REAL DIARY FOR SECOND TEACHING POSITION:
I’ve succumbed to my tiredness and I’m sleeping in. Ah! But tomorrow there’s a teachers’ meeting so sleeping in is over. Yesterday I planned out my classes. I’m scared of Spanish Three because of my traumatic experience and I don’t know the student’s real level and there’s no real guide or book. I worry I’ll be a bad teacher again. But I hope I’ll like it since I like living in the Midwest and don’t want to make other people’s movies anyhow. Spanish One is easier to plan because there is a book and it’s fun to start from scratch. For World Cultures I planned a unit on Native Americans but I worry they’ll get bored by all the reading involved. I’ll just be a tough teacher this time.
Yesterday was fine at school. All the teachers seem really nice and like being there so that’s good. They went over standards and the History teachers helped me develop some for World Cultures. But when some painters came into the room I left. One history teacher asked if I was allergic. I said no, pregnant. For lunch I went to a nice café in an antique store. We did more conferencing on state standards and finished at 3:30. Still confusing and a lot of work but it seems challenging and good for the students.
I was busy with prep for school. Now I just hope to relax. It’s weird to be nervous as the teacher but I survived last time and should this time too.
I got through my first day of school but a lot of the kids seem chatty and even obnoxious so I’m sure they’ll get on my nerves. The day started in the gym where the principal spoke and when she introduced me as the new Spanish teacher everyone cheered. I figured out they really hated last year’s teacher. Then I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing as a class advisor to the 10th grade as the other teachers went over the school handbook. Then we had first hour, Spanish One for 20 minutes. It is full of twenty 9th graders and it’s in the history teacher’s room and he gave a look like “good luck.” Makes me nervous to have a teacher watching but I gotta up my confidence. It’s not Tornado at least. The History teacher admitted not liking 9th graders but that’s what Spanish One always is. Spanish Three said they fought with last year’s teacher. Yipes. Hope that doesn’t happen to me like with Spanish Three in California. But they seem nice – only six students. Yeah. Then World Cultures seemed impassionate and full of slackers. Oh Brother! I met the students that I have for the study hall and we just chatted. Then the rest of the day we, the new teachers, learned the grading and attendance on their computer systems.
School was fine. Spanish One students were great and learned “me llamo” (my name is) and sang a song. Prep was nice and long and I got a lot done. Spanish Three is good with only six students but they’re still getting used to speaking “only Spanish”. The one guy who seems kinda obnoxious said in the hall after class “I already hate Spanish”. Teenagers are unpleasable but my husband reminded me they’re all just worried about their own zits. World Cultures was good about listing stereotypes they know about Native Americans. I hope they’ll learn different things now.
Yesterday was busy. School was fine – kids were busy with projects I gave them. After school I went to the video store and they let me rent for free because I got movies to show in World Cultures. I checked my email and ate pizza. Then I went back to school. It was open house/parents night but no parents came to the high school, only the elementary school wing. I planned out next week’s classes. The superintendent said parents aren’t too involved unless they’re upset about something. Good. California parents were too involved.
Yesterday school was fine. I’m always left with too much time at the end of Spanish One and too little in the other classes.
School was fine but that last class is already on my nerves – so rowdy, running off to the bathroom for too long. Talking. I’ll keep trying but they are slackers. At least when having them read silently and then discussing the reading, I could tell they really were learning. They are smart, just teenagers!
I’m so tired. If my husband hadn’t gotten up early I never could have. It’s nice to have him up in the morning. Yesterday school was fine but that World Cultures class is worrying me – I think they already hate me. Whatever. They are learning and that’s what counts. I said,”I’m pregnant and that makes you….” and they finished my sentence by saying “cranky”. I guess I have been. I meant to say “go to the bathroom” because only two of them are allowed a pass to go to the bathroom a day now. I stayed after work a long time to tape songs since there’s a class going on in the room during my prep and I can’t make any noise then. I came home tired. I stayed up to watch a funny TV show but I think I can’t do that again. I’m too tired now. Off to school.
School was the same. Spanish One is going smooth but the slacker Bob Marley Fan student is behind and on my nerves with questions he asks his neighbors. Spanish Three struggles sometimes but I explained that it is hard and frustrating to learn a second language and they seemed to accept that. World Cultures has already got the verdict out that they hate me but I just want to be tough and it’s their responsibility to get homework and projects in on time, especially when they leave the room or worse, they were actually in class and didn’t do their assignment! Yet one student’s assignments look like a fifth or sixth grader wrote them. I talked to the principal and she told me how to refer him to the Special Education department for tests to see what is going on. Since there are small classes here I can actually catch these things whereas in California I was so overwhelmed with all the numbers of homework assignments I had to read that I never even noticed if a student was struggling until it was too late – at the end of a quarter!
