Oh the Berkshires...for once I was thankful you are so behind the times in the entertainment business.) My brother relented and went with me anyway. I loved it. Loved it.

Then I came back to NM and The Boy hadn't seen it yet and neither had my girlfriend who was visiting from France with her Frenchman and so I went to see it again. La Pasa is a little more with the times entertainment wise and we saw the 3D version. I figured since I had already seen it, it didn't matter if it was wibbly and fuzzy. 3D imagery evolved since that last movie I tried to see though. Now the lenses are POLARIZED and I saw the 3D stuff. For the first time I got to do the ooohhhing and ahhhhing.

Some people saw that the story was predictable and mushy. I say that most movies are predictable and mushy. The classics are predictable and mushy; think Romeo and Juliet, Bridges of Madison County, (Hi Dodo!) Ten Things I Hate About You (just another version of Taming of the Shrew, which was certainly predictable) and Love Actually. (Like how my classics are in ascending order of release date?!)

I will admit that some of dialogue was lame. The entirety of Michelle Rodrigquez's character was awfully lame. But then again, the great movies have a lot of lame dialogue. Star Wars is full of lame dialogue ("But I was going to go into Toshi-Station to pick up some power converters") but dialogue wasn't the focus. Dialogue and story line wasn't the focus of Avatar either.

I loved it. That's all I really wanted to say.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This is a picture of the Walmart in Roswell, New Mexico. My brother and I took a trip there before Thanksgiving. He's been an alien nerd since he was a kid and immediately saw the boon for him when I moved here, making me promise not to go there until he was able to get here and go with me. We were headed for the U.F.O. museum but I needed the bathroom and so we pulled in. We didn't see the alien theme of the Walmart until we had almost parked, it was pretty funny.

So, in 2002 of my favorite Bennington gals convinced to stop shopping at Walmart for a myriad of reasons that I won't go into here. I stopped cold turkey, deciding that I didn't mind spending what little money I had on less by shopping at other stores. Since then I can count on one hand the number of Walmarts I've been in walletless with family, friends and for the free bathroom since then.

The last time was with a friend as I was helping him get ready for a party. Before that it had been about three years. This was also to be my first Super Walmart experience. My students idolize the Super Walmart and I had heard all about the aisles of frozen dinners and pizzas and other foods that I could only imagine was full of all sort of chemicals that little bodies don't need. The thing is that food is cheap and the families that attend our school are certainly not rollin' in the dough. I was imagining there were three or four aisles. I was so wrong. There were seven long wide aisles. It was really gross.

And so you can imagine the surprised but icky feeling when I opened up a gift card from the Church that adopted our school for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It contained a 100.00 gift card to Walmart. It was an incredibly large gesture (and I was thankful for it) as each teacher received one. At first, I decided that I wasn't going to use it, but then The Boy reminded me that it would be a completely empty political statement because Walmart already had the money. Then I decided I would use on supplies for the classroom. What I ended up doing was spending it on prizes for the winners of the English Spelling Bee I put together last week. I also decided to make the The Boy go with me because a, it was his fault I was going anyway, b I like it when he drives and c, I needed someone to shoot horrified looks at as we walked from aisle to aisle.

And so we had to decide which one to go to. The closest one is also the most robbed Walmart in the West (or some scary statistic like that.) Hence, we chose the other one that's pretty close. As we walked in the first thing I noticed was the lighting. It was DIM inside. It felt like the power was out and the secondary lighting had kicked on. When we finally found the toys, The Boy pointed out an aisle just in front of the toy area. The shelves were full of candy and soda. From where we were standing, not even in the aisle yet, we could see over sixty packages of oreos. They were stacked three across from the top of shelf to the bottom, eight or nine shelves worth. Next to those were just as many packages of Kit Kat bars, then snickers, then soda and then more candy. The message was obvious and sick. No wonder we have a nationwide problem with childhood obesity.

We got some great classic board games as prizes for the top spellers and then those awesome animal capsules as prizes for all the kids that participated though. It was a relief to get back outside. This trip definitely solidified my belief that Walmart should not be shopped at.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Meet Han Solo!

Shortly after The Boy (my middle man) sold my Harrison on Craigslist, we bought a new to us car! It's a 2007 Subaru Impreza! It's a stick shift (which I think we will continue to buy as long as we can) and we love it! I really recommend CarMax. They were so helpful and easy to work with. It's just like driving my old car. We love it! And to continue with the theme, his (because I'm not going to "shift" a girl) name is Han Solo!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dog Days of January

I wanted to tie up some loose ends that I left when I stopped blogging for so long.

