Thursday, June 25, 2009

What the new year will bring

So I've been hibernating for a little while, getting used to the idea of being a classroom teacher for the first time. (Pet peeve: When my students found out I would be going to the classroom, they all said, "You're going to be a real teacher next year?" I kept explaining, I'm a real teacher now, I just don't have my own classroom!)

Slowly and painfully, I am getting used to the idea. Bonuses: No more coverages or suspension room ever again!

Many of the first grade teachers had their students write letters of greeting to their second grade teachers (hello, that would be me!). They are too cute not to share, and so here they are. I'm preserving their spelling and grammar, so you'll just have to do your best to decipher them like any good second grade teacher would.

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so exited to be in your class next year. because you were are writing. [Note: She remembers when I was her kindergarten writing cluster teacher! Awww!] Let me tell you about myself. My favirit subject is sincese I love to do some fun things. math is fun becaue we have game day on Friday. I am very smart and Ms. S Loves me because I am grat I am I best in class Ms. S does not want me to leve. I Love to read ficshin books. I am a grat sutint I never miss behave with teachers. I allwes do a grat job. I am reading K level books. [Note: She will be a higher reader in September of second grade than many of my AIS second graders were in June. That's going to take some getting used to!] I am in a hihtg level. I am prod of myself. you will love me. you will never get mad at me. trust me I will not miss behave. I am a hard waking gril."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so ecxited to meet you. [Note: He already knows me. Obviously he doesn't remember.] I hope you are nice I wonder how the classroom would look like. Let me tell you about myself. Ms. S said that I beahave somtimes. my favoret subject is gym. because it is a fun subject. I am so excited to be in your classroom. you are so lucky to have me because I am in J books I promise I will beahave and wont get in truoble."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so exsided to be in senkent grad nexst year. Let me tell you about myself. I love to read and I'm in level I and reading is so fun deacause you get smart and I like reading none fickshine because you lern stuff. I Like to wite beacus I like to wite nonefickshine. I like math cuase I like to add and take away. and I will Love to learn my hole life and I think wordwork is giong to de hard beacaus we are going to spell harder decaus we are going to be smarter. I like social studies beacause I like to larn more and more and more evey day cause my parents want me to and I will Love to learn evry day and I will try to be on time evrey day and be here evrey day exsepd whene I'm sick."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so exsited to be in your class. I am so happy to be in 2nd grade. I was student of the moth one time and wrod master too. let me tell you about myself my favreit subjuct is gym and art I love gym cuse I like haveing fun and I love punting and makeing suff and when I am sad I just sing it makes me flle so much buttr I love to wite poty and I love to read nonficshin in math I love doing adoing with base ten blocks and I like taping out songs in wrod worck and I am a good child I do not get in troble and I do not bring a toy to school"

"Dear Miss Brave, I like to read do we read a lot in second grade? [Note: She has no idea...] I'm so glad that I'm going to sectond grade. When are we going to second grade? I hope I have fun at second grade. What class are we going to be in. In 3 more days is the last day."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so glad that I'm going to secont grade with you! I've always wanted to go to secont grade and you look petty and when is your birthday and I am 6 years old and I love you and I love science because sceience is my favrite thing to do and writing and reading and math and word work is my favrite thing to do I love everything to do Do you like everything to like science or writing or reading or math or word work to"

"Dear Miss Brave, I like Art becus I can make crafs I bo not like word work we have to sand out all day in word work. my favorite book is maelia beloomer it is a boot a gril that bus not wunt to wer a dig drss. my favorite colr is Red I will see you nex yer."

Dear Miss Brave, I am so happy to be in your class because you are so fun. [Note: That's what he thinks now. Ask him again in October.] Let me tell about my self I sometimes I behav bad and I help cids and I come to scool late and I have bloblus with my hands and I like writing and math and gym and luch."

Dear Miss Brave, I'm so glad to be in your room I hop I lrn los of new dings in 2nd grad Let me tal you auput my salf wal I cun good and dab unitul but mapy if you put me with good kids ul pinv [Note: I'm pretty sure he means, "I can be good and bad, but maybe if you put me with good kids I'll behave -- thanks for the tip!] My forvat attivut [favorite activity?] is math wulam utitpicrasy and I'm funy I like rideing and wrading so as wal math and you are liky to hav me kus I I'm a cute little boy."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so Happy to see Miss Brave and I seed you in the KindrGrden. Let me tel you odout my self. my favorite period is Reading in Reading is fun! I get more levels. I read chapter books only at home."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am so exited to go t second grade because I will be very smart at second grade. Let me tell you about my self I love reading I am in level K! I also love writing. Did you know I can be very quiet. I like to play with my friends."

