Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Hatchling Shows His True Feathers

Well, I may not be seeing the Hatchling again.  Which is fine with me.  Yet another example of why I should keep my mouth closed and not volunteer for anything.

He did pretty well this week until today.  Well if you can discount the battle over gum, kicking his desk, not doing work, and lying.  My favorite was when he decided he wanted to move his desk so i couldn't see him behind a partition.  Not going to work buddy. He didn't want me watching him and by golly I was going to watch him.

Today was yet another day.  Came in with gum.  Told him to spit it out.  He didn't (he faked it) and then I busted him out and he lied and FINALLY spit it out.  (I'm usually not such a gum freak but it was a wad that made him look like he had chewing tobacco in and he snapped it which is aggravating.  And I have carpet.)  Said he didn't have any work.  Had him show me his agenda where he had written "nothing" for all his classes.  Sadly he apparently is one of those kids who don't seem to think that teachers actually talk with each other and I mentioned that I happened to know for a fact that he had science and social students homework.

"No I don't," he said.

"Really?  That's not what your teachers said when they emailed me earlier."

"But it's done."

"Show me."

He brought it up and it was, of course, not finished.  Not even started.  Told him he needed to do it.  He didn't have a book.  One of my regular kids was using my copy of the book so I sent him in the building to his locker to get his social studies book.  So he got his science book.  (This kid isn't stupid by any means...sneaky and very capable of doing things so he doesn't have to do what you want him to.)

So since he brought his science, he worked on that.  But instead of that, he decided to mess with the globe on the shelf above his desk.  Then he kicked at his desk.  And then he carved the word "savage" into the wall of the cubicle next to him.

"Well that's interesting," I said when I saw the vandalism.  "Did you do that?"  

"Yes," he admitted.  

"Oh good, well, let's get a picture," I said as I took out my phone.  At that point, once I was photographing it, he decided that maybe he didn't do it.  By this time I was done playing his games, had my own kids to deal with, and just walked away and wrote him up for vandalism.  He kicked at his desk for the remaining 15 minutes.  The other kids ignored him best they could.  

I did tell the Guidance Goober and Coach Cool that I was done.  I didn't want him back.  He is too high maintenance for me to deal with him every second of the time he's there to make sure he's not into something he shouldn't be, talking back, engaging my own kids, whatever.  And even though he's supposed to act as an aide, I don't trust him unsupervised in the building.  He lies too much.  And after spending quite a few hours this summer repainting the cubicles, I didn't appreciate the vandalism.  My busiest times of the day are in the morning and in the afternoon when I'm processing kids and their work in and out of ISS.  I don't have an aide this year in the afternoon to help me, and I just don't need the additional aggravation.

Not sure what the final result will be, but Coach Cool pulled him off the bus and was marching him to the front office last I saw.

So this is what happens when you open your mouth in a meeting.  I think I'm done volunteering for a while.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

When Your Behavior Defies Logic

So T, my kid who can't say his own name, was in my class for disrespect.Which isn't all that unusual with our population.  There are some mouthy, rude kids out there.

But you have to wonder about a brand new sixth grader who decides to get lippy with Coach Mean, all 6'5", 300 lbs of him.  Seriously, this guy is huge and he never, ever cracks a smile. And this was the teacher T decided to get rude with.

Makes you wonder about T's common sense or lack thereof.  He obviously doesn't have a strong sense of survival.

Anyhow, T was in there this week with my group of 7th grade trouble makers and had a real difficult time following directions.  He did fine the first day, but by the second day, every time I told him to do something I got the eye roll, the "Ohmygod", and back talk. This wasn't going to fly.  And I noticed he didn't have his contract turned in so I decided to pull out the big guns.

I called Momma.

In front of everyone.

So I got Momma on the phone and asked about the contract, which she claimed to have never seen.  I informed her that it needed to be signed and returned so he could get out of ISS and she asked me to send another one.  I then casually mentioned that I was having a problem with T's rudeness and disrespect and was considering adding an additional day to his time in ISS.

Stunned silence out of every other kid in the portable as they were all listening and you could almost see the thought bubbles above their heads..."Oh shit, she's called his mom and now she may be adding extra days!"

