Time for reflection 

Yesterday was my last day of school. I had one conference with the grandmother of a student. Her granddaughter needs to be retained. I was surprised the meeting went so well. Past conversations with parents involved a lot of denial and requests for evaluations for IEPs. 

When I began I met a former teacher at Office Depot. She told me every year she failed one or two students in 2nd grade. I was shocked by this. Now I understand why. That sums up the year for me; someone gave me advice, I thought no that’s wrong and later learned no that was spot on advice. In the beginning I thought I would reach so many students, I was told I should be happy if I reach 3. In the beginning I was told to have a tete-a-tete with my TA, I did not. I was told to not let the parents get me down, I did. 

During this year I retained 2 students, something I thought I would never do. During this year communication broke down terribly between me and my TA. I would definitely do things differently. I had parents accuse me of not caring for my students or not following through only to learn there was another bigger issue I knew nothing about. 

This was a tough year with lots of growing pains. Next year will also be difficult as I love to a new school and continue to learn more.

My advice for any new teacher; 1. This is not an easy job, 2. Parents can be an obstacle but we must also see their side, 3. Students will test your boundaries you must remain firm and consistent, they will love you for it, 4. Utilize all the resources you can and 5. If a tenured teacher says it then 99.99% of the time it is true, listen, seriously listen. 

Death of a child

Last week was a very difficult week as I explained in an earlier post; a former student and former co-worker passed away. I was told the student passed due to an asthma attack. I later learned it was so much worse. His death was avoidable and was caused by long term neglect. In one year my cooperating school has lost 3 children in one year due to violence. This was not something I not anyone could prepare for. We as adults don’t expect to attend the funeral of a child. It was never something I had to experience except once and that was due to SIDS. I can count the total number of funerals I have attended on one hand. However the students at my cooperating school have seen so many of their classmates die they are desensitized. One student upon learning my student was dead he said he deserved it for being bad. Hearing that shocked me to my core. 

I have learned in a short time teachers don’t just teach. We are expected to parent, counsel, nurse and sometimes police our students. We have to provide students with the love and stability they may not always receive at home. We have to provide advice and guidance to those who trust us above others. We have to be aware of medical concerns that a parent does not have to legally divulge. I have students in my class who I did not know they had asthma or have allergies to peanuts or soy. And the worse part of my job deescalating fights. I have students who fight everyday with classmates for their “place” in line. Student’s who hit each other because someone stepped on their shoes. The reasons for the anger can stem from what children see at home and/or TV. What real life role models do children have this day and age who respond rationally to hardships. 

I have found this to be exhausting. I have found myself questioning why I continue. I find myself tossing and turning at night worried about my students. I worry about their present and their futures. It is exhausting and definitely not a profession for those who are not flexible. 

Parent complaint

This week began very rough. I learned a former student and a co-worker passed away on the same night. I made it through. What made this week worse a parent complained about how I handled a fight between students. The parent in question agreed to come to class everyday to make sure her son settled into class. Unfortunately this is not occurring with consistency. Anyway I have a student who initiates altercations with other students. I have spoken to him and his parents. His parents are trying we just can’t seem to help him understand why this is bad and why he needs to stop. He once hit a student so hard he left a bruise. On this faithful day he pushed a student who also has impulse control. I told the student he will one day come across a student who will not be understanding and will fight back. The parent in question didn’t like this came into my room, admonished me and then complained to the principal. What upset me is this parent and others don’t understand teachers cannot always be smiles and unicorn sprinkles. Sometimes we have to explain reality in an effort to help students make better decisions. We not only have to teach math, English, science and history but also; manners, common sense, hygiene, healthy eating and more. Will I understand the parent felt concerned her concern came from a lack of trust. She has not trusted me since the beginning and has made this clear. Without trust a teacher’s job becomes more difficult. 

Teacher fired

Earlier this week a fellow teacher was fired. And no one knows why. Well I shouldn’t say no one. The people involved in the firing do know. The outsiders, well, we are scared and uneasy. I packed up my classroom because I don’t know who is next and we have yet to hear about next year’s contracts. Today the staff were called in for a 10 minute meeting to discuss why staff trust is low. Are you serious? How can there be trust if you don’t feel safe? How can there be trust if you don’t know what could come next? I’ve been in crazy situations and as an anxious person it has stressed me out. Now I don’t know what to call this level of stress. 

Common Core

I am not a big fan of Common Core. I feel it forces children to think in a manner that may not be natural for them. I see parents and students become frustrated and give up. I know lessons on occasion must be repeated, but to repeat a lesson on a concept students would get in their own unique way is ridiculous. That is why I love this clip, please to enjoy.


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Angry parents

Today began as usual, everyone meets in the gym to say the pledge and make announcements. As we were waiting to begin I saw two students chasing each other and hitting each other. I asked the male student to stop so I could find out what happened. He walks away and ignores me. I tell him either come with me or talk to security. He yells I’m calling my mom. I tell him ok let’s make the call. As we are walking down the hallway the student continues to yell and states he will tell his mom I hit him. I stated please do. We walk into the office he makes the call and proceeds to tell his mom he thought the other girl was going to rape him (not exaggerating) and that I hurt him. Parents are in the office and are amazed this is occurring. Both parents shake their heads. I finally speak to the mother who is angry, with me. How dare I touch her child, what do I need to talk to him about and how I need to watch my tone. Now admittedly I am upset. This is not how I wish to begin the day. I explain as any adult responsible for children when students are hitting each other I need to know why. I also explain that if her child is accusing me of physical assault then I need to call the police. The mom tells me she doesn’t need the police she will just come to the school. Now the parent is threatening me. She asks to speak to her son, they speak and then he hangs up. Finally we talk and he explains the other student was bothering him. I ask what he could have done differently. Afterwards I speak to the other student. 

As the morning continues I am fuming. I did not imagine I would spend my time dealing with so many behaviors. Not just the students but also the parents. Often when there is a rude child you can easily trace it back to a rude parent. Parents who will come to the school and try to physically fight school staff. Why? Why make excuses for your child’s behavior? As a teacher I try teach students you can advocate for yourself without being disrespectful. These lessons are often ignored. Now I understand why a fellow teacher told me to be happy if I reach at least 1 student. 

Curriculum 

I understand schools must show students are progressing. We must show more gains than losses. In addition we must maintain a certain number of students. Attendance means money and like any other entity out there schools need money. What I have great difficulty with are changes midstream. Children, especially children in low economic areas, require consistency. It makes them feel safe. When changes are made frequently children don’t know what to expect and become anxious. Here it is less than 40 days of school and we now have another change. Not only changes to curriculum but also changes to schedules. It is infuriating and to me ridiculous. School is almost over this is the time we need to prepare students for next year, help those who are in danger of failing or helping those who have failed to prepare for repeating their grade. 

I find this exhausting and unfortunately became very upset at work. I talked it through with administration and have resigned myself to help my students accept another change. 

3rd quarter report card

Today was the final report card pick up. More parents attended which was nice. The not so fun part, telling a parent their child must be retained. I unfortunately had several of those conversations. Some understood and knew this prior to the meeting. Others tried to fight. One parent believed her daughter could improve in 6 weeks. Her child has received Fs for the past 3 quarters, 6 weeks isn’t going to change this. Another parent just shut down. 

On the flip side I was able to make some parents happy and this was a highlight. Not an enjoyable day but thankfully no blow ups. 

Student absences

Yesterday I learned the UK Supreme court ruled against a father who took his daughter out of school for a holiday

In the UK you must apply to take your child out of school and receive permission from the head teacher. The only excused absences are illness, transportation issues and one more thing I can’t remember. A blogger from the UK who is a mom is pissed and feels the State is too involved in parent’s lives. 

After reading the article I see the reasoning behind the rule. Parents would take their child(ren) out of school for less expensive family trips. If they waited for holiday time the prices double or quadruple in cost. The amount of primary students taken out of school was too high so rules were put in place. And as a teacher I kinda agree. In my class I have students who have missed 20 or more days of school. I also have students who are chronically late. Often parents think it’s not that big of a deal when young children miss so much school. It is a huge deal. Children with chronic absences and tardies have huge gaps in their learning and are more likely to fail. As a teacher this is frustrating and infuriating. I’m blamed by the parents and sometimes admin if a child is failing. I have called families, tutored, sent home extra credit and more. Again I ask when do we make parents take responsibility. To me the UK has the right idea. 

Students failing

In an earlier post I mentioned I have 4 students who are failing. One has since transferred out. Not sure how that helps him and I wish him the best. A second I have tried several times to meet with to no avail. A 3rd I am tutoring twice a week. She is making progress. And finally the 4th I’m not sure what is happening. He is missing a lot of school and is not receiving the tutoring we discussed. Report card pick up is soon and we are now on Spring break. I have spoken to several teachers and they are facing the same issues. One parent exclaimed she didn’t know her son was failing. That is not possible. We send progress reports home. If a parent fails to review the progress report and check in with the teacher is it not their fault? I ask this because when does personal responsibility come into the equation. I understand there are good parents who work hard and do their best to ensure their child receives a great education. My question applies to the parents who make excuses, the parents who bring their child one hour late daily and the parents who dont bring their child to school for two weeks straight because they don’t see the point of kindergarten or 1st grade. When do we hold these parents solely responsible for their child’s lack of education?