"Dear Miss Brave, I am glad to go to your class Im glad to have you do my 2 grad techer. I like Majik Tree house I like to Draw What do you like to do?"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Got a revolution behind my eyes, we got to get up and organize

The organization sheet is here.

But before I reveal its contents, let me just tell you about the grief it has caused me these past few weeks: I am exhausted. My head hurts. I itch. I couldn't eat at our potluck lunch this afternoon because my stomach was in knots.

So where did I end up? In a second grade classroom of my own (not a CTT class as previously rumored; I think those teachers felt so strongly about co-teaching together next year that they asked my principal to reconsider keeping them together).

People keep asking me, "Are you excited? Are you happy?" The truth is that I'm not, but it's not even completely because I have to give up my (relatively) cushy AIS position for a classroom, or because I'm totally switching gears again for the second year in a row. It's because my administration has been acting like they're the Wizards of Oz these past few weeks, refusing to divulge any information about their decision-making process -- or, come to think of it, any information at all. There are teachers at my school who got called into the principal's office a week ago only to be told that they were moving rooms, but meanwhile there are other teachers who are making huge program changes, to positions they didn't even ask for at all on their preference sheets, and no one in the administration had the courtesy to tell them in person. More than anything else, I feel disrespected, like I'm being slighted for something I don't even know about. You tell me how fabulous I am all year and then boot me for someone who didn't even apply for it? That, as Cynthia Lord's Catherine would say, stinks a big one.

And now, my head is spinning with everything I'll have to do next year. I'm completely overwhelmed...and so totally done with this year that I don't know how I'm going to stand the next few weeks. And don't get me wrong, it's not that I dread the idea of having my own classroom -- I'm already swimming with ideas and plans. I'm ready to see it as a challenge: You want me in a second grade classroom? I'm going to make it the best second grade classroom it can be.

But please, let me have a little summer first. Please.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rumor has it

I now know that I am not second grade or first grade AIS next year. The latest rumor (one of my colleagues said to me, "Miss Brave, have you heard any rumors about yourself? Because I heard a rumor about you!") is that I'll be doing a second grade CTT class (although I think CTT is now known as something else...see, I'm not even up on the lingo). CTT stands for "Collaborative Team Teaching," and CTT classes contain 40% special education and 60% general education students, with a special ed teacher and a general ed teacher team-teaching the class.

I did check CTT on my preference sheet, but the rumors say I'm with a special ed teacher who is currently in a third grade CTT. She and her co-teacher work really well together and want to stay together next year, so I have no idea why my crazy administration wants to split them up and I feel really weird and awkward about the whole situation even though I obviously have no control over it.

Meanwhile, Monday is like the absolute last day according to our contract that we can be notified about these things, but administration is still saying things like, "The reorganization sheet isn't final" and being extremely coy about everything. Monday is definitely going to be an interesting day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not counting my chickens

So. It's not a secret that I don't always exactly love my job. But I do consider it a vast improvement over what I did last year. When preference sheet time rolled around, I dutifully dusted off my resume and worked up a letter of intent (because for some reason even AIS teachers have to re-apply for AIS) for an AIS position. In second grade. (There's no place for listing grade preferences for AIS, but I sneakily mentioned in my cover letter that I looked forward to being part of the second grade team again next year.)

On Friday, one of my second grade colleagues, a lovely and dynamic teacher whom I consider a friend, was called into the principal's office and told that she'd be taking the second grade AIS position next year.

I? Was told nothing.

Needless to say, I have spent the entire weekend freaking out. What does it mean? Am I going to first grade AIS? Am I going into a classroom? Why would administration make us apply for AIS positions when they just end up giving them to whoever they want anyway? (My colleague, who I am, don't get me wrong, happy for, and who I believe will do a great job in the position, nevertheless did not actually put in for AIS.) Why would they tell her that she was taking my job without telling me what I would be doing?

