Saturday, February 25, 2006

The True Adventures of Goth Girl

We have this student, Goth Girl, who drives just about every other teacher and administrator just up a wall, but whom I happen to really like. Maybe it's because I went through a punk rock phase myself when I was just a tad older than her, but regardless I really adore this kid. That being said she has issues beyond issues.

Goth Girl is really low academically mainly because (I suspect) she's got a really wicked case of ADHD. When she's not medicated (which seems to be most of the time) getting her to sit in her seat for more than 5 minutes is a challenge. Getting her to complete work can also be a struggle especially because she tends to get suspended a lot. However, if she ends up in ISS, she will complete everything and do quite well. She absolutely hates ISS because she's very social (and quite popular - she's a funny, silly, nice kid most of the time) but it's good for her to occasionally end up there so she can get caught up. She ends up in ISS and suspended because she's got one of the worse cases of impulse control I've ever seen. If it pops into her head, she says it or does it, and it's not always appropriate. She absolutely does not think before she says or does anything. She is on the short list for alternative school and she's one kid who I hope doesn't end up there.

Her home life is a bit eratic. Dad is military and when he's gone things tend to get a bit dicey at home - Goth Girl and her mother do not get along which isn't much of a surprise. Most moms (mine was one) aren't delighted when their daughter starts wearing lots of black eyeliner and dressing a bit strange. There's a little sibling in the picture who apparently gets a great deal of attention which I think is a lot of Goth Girl's problem - she's dying for someone to pay attention to her. It didn't take me long to figure this out and I give this kid a lot of attention and consequently she is absolutely never a problem for me. I can usually tell when she's upset and it's not unusual for her to want to talk to me about whatever is bothering her (and it could be anything).

When we had to divide up our kids who were in danger of failing for the year to send them before the support team (a committee that works to see if we can come up with a plan to help these kids), I chose Goth Girl as one of my kids. While going through her file I noticed that we had absolutely no current documentation as to a medical diagnosisof ADHD. The only thing we had was paperwork from 2000! We decided, during this meeting, that we need to get a current medical diagnosis so we can do a 504 for Goth Girl - this is basically a document that states that a student has a medical problem that is interferring with her education, and the accommodations the teachers will make to help this child be successful - usually things like extra testing time, modified work and tests, special seating, etc. Without this document there is no guarantee that the kid will receive the modifications needed to be successful.

So...I call mom (who got the letter about the s-team meeting) that we had met and wanted to do a 504 for Goth Girl, and that we would need some current paperwork from her doctor documenting her ADHD diagnosis. No problem, mom would get it to me. She's delighted we are working to help her daughter.

That was a month ago.

I have since written 3 notes in Goth Girl's agenda asking for this paperwork. I've also talked with a counselor from a local mental health facility where Goth Girl is now apparently going for counseling (Dad is home and decided the family needed some help). The caseworker left us notes asking to call and discuss her academics, so I asked if the caseworker could get the paperwork for me. She said she'd try. Still no paperwork.

We had a meeting set up with Mom on Thursday morning. Goth Girl even mentions to her homeroom teacher that Mom is coming in to see us. She even seems excited that we're meeting with Mom.

Mom does not show.

She also doesn't bother to call and let us know why, or bother to reschedule.

Sigh. Is it any wonder that Goth Girl has issues? When your own mother can't bother to show for a parent meeting (that she scheduled), what kind of message does that send? If I could, I'd take this kid home and raise her myself. She's a wonderful, loving kid if you love her back. But I suspect that's not something she's getting a lot of.

Sad to say...this isn't the first parent that's been a no-show. And it won't be the last. But it still just pisses me off.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ya'll need some manners!

Before I go into my rant, let me just preface it with the statement that when it comes to weird, I'm not adverse. For example, there was a stage of my life (I was much younger) when I actually had dark purple hair, wore all black, and listened to incredibly loud punk rock music.

I still listen to the music but got rid of the purple hair. I do wear a lot of black, but that's because The Mother says it's slimming.

I have no problem with Goths. I don't mind the Skaters. The Country kids are fine. The Hard Rock kids are a joy.

It's the hip hop and rap kids that set my teeth on edge.

Case in point. We had our talent show this week and Mrs. Eagle and I worked the door (of course) and then snuck in and watched most of the show. There were your basic tumbling acts, we had baton twirlers, we had country singers, pop singers, a wonderful Latin dance group, and a lovely girl playing piano. We also had a dance troupe of 8 kids who did some sort of hip hop rap thing that was just hideous. It was, even in my laid back rock goddess opinion, rude and pretty vulgar (especially on the part of the girls). It celebrated the drug culture (and there was talk by at least one administrator about whether or not the sponsors of the show were aware of that). There was a huge section of the crowd that just loved this act and booed and hissed when they didn't win. It was absolutely repulsive.

And it occurred to me that not only does this hip hop culture celebrate the Cult of Thuginess (which I see in my kids all the time), but the followers of this type of music and culture have absolutely no concept of how to behave in public. They are rude. They talk during other acts. They act like they're at a sporting event and are stomping and carrying on. They curse and swear when they don't get their way and have their favorite act place second. We had to remove several of them due to their behavior during the show.