Momma wanted me to put T on the phone, which I gladly did.  And then I could hear her yelling at him for about five minutes.  The rest of the kids pretended not to be listening and acted like they were doing work, but you know what they were focused on!

He finally gave me the phone back.  Momma told me to expect an apology and she wanted me to text her at the end of the day to ensure I got it and to let me know how he behaved.

I got my apology, he shut up, and was perfect.  The other kids spent the rest of the day acting a little nervous, wondering when their mother wasn't going to get called.

Gotta love it.

P. S.  Since I was asked...T and Hatchling, although both sixth graders, are two different boys.

The Hatchling Pops an Attitude

So my little Hatchling had a pretty good week until Wednesday.  He'd been coming to our class sixth period, ran the very few errands I had for him, and showed me a completed agenda with his work complete.  No attitude, was fairly quiet, did his thing.  However, I was starting to worry a bit that this kid never seemed to have work so emailed his teachers to find out if he was missing anything.

He did have some incomplete work from School Dad (who runs our in house alternative school and who is big and bald and scary and coaches football and is a fantastic math teacher).  School Dad is doing a related arts class for our top behavior problems in all three grades to teach them how to "do School" and my Hatchling, with his record, is in one.  Hatchling is NOT happy about this.

On Thursday, Hatching came and brought his attitude with him.  By this time I was starting to get my Seventh grade trouble makers and it was a bit more chaotic in there than the Hatchling was used to.  So of course he wanted to talk to them, and then got snippy when I told him he couldn't.

He then got to work on a word search for School Dad, and wasn't happy when I gave him some incomplete work School Dad had put in my box.

"I did that," Hatchling said.

"Oh really?  Then why was it given back to me?  It doesn't look done?"  I asked.

"I did that.  They're lying if they said I didn't."  He replied.

Oh great.  He's having one of THOSE days.

And it went on from there.  He insisted that he technically wasn't in ISS (I silently said "yet") so he didn't have to follow ISS rules.  This was his study hall so he could do what he wanted.  He also hated being here and wanted to be back in regular study hall with the aide that he clashed with the 2nd day of school.  (Yeah, right, lets see how that works, kid).  He was going to start skipping and didn't care if that means he got a write up and got sent to alternative school.  And it went on from there.

I basically ignored him, especially as he wasn't loud about it, and let him keep whining and complaining.  Whatever.  I sent a message to Guidance Goober and was asked to document all of this, which I did.  I was thrilled when the bell rang and the Hatchling went back to his homeroom to annoy them.

So imagine my surprise at Open House when there's a knock on my door and I answer it to see the Hatchling and his dad on my doorstep.

Seriously.  Hatching was perfect.  Dad said he'd heard from all the other teachers that I'd offered to help him out and wanted to meet me and thank me.  Had a nice visit.  I showed Hatching his new desk which he claimed to like a lot better (in the far reaches of my room where I can still keep an eye on him, but he won't bother anyone, I hope).  Dad was happy.

I didn't see Hatchling on Friday because he got dismissed, but I ran into School Dad who informed me that Hatchling is being HORRID in his class so he was setting up a parent meeting with all involved for Friday.  I can't wait.

Call Me T

So the other day I got my very first sixth grader, a boy with a first name that held 17 letters, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to say it.  Seriously.  I've seen some crazy names over the years, but this one defied all laws of phonics.

So, I sat down with my newcomer and went through my orientation to ISS with him, and asked him what he went by (because I was thinking no way kids could say this name).

"Call me T," he said.

"Okay, good, I can do that.  But out of curiosity, just how do you say your name?" I asked.

He giggled.  "I don't know," he said.

Really.

You can't make this shit up.

The Insanity of Seventh Grade Boys

We managed to finally get back to Our Happy Little Portable after about the fifth time the district AC guys came down and FINALLY fixed our AC.  They also finally fixed the AC in the core part of the building.  Not sure what the hold up was (I have my suspicions but I will be nice) but it's nice that it's finally done.

And I didn't even get the stupid mobile hung up yet.

In any case, I've been busier than I expected with seventh graders.  Oddly, I haven't had a single 8th grader yet (and the 8th grade teachers are exclaiming with much joy about how awesome this group of 8th graders is which is beyond strange considering their horrible behavior as 7th graders).  And I have one 6th grader which, considering how they are clamping down on the Sixth Grade Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself, is not surprising.  They aren't giving them much time to get in trouble.

