Thursday, January 22, 2009

Security!! Security?

So, after coming home from an unsurprisingly unpleasant day at school, following our 4 day weekend and upcoming friday half-day, i was talking to my girl V about my day. And as I was venting to her I realized...where had security been?

I have recently moved from an open space center [hard to explain, but essentially the school has no walls in between different classes and the dividers between classrooms and hallways are bookshelves and rolling lockers] to the room that had once been set up as the school's computer lab. (at the principal's demand the 2nd grade teacher and i had been moved to the 3rd floor to "control the noise level on the first floor," as well as enter her immediate warpath) ugh.

Ahah So thats where the "computer lab" is! The room consists of 4 rows of glasstop desks with old Compaq computer screens below and pull out keyboards. So there are 20 seats around these "desks" and then I have 7 other students who are randomly placed around the small classroom (less than half the size of our previous center).

Well, since moving upstairs I have come to realize that less and less would I get security into my room when I called on the intercom. Sometimes I would get one, sometimes I would get the school secretary. And now that think back the last few weeks there has been no response. I call on the intercom and they assure me, "someone will be there." and i have to move on knowing that's the most i can do and some points and the kids know that.

Well that's just ridiculous, why wouldn't security come you say? Incidentally, I was talking to the 7&8 special education teacher and she was recalling a story from years back of a teacher who no longer worked at the school. She had told me that at one point things had gotten so hostile between this teacher and the administration, primarily my principal, that she had told security to no longer respond to his calls.

While my kids are bad it is true that most of my students are not being thrown out for any sort of excessive violence or any threat i feel, but because of general bad, rude, disrespectful and disturbing behavior. However, it's not as if threats of violence would be unforeseeable, as I am almost positive that fights occur between some of my students daily.

I can't knowingly say that my principal told security not to come to my class, but apparently it is not outside of her character to do so. And as far as I see it's not really within my power to do much without any proof or power within this stupid system.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teacher Morale Low? Forreal??

Washington Post's Political Blog..."DC Wire" reports that DC teacher morale is low...

Real talk? I would have thought that much at least was obvious in the failing public school system of DC. In a position where we get no respect from Michelle Rhee on down to the kids who taunt teachers with "I'll get you fired." And after a colleague of mine was reported and is under investigation for allegedly choking a kid. Which I cannot say that she didn't although she denies the claims. But the fact is that the child, who is a bitter opponent of this teacher, only needs to say the word and her teaching career is in jeopardy and her life becomes mass chaos.

There is little respect for the profession and Rhee's dictatorial tactics have scared teachers and administrators into doing what is not necessarily best for their particular school community. School policies made in downtown DC, which may work brilliantly at Rhee's prized Oyster Bilingual (which her daughter attends) might not work down on my side of Southeast where resources, funding and staffing all still remain prominent problems.

Maybe....just maybe...these are a few reasons for low teacher morale. After reading the post I drop down to the first response, which says exactly this:

"Who cares about teacher morale. Chancellor Rhee is attempting to get results. Teachers are not used to accountability. If I suddenly had to work for a living after years of skating, it would lower my morale."

Posted by: swordboat | