Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Good Parent Lesson

Teachers and support staff had to report to school today for some reason only known by the individuals who create our yearly calendar. If that isn't bad enough, it was decided that we would also report tomorrow to make up the extra snow day that we used this year. The kids, however, are enjoying their summer break and were no where to be seen.

So, most of us spent the day packing up our rooms. We empty bookshelves, go through file cabinets, pack up odds and ends, and then label everything with our name and room number. The reasoning behind this is that our rooms are completely emptied during the summer while the custodial staff strips and waxes the floors, and touches up the paint. The key thing is to leave a map of how you want your room set up so that you don't have to struggle as much getting it together in late July when we show up to get the new year started.

I went to drop some items in some teacher mailboxes and cruised by guidance to see how the Guidance Goddess was doing. This is a crazy time of year for her, what with moving files on up to the high school, updating records, enrolling for summer school, and so on. I was kind of curious as to how many of my students had already enrolled for summer school (we had recommended about ten).

"So, how's summer school going?" I asked her.

"Really well," she said. "We have more registered today than we had all of last summer."

"That's pretty good. Mind if I see how many of mine have signed up?" I asked her.

"Of course not," she said as she handed me the list. "By the way, Gawky Girl was one of yours, right?"

Oh yeah, she was one of mine. She was one of the youngest kids on the team but was also one of the tallest. She was also smart as all get out, but did absolutely no work whatsoever, and consequently managed to fail seventh grade. This from a kid who should have been on the A B honor roll if she tried.

"Well, she's signed up," said Guidance Goddess. "You won't believe what her mom did, however."

"What did she do?" I asked. I had seen a few moms and their children marching grimfaced to the guidance office to register for summer school. You can bet that it wasn't a pleasant experience for either of them.

The Guidance Goddess continued. "I know the family and know that they are on fee waivers, so they wouldn't have to pay for summer school. So, I was reaching for the fee waiver list and mom told me to hold it right there. She wasn't going to utilize the fee waiver. She made Gawky Girl pay for it out of her birthday money."

"Seriously?" I asked. Accountability? Finally?

"Seriously," Guidance Goddess answered. "Gawky Girl was not happy, but mom insisted. She said maybe she'd learn to value her education if she actually had to pay for it."

Maybe the best birthday present this mom gave her daughter was the lesson that there are consequences to behavior. And sometimes those consequences hurt us in the wallet.

Way to go mom!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Bye to One Bunch and Best of Luck to Another

Today, being the last half day of year known as the Year We Had the Seventh Grade Class from Hades, wasn't half bad. Many kids didn't bother to show up (I had 13 absent, leaving only 12). Many were already suspended. And the ones that came, with a few exceptions, behaved.

The big fights that had been rumored didn't materialize, and we took our kids out for about an hour and they ran around and ate Popsicles and generally had a great time. It was awfully humid, so they were pretty wiped out, and consequently rather calm, when we got back. My class did a great job of cleaning up my room, and one kid even went so far as to completely clean out the refrigerator. Without me asking. Amazing.

So the year ended on a rather positive note. Even some of our little thugs seemed misty-eyed and promised they'd try to stay out of trouble over the summer and they'd be back to see us next year. And of course we had to wave the buses goodbye. I'm not sure where this tradition started, or if we're the only district that does it (I know I've never been anywhere else that does this and new teachers are always amazed by it) but it's one of the highlights of the year. The bus riders are dismissed and once they're out of the building, we walk our walkers and parent pick up kids outside and line up along the driveway and wave at the buses as they go by, with kids hanging out the windows waving back and the bus drivers honking on the horns as they go by. Everyone joins in, from secretaries to janitors, to the administrators. It's loud, it's fun, it's joyful!

And many of us wouldn't miss it for the world.

We had to stay until 2:30, but many of us went out for a lunch with our teams and chatted about the year, and the summer, and what we were planning on doing. My team is changing a bit next year with Ms. Language moving to Mrs. Bunny's team where she'll be teaching her true love, science. That's a good thing as she'll be working with Mrs. Eagle and I in science and she's a joy to work with. Miss Reading will be moving to Mrs. Eagle's team and Mrs. Eagle's reading teacher will move to mine. We're going to a block language arts/reading format next year, and I'll only have one of these teachers, instead of two. Our numbers on this side of town are going down a bit, so we'll be a smaller than normal 7th grade team. It should be interesting. I had a great team this year and we'll miss having Ms. Language and Miss Reading, but they'll still be in our building so that's good.

We actually have two more days of work, Tuesday which was scheduled, and Wednesday where we make up a snow day. So basically we have all the time in the world to back up and clean our rooms. We have to label and pack up everything as our rooms are completely emptied over the summer so the floors can be cleaned and waxed and some of the walls painted.

This evening Mrs. Eagle and I went to the high school graduation at the local University (which is where all our high schools have their graduations - it's large enough to accommodate everyone's families). Mrs. Social Studies had actually invited us as her daughter was graduating and she wanted us there and at the family party afterward. I wanted to go because this graduating class was my first group of students at The School.

Looking through the commencement program it was gratifying to see how many of my former students had made it through and were earning their diploma. Motormouth Boy was there just to prove that royal pains in the butt in seventh grade can grow up and become intelligent, well-mannered young men. Many of my former special education kids were there, including one I feared would drop out and get involved in the drug trade like his uncle did. He was beaming when he walked across the stage, and I beamed as well. Talky Girl was there, with honors, despite having a baby her sophomore year. Smiley Boy, a tall, gawky seventh grader with a smile as big as Texas who struggled with school but worked harder than almost any kid around (while both his parents worked at McDonalds, as neither graduated from high school) was an even taller smiling young man as he received his diploma.

And they had candles lit up at the front of the stage for Vincent and Philipp, who drowned three years ago this weekend and who I still miss.

Quite a few are going on to college. One has been scouted for the past two years by Major League Baseball scouts and is going to school on a baseball scholarship with hopes of making it into the majors one day. A few are going to trade schools. A number are going into the military, including one of my favorites from my first year, Jolly Rancher Boy (who would clean my room every day for a Jolly Rancher) who is going to become a medic.

I'm proud of them all. And wish them all the blessings and joys that life has to offer. They're good kids.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Little Calm

Today was, remarkably, a very calm day.

This is remarkable because we only had today, plus tomorrow and a half day Friday until the end of school. The kids have pretty much figured out that we have finished grades so they really have no motivation to behave or do much of anything. We had our team academic awards party during first period (and fed them cupcakes and punch just to get all good and sugared up), then yearbook signing party during 3rd period, and even in these group situations they did pretty well.

And then it dawned on me. With a few exceptions, Sassy Girl being one, nearly every kid who has caused problems all year (and even a few that haven't) has either been suspended or sent to ISS for the remainder of the year. Even Tiny Girl ended up in ISS over a hair-pulling incident during Math class that apparently stemmed from criticism of jump roping skills. Seriously. Another girl is up in ISS for a fight during lunch with one of Mrs. Eagle's students. Three are up in ISS for cell phones. A few suspended for playing soccer with another student's purse and then refusing to give it back after they pretty much destroyed it and spread the contents all over the hallway.

We're finishing up our geology unit by watching the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth, and they're being quiet and actually watching the movie. It's almost weird.

That being said, tomorrow will probably be insane and the remaining kids will lose their minds. All the seventh grade teachers are hearing rumors of some fights being planned on Friday (and again, it seems to be our girls causing the problems as we're also hearing about a rather active girl gang in the local apartment complex where many of our lower income kids live). We're going to keep our ears to the ground and if the rumors keep swirling we may just keep the kids on our room that day. We usually like to take them out for some soccer, kickball, and generally enjoying the fact that it's 80 and not humid, but if it means breaking up fights left and right, I'm all for watching Finding Nemo for the 93rd time.

Waiting for Friday around 11:00 o'clock...and praying for the 8th grade teachers next year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bouncing Off the Walls

This past week, the week before the last week of school, the Team and I noticed an interesting trend.

Our kids with ADHD (and I swear, that's about half the kids that make up your classroom population these days) are off their meds.

