Tuesday, August 15, 2017

All Bets Are Off

Usually the first day, and even the first week, of school are rather uneventful for me.  Or they should be.  Having kids in ISS the first week is NOT a good thing.  That's the Honeymoon Phase.  If they can't keep it together for the first week, it does not bode well for the year.

First day...no problems.  In fact, the first full week was quiet for me.

Which meant I could plan out the entire year of Craft Club, get the Veteran's Day Program started, and work on forms and paperwork.  It also meant it gave admin a few more days to actually figure out my schedule which gets changed every year for no reason whatsoever.  Every year they change it, and every year I have to remind them that there is a one hour time period where my kids (and me) can have lunch where they will not miss their RTI classes.  Why they can't leave well enough alone is beyond me.  The old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage... In any case, they had our lunch scheduled for 3rd period, and my planning for 6th (and no one was assigned to watch my kids during my bathroom break planning.  That's a problem.

On Friday afternoon I get word, from a bus driver no less, that I will have a kid starting Monday.  Really?  I go into guidance and ask the Guidance Goddess and she confirms.  Once again, Ditzy Admin forgot to tell me, forgot to put the paperwork in my mailbox, and generally just forgot.  Great.  We are off to a great start.  To be fair, she did, finally email me about 3:00 on Friday afternoon, but by then I'd already tracked down the kid and his information and notified his teacher.

And I was wrong.  We all were.

We were all betting that the first kid in ISS would most likely be a seventh grader.  The sixth grade class from last year, which is now the seventh grade class, was infamous.  We'd been hearing about them and their behavior for years and they lived up to every bit of their reputation.  So I figured things hadn't changed much and my first customer would be a seventh grader.

And if it wasn't a seventh grader, an 8th grader.  Because there were a few troublemakers in that bunch who spent a lot of time in my room last year.

My first kid?  A sixth grader. A sixth grader who slapped an 8th grader as they got off the bus that morning.  And remarkably, the 8th grader had some restraint and didn't hit him back (since I know that kid pretty well, I'm still astounded).

Who would have thought?

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Front Office Frenzy

So here it is, August, and if it's August here in my Beloved South, it must mean It's Time for School to Start!

Yes, I know it's ridiculously early.  I'm not happy about it.  I'd rather start after Labor Day and go further into June, because at least that way we aren't going to school during The Hottest Month of the Damn Year, but nooooo, we start in August.  

Fortunately, it wasn't that hot.  Because it was POURING rain all morning.  

As the In School Suspension teacher, the odds of me having a kid on this very first half day of the school year are slim - although it has happened before - so I was assigned to help out in the front office with whatever needed doing.

Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Sakes. Alive.

I always knew our Amazing Secretaries were really buy in the morning, but I had no idea the drama and chaos that is the front office of a middle school.  Really.  It was insane.

We had parents dropping off enrollment paperwork.  

We had parents - in their pajamas - dropping off enrollment paperwork.  

We had parents with no identification so we couldn't sign them in and send them to guidance to enroll their kid.  The Guidance Goddess had to trudge up front to deal with them.

We had parents coming in with a dazed look on their face that said the other middle school nearby sent them to us as they were in our zone, not theirs.

We had parents trying to convince us that they had moved to our zone and try to enroll, but when asked the kids said no they didn't move and gave an address that belonged in the other school's zone.

We had parent and grandparent arguing over whether they wanted the kid/grandkid removed from the special education bus and placed in regular transportation (which must be changed on an IEP).  Apparently the kid told grandpa one thing and mom another.  Whatever.

We had a mother inform us that her daughter couldn't be anywhere near another kid in the seventh grade, that they were going to court, the other mom had pulled a gun on someone, and goodness knows what else.

It was mind-blowing.

And our secretaries were amazing.  They were calm, cool, and collected.  They didn't blanch or roll their eyes or lose their minds with the 217th person that morning called and asked just when, exactly early dismissal was?    They didn't bat an eye at any of the craziness.

As for me?  Anytime a kid arrived who needed to be walked to their new homeroom, I was there to do the escorting.  It got me out of the drama.

But dang, folks, school secretaries?  They are Super Women.  Truly. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Back At It, Or Another Year Begins, Along with Some Random Stuff

After a brief summer break (no, we don't get Three Whole Months Off, like most people think), we reported back to work today.

Unlike most Back to School for Teacher's Days, this one wasn't held at The School, but was instead held at one of the District buildings where we joined up with The Principal's new school (remember, she left last year and the Enforcer now is our principal) and sat through a day long workshop on mental health and kids.  Actually a really good workshop.  I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

However.

