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Saturday, February 07, 2009

The good, the bad, the rambly

Things that make me love school:

On a Friday I was wearing jeans (for casual Friday) and a plaid-patterned button-down shirt, and my hair was in a braid (it's usually down or in a ponytail). We were standing in line outside the classroom, about to walk to lunch.

Carla: Ms. Grownup, are you a cowgirl?
Me: Huh?
Carla: Well, Ms. Grownup, you've got your shirt, and your hair is like that, and your pants, and you look like a cowgirl.
Andy: Well, you're missing some things.
Jose: You just need one of those things for your head.
Raquel: Yeah. Ms. Grownup you're almost a cowgirl. You just need a hat.
Andy: And a horse and a rope.
Elizabeth: And you need the boots.
Various students: So Ms. Grownup, are you a cowgirl?
Me [Laughing hysterically]: I kind of want to be a cowgirl.
Me [Still laughing, trying to quiet them down so we can walk to lunch]: Shh, bubbles in your mouths.
Andy [sighing]: Ms. Grownup, you're turning red again.
Raquel: You are turning so red again!
Me [trying not to laugh]: Lunch! We're late!
Jose: You're turning a little bit not red now.
Me: ...
Jose: You're turning redder again.
Me: ... Lunch! Now!

Later in the day...
Carla: So Ms. Grownup...are you a cowgirl?
Me: What do you think, Carla?
Carla: I think yes.

- - - - - - - - - -
We were talking about symmetry.

Me: So, if you split my body down the center, that would be a line of symmetry. Both sides would be exactly the same.
Class: No, take off your ID tag, your watch, your paper clips, (etc.)
Me: Okay, now both sides of me are symmetrical.
Juliet: But Ms. Grownup, what about your heart?
Me: Huh?
Juliet: Your heart, it is on the side.
Me: Oh, gosh. You're so right.
Andy (gleefully): But Ms. Grownup, if you RIP IT OUT, then you'll be the same on both sides again!

Sometimes they're so smart! I was ready for them to tell me to take off my watch and ID tag. But, I never even thought about my heart! It's true! Because of my heart, I am not symmetrical!

- - - - - - - - - -
I had an all day meeting one day, so had scheduled a substitute. I stopped into my classroom in the morning to set up, greet the sub, and hand him my plans. The sub had gone to pick up the class from the playground, and I was still in the classroom. As I walked out all the kids saw me. I told them I was going to be gone that day, but the sub would be there, so they should be good. "No, Ms. Grownup! Don't leave us!!" "Don't go!!!" "Think about the poor children! We need you!!" I had to pry them off me to leave for my meeting. It's always nice to feel wanted.

- - - - - - - - - -
We were working on surveys and graphing in math. Pairs of students went around to survey everyone else in the class. One group's survey question was, "Do you prefer water or soda?" I heard one particularly astute child exclaim in response, "Water! I don't want to get fat!" Then, after receiving a perplexed look from the survey-giver he explained, "Soda makes you fat." This was complete with his hands motioning out in front of his body to indicate, 'fat.'

- - - - - - - - - -
I was helping another teacher give an assessment to her class. I was talking to one of her students in Spanish - he had just moved to the class the week before and knew no English, so I was asking the questions in Spanish to see if he understood the concept at all. Another one of her students was sitting next to me and this boy, mostly doing his own work, but half listening to us. He sighed and commented out-loud to no one in particular, "I really need to practice my Spanish more..." Keep in mind this was a Spanish dominant student in a class for only students who have not "passed" the English proficiency test. So his comment was quite amusing. I told him I needed to practice my Spanish more too, so he could practice with me.

Things that make the job crazy and stressful.

We had a lockdown the other day because there was a disturbance on campus, (or rather, a person running through the open-air campus trying to escape the police). As I quickly instructed my students to leave everything exactly where it was and line up at the door to the connecting classroom, tried to explain to the Spanish-speaking parent volunteer in my room at the time that, "hay algo afuera y no se que pero tenemos que ir al otra sala," and crowded us all into the classroom connected to mine, (which is on the "inside" of our open-air campus, while my room is on the "outside") the other teacher sarcastically commented, "and they wonder why our students sometimes struggle." An hour later, when we were finally allowed to turn the lights back on, open the blinds, get the children off the floor, and make noise, I had to agree. In a 3-year-old-having-a-tantrum way, it's just not fair.

(However, my students behaved amazingly well the whole time. If they started wispering or moving around, I never had to do more than give them a threatening glare for them to quiet back down. I was proud and impressed with how well they behaved. Luckly, they didn't understand what a "Lockdown" meant. They could sense that it was very important for them to behave, but they did not show any indication that they knew what was actually going on. A teacher of an older grade later told me that her students spent the whole time talking about "bad guys" and guns and shooting - they knew what a lockdown was actually for.)

- - - - - - - - - -
Student: Teacher? Can you test me now?
Me: No, not right now.
Student: But Teacher? That's my favorite thing.
Me: Testing?! That's your favorite part of school?!
Student: Yes.

And this makes me sad. A first grader should not say that testing is his or her favorite part of a school. A first grader shouldn't have testing - the concept or the word - at such the forefront of his or her mind. I should not have to brainwash my students into getting excited about testing (which I have done). I should not have one-on-one testing be the only time my students get one-on-one attention. Which is pretty much what is going on right now. Because of so much one-on-one testing, I have my students doing independent work or "center" work so much of the day, that there is no more time for individual attention outside of the testing times. I'm not giving the interventions I should, because of the testing I have to do to make sure the interventions are effective. (Except I never really get to the interventions, so the testing is kind of pointless. But if I don't do the testing I get in trouble - that's apparent when I don't have the data. The actual interventions, no one sees whether or not I do them.)

- - - - - - - - - -
I have had students either join or leave my class 15 times so far this year. That means that, on average, at least every other week I have gained or lost a student. That's another, "well, no wonder they sometimes struggle" moment.

My principal once commented that an interesting dissertation topic would be to examine the correlation between English language proficiency in ELL students and their frequency of school movement. My classroom may have a lot of movement, but compared to my partner teacher, I've got nothing. Her class has had so, so much movement, and her class is comprised of students with lower English language proficiency (such divided by state law). I agree that it would be an incredibly interesting dissertation topic (I would like to reserve it for myself for some day - so no one steal it!)

- - - - - - - - - -
I was kind of sick all week, but didn't call in sick any days of of school (both because I didn't realize how bad I felt until I was there, and because the thought of having to plan for a sub was just way, way too overwhelming to even contemplate doing while sick. Ironic.) At one point, I had developed a fairly irritating headache and decided to cut math short to have the class listen to a book-on-tape as I flipped the pages in the story. It was right at this point that the principal walked in for an informal observation. That certainly wasn't the most intellectually stimulating lesson. At least I had the required 85% engagement! The students love listening to the stories on tape.


Blogger Criss said...

Amen to the testing rant. And you said it so well I'm not going to mess it up by trying to add anything.

And amen to the to-sick-to-plan-for-a-sub. I don't think I've ever used a sick day when I was sick (I've called in "sick" for mental health days, but physical health... I just go in myself. Much easier).

10:14 PM  

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