Monday, September 11, 2017

Mean Girls

Mean middle school girls annoy me.  And right now, I've got two of them in My Happy Little Portable.  And they're all up there for bullying other girls.

Jeez.

Apparently it all came to a head on Friday when we had the first back to school dance (I had a date night with Mr. Bluebird instead so wasn't there to witness the chaos fun.)  In any case, they got plopped in my room with a couple of pretty damning write ups, and an investigation was started.

These two girls, both of whom I've had before and believe me, they aren't all sweetness and light, are already professional victims.  They came in and whined and complained how it wasn't FAIR, and it WASN'T their fault, and everyone is making a big deal out of nothing, and it's just not FAIR, and they wanted to talk to The Enforcer RIGHT NOW, and on and on and on.

I told them no, they could not talk to The Enforcer. And no, they could not call their mommas as they've already been called when they got placed in My Happy Little Portable.  And no, I really wasn't concerned with if it was fair or not.

Life isn't fair.  Get used to it.

There were further incensed when I told them that they were not to sit near each other, talk to each other, or even look at each other as per my directions from admin.

Of course NONE of it is their FAULT and it's just STUPID.

Yeah, well, whatever.

And you know, I can see, perfectly, where they get this behavior.  They learn it at home.  Because Mean Girl #1's momma came huffing down to the office for a meeting with her homeroom teacher and Dr. Kindly, and Was Not Happy With The Result and DEMANDED that she have a meeting with The Enforcer.

I don't think she realizes who she's dealing with.

In the meantime, I'm just going to fill my diffuser with lavender oil think calm thoughts until these two high maintenance girls are out of my room.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Nowhere to Run To!

It's been unusually quiet this year - so far - in ISS.  Even the folks in guidance and all the admins were commenting about it.  And as luck would have it, the only kids getting sent out to see me are sixth graders.  We're all just waiting for the tidal wave to hit.

In the meantime, I've been sitting in Our Happy Little Portable with one, maybe two, kids a day.  The past three days I've had a rather nice little guy, Stormy, who gets mad and tends to storm off when things don't go his way.  He's the third in line - I had his oldest brother when I taught Science, and his middle brother tended to find his way out to Our Happy Little Portable quite a bit but managed to pull it together before he went off to high school.

Stormy did pretty well during his visit with me, despite having brief moments of shutting down when his math got to him (hell, I didn't like fractions when I was his age either).  But overall he was a pleasant kid and I enjoyed having him.  He did his three days, finished his work, and I sent him on his merry way back to his classes.

So imagine my surprise this morning, when there was a banging on my door, and I opened it to find a very upset Stormy on my landing.  He didn't say a word, just stormed by me, sat down in his old seat, crossed his arms and stared straight ahead.

Well then.

I noticed Officer Cool down the breezeway and gave him a thumbs up that all was okay.  It looked like he'd been following Stormy from wherever he stormed off from.  A second later Principal Cool called asking if I'd seen Stormy.

"Yup, he's right here," I told him.

"Okay, he had a tussle with someone in the locker room and when Coach Grump told him to go to his office and wait for him, he took off.  I thought he might find his way out to you."

Principal Enforcer then dropped by to check on Stormy.  I told him all was fine, we'd get his computer and binder sent out and I could keep him busy until we figured out what to do with him.

Basically he stayed with me all day and after about an hour of fuming at whatever aggravated him in the first place, he got to work on more math, and other assignments.  He then told me that he didn't know where else to go when he got mad.  He feels safe in ISS (because there's no drama and he's been out here with no other kids for the most part).  I guess it's a good thing he has somewhere that he feels safe although there is some irony that it's ISS.

They never got to his referral today so I told him to go back to class tomorrow morning and he would probably end up back out with me for a day or two (and idea he loved).

However, the most heart-warming thing about the whole situation is we were walking in the building on our last bathroom break and were heading to get his backpack out of his locker when we saw another kid heading our way with a hall pass.

"That's the guy I got into it with this morning," Stormy hissed.

The other kid stopped and I was about ready to get between the two of them when he started talking to Stormy. "Man, I want to apologize for what happened this morning in gym.  I really feel bad about it, and just want to say I'm sorry,"  He held out his hand for Stormy.  "Can we be friends?" He asked.

Stormy took his hand, "Yeah man, we can.  I'm sorry too."

There are times these kids just amaze me.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Totally in Totality

Last winter, during a faculty meeting, we went over the calendar for the following year, and learned about Things We Need to Have on our Radar.  One of those things was the Great American Eclipse of 2017.  The sixth grade science teachers were already jazzed up about it (they teach space) but the rest of us went "Huh?"

As The Enforcer explained, we just so happened to be in one of the best viewing spots ANYWHERE for this rare event, so it was decided that the kids would have school off, and we would be at work at an in-service.  Because, you know, we got to get in those teacher work days.  The fear was if we had school, it would end about the time buses started rolling and traffic was a concern.

That was in January.  By June all anyone could talk about was the Eclipse.  It was at that point most of the country began to realize it was a very big deal.  And by July, the School Board thought it might be a good idea to let everyone have the day off because city and county officials were predicting insanity.

Seriously.

Hotel rooms had been sold out for years.  Farmers were renting out their fields to campers.  The cell phone network might go down (because everyone was expected to Instagram their eclipse photos). Traffic was going to be a nightmare.  It was recommended that locals get their gas, cash and groceries on Friday and then hunker down and wait until the Eclipse was over on Monday.  Banks and small businesses were closed.  Over 200,000 visitors were expected to the area.

And people were going batshit crazy trying to find eclipse glasses.

As luck would have it, I already had mine, bought from the local university.  And when a friend from Virginia texted and asked if I knew of any campgrounds that might have a spot I told her to stop being silly and explained she could stay at my house.  As her kid loves cats, that worked out great.   And my nephew had just finished up his graduate internship and decided to stay a few days so he could see the Eclipse before heading to college.

Monday arrived, our picnic lunch was made, our glasses were secured, our very awesome Eclipse timer app was loaded on the phones, our lawn chairs were out under the big huge massive tree in my yard (it was hotter than blazes that day), and we even had white poster board so we could see the eclipse through some pinhole viewers and catch some shadow bands if we were lucky.

All I can say, truly, was it was better than the hype.  In fact, it could quite possibly be the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.  It was also the fastest two and a half minutes I've ever spent.

What surprised us all was how fast it happened.  I guess part of me thought that if the sun was 50% covered by the moon, the light would be reduced by 50%.  Not really.  It didn't really start to get dark so that you noticed it, until about a minute before totality.  And then it got dark very, very fast.

And that moon, in front of the sun, with the white feathers of light around it....was truly magical.

We got lucky.  We saw shadow bands, faintly.  We saw the Diamond Ring effect, and we had the best time ever.  And The Boy, who was 12, was nearly overcome it was so amazing to him.  The looks on everyone's faces, the cheers and hooting we could hear from everyone in the neighborhood, was amazing.  (The last time all the neighbors had been out in all their yards was after a small tornado went through and we were all surveying the damage.)

It was joyous, and awe-inspiring, and amazing.

And I want to see another one.

And I'm so thankful, so very thankful, that our School Board let us stay home and share this with our families.

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.