And these were the parents.

I think this culture celebrates bad behavior. It celebrates materialism (which many of these kids can get one way - through drugs). It celebrates criminal behavior. It treats all women as hoes and bitches and basically considers them to be tools for sex and nothing else.

And here we are, in February, Black History Month, and we're discussing such African-American heros such as Wilma Rudolph, George Washington Carver, Thurgood Marshall, and others, and my African-American kids don't care one bit about it. These people, who did so much to give them all they have today, aren't cool. Apparently cool is all its about with these kids.

How sad. I see an entire generation and culture beginning to implode.

Friday, February 10, 2006

If I'd only known that's all it would take

Stubborn Boy has been a pain in my life from day one. He's in my homeroom class and he's one of those kids who wants to be a thug (and he's a tiny little twerp) and refuses to do anything. He's rude and disrespectful. He is constantly getting in trouble about sagging and has informed us that he would like a career in jail because all they do is sit around and watch television. He's about the only kid in that class who I have trouble with and quite honestly, he ruins it for the others. When he's in ISS we all have a lot more fun.

Stubborn Boy got referred to our support team because he won't work and is failing (despite the fact that he's really quite bright). His homelife is shaky. Both parents have decent jobs so money isn't an issue (unusual for my critters). However, mom has had four boys with four different men, and the three older ones all have had run in's with the law. There may be money in this house, but not stability. In fact, Mom, who used to be quite supportive when we called in the beginning of the year, got fed up with our phone calls and refused to return them. Then she relocated about an hour away and didn't take Stubbon Boy with her.

His behavior, which wasn't stellar to begin with, went downhill from there.

He kept saying Mom was coming to get him and he'd be going to a new school, but it never happened.

This week he refused to even lift his pencil and begin work on his biome project so I sent him to see Guidance Guy who informed me that Stubborn Boy refused to talk and stared at him for 45 minutes. Today, during the Come to Jesus Meeting, he giggled and rolled his eyes since he thought the whole thing was stupid and obviously not targetted at him (and Mrs. Principal suggested he get written up for that). Five minutes later back in class he's again refusing to work on an in-class activity. So I write him up for willfully disobeying the teacher as well as his behavior during the meeting.

One period later (a record) he's in ISS for Three Days!

He told Mrs. Squirrel, who worked the referral, that his mom and moved and "forgot to take him".

Mrs. Saint calls Mom at work to inform him that he's in ISS and she discovered him with a huge wad of money and did she know anything about it? Mom goes nuts and says to hold tight, she's coming up and she's checking him out of school. Within two hours I have paperwork in front of me, his books are in guidance and according to the Guidance Goddess his mother is about ready to rip his head off. (Sort of like she was at the beginning of the year when I'd call her and she'd start screaming at him.)

Interestingly enough, when Dad returns Mrs. Saint's call later he's stunned that his wife (ex-wife?) has come and checked the kid out of school. Can we say communication problem?

So Stubborn Boy is gone.

He got his wish. Looks like Mom finally came and got him.

However, how long will it be before she gets fed up - again - and packs him back up here to live with Dad?

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to enjoying my homeroom.

The Come to Jesus Meeting

Every once in a while there comes a time in the lives of a middle school team where you just have to line the kids up and lay into them.

We call it a Come to Jesus Meeting.

You're hoping, obviously, that they'll see the light.

We had a Come to Jesus Meeting this morning. Basically, we've had it up to here with our kids. They are being absolutely awful. They can't go to the lockers without horseplay, without messing with each other, without hitting, punching, grabbing, you name it. They constantly want to "walk the circle" (which they are not supposed to do) so they can mess with and meet up with kids on other teams. (The original part of our building, which is where our team is housed, radiates off a core that holds guidance, some principal offices, and the library. The kids are supposed to follow a traffic pattern around the circle, but our kids have no reason to be walking around it in the first place.) We have a flock of girls who are constantly messing around with some of the sixth grade boys and frankly, I'm blue in the face from chasing them back to our area. We have kids who are rude, disruptive, disrespectful. We have kids who think the classroom is a playground and it takes ten minutes to calm them down so we can start class. In short We Have Had It Up To Here.

So as soon as they came back from related arts, we marched them to the theater and let them have it. The fact that we had all three administrators and the SRO in there really made them realize that, "oh crap, we're in trouble now." Most of them stared at their feet while we went over ONCE AGAIN the rules and informed them that this meeting was THEIR FINAL WARNING. They were informed that since we've spent the first semester counseling, warning, calling parents, and their behavior had not improved, we were handing out discipline referrals at the very next misstep. That was it, the gloves were off.

The fact that Mrs. Principal basically told the kids that she was backing us 100% and that they were going to work the referrals as fast as they could. They weren't going to get kicked back because when one of us does a referral, it's serious.