Seventh grade however, is in rare form.

I have had not one, not two, but three pairs of boys who apparently can't behave at lunch and try to start fights with each other.  So it's a juggling act remembering who can't be by who and who got in a fight with who and so forth.  But being boys, after about a day or two they're okay with each other.  If it were girls, that would be another story.  But still, apparently there's something going on with seventh grade lunch, and in particular, with this team of kids.  Mr. Math has his hands full with this bunch because all of them have come from his team.

And they're a high maintenance, squirmy, bunch, and shock of shocks, I know most of them because they landed with me in sixth grade.

I have them with me through Monday.  And then they'll be off, back to their classes.  But I have a feeling I'll be seeing all of them again. Soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

When You Feel the Sweat Rolling Down Your Back

I am usually a cheerful, friendly and agreeable person.  However, when the AC unit in my portable goes out, and the repair guys come out and give me some nonsense about how it's my fault because I don't have a mobile or something hanging from the ceiling to move and keep the unit on (which is complete and total nonsense), I get cranky.

Really cranky.

So cranky that I might have gotten a bit snippy.  Because, you see, Daddy Bird was a pretty freaking good handyman and I know a thing or two about how things work.  And I know that these two repair guys were feeding me a load of manure.

Repair Guy One tells me "The problem is the AC goes off because there isn't enough movement here.  You need to hang a mobile or something that will move around and it won't go off."

"So you're saying there has to be movement in the room?  You do realize this is an ISS classroom?  That the kids sit and do their work and aren't jumping around?"

Blank Stares.

"And how come it worked fine last year without a mobile?  And I could leave for the weekend and come back and it was at the correct temperature and no one was in here moving around then.  And how come it's set at 72 degrees and it's 87 in the portable?"

"Well if you moved around more," Repair Guy Two attempts.

"Really?  That's your best answer?  It's blowing out HOT air," I snipped.

"Well, a mobile would help," Repair Guy One insists.

At this point I realized that I'd have better luck talking with my shoes, so I stomped in to see Coach Cool and informed him of what they said.  His response?  "That's nonsense."

Exactly.

So another work order was issued, because it was 87 degrees in there, and the repair guys apparently snuck out and around the building, hoping to bypass Our Amazing Secretary who was going to make damn certain sure that an administrator was around when they worked on my AC unit.  (I have lost track of how many times they've been out - they were out twice on Monday, however, and kept insisting they'd fixed it.  Our Amazing Secretary told them "No you haven't, get out there and get it done!", hence their fear of her.)

So today, I went out at lunch (my kids and I were in a temporary room inside the building which was damned inconvenient) and I noticed that the back door was ajar, and I walked up and felt cool air. Someone was about.  I went inside, notified Coach Cool, and he radioed the Lead Custodian and the Enforcer that we needed someone out there to make sure they were actually fixing the damn thing and not going on and on about some stupid mobile.

At 2:30 it was 72 degrees.

So, I'm not holding my breath - yet - but let's hope that they finally got tired of coming out and actually did their JOB and fixed the damn thing.

We shall see tomorrow morning.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mrs. Bluebird Gets a Hatchling

If you've been reading (hey, thanks!) you may have noticed that I mentioned that we had The Sixth Grade Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself this year.  From what admin had observed last spring when they went out to our feeder schools to actually see what all the commotion was about, these kids don't know how to "do school".  Not sure why or how, but these bunch doesn't seem to get it when it comes to following rules and basic school functions.  How they managed to make it to sixth grade without figuring this out - or being taught and reinforced over and over again - I have no idea.  But truthfully, they are a handful.  Last year I didn't really see many sixth graders until the second nine weeks, and even then it was rare.  This year, my first customers will most likely be sixth (or seventh) grade.  (For some reason I'm not hearing a peep about the 8th graders.  Maybe that bunch grew up a lot over the summer).

On Thursday, the SECOND full day of school, one of Mrs. Eagle's sixth graders had a Really Really Bad Day.  One write up in his homeroom, another write up from Mrs. Eagle who had to have him removed.  And another write up from Mrs. Study Hall who had him removed as well.  Mom and Dad got three phone calls that day.  From what Mrs. Eagle told me, this kid was just HORRID.  Came in with a bad attitude and it didn't get any better.  Rude, disrespectful, noisy, disruptive, you name it.