Half the students were gone sick yesterday so I hope I don’t get it. And it was so hot yesterday. I thought I would die in my classroom. Being a pregnant teacher is hard.
Classes went fine. The other day two girls begged to be in my World Cultures class after they had a problem with another teacher in another class that last hour. I should have known not to let them in with the clue that another teacher had kicked them out. They were nothing but trouble today – talking a lot and not doing their assignment. I told them I can drop them if they’re not quiet.
The play I gave them to read about Native Americans seems to be confusing a lot of them. Poor guinea pigs. Well I’m learning what works and what doesn’t in this class.
I felt sick last night. Nauseous, headache, tired. I don’t want to get the cold that’s going around. At least I went to bed early. School was okay but that last class really got on my nerves. I thought “I really hate them” and then I thought “I really hate teaching” but I can’t even go there. It would be hopeless. It’s just hard taking risks and watching lessons fail. The play we are reading confused them and some of the photocopies I made of it were a mess. Oh well, now I know. Next time I’ll just break it down into easier skits but they’re such slackers. Next week we’ll just do the book. But I do feel good about teaching Native American issues and some other stuff that is important for them to know since most of the country doesn’t have a clue.
I slept a lot last night so I feel better. I wouldn’t even let myself get up to pee. I went to bed at 8:30. So far I feel better than yesterday. Trying to get rid of this cold (or before I really get it). Yesterday school was fine, even the last class. They were actually quiet and took notes. Spanish Three is a bit frustrating because they can barely deal with conjugating verbs in the present tense. I know that it is hard to remember words and how to use them in Spanish– just takes practice. After school there was a brief teacher meeting and I stayed to get ready for tomorrow. I stay about an hour overtime every day but it’s not as bad as in California when I stayed after school for hours.
My husband pressed the radio instead of snooze so I overslept and somehow luckily woke up at 7:20, whipped on clothes and ran off to work. I thought it’d be a chaotic day but it went well. In Spanish One we practiced dancing to the La Bamba song for the school lip sync competition. So I taught them Flamenco dancing and we went out in the cafeteria where lots of people saw us including the Superintendent who later said, “Keep up the good work”. A Native American speaker came and spoke to one of the History classes and then my World Cultures class (since I arranged his visit) where we ate a feast that each student helped prepare. The principal came to observe my class and I told her it was a chaotic day with the visitor and Native American food we made. She didn’t seem to mind and just took notes on the class.
After school we had a brief meeting about a student and the principal said the student told her that she loves my class so I think I’m impressing my bosses. What a change from California.
Actually I wasn’t that bad of a teacher for two years in the Midwest since there was good leadership and positive feedback. That changed the third year with a first year/time principal. Shows how leadership matters and how negative feedback hurts a teacher’s performance.
Looking back now after reading an article about why so many new teachers leave the profession I show all the classic signs. It’s called Hazing – giving new teachers 9th graders who tend to be more difficult, giving them classes out of their licensure, not giving them a classroom, making them create their own curriculum. I had it all. But, like I said, it actually wasn’t that bad in this small school system with a supportive administration. Teaching large classes and not having my own room in California was hard. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to add teaching out of my field in a big place, oh wait, read on, I did find that out.
Now that I’m 7 months pregnant I’m sure feeling slower and crankier! I could barely even do 7 laps in the pool yesterday. And I’m more tired. So my patience is worse at work but this is also the time when students start to act up – the honeymoon is over. I created a monster in Spanish One by initiating the lip sync. One student kept running around, not listening to me. Really irked me. And two siblings (one in Spanish One and the other in Spanish Three) are both very demanding and too energetic (but smart). World Cultures was the calmest yesterday since they had to work on their projects – but of course I was mobbed with questions. And one student can barely write a sentence. It’ll be better once we get the IEP (Individual Education Plan) for him so we can adjust his assignments when he starts falling behind.