They silently walked back to class. The rest of the day we basically spent backing up our words. I wrote up four referrals today. That's a record. One was for a kid who I caught with gum on Wednesday, counseled, warned him I'd have to write him up if he did it again, and lo and behold, he's chewing like a cow in the middle of class. By the end of that period I had a handful of notes on my desk, most of which were "I'm sorry I've been so bad."

They're scared.

They should be.

Come to the light, children...come to the light.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And just like that....he's gone!

The Saga of Sparky continues.

As we last visited our hallowed halls, Sparky, our new child dumped on us by the State, had been suspended after a mere four days. If I recall correctly, he was suspended for a four day period for unruly behavior, to put it mildly.

He returned last week and proceeded to sexually harrass a young lady on our team who, amazingly enough, did not find his "bad-boy" image to be the least bit charming and was, in fact, completely grossed out and frightened by his attentions. Trying to hug her at lunch, blowing on her neck in line at lunch, following her around school making grabbing motions, and the like were his modus operandi. It was, as Mr. Social Studies proclaimed (and keep in mind, he's retired law enforcement so he's been, there done that) like watching a predator stalk his prey.

Within a day the young lady filed her complaint, witness statements were taken (and isn't it nice we have video cameras in the lunchroom so we can actually see what he was doing?) and off he goes again, suspended for sexual harrassment (which our school takes seriously as always the fear of a lawsuit looms overhead) and for a little incident in Mrs. Math's class where he was throwing balls of paper all over the room.

I was in Guidance this afternoon when the Guidance Goddess anounces that she had just received a request for records from another school in the state for Sparky. Turns out his foster parents apparently had had enough and off he went to another family. Mr. Enforcer had met with his caseworker earlier in the day and informed her about all of Sparky's adventures since he'd first arrived in our building only two weeks ago. Apparently her response was a shrug of the shoulders. (I kid you not, this kid needs to be placed in a residential facility where he can get help). Guidance Goddess announces that we didn't really have any records on him as he was suspended most of the time he was here. Sort of like the story we got from his last school when we tried to get records.

In any case, he was in our building for two weeks. I saw him in my room four times.

You'll be seeing him soon on America's Most Wanted.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I did something today I never ever do.

I took a sick day.

I absolutely hate the idea of leaving my kids in the hand of a sub, mainly because I feel sorry for the sub and I never can be assured that all hell won't break lose when I'm gone. Nothing against subs - I did it for three years and there isn't a lower paid underappreciated group of people on the planet - but seventh graders can be sneaking, lying, obnoxious little twerps and I always fear the worse.

So that should give you an idea of how absolutely rotten I feel.

There is this bronchial crud going through the building. A lot of teachers are out with it and I've had it now for nine days and it isn't getting any better. In fact, it's getting worse so I actually have a doctor's appointment for tomorrow afternoon. What I need are some powerful drugs to kick this thing. So, in the meantime, after hacking and coughing my way through the weekend, and through Monday school and after school tutoring, I finally just caved in and arranged to take Tuesday off. I physically hurt everywhere from the coughing and am sick and tired of not being able to breathe without a huge wheezing sound.

So I stayed home.

And slept.

And slept some more.

And slept.

And that's about it.

I'll be back at school tomorrow, mainly because I'm feeling just a tad better and I don't have plans ready for a sub for tomorrow.

And honestly, the thought of leaving my kids alone with a sub for two straight days scares the hell out of me.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Un-Stoopid Day

Once in a while one of my crazies will actually have a real honest to good wonderful day. It's rare, but when it happens it's like a hot fudge sundae without the calories. It almost makes you want to cheer.

Today Stoopid Boy had a great, no holds barred, out and out fantastic day.

Now before you all get in a fuss over the fact that I'm calling this critter Stoopid Boy, let me explain. His absolute favorite thing to say is, "This is so stupid." Everything, to this kid, is stupid. Class is stupid, science is stupid, doing classwork is stupid, the weather is stupid, you name it, it's stupid. About the only thing that isn't stupid is skateboarding. I swear we must hear the word "stupid" out of this kid a hundred times a day. So often, in fact, that Mrs. Language told him that the next time she heard the word stupid out of his mouth, she'd make him write, "This is stupid", 5,000 times. (She hasn't heard it since, by the way.)

Stoopid Boy has issues beyond issues. He's bright but he's just one of those kids who can't seem to adjust to life and middle school. He's goofy, he's got parents who are embarrassed by him, he hates school, (it is, after all, stupid), isn't wild about life itself, and he really likes to buck authority. There are weeks where I don't see him because he ends up in ISS before he makes it to my room.

Today he was amazing. He came in, sat down, and got to work on his plant observations. He even opened his notes and looked at his flower picture before his quiz. He took his quiz (he got 16 out of 20). He didn't yell (he loves to scream and yell across the classroom.) He didn't run around, he didn't act like a complete and total pinhead. He also didn't say the word stupid one time. He was so wonderful, and so delightful, that I had him run an errand for me out to ISS (he does, after all, know the route quite well!) He informed me that his goal (and he even used the word "goal") was to get a C on the vocabulary test on Friday.

Stoopid Boy was, in short, a delight. Just goes to show that there is hope.