As one of the games we all seem to play at the beginning of the year is "Guess Who Will Be the First Customer in ISS", many people were putting their money on this kid.  (No we aren't really gambling, that's a figure of speech).

In any case, I was in guidance on Friday (because it was 86 in my portable) and the Guidance Goober asked me to attend a meeting with this kid's team since chances are I'd be seeing him shortly.  No problem.  So Mr. Cool (who is now an Assistant Principal), Guidance Goober, and the team and I got together and figured out a few things.  One, mom and dad are supportive of anything we are willing to do to help their kid.  Mom even apologized and took the blame for the melt-down day as she and her son had been arguing before school and that set him off.  Two, this kid has good days and bad days.  Thursday was bad.  Friday was fantastic (it was like a different kid).  Three, he has never excelled academically (which is why he was in academic study hall).

So, what we had was a kid who needed to get turned around and turned around pretty quick.  And the last thing he needed was to go back to Study Hall because the aide that runs it is not warm and fuzzy and quite honestly, has been known to really go off on kids.  And adults.  And everyone.  Maybe it's the migraines.  Whatever.  Doesn't matter.  What matters is that he really needed a more supportive environment.

Guidance Goober suggested he spend both of his related arts with Coach Math who is running a "how to behave in school and not get in trouble" class for our high level at-risk kids.  But this kid didn't need two periods of this, because face it, he needed academic help too.

So I opened my big mouth and said I'd take him.

You should have seen the look of relief on Guidance Goober's and Coach Cool's faces.

"He can come to me sixth period for a study hall and act as my student aide as well," I said.  "That way he can get help with his work and feel like he has an important role."  In addition, it was decided that if he felt he was having a bad morning, he'd let his homeroom teacher know and he could come out to Our Happy Little Portable to work and pull himself together until he felt he could go back to class.

So, about twenty minutes later I picked up Hatchling in guidance, and Guidance Goober and I told him what was up and he seemed pretty excited.  I took him out to Our Happy Little Portable, sat with him a bit and talked about things.  (He is motivated by Skittles and realizes he has issues).  He seemed like a pretty cool kid who just hates school.  We went by Mrs. Eagles class as we toured the building and she had a great talk with him.  He was awesome.  The only thing he really wanted from Mrs. Eagle was for her to call dad and tell him he had a good day, which she did after school.

So I have a Hatchling sixth period, a little one to tuck under my wing.

We shall see how this goes...


Friday, August 12, 2016

Squealing and Groaning, and No, It's Not Me.

My air conditioning unit in Our Happy Little Portable went out last Friday and it reached the lovely temperature of 94 degrees in there by the time I left.  Emailed our Lead Custodian and he did a work order and off I went to enjoy my weekend.

Monday when I went in, it was nice and cool again.  Yay!

I assumed it had been repaired over the weekend.  It had not.  It had, somehow, fixed itself.  (You can't make this up).

On Tuesday I opened the door again and it was cool!  Yay!  The kids weren't at school on Tuesday so it was Work in Your Room Day, so there I was, working in my room, when I started to hear the whistles.  Or I thought they were whistles.  And I was thinking "okay, we don't have kids so why do I hear the coaches blowing their whistles?"

And then I realized it was the AC unit making squealing and whistling noises.  Loudly.

Emailed Lead Custodian again.  He amended the work order.

Wednesday - coolness and squealing.  But still, cool.

Thursday - coolness and squealing.  But now we added in groaning.  Actually, I thought I was hearing trash trucks back by the cafeteria.  But it went on and on and on and I realized, after a walk around Our Happy Little Portable and a peek by the cafeteria where there was not a trash truck in sight, that it was - surprise! - my AC unit.

My 2nd Period student aide, Engineer Boy (this kid will tear anything apart and put it back together just to keep from being bored) and I used my iPhone to videotape the unit making squealing and groaning noises.  We sent the video to Lead Custodian.

And then the repair guy showed up (nearly a week after it first went out).  Honestly, he was a truly nice guy and gave me some tips about dealing with temperature issues in an old portable with minimal insulation.  However.  As luck would have it, that damn AC unit not only pumped out cold air, it didn't make a single groan or squeal the entire time he was there.  It ran like a charm!!  He couldn't find anything wrong, obviously, but said to let him know if it went out again.