Tiny Girl, who usually is fairly calm and focused, was all over the place last week. She couldn't stay in her seat, couldn't be quiet, couldn't stop talking, and was generally vibrating with energy. Mrs. Social Studies and I pulled her aside for a moment and asked her if she was, perhaps, not taking her medicine.

"Oh no, we ran out!" she said. "I haven't taken it since last week."

Indeed. The fact that she spent a small fortune on candy and slushies at Field Day probably didn't help either.

She's not alone. We counted at least half a dozen who we actually talked to and admitted that they hadn't taken their medicine. Then there's a handful we didn't ask, but strongly suspected. They are exhibiting more than your usual "end of school" energy levels. They're nearly manic.

We are suspecting that many of our parents will attempt to save some money this summer by not renewing their child's medications (they are, after all, fairly pricey from what I've been told). In addition, I've discovered many parents take these kids off their meds during the summer anyway as it's a good time to make adjustments, see how they react without it, and deal with some of the negative side affects. So, since we're nearing the end of the school year, why bother refilling the prescriptions once they run out?

I completely see the logic in this. However, I sincerely hope these parents have some good coping skills because a summer with some of these kids would drive me over the edge. Hopefully they'll spend a lot of time outside running around and burning off their excess energy.

As for me, at this point, I'm glad I have some relatively quiet cats to contend with. I'll need the peace and quiet this summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally a Field Day

It has rained, and rained, and rained, and we had, within the first six days of the month, managed to have the same amount of rain as we usually get in the entire month of May.

So our first Field Day was canceled due to rain.

And it kept raining.

And then they finally said it would be today, rain or shine, because we were running out of days.

If it rained, we'd be stuck in the gym all day with 350 wild seventh graders. This is enough to make me want to put a needle in my eye and start drinking heavily. I can handle 350 kids outside where the noise can be carried off on the wind, but inside a gym is hell on earth. For the entire day.

We prayed for two dry days - one to dry out the playing fields, and another for us to have Field Day.

God listened. We had field day today. It was cloudy, but dry.

Of course our team came in dead last. It was weird, but even Coach Math noticed the difference between our kids when the kids piled into the gym for the first event which was volleyball. Mrs. Eagle's team and Mrs. Bunny's team were sitting rather nicely on the bleachers, they nearly all had on their team colors (red and blue) and they listened better. Our kids on the other hand...were lounging all over the bleachers, most of them didn't wear the tie-dyed t-shirts we made for them, and they wouldn't follow directions.

"You can tell which team has the thugs, can't you?" said Coach Math. "It's apparent just looking at them."

It's even more apparent when you look to see who's in ISS and who's suspended. We spent most of the day filling gaps on our teams because - of course - so many of our kids, both boys and girls, weren't able to participate due to behavior.

Counting the days, man, just counting the days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seventy-one Seventh Graders and a Weekend in the Woods

The Great Camping Field Trip was this past weekend.

I haven't written earlier because, well, I was exhausted. Not to mention backed up on finalizing grades, grading homework assignments, and getting my ducks in a row for our retention and promotion meetings with The Principal this week.

Did I mention I was exhausted?

This was the third year that we took a number of our students to a local National Forest educational center and spent the weekend doing things like canoeing, hiking, going through low ropes challenge courses, studying pond creatures and basically having a grand ol' time with a bunch of seventh graders. It's something we started a few years ago because we realized that so many of our kids weren't experiencing nature and had never had a s'more, been on a lake, or even been out in the woods.

I might add that many of our fellow teachers look at us as if we're freaking insane to do this every year. However, we do have a number of eighth grade teachers who got drafted to help last year (because they happen to be male and we're always short on male chaperones to ride herd on our boys) and they insisted on coming back because it's so much fun. I guess it depends on your personality on whether or not you're willing to give up a weekend of your own time to do something like this for our kids.

I just wish that Mother Nature would cooperate a bit better. The first year was in April and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. The last two years we've gone in May and a tornado or a severe thunderstorm has hit our town on both Fridays of our trip. This year it was so bad that the kids back at school were hunkered down in the halls for a tornado warning that went on past dismissal and they ended up holding the kids for over an hour. Meanwhile, we're off on our field trip where it's raining like heck but, thankfully, no tornado warnings for us even though we were only 45 minutes away.