I initiated the crazy idea of joining the lip sync as leftover emotional baggage from California. Tornado asked if I wanted to be in one for 5 de mayo and I refused thinking Spanish Three would’ve creamed me for a non-academic activity. Her classes did prepare some lip syncs and they ended up being pretty good and I was jealous. Now, was my chance to do a lip sync even if no other classes participated. It did end up looking good with the kids singing along to La Bamba and dancing Flamenco.
Yesterday I gave two students “a minor.” One of these students got a minor for being argumentative today and yesterday. The other for running around and play fighting. Rumors got around about it. Good. I want to be known as tough.
If they got two of these “minor” infractions it was turned into the same consequences as a “major” where they had to go to the in-school suspension room for a day, and if they had any “minors” or “majors” they couldn’t go to the “No minor/major” party at the end of the quarter. It motivated a few to be good but in general I didn’t think the party was a good idea – same for kids on the honor roll – they got a party. They should be motivated to behave and get good grades by themselves, not for a party. And the kids that didn’t behave or study could care less about a party, or at least pretended they didn’t care.
Yesterday at school that same student was being sassy. I think I might need to call his parents. But the La Bamba routine is looking really good. In Spanish Three the students want me to take them on a trip but I really don’t want to. No one did at my high school. I’ll have to be firm and say no. Then we didn’t have World Cultures class and won’t all week. Instead there was an assembly where we heard a teenager speak on her experience with Internet harassment. I let the students look at my travel photos in the few moments of class we had left. They all asked who the blonde guy was. I said my ex and they said “ex-husband?” I told them no – just an old boyfriend. I’m not that Hollywood.
Kids at school are annoying about not doing their assignments and then blaming me!
This cold is driving me crazy. At least I got lots of sleep last night. The cough is horrible and I’ve lost my voice. I barely eat and when I do my stomach hurts. I should make a doctor appointment. Yesterday some of the students really got on my nerves. I hate grade time. I subbed for the History teacher and his study hall, which had some really obnoxious kids. The Bob Marley fan from my Spanish One class was in that study hall and he asked to see his grade in my class. I told him it was his responsibility to do his class work and turn it in on time. He said,”You’re the teacher, it’s your responsibility” and made his buddies laugh. I just hated him at that moment. Teens are so annoying. Especially Juniors taking a Spanish One class!
Then in World Cultures I asked one student again to move and she said “This is stupid” but she’s always talking anyways. I hate the battles. But at least the school supports the teachers unlike in California where the kids ruled. That was ridiculous.
I think I’m getting better but I still get coughing spells. And I have a headache. Yesterday school went smoothly. I met my sub for when I’m on maternity leave. She’s nice. I just worry they’ll hire her next year since she’s only working as a sub this year. But they want one person to stay awhile and I don’t think the job would be open if I say I’ll take it. Spanish One is struggling with conjugating verbs. I hate teaching grammar but I have to be consistent for the sub. Spanish Three liked looking at my photo albums of my travels and making up fictional stories about one picture they choose from the albums. World Cultures was nice and quiet as I made them read the chapter. What a change!
Yesterday was an easy day. All the classes went smoothly. In Spanish Three we played games since half the students were gone. They’re a nice bunch. It’s World Cultures that’s closest to the bad Spanish Three I had in California. One student said it was impossible to read a chapter then have a test on it in two days. I said that’s how it’s done in college, with no review there whereas I help them with a chapter review. That shut them up. I gave them notes on Judaism and we began watching “Fiddler on the Roof”. They seem to be an immature class for a lot of the topics but we’ll see. Too many different ages and slackers in this “throw everyone in if you have a scheduling issue” class.
I lost my voice so all my classes watched a movie.
At school yesterday I did impromptu lessons because half the classes were gone on some field trip. Frustrating. And Spanish Three irked me because they didn’t want to work or speak Spanish.
Yesterday classes went normal. Spanish One was excited to watch a video about Spain. Spanish Three loved wearing the Burger King hats and telling each other what to do. World Cultures irked me though, as usual. Some of the students are so immature and young and others kinda snobby and half left to be in a volleyball game. But I guess I should keep teaching about racism and the Holocaust and important things even if I only reach a small percent, better than nothing. And maybe they’ll remember later when they’re older. One hyper 9th grader really got on my nerves but I should just forget about him.
Yesterday at school I was really frustrated with World Cultures class. They’re starting to complain and say things like “This is stupid.” But I won’t try to talk with them individually because it didn’t work with the snobby California class and it seemed to just empower them. They have to do the assignments, they have to WORK, and that’s the bottom line. I’m gonna ask if I can teach another elective next semester.