I opened the door this morning and it was 82 degrees; the thermostat was on 73 and the air coming in was hot.

But hey, it wasn't squealing or groaning!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Off And Running...And the First Day that Almost Wasn't

The first half day of school was Monday and, but all measures, it went pretty well.

The AC in my portable was working again and instead of being 92, it was 76 which was a huge improvement.  However, I was informed that the work order hadn't even been assigned yet so it hadn't been fixed.  Really?  Really.  And as luck would have it, although it's keeping Our Happy Little Portable nice and comfy, it's squealing.  A lot.  So it's being rather noisy and I suspect it's on its last legs.  Which makes opening the door every morning a bit more exciting than normal.  Will it be hot?  Will it be cool?  Will it be squealing?  Who knows?

I walked into guidance where my role was to help put out fires, only to be asked by The Enforcer if I'd go get the year started in 7th grade science by helping the sub out.  We still have that position open (Anyone want to teach 7th grade science?  Anyone?). So, since this was my 14th First Day of School, and I Have This Stuff Down, I went in and helped the Awesome Sub.

But of course the technology was being stupid.  So Mr. Math next door, who has spare computer parts like most people have spare pencils, found us a longer cable so we could attach directly to the projector in the ceiling and were able to broadcast the required videos and power points.  The Guidance Goober even came by with speakers.  And over all, the homeroom class of these kids was awesome.  Great kids.  I only knew two of them which is a good sign.  So not a bad first day.  The hardest part was staying awake during the mandatory human resources training after lunch on blood-borne pathogens and accounting procedures.

So then on Tuesday it was teacher in service day - don't ask why we open with a half day, have a planning day, then start with a full schedule the next day.  I have no idea why.  It's just how it's done. And I basically spent the day in my room getting a bit more organized, and helping out folks that needed it.

And then last night we had an electrical storm.  And lightning hit central office.  And caused a fire. And ruined servers and communication equipment.

So we get a phone call from The District that says we may not have school  - the first full day - because we had no phones, no internet, no way to manage the buses, and a gazillion other things.  We were all told to wait for a phone call in the morning.

But our tech folks are amazing, they worked all night, and we had our first full day.  Granted, the internet was a bit slow, but other than that, not too bad.

My role?  Pop in and out of the 7th grade science, and help where needed.  I took more kids to the nurse and to their classrooms than I ever thought possible.

But hey, I still don't have any customers.  Which is amazing.  Because last year by 10:45 I already had a kid in ISS.


Sunday, August 07, 2016

Last Hurrah!

So the kids come tomorrow for a half day and it promises to be interesting.

For one, we've got a lot of brand spanking new teachers, plus new administrators, open positions, and supposedly the Sixth Grade Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself.

Oh, and I have no AC in my Happy Little Portable.

Since I don't have a homeroom, my job, usually, on the first day of school is to hang out in Guidance and help out - running new schedules and emergency cards to teachers, taking new kids to their rooms, that sort of thing.  The Enforcer (our new Principal, thank God) informed me and one other teacher who doesn't have a homeroom, that he may need us, as certified teachers, to fill a couple of classrooms if he can't get a substitute lined up.  Truly, the first day of school and we still have open positions.

Know any science teachers who want to teach 7th grade?  Seriously, the applicant pool is empty.  And we need teachers. (I could do a LONG post about my theory on why they aren't any applicants, but that's a post for another time...)

And something new this year...The Enforcer is making a slight tweak to our morning.  Usually kids get off the buses and the 6th graders go to the gym, the 7th graders go to the theater, and the 8th graders (who know the school well by now, we hope) go to the 8th grade hallway, find their homeroom on the lists posted, and go there.  What this means is the gym and the theater, full of 6th and 7th graders, is NOISY.  These kids are all bouncing off the walls, wanting to talk to their friends, but usually end up yelling because everyone is talking to their friends...it's pretty ugly.

This year there will be no talking.  The Enforcer is expecting the kids to come in, sit down, and be quiet.  He's setting a tone for the year (probably because of the Sixth Grade Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself).

This will be a very interesting day.