Then I started getting paranoid: Does my principal know I sent out a few resumes through the open market transfer system? Does she know I say unpleasant things about our school on my blog? Am I being punished?

At this point, best case scenario, I go down to first grade AIS (because the first grade AIS teacher would like to go into a classroom). But here's what I don't understand: Not to brag about my general fabulousness or anything, but this year, I have gotten pretty much nothing but compliments from administration. In my last post-observation conference, my AP told me I was "flawless." So if I'm good at my job, and they like the way I'm doing my job, and I ask for the same job again next year...why wouldn't I get that job? Why would they give it away to someone who didn't even request it?

Aaaaarrrghhhh. Rumor has it that our reorganization sheet is being released on Tuesday; I'm hoping I'll find out something before I get the paper in my mailbox and potentially start, like, crying in front of the entire office when I see my name next to a fifth grade class or something. But in the meantime, the waiting is exhausting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

At long last, a good day

When I walked into the office this morning, I said to the secretary, "Who am I going to be today?" To my great surprise and relief, the answer was nobody! For the first time in what felt like a very long time, I got to be myself...and, for a change, it felt wonderful.

On Friday afternoon, one of my students handed me a folded note and instructed me to read it at home. (I cheated.) It read: "Dear Miss Brave, I have been practicing for level L, on Monday will you please read with me?" (Her note-writing skills have vastly improved; a few weeks ago she wrote me a priceless note, now hanging on my bulletin board at work, that read: "Dear Miss Brave, Me and Edward are mad at you because you are always passing Alyssa and Luis to the next level but you do not pass us.")

So I read with her, and sure enough she moved up a level. Then, like clockwork, Alyssa tiptoed up to me and handed me another note: "This is from Edward." (The aforementioned Edward conspired on the first note but then chickened out and asked the writer to erase his name.) Edward's note, naturally, read, "Will you move me up a level please?" So competitive! So I wrote him a note back ("I will read with you tomorrow") and made him happy.

Bayani is a tough kid to do running records with. He reads nicely but gets really, really nervous when it comes time to talk about the story and answer questions. So every time I do a running record, he seems like he's not ready to move up a level, and then he cries and I promise that we'll try again with another story in a week or so. Today we tried again, and he is now a level L. He was sitting at his desk, literally hugging a level L book to his chest, and with a beaming smile he said, "I'm so happy!" Teacher dream moment!

Rosa is a girly girl. She's the only pre-adolescent girl I've met who's had her hair highlighted. Her nails are more nicely manicured than mine, and she's always fussing with some part of her adorable matching outfit. Today I overheard Rosa saying to someone, "I'm a level K, but I want to be an L. My daddy says if I move to L, he'll buy me new shoes."

That was too funny to resist, and I was in a good mood, so I said, "Let's give it a try." We read the story about the chicken pox, and when she was retelling the part where the mom comes home and the kids realize they're about to get in trouble, she said, "Then the mom came home from work and Dusty said, 'We're busted!'"

That's when I cracked up for real. Then I asked her, "So what kind of shoes are you going to get?" And for the rest of the day, Rosa was all smiles.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the past 8 days of school...

I have had 5 full-day coverages.

I'm not a math teacher, but even I can tell you that is messed up.

Today I covered a class with a student who is, shall we say, behaviorally challenged. Severely behaviorally challenged. As in, when I was calling students to line up and I said, "If you are wearing clothing with buttons on it, you may get on line," he made a rude gesture and yelled out, "My penis has buttons!" No matter what I said to him or how I said it, he responded by screaming at me: "MAKE ME!" (Or, occasionally and more perplexingly, "MILK ME!")

On our way into the classroom, he grabbed a bucket of plastic weather symbols, dumped it out onto the floor in the hallway and then tossed the bucket at my feet. I looked up and saw an assistant principal standing a few feet away in the hall, watching the whole thing. Oh good, I thought with some relief, she'll help me handle the situation, since this is a student she's very familiar with and I've never dealt with him before.

She watched the entire situation unfold, did nothing, said nothing, and walked away. Meanwhile, Mr. Personality ran into the classroom, grabbed hold of the closet doors, began slamming them -- BANG! BANG! BANG! -- and then screamed out, "That was an ACCIDENT!"

Thanks for your help, AP! Honestly, I do not want to work in a school where that kind of thing is OK.