Otherwise Spanish One is fine but I’m feeling lost. I wonder how much they learn with doing verbs and I wish I had that story method we learned in the California workshop by that man from Bakersfield. I should call the California school and ask who that was, especially since I have a few students who get lost conjugating verbs on written tests. In Spanish Three too, we go so fast. The grammar base is almost covered so we can do more activities and usage of Spanish which is good. I got the students to ax the idea of taking a trip because it was too complicated for this year. Then they asked questions about making movies so we wouldn’t do Spanish. Tricky.
Yesterday, first thing, I asked the principal if I could teach another elective besides World Cultures next semester. She said I could as long as it has another standard and even said my suggestion of teaching a film/media class is okay. So I talked to the standard lady, and found one – “Reading all sorts of Media for Information”. I don’t like the standards but according to other teachers there are no real checks and balances on them so I shouldn’t worry. I hope I can do it because World Cultures class is driving me crazy. At least it is the norm for students to complain. The teacher I share Spanish One classroom with said that’s normal and they keep getting worse. I realized how nice it is not to have him nagging me about his room like Tornado did. Everyone here is so much more supportive. The California school was so dysfunctional!!
Yesterday at work was interesting. One student said that his sister said Spanish Three was boring – that they worked on something while I waited for them. And in World Cultures, one girl was all loud complaints – she irks me. But it doesn’t matter if you do the Hawaiian Hoola dance the whole time, nothing pleases them and even college can have boring classes. So I’ll just ignore their gripes. I learned in California not to give the students that stupid power because they have to go to school and that’s the way it is. It just is hard to do jobs without pats on the back.
Later that girl who yelled out complaints admitted to being high that whole year, no wonder. I just had no idea – maybe her behavior should be a clue to drug use but I was clueless. The next year, when she became sober, she was one of my favorite students of all time
Yesterday I was nervous about trying the story telling in Spanish One but they got it and did great. One student with learning disabilities still didn’t seem into it. Oh well. I hope I can keep it up since it’s such a great way for students to understand and speak Spanish. Helps with my frustration when they don’t get the grammar. Maybe it would help when they get to Spanish Three – they would understand me or at least be used to trying to listen to Spanish. Spanish Three loved doing the skits and watching the California student’s video versions of the same play and said, “Wow, they put a lot of effort into it”. That made me feel good even years after the students’ and Tornado’s caca about doing that video assignment. In World Cultures I really don’t like that loud girl. She’s loud and complaining and bratty. She said “we are going to fail” and she got a100% on the test. I just ignore her. After the test we went to the library so they could research.
I couldn’t find the storytelling method I had learned about from that man from Bakersfield, California at the teacher’s workshop out there, but I took verbs and made up my own story. It worked much better than teaching pure grammar. Some kids even remembered the stories, words, and sign language that went with them the following year. And the video must be the play I had my California Spanish Three students film whereas Tornado’s kids just acted it out in the classroom. Tornado didn’t like the time my students “wasted” on the film but I’ve used them for classes ever since and some are state of the art (again, I’m not surprised that in my Google search the best one was made by a student who is now a professional filmmaker.)
World Cultures class really liked my talk about my travels in Europe, especially about me being a teen in France. I had a really good day at work yesterday. All classes were fun and smooth. Spanish One did funny Bonnie and Clyde skits. A friend called about a job announcement for a producer for a radio program. I realized I like my job. In Spanish Three we talked about the Holocaust and discrimination. They had a lot of questions so it was good. I think it’s okay to not do Spanish on days like that when you discuss important issues, especially since we had an assembly about racism yesterday. It even talked about the Holocaust and my World Cultures class really did get my lesson on that. I was proud!
Yesterday school was fine. My rapport with World Cultures students seems to be getting better. They seem to like my travel stories.
School was bad, of course, right after a good day. The woman who will sub for me hung out all day and we figured out what she would be doing. She goes by the book, page by page, but I’ll just tell students she has a different style because I know from the past that when I try other teachers’ ways it doesn’t work. I have to go by my style and strengths.
Yesterday classes went fine – I winged Span One but found things for them to do the whole hour and we even watched a twenty-minute video on Latino singers. Spanish Three liked Mexican film but World Cultures complained about looking at my travel photographs that I posted on the bulletin boards because they had to answer questions on a worksheet as they walked around looking at the photos. Yet once they started they saw it wasn’t so bad and I told them if they keep complaining I’ll make the test NOT open book. That shut them up. I stayed until five watching videos to prepare for my maternity leave, but when I came home and no one was here I didn’t feel badly about it.