However. It rained like mad on Friday afternoon, so we had to eat our sack lunch from school in the dining hall about two hours before we were supposed to be there. It stopped, fortunately, and we were able to get started on our afternoon activities without too much problem. Yeah, it was wet, and muddy, and slippery, and a bit drizzly, but considering that it wasn't pouring, we were happy. We did have to cut the night hike a bit short due to rumbles of thunder and some lightning, and by the time the kids were in their dorms it was raining pretty hard. Around three in the morning the storm was raging and I opened the door to the counselor's room where I was residing with Miss Reading and it was something else out there over the lake - lightning flashing, loud rumbles of thunder, and rain, rain, rain. I went back to sleep and didn't wake up for a few hours.

And when I did, I discovered water on our floor.

This was not good. I shook Miss Reading awake and we took our flashlights and discovered that our room was flooded with about a quarter of inch of water. It went out of our room, into the lobby of the dorm, and then into the area where the girls were. Fortunately, it didn't get into their sleeping area, but stopped right before the bathroom. Great.

I took my shower, tossed on my clothes, doused myself in bug spray (gotta keep those ticks away) and then headed out in the rain up to the dining hall where I knew I'd find Mrs. Bunny and her coffee cup.

"Our room is flooded," I said as I sucked down my first of many cups of coffee.

"Oh good gracious," she said. "How bad?"

It wasn't bad at all, truth be told. I only lost about a dozen decks of cards, and aside from the inconvenience, it wasn't much to get excited about. We told the cooks who had showed up and were getting breakfast ready and they made calls and the maintenance guy showed up later that morning and shop-vac'ed the whole place, along with the unoccupied dorm next to us that also flooded. We found out later that in 20 years, they've never seen that happen. Considering that anywhere from three to five inches of rain fell that night, and that some roads washed out, we were lucky.

However, by the time breakfast was over, the skies had cleared, the sun was out and we had a gorgeous day. We kept them busy (and muddy) all day - we did challenge courses, canoeing, a pond study, orienteering. I might add, that one of the highlights of this trip is the food. They do it up right, and the amount of food they feed our kids is astounding. The kids are amazed - bacon and eggs and pancakes and biscuits and all sorts of good stuff for breakfast, hamburgers and fries and brownies for lunch, and chicken and green beans and salad, and cake for supper, and a snack of cookies for later in the evening. The food is filling, and tasty and for many of our kids (those who are on free and reduced lunch for example) it's more food than they've eaten in a long time. They loved it! They talk about it for days afterward, and I've even had kids from our first year come back and mention how cool that trip was and "wasn't the food awesome?"

Some observations about this year's group of campers...

They couldn't handle the challenge courses as well as the kids in previous years. The group of fifteen that I spent the weekend with was considered by many to be one of the better groups (we simply numbered the kids off and mixed them all up). Even so, they didn't get very far on the challenge courses because they argued, wouldn't take the time to make a plan, wouldn't listen to each other, had too many kids who wanted to be leader, and generally acted like the pains in the butt they've been in the classroom all year. They'd get halfway through a challenge and would find out that it was hard, and then want to start over. As the counselor said, unfortunately in life, unlike video games, there is no reset button. It drove them crazy that they had to solve their way out of their dilemma and that they couldn't just restart.

This group was not the most coordinated group around. Mrs. Eagle, who has years of Scouting under her belt, helped do the canoeing along with Mr. Algebra, and they said that, once again, my group was the best at canoeing. We didn't tip anyone, we didn't have any splashing fights, and they, somewhat, followed directions. That being said, we still had four kids that refused to go with a fellow student (lack of trust there) and insisted on going with one of the teachers, and about three canoes ended up nearly getting stuck in the trees near the bank (the lake was HIGH), and couldn't seem to get the idea of how to steer the things - perhaps because they didn't listen and pay attention when they were being taught how to do this. However, the other groups all had at least one (and one group had four) tips, so at least my kids stayed dry. I was pretty proud of them at this point.