I have not sat for this long the entire summer.  Within the first hour and half I was getting really, really restless.  And it continued for the entire day.  And it drove me nuts.

I know tomorrow will be more of the same, and I only hope we get more breaks so I can at least take a walk around the building or do something other than sit.

So, what have I been doing all summer?

Well...as usual, I didn't get everything done I wanted.

I didn't read up and bone up on math like I wanted.
I didn't clean out as many closets as I wanted.
I didn't clean out my garage.
I didn't clean my house as often or as deeply as I wanted.

But what I did do was pretty awesome.

I hosted a family reunion and had 20 relatives, mostly cousins, come visit from all around the country.  One of my cousins I hadn't seen in 18 years, and that's just nuts.  We decided we're doing this again, sooner.

I, well, we,  had a roommate.  One of my cousin's sons is living with us this summer while he completes an internship for his Master's in History from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.  This has been a lot of fun.  He and Mr. Bluebird are having a ball talking history and we took him to see Dunkirk for his birthday (amazing movie, too.)   It's been a nice change having him around.  He's very low maintenance as well.

We adopted two kittens, sisters, and that's been amazingly fun.  The older cats have adjusted well for the most part.  The energy level these two have is off the charts.  They are better than television.

I taught a week of Civil War Summer Camp again.  This time I had amazing kids who all wanted to be there (none of the "let's put the kid in a camp to get him or her out of the house" crap).

I went to Texas for a few days for a conference and had a blast.

I re-read Pride and Prejudice again.

I knitted.

And I spent lots and lots of time at my CrossFit Box and worked on pull ups and rowing speed and generally getting better.  I'm getting there.

It's been nice.

But on Monday, it's back to work with the kids.  Hopefully a fantastic year is ahead of us.




Monday, May 15, 2017

Testing, Testing, and Badly Behaved Kids

To be perfectly honest, the past few weeks have been a challenge.

First we had testing.  And more testing.  And even more testing.  We spread out the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests over a total of nine days and I'm not sure that was the smartest way to go.  Yeah, I can see how they want to make the testing blocks of time shorter - more like a class period which is what the kids were used to - but jeez, two freaking weeks of testing?

The problem being that, due to the fact that Testing is Everything in Education, we couldn't send kids to Alternative School, our in-house version of Alt School was at capacity, and suspending was problematic.  We could suspend kids, but only if the parents agreed to bring their spawn every morning for testing, then take them right back home when the tests were over.  (Remarkably, three parents agreed and did this.  We were shocked.)

So we had to deal with the kids being stuck in the building creating havoc.  Or more precisely, I had to deal with the kids stuck out with me in My Happy Little Portable.

It was not pleasant.  It was like two weeks of the very worst of the worst, kids who were already returned from alternative school, on limited 25 point contracts, and who had already exceeded that number.  I was told, "try to keep them if you can, but if they so much as blink, call us and we'll suspend them."

Oh blink.  Dare ya.  Just blink.

I ended up having to call and have two of them removed.  They made it through almost 3 days of their 4 days with me (four of the longest days of my life) but finally blew it when they couldn't mind their manners and got disrespectful and rude to me and their classmates.

And they were gone.  They are now both in alternative school and that's where they'll start 8th grade.  But then I'm sure I'll see them again.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Beam Me Up Mrs. Bluebird!

The Enforcer once told us in a faculty meeting, when he was an Assistant Principal, that his job pretty much involved sitting behind a desk and having kids lie to him all day.

I feel his pain.

I had this little sixth grade girl, truly a piece of work, who was with me for two days due to her really insulting and rude behavior to her teachers.  (Lovely).  Every morning I do a brief orientation about what it's like in ISS, expectations, etc., Like most sixth graders, Little Rude One didn't really believe me when I said that all work had to be finished before they could be exited from ISS.  I swear I only say this a 100 times a day, but some kids Just Don't Get It.  A lot of kids are Shocked - Shocked! - when I actually do something I say I'm going to do.

In any case, Little Rude One turned in her social studies assignment with Nothing Attached.  Seriously.  Nothing.  I called her up to my desk to find out where her work was.

"So, it says here that you should have the Egypt worksheet you got from your teacher yesterday for homework," I say.  "Where is it?"

"It's at home," she says.  Considering it was given to her to take home by her teacher the day before, that's a possibility, so I didn't pursue it.

"Okay, so below that it says you are supposed to read pages 302 through 320.  Did you do that?" I ask knowing full well she didn't'.

"Yes, I did!" she boldly proclaimed.

"Okay, so on pages 320 and 321, you're supposed to do questions 1-10 on notebook paper.  Where is this?"