In Spanish One I was so stuffed up that I could barely hear – this congestion and coughing is driving me crazy. The rest of the day was easier hearing wise. I wish I could take time off but there’s no way – I need my sick days for the birth.
I met with the principal about my evaluation and it was positive. I really do like this school and I hope I continue to like the job. In World Cultures students asked which was Israel and which was Palestine right before the test. Yipes. Learning seems harder than just teaching – they must’ve spaced out on the lecture, or hated “thinking” and “analyzing” on the photo exercise. It’s sad how trained they are to regurgitate back. I feel it is important to challenge them – then they will learn, eventually.
School went fine in Spanish yesterday. The kids loved my alien baby costume for Halloween. They also enjoyed watching Dracula – the original movie in Spanish. They also liked the Chupacabra story I made up in Spanish 1. The other classes watched a Chupacabra X files episode and I got to do grades – less stress but I still have to figure out how to grade the state standard’s stuff. And I was surprised the students didn’t understand my migrant workers seemingly invisible in our society essay question from the video of the X files.
The Chupacabra means “Goat Sucker”. It’s a creature with a mystery like Big Foot and my favorite thing to teach in class since I loved all the mystery and pop culture surrounding it’s supposed sightings in the 1990s. The X Files did a show on it and I have it to show my students. They did a neat political turn where the Chupacabra hangs around the “invisible” undocumented Spanish-speaking workers in our country.
Classes went smooth with the Mexican Day of the Dead movie and word finds.
In Spanish Three that annoying woman from the exchange program came by to talk about the boy from Chechnya so I talked to her the rest of the class. He’s having a hard time in school, especially with his attitudes towards the women teachers. I told her I gave him plenty of breaks and he’s lucky he has a C. He thinks I’m harder on him, I’m not, but I think he’s more disruptive and that’s why I tell him to sit and be quiet a lot. I’m just annoyed that they’re all wasting my time on someone who for most of the semester didn’t care about doing schoolwork here and runs around obnoxiously all the time. Why is she bothering me so much about an exchange student who is only here for the “experience”? We should give more attention the kids with learning disabilities and those who are really trying to learn and make something of themselves here. Apparently he comes from a rich influential family and they run the town and he acts the same in his school in his home country. After school I got all my grades done. Yeah. I went home on time for once.
I went to work from 12 to 7:30 for parent conferences. A lot of good students’ parents came and it was nice chatting. Bob Marley fan’s step mom came and was suspicious of all his absences. The other talkative attititude guy in Spanish One’s mom came and I said someday he has bad days (and alluded to his attitude) but it didn’t go anywhere. Instead I found out he was hurt that no one ate his tacos on food day. Poor guy. I got a lot done – planning classes, filing and even preparing the state standard’s thing.
In Spanish One the flash cards went over really well – the students really tried to get them all correct. I got the idea from that workshop we just had on reading and vocabulary. In World Cultures one girl was arguing with me about not watching the movie since she missed some from being absent yesterday. I told her she could choose to get a zero on it if she wants but I talked to her alone and explained to her it was an assignment and not a movie theater experience. Then I ran off to the doctors but that stupid clinic made me wait an hour.
I wonder how much my teaching was geared to having the baby – preparing for a sub that doesn’t speak Spanish in case the baby came early (the Spanish speaking sub was traveling) and showing movies so I could go see the doctor. Just shows that teachers have real lives outside of work that affects the classroom.
Last night I dreamed I was in high school – ah! And had to make up gym credits or not graduate and was about to get a “minor” infraction and I came back to my dorm room (like I was back in college instead all of a sudden) and found my aunt had moved in. I was not happy.
Yesterday was tough. I was cranky at work especially with Spanish One and always World Cultures because they’re so off task. After school the Special Ed teacher came and talked with me about subbing her class. I’ve always had the feeling to say no and now I really regret it. It’s not your usual sit there and maybe do one thing. It’s a Learning Disabled class and I have to do the math with them and help them.
I was subbing during my prep hour as much as possible. That year they let us replace the hours we took off (which I did for doctor appointments) with subbing. The next year they canceled that program, I think because of me taking too many hours with it.