This group of kids are the most physically unfit, whiny, lazy bunch of kids I've ever seen. They need to get off their butts and away from their cell phones and video games. Case in point...we had to hike a mile (down a paved road) to the pond to do the pond study, and then walk back. I'll be 47 next month, and I'm a tad overweight, and I have a bad knee. I kicked their butt when it came to walking or hiking anywhere. Granted, I go to the gym and walk a lot plus I lift weights (so the canoeing was no big deal) but jeepers, a mile walk down a road and you would have thought we'd made them hike up Mt. Everest. The only ones who didn't complain were kids that were already involved in scouting. However, the bulk of them were going on about tired they were and how sore their feet were. We heard this all weekend. I was tired (due to lack of sleep) but my feet, back, shoulders, and everything else was fine. I was also smart and brought lots and lots of socks to keep my feet dry.

I love orienteering with the right bunch of kids. This time I got the right bunch. I had four boys, one little tiny girl, and we had a blast. They listened, helped each other, and we did great. This was our last activity and by then they'd finally learned to work together and help each other out. The terrain was rugged, but I'd managed to get a group of non-whiners for this one and we were all over the place, up and down ridges, through brush, across creeks, you name it. They did a great job of stopping every so often to check their bearings, adjust, and move on. I was so proud of them.

Bonfires rock. S'mores are awesome. And Mrs. Chicken can scare the bejeebers out of them with ghost stories about a old farmhouse that stood near our school playing field. Of course, it helps when the hoot owls and coyotes start howling nearby.

The best part of the weekend, however, isn't necessarily the kids. It's a chance to spend some time with your fellow teachers and just have fun. Most of us were up before sunrise and were drinking coffee and watching the sun rise down on the boat dock. It was the only quiet, kid-free time we had. The kids, fortunately, were so beat that they'd sleep until we'd wake them up so we had a few hours of grown up time before we had to get them ready for breakfast. It was wonderful. Drinking coffee, yabbering, laughing, and generally having fun with people that you work with but don't ever get time to just hang out with during the school day. I love those cups of coffee and companionship down on that lake. It's the best part of the weekend for the teachers.

So, we didn't lose a kid. We had some scrapes, and lots of mud, but overall it was a success. The kids loved it, we loved it, and we'll probably do it again.

If for no other reason than to have a chance to drink coffee at sunrise by the lake.

And to give our kids a chance at what Mother Nature has to offer.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Give Them Enough Rope...

It's actually been a somewhat pleasant week this week. Despite the postponement of Field Day (to a date to be determined...soon...I hope). Despite having two subs on the team for most of the week. Despite the fact that we're almost at the last day of school.


Well, we've given these kids enough rope to hang themselves apparently.

The two subs we had on Monday had a rough day. A really rough day. It wasn't all that smooth for the rest of us. So, when The Enforcer started getting word that chaos was rearing its ugly head right across the hall (I love that his office is in the middle of our team area), he decreed that any kid removed from a class for bad behavior, for a sub or a regular teacher, was going to be sent to ISS for not one, but two days.

That took care of quite a few before lunch on Monday.

We're not exactly sure what brought that on (and we aren't complaining) but perhaps it had to do with the fact that he told one of our girls to get into her classroom instead of hanging out in the hallway and she, in his words "Got braindead and started mouthing off and cursing at me!" We aren't quite sure what got into her (definitely not typical behavior but she's running with a bad crowd and may have wanted to impress them), but she's out of our hair for a week.

There were twenty kids in ISS today. Two were sixth graders. Two were eighth graders. Sixteen were seventh graders. Eight of them were mine.

And then there's the case of Pathological Liar Boy who couldn't do the right thing if it was tied up in wrapping paper and a bow and left on his doorstep. Even his mother, who swore that he was an angel and that everyone - everyone! - was lying has finally figured out that he's not exactly Abe Lincoln when it comes to honesty. The other kids don't like him and don't trust him and wish he'd just shut the hell up (he would talk to a wall, and has, when placed facing one.)