"It's at home!" she chirps.

"Really?" I ask.  Because she just got this assignment This Very Morning.

"Yes, it's at home!"  She says again.

"So, I'm wondering how it could be at home, when you didn't even get this assignment until this morning, and as far as I can tell, you have been in this room with me all day."

"It's at home!" she again insisted.

"So, what you're saying, is that you got this assignment this morning, and somehow managed to teleport yourself back to your house where you completed it and left it?" I asked her.

At this point, I was expecting another, "Its at home!" but what I got, finally, was that look in her eyes that said, "Oh crap, she's caught me lying,"  She realized, finally, that she'd been backed into a corner of her own making.  And I sent her back to her seat to hopefully, finally get her work done.

Sh e didn't get it done.  She had to come the next day during her PE and art classes to finish.  And the whining and fussing were amazing...she just didn't seem to get it.  She'd do half the questions, and turn them in.  I'd give them back to have her finish.  Back and forth we went like this on all her assignments, social studies and reading language arts.  When she got 2 out of 20 correct on her vocabulary assignment, I then had her sit with a dictionary to look up the words she got wrong.  At that point she nearly lost her mind because she didn't know how to use a dictionary because the words "don't pop up at you".  

Oh good gracious.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Spring Has Sprung...and so have the Hormones

So Spring Break is over.

Damn.

And it was greatly needed because we Didn't Get A Single Snow Day.  Everyone's nerves are shot - kids and teachers alike - and it was nice to get away from each other.

So some came back with tans, others with great stories about awesome trips, and even others with...hormones.

It's that time of year, the sap is rising, the birds are singing, and sixth graders are turning into hormonal future seventh graders.

I was up in guidance flipping through the stack of write-ups that had been turned in (I like to see what is coming my way) when I noticed a trend.  Lots of sixth graders, boys and girls both, are doing a lot of grabbing, hugging, and groping.  A lot.  .

"Holy moly," I said to the Guidance Goddess.  "These kids have discovered the opposite sex in a big way."

She nodded.  "You have no idea...it's nuts.  I can't believe the write-ups I've been getting.  It's like they've lost their minds."

And discovered sex.

Oh joy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

So You Think You're Stressed?

There are times, truly, where I learn way too much about my kids.

That may seem odd, seeing as I have many of these kids for just a few days at a time, but I almost feel like a bartender...I'm there, it's a quiet environment, it's a perfect place to spill your guts.  A lot of times, it's a good thing.  I can do some counseling, we can talk about why the kids keeps making bad choices, and talk about goals.  Other times, I'd rather not know what they're telling me.

So this week I had a return visitor, except this was his first time this year.  He'd rocked 8th grade after falling apart - he ended up in alternative school - in seventh grade.  Grades were excellent, he was in advanced classes, he'd grown up.  It was nice to see that Brainy Boy was doing well.

Except maybe he'd grown up a bit too much.

It was after lunch and I was going through some of the work that the kids were turning in.  I check it to see if it's complete, spot check for accuracy, and either check it off and put it in the basket to return to the teachers, or give it back to be completed/redone.

One of my kids was not completing his work.  He kept turning in assignments that were either incomplete with blank pages, or completely wrong.  Everything he turned in had to go back to be redone.  So he was stomping, and fussing, and basically having a whining fit and the other kids were getting annoyed.

"Oh get over yourself", said Brainy Boy.  "You think your life is so tough."

"Oh but it isssss!" whined The Whiner  "This stuff is soooo hard!"

"You don't know what stress is," says Brainy Boy.  "Seventh grade work is not stressful."

"You don't understannnnndddd,' whines The Whiner.  "It's haaaard."

At this point, Brainy Boy dropped his bomb.  "Oh stop freaking whining.  You don't know stress.  You want to know what's stressful?  You want to know the kind of stress I've been going through?  I'm in 8th grade and I just got my girlfriend pregnant!  Now that's stress!"

Well then.

You could have heard a pin drop in that room.  (I might add it was all boys that day which may have been why he felt comfortable enough to say what he said.)

Whiney Boy's jaw dropped for a moment, he sucked air, then it his mouth closed, he went back to his seat and we didn't hear a word from him the rest of the day.

Algebra Kid, Brainy Boy's best bud and partner in crime (they had done something in their Algebra class to end up with me), gave him a sympathetic look.

"Man, you really didn't need to tell everyone that," he said.  "But you do have a point."

"Yeah, I know," said Brainy Boy.  "But damn, his whining just pissed me off."

And with that, they went back to their graphing calculators and worked on their Algebra.