I survived school yesterday and Spanish One was easier when I told them they’d be sent to the in-school suspension room. Spanish Three can get on my nerves when they complain about not understanding a TV show or something – that’s the point, catching what you can understand when you hear a second language. In World Cultures class the first group did a great job on teaching a chapter and the class loved the game they had planned for them to practice the information in the chapter. Maybe I’ve found a way to get through to this class.
So I finally watched the German film I ordered for school. It’s a good lesson about German guilt and cover up of Nazism. It’s got a bad title “Nasty Girl” but it’s a normal movie. I videotaped tons of interviews off of TV for the media class so my sub will have something. Preparing for baby in all ways.
Later I found out a sub was suspicious of the name of the film and turned it off when the main character was swimming and you could see a little through her suit. She thought I was showing some art porn or something when in reality I wanted to show how Germans discuss the Holocaust and the problem of German guilt. The word “nasty” was meant to mean “bad” or “shame on you” girl for bringing to light the town’s involvement with the Nazis.
After work they gave me a baby shower. It means so much to me because I thought no one would ever give me once since I don’t know that many people here. They made sandwiches shaped as umbrellas – how cute and the English teacher made yummy German tea in real teacups. And lots of women teachers gave lots of pretty gifts. They’re all so sweet. And they laughed at my baby ignorance. I’m gonna try to write and thank them all.
I feel tired around 3-5 PM but otherwise I have a lot of energy at home and get a lot done. But at school I’m cranky with the students – tired of the yapping and complaining. I guess because I know it’s almost time to go and that’s in my mind. I planned for next week’s classes and they are all something a sub who doesn’t speak Spanish could do. World Cultures got on my nerves like always, especially one student. One girl is just such a conflict. I told them to be quiet to review for the test and she was talking and I was tired of it so I stopped doing the review. They were very quiet after that. I feel baldy about being so cranky and I hope my bosses don’t think I’m a bad teacher but luckily at this school they don’t listen to teenagers whining and are very supportive, unlike in California. And they really want a Spanish teacher to stay since they’ve had a hard time keeping them.
I get really cranky especially when I’m tired and hungry but I think I was cranky all day yesterday. At least I’m so over prepared for a sub at work that I don’t have much work at all to do. In Spanish One they looked at and answered questions about Mexico, which seemed to go over well. In prep I felt so tired and faint. Taking my congestion pill helped but I did pass out – thank you notes that is, to everyone who was at the baby shower – I put them in their boxes. Then Spanish Three got on my nerves for goofing off about making their video. It’s taking them longer than I expected. I don’t like seeing people goofing off but I have to loosen up and let students be creative and manage their own time and fail if they don’t get things done within the deadline. In general most students at the school are horrible at turning in homework. In World Cultures they actually were pretty good today and quietly did their work
I woke up grumpy. I stayed up till 10PM watching the movie “Gandhi” for school trying to plan something for a sub next week. Movies are the easiest. Yesterday Spanish classes went fine. Spanish Three finished their video project and it cracked me up. But World Cultures were pills as always. I moved the talkative girl and she bitched saying I therefore had to move everyone. I really don’t like her and vice versa but since I’m leaving any day I won’t worry about it but I did catch her giving the answers to the Chechnya exchange student so they’re lucky I just took their quiz instead of giving them zeros. There’s always some snotty student that gets on my nerves and she’s the one.
School was fine yesterday but the last class of the day World Cultures really got on my nerves – but crankiness is a sign or preclampsia. I was happy to get a file cabinet and I filed stuff away and luckily was completely prepared for a sub, which is now the case.
I remember looking at my “annoying” Spanish One students and thinking I’ll miss them – somehow I knew my absence the next day would mean I wouldn’t be coming back. I was right. I was scheduled to have my breech baby turned around and even though the baby turned on his own, I was found to have high blood pressure and preclampsia and put on bed rest (hence the extra crankiness towards my students was a physical health sign not just me being an impatient teacher). I knew that when I came back it’d be a new semester with new classes, so I was right – it was the last time I saw those classes. But I’d see most of the students again in future classes.
TEACHING A NEW SEMESTER, AND AS A NEW MOTHER
I had a wonderful baby boy –after two weeks of bed rest, and began my life as a mother. I loved staying home but knew I had to go back and didn’t really have a problem with it since that’s what I had planned. Plus, I wasn’t used to being home all day, never had before. Besides, he was home with my husband. I just had to get used to pumping breast milk in a closet, which was hard during a fire drill. I had to get dressed, make sure that it was just a drill, then go back to pumping in my closet. If it was real, I figured the fire fighters would eventually find me in the closet, pumps attached!