Anyhow, my students sit at tables with about two to four kids per table. This can cause problems when it comes to taking tests because they can all see each other's work. To solve this, I give the kids file folders to put up and make privacy screens so they can work and hopefully keep their eyes on their own work. The problem is that over the course of the year this group has managed to totally destroy my folder collection by writing and drawing some of the most vulgar and obscene content you've ever seen, along with pictures of cars, cartoon characters, and the occasional dog or two. And of course, I can never catch who's doing it, so it keeps happening despite being told to Not Write On the Folders. However, when a kid is presented with a folder that has already been written on, the phrase Do Not Write on the Folders goes out the window.

These folders, obviously, would not do for the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests last month so I bought new folders and our Aide (bless her) laminated them (80 of them!) for me. The hope was with the nice plastic coating it would be a tad difficult to write on them. My homeroom was ecstatic over these folders as they were nice, new, and shiny and we went through four whole days of testing without a single mark on them.

So yesterday, when they had their tests, I put out the shiny new folders and all the classes ohhhed and ahhhed and I explained why there were new folders. (You should have seen the blushing when I commented on the vulgar content written on the folders in the past.) I explained how they all deserved to take tests in a calm environment without disturbing comments, graffiti, and things cluttering up their work area. Consequently, they were Not To Write or Draw on the Folders.

So what did Pathological Liar Boy do? Waited until I was out doing hall duty after his class, grabbed two folders, whipped out a Sharpie and scribbled all over them, then ran off to his next class, stopping by a few of his friends to brag and giggle about how he scribbled all over Mrs. Bluebird's new folders.

And his friends promptly dimed him out to me, wrote up witness statements, showed me the folders, and within ten minutes I was walking over to The Enforcer's office with the folders, the statements and the referral. Mrs. Social Studies watched my room while I explained the situation to the Enforcer. He was not happy.

Within 15 minutes, Pathological Liar Boy was in the Enforcer's office. Five minutes later the Guidance Goddess was typing up his suspension paperwork and he was out for three days, and will be (supposedly) returning to ISS when he gets back and will stay there until the last day of school. With 220 discipline points, it's about time. Nothing like being told specifically not to do something and then to go and do it.

I might add that The Enforcer brought back the scribbled on folders and they were on my desk this morning when my homeroom kids came in. They spotted those folders and just went nuts. They were incensed that someone would ruin their nice new folders. Funny what they take pride in, isn't it?

As for me, and the rest of the team, we're enjoying a few days of peace while we can.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Field Day?

According to the rain gauge in my back yard, we have had 4" of rain since Thursday. My yard looks like a jungle. Seriously. I have grass up to my knees.

(That being said, it's not like I have a decent lawn to start with - it looks like pasture. It's a mix of weeds, crabgrass, zoisya, bluegrass, fescue, clover and goodness knows what else. But some of it is growing up to my knees.)

Any bets on whether or not we'll have field day on Monday (when it's scheduled)?

Our makeup day is Wednesday.

Wanna guess what the forecast is for Wednesday?

Yup. More rain.

Friday, May 01, 2009

When Thoughts of Wine and Bailey's Get You Through the Day

The. Absolute. Freaking. Day. From. Hell.

Coming back from three days away from the classroom just is not a good thing. At all. Coming back on a day when chaos reins sucks even more. It's 5th grade orientation where they bus the 5th graders over and show them all the glory that is middle school and you hope like hell they aren't in the hallways when two hormonal bitchy 8th grade girls get into a girlfight and try to beat the snot out of each other. This means the band kids are out, the club kids are out, the good kids who are doing the tours for the little cherubs are out, and then they come strolling back at various times. Whatever. That I could deal with.

What I could not deal with is that Someone Messed Up My Computer And I Wasn't Able to Get My PowerPoint Jeopardy Game To Show On the Screen.

This is seriously bad.

First off, I noticed that everything on my desktop was smaller. Hell, I could barely read my email! Good gracious I'm in my late 40's with glasses and I need all the help I can get to see what the heck is going on and now I was practically putting my nose to the screen to see what was there. Not good. Then I put together my morning homeroom PowerPoint, and went to put it up on the screen, and noticed the document reader was dead. Not off, but dead. Holy Crap. I ran over to the tech Geek's office and grabbed him (who, of course is in charge of 5th grade orientation and had a zillion other things to do), and he managed to wiggle some wires, found a short and got the document reader working.