Ms. Jenson is still a bit of a nutter, but I have a little more respect for what she does in the classroom now. I do still have some problems working with her. The first being that during the first set of parent teacher conferences, she told all the parents (with me sitting right there) that I was responsible for all of the academic concepts the student were learning, except for Social Studies and she was only responsible for whether or not the students were learning Spanish. This was incredibly frustrating for me. I only have each class for half a day. There is no way I can cover all the academic subjects for both grades in that amount of time. I have spoken to Sr. Callejo about this and he agrees something needs to be done, he just isn't exactly sure what to do. I hope it's figured out soon, because report cards are coming up again and I really don't want all the work put on me again.

First, Fiona came back! Her little sister didn't because their mother can't deal with Ms. Jenson. Getting Fiona back felt so good though. I really don't think she would have done as well in a huge inner city middle school as she would do with us. I guess that's probably true for all our students, but I really feel close to Fiona. Her mum told us that she didn't like the other school at all and basically begged to come back to us. That made me feel really good. Of all the kids, she is the one I would choose to find out about as she grows up and moves on.

Kismet has been causing quite a lot of trouble lately. He's probably spent a total of an hour in my classroom all week because he gotten into so much trouble before his class even gets to mine. It has gotten to the point where no adult in the school can keep his body safe. In the past four days, he's climbed to some pretty high heights after being asked not to take his feet off the ground and dropped from them. The first time he landed on his arm and came close to breaking it, the second time he landed on his face and scratched it up. He doesn't do these things while he mother is at the school with him obviously but once she leaves it's all over. I really feel like I can't be held responsible for his personal safety because he listens to nothing I say and then chooses to do the most dangerous thing. He'll be in class and then disappear. I can't chase him because I'm also responsible for the other 11 children in my class. His family doesn't seem to understand how dangerous this is.

I've lost some other students, I'm down to 12 students in the fourth grade. I have only two girls in that class now. The third grade class has been fluctuating a bit. One of my favorite students, who didn't show up at the beginning of this year, showed up on Monday. Hector was one of my kindergardeners and it's nice to have him back!

We got a new student, who has been causing a lot of trouble. He's been making a lot of gang related comments and threatening to hurt other kids. It's been quite the experience. I think of my third graders as relatively hard core kids, they have a lot of energy and a lot of street knowledge, but after spending time with Chris, I'm pretty sure most of them are scared s*&@less of this kid. He's only been here a few weeks, but as missed three days because of external suspension and two days worth of internal suspension

I don't feel like the year is half over... at all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's been awhile...

That's for sure. And I swear it's not a New Year's Resolution to return to blogging!

The first thing I would like say is that my drive to work has gotten easier. I live about half a block off of one of the main roads through the city. ALDR is a few block off the main road. Since the city is built on a grid, there are many ways to get to work. However, I have oft lamented that there was wasn't an easy way to cross over to the road that ALDR is on. Instead of turning left out of my driveway and turning directly onto the big road, I have been turning right and then left through a stoplight in the opposition direction of where I need to go. I do this because it is very hard to see in either direction at the intersection of my street and the big road. Once I have gotten onto the big road, depending on the patterning of the numerous traffic lights, deciding when to turn left off the big road. After crossing a few streets, I can go down to that road and then cross over a few more to get to the school. (I'm not sure if this description is coming off as more or less complicated than it actually is...I'm hoping for the former...because it is.) Of course, the days I would like to stop and get coffee on the way to work there's less time playing the traffic lights and more time turning at a specific place in order to get the coffee.

Now, a streetlight has been added at the intersection of my own street and the big road! So now, I can turn left out of my driveway and skip going out of my way! If I want to get coffee however, not much changes, except that I still don't have to do the part that takes me out of my way. Other than that part because the city is built on a grid it doesn't make the drive shorter per ce, but it does make it more succinct.

Here is a little picture I drew to show the difference! The solid line is old way, the dotted line is the new way, and that thing in the middle is my coffee shop!

So, let me explain a little about my hiatus. After one my last posts about Peter (whose behavior as improved considerably and seems to actually enjoy school these days!) and his medication, I got a comment that I did not make public. In effect, this person insinuated that I was wrong to write about my students. I often worry about the people I work with finding out about my blog as I do not always show my colleagues and students in the best light. I do strive to write the truth as I see it, from my point of view. I suppose if I continue to write, that is simply a risk I have to be comfortable taking. Of course all the names are changed and specific locations are carefully hidden, but the possibility of a bad guy finding my blog is there. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and my take even more precautions as I continue to write.

Happy Birthday Robert Duvall! (Someday I should write about all the reasons he's awesome!)