I spent seven weeks (one for the Winter Holiday break) at home learning how to take care of a newborn and “bond”. I talked to the sub a few times by phone and even went into work once or twice to get things ready for my return. The students gushed over the baby, at least some of the girls, even the talkative rebel ones from World Cultures. I wasn’t sure that if I couldn’t trust them to be quiet during class, could I trust them when they wanted to hold my baby? I took a chance and they were very loving to him, even when he made a big smelly diaper mess which leaked through.
When I returned to work I was excited to teach the media class. Unfortunately it was “out of my license” and again filled with kids who just needed some place to go so it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. Since we didn’t have any real equipment like movie cameras or editing, I just had them do activities like looking in entertainment magazines, reading articles about show business, and making cartoon strips. I found out how hard it is to figure out how long it can take a class to do an activity because they would finish in ten minutes and then talk or go to the art room where the teacher always let kids come and hang out. They did make funny music videos and I learned to appreciate their music. We also wrote and filmed a fun skit as a class.
The problem really happened with a few mouthy kids. One I found out later was a heavy drug user and drinker. Another already had a teacher’s assistant with him all day as part of his special education plan. I just would write them up to get them out of the class or to “punish” their liping off. One day the boy with the assistant kept telling me to “fuck off” so I kept writing him up minors. Maybe it wasn’t the best decision on my part but I was mad when the teacher assistant decided it wasn’t wise and took all but one of the write-ups away. I’m not a control freak but it rubbed me the wrong way. I guess I felt embarrassed about my mistake and having her make the decision that the punishment I had deemed was wrong. She should have let me keep control of the class and keep my decisions by sitting down, later when we all cooled off, then talk about what happened and what his “disciplinary action” should really be. Saving face in front of all the class is what really is important and I don’t think she got that. She ended up quitting soon anyways so it really was pointless the whole incident. Later I learned how little training is involved with teacher’s aides, especially in Special Education.
That second semester I also had to teach a technical writing class which was super easy. The students had to do all the work, which is really the way it should be. They had to type business letters, charts, etc. It was more of a typing class. We just went by the book. I was actually bored since they sat by the computers and I had “no real teaching” to do. They didn’t even need my help and knew more than I did about making charts and using Excel. The only issue in that class was one student who missed a lot of class and missed a lot of assignments. He ended up dropping out of high school.
Spanish Two was a mixed bag. They had some of the qualities of that Spanish Three class in California – very grade orientated. They panicked before each quiz which we had about every week and a half. They did their assignments and I gave up giving homework since no one in this school ever did it, so there wasn’t a problem with being hounded over grades and accused of missing assignments, plus I had so much less paper work that there was less room for error than the 130 students I had in California.
They claimed they hadn’t learned anything the year before so I mainly did a Spanish One curriculum. Now I know it was a mistake, that when kids claim they didn’t learn anything it’s not necessarily true. They knew their commands since the teacher had used one of the best methods called Total Physical Response – you say the command and the kids do it. They knew that by heart plus it works much better than trying to “teach grammar”.
Luckily I found a book with another great method – Total Physical Response Storytelling, TPRS – the same thing I learned about from that man from Bakersfield, California. So, every day we went over the words using some sign language which the kids remembered the next year, and the Spanish word too. Then I would tell the story in Spanish and they would act it out.
One problem was that some of the boys were a bit crude and somehow found a way to make each of the stories gross. They knew they’d get in trouble with me every day, but no write-ups, just telling them to quit it. The other problem was due to the crazy emphasis on state standards, the school chose to put a social studies research standard into this Spanish class, so after the story we’d all go to the library where they worked on their research projects on Spanish culture. I love teaching culture but didn’t like it being forced on me and having to waste so much language acquisition time on it. I like to teach culture by using the Spanish language.
Most of the kids in that class were very academic and did all their work and studied well. There was one boy who did not. One time he was taking forever on a quiz and obviously did not know the material. So I told him “time’s up” and we went on to the next activity. Tests and quizzes are hard, giving everyone enough time and some quiet activity to do when they are done so others can work. Or the best idea I heard was a timed quiz for everyone. Later he came to me and said that was unfair to take his paper and that the next activity was stupid. I let him finish his test but felt duped; he probably studied more in between class and after school. That’s when I learned to time all my quizzes.
Back to my real diary …….