But the PowerPoint wasn't showing up. I was getting, at first, no signal, then a signal, but it was showing a different desktop than I had, and all sorts of weird stuff. Tech Geek comes back fiddles with it and then becomes obsessed. He can't figure it out and he thinks some kid or someone messed with my computer big time. By this time my homeroom kids are wandering in, I end up having to do paper attendance, and then we had a meeting about the camping trip, an IEP meeting, and finally I come back to see if it's fixed...and the Tech Geek has put in a work order for the Big Deal Tech Geeks to come fix it. Maybe the Aide who covered for my classes did something but the general consensus was if she did, she didn't do it on purpose because she's, well, just not that bright.

And I have 20 minutes before class starts to figure out what in the hell I'm going to do since my lessons just went out the window.

Finally, little Miss Reading, bless her heart, suggests that perhaps we can do a system restore back to Monday when I knew everything worked. Praise the Lord! It worked, and I was ready to go 1 minute before the kids came in.

And they were awful. Awful beyond belief. So awful that I almost wanted to leave and go back to The Rich School Across Town.

Third period wasn't too horribly bad. We got through two rounds of the game and they did pretty well. The Fourth Period Class From The Very Depths of Hell Itself was another story. Not only could they not decide what damn question they wanted to answer (I swear, they were arguing over whether or not they wanted Igneous Rocks for 15 or Metamorphic Rocks for 20!) but when it came time to answer, they couldn't get a single one of them right. I think after the entire game was done (and I let them have 90 seconds to decide what the answer was which was a minute more than any other class), we had three questions right out of 25.

Their test is Tuesday. The questions came from their homework packets.

Which this class, for the most part, refuses to do.

Two kids from Fifth Period got into a screaming fit along the lines of "He touched my stuff! No I didn't! Yes you did!" I separated them, blasted the class and said they had a choice, they could all get along and we'd do the game, or I'd just print out a copy of their test and give it to them right then and there. They decided they could behave and we did the game.

By the time seventh period rolled around, I was so ready to be away from kids it wasn't funny.

Interestingly, the classes all wanted to know what happened over at The Rich School Across Town.

And I told them.

In three days only one kid asked for a pencil. (I have probably 2-5 kids per class who never have something to write with; I can give a pencil out to a kid at the beginning of class and they'll lose it before the class is over.)

In three days no kid asked to go to the bathroom. (My kids can only go if they have a pass, which they all used up the first week of the semester, and now they whine and fuss that they have to go although they spent the entire time between classes goofing off in the hallway.)

In three days I didn't have to move a single kid to a different seat. (I must move kids daily as they can't get along with each other.)

I did a project that involved coloring some cell pictures on Wednesday, bringing the pictures back on Thursday and then assembling the project. Not one kid left his pictures at home, in his locker, on the floor, in his book, etc. They all had their work from the day before. (I have kids who constantly lose work. They are usually the same kids who won't put their names on their work so we can get it back to them when we find it on the floor in the hallway.)

Every kid had their agenda opened and was filling it out when I walked in the room. (My kids need a personal invitation each and every day to do this, and then they sigh and fuss and act like I'm asking the impossible.)

I gave these sixth graders (and there were a lot of sped kids on this team) the same assignment my seventh graders took two and a half days to do. These kids did the project, and did it well, in one and a half days.

I told my seventh graders that I was stunned - stunned - that these little sixth graders could, quite honestly, Kick Their Butts, when it came to doing school.

And why did these kids do so much better? They listened. They followed directions. And they Shut The Hell Up and didn't talk constantly.

My seventh graders were, for once, silent. It sucks when sixth graders are better than you are.

Of course, I had to have at least one who whined, "But they're always better than us, they have money."

"Yeah, they do," I replied, "But having money doesn't mean anything when it comes to listening, following directions, and doing your job. Poor people can listen just as well as rich people. You could all do just as well, and as better, if you so much as tried."

But they'd rather just talk than try.

Fourteen and a half days with this bunch.