Sunday, April 25, 2010


Parents are the wild card in my career. Some are fantastic, some never believe the good or bad things you say about their children and some are just awful.

Sometimes you get great parents like Saul and Brent's mum whom I've now known for four years. She's always ready to back you up, she's active on the PTA but she's not in the classroom all time and so she's not in your face. I've known Matt's parents are just as long too and though Matt isn't always the easiest kid in the classroom to deal with, his parents are willing to discuss the problems in a rational how-can-we-help-each-other kind of way that I really appreciate.

Then there are those that make me really uncomfortable. Gilbert's family, whom I've also known since moving here is one. They are really really religious which in and of itself is not a problem. But they push religion into every part of their lives. The Christmas card from them had such a strong pro-life message that made me feel so icky that I tossed it in the trash when no one was looking almost immediately after it was handed to me. Also, when I was their daughter Loo Loo's teacher, she panicked after she head the girls from my class doing "Bloody Mary" in the bathroom. She decided that this was some sort of "spell." She went directly to the board meeting and tried to ban Harry Potter from my classroom. I did not let this occur. This post is another example.

Another mother, of whom I'm not going to say, for further anonymity is really hard to understand. When she speaks to us, Ms. Jenson and myself, she speaks in ebonics. Now, I have a lot of parents that speak exclusively in Spanish. I understand almost everything they say and am usually only about a half sentence behind in understanding. When I speak to this mum I'm usually around three sentences behind in understanding.

This is one thing. The other thing is the way she is dressed. It's embarrassing for us and I'm sure even more so for Sr. Callejo who has been in on many of these meetings with us. She is wears shirts that are so revealing. Shirts that show her underthings and doesn't seem to ever leave much to the imagination. That's not the worst of it. She stores her cell phone IN her cleavage. And when it vibrates/rings...need I say more?

So after one of these meetings, it somehow came up that some parents occasionally join their kids at lunch. That next week, in she came complete with three bags of food from McDonald's. Now whenever someone unexpected comes in all my students (eating separately from the third graders) turn to see who it is.

Fred, who seems to know a bit more about the world than is healthy for a boy of ten, turns to the boy sitting next to him and says, "You know what fruit I like best?" The other boy shook his head. Fred replies, "Watermelons." The other boy looked confused, but I wasn't.

It took all I had not to burst out laughing while I was telling him that I understood perfectly well what he was talking about and that he needed to knock it off this instant.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not so depressed as before

So I think I'm coming to terms with teaching sixth grade next year. There were a few reasons I wasn't so comfortable with this idea.

The first is that I just love the fourth grade curriculum. The science and math curriculum is rich with hands on activities that are doable by the students. The stories in the reader are engaging, culturally relevant and the kids love them. I've taught both fifth and sixth grade and did not find them to be similar.

Fourth graders, you know the actual students are just the best. They are still engaged in school for the most part. They find new concepts exciting and they love the practice. Fifth graders have started to see the routine in school and its harder to keep them engaged in school and not the drama among their peer group. And sixth graders. Ug. I don't even know where to begin with them. Check out the beginning of my blog because I try not to revisit that particular part of my teaching tends to bring on waves of panic.

As I was wrestling, fighting, cajoling, begging, helping the third graders to finish up the science fair group project, it came to me that these kids are actually going to be next year's fourth graders. (Well, except for those we are going to hold back.) Now, you might think this would have come to me much sooner. And perhaps it should have. But in years past, at the beginning of the year it's the third graders that I've the most problem with and fourth graders that I've loved. As the year comes to a close, the third graders start to become fourth graders and they become the most fun to work with and the fourth graders start to become fifth graders and I begin to become annoyed with their drama.

The other day I realized April was ending and I hadn't observed this particular change which I usually begin to see at the beginning of March. The third graders are still third graders, some are even still acting like second graders. The fourth graders are still fantastic. I'm grateful every time I get to send the third graders on and the fourth graders walk into my room.

So perhaps working with fifth and sixth graders next year will be a good thing. I'll have my fantastic fourth graders from this year and the sixth graders will be my fourth graders from the first half of last year and for the most part, I really enjoyed them.

I said as much to Sr. Callejo as the Science Fair was ending last night and he seemed excited about my change of heart. I know he loves the way I teach and likes the way I expect great things my students. He said, "That means you get to have my niece!" and he introduced me to Elma's mother, his sister.

So all and all, it's probably all sewn up and might even be for the best.

How's that for a positive note.

However, I'm definitely going to have to take home the sixth grade math curriculum and spend the summer with it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

18 Days left.

Well it's hit. The year is almost over and the kids know it. So the countdown begins.

Today was one of the those days. One of those days where you feel like you are nowhere, you have taught all those kids nothing and you just want to roll up in ball and cry.

Instead I chose to go home and loose myself in The Wire and pet my dog. Well. To be honest there was a little crying.

I put together this great probability unit back during my Master's year. Every year I take a piece of it and use it in my classroom. This year, I decided to do the entire thing. It's all hands on games. It was reviewed by a mathematician back in 2006. It's a damn good unit plan if I do say so myself. I weave fractions, games of chance and games of probability together so well, the kids don't realize until the game is over that they learned something. Sr. Callejo was so excited when I told him all about it. He said that my plan was exactly what he wanted teachers doing at our school all the time.

I came into school Monday so excited. I had spent a lot of the weekend thinking about it, working it through in my head and double checking to make sure I had everything. I start with the third graders. I get nothing. They throw around my manipluatives, refuse to think about the questions, all they want to do is fool around. My fourth graders did a little better but they fell apart today. I'm getting nothing from either class. It's so frustrating.

I know it's almost summer. (Hence the countdown) But I keep stressing to them that it's not over yet. It's just not.

Then at the end of the day I have a conversation with Sr. Callejo that leads me to believe I'm going to be teaching fifth (which is great, because I'll have my fourth graders that I usually love again) and the SIXTH GRADERS.

Oh to put the cherry on my sundae.

I guess my job doesn't have to make me happy yet.

There would be more choice for me with grade levels if I had my bilingual endorsement, but that's a really expensive thing to get and there is no help from the school or the state because they were in a terrible state even before the economy fell.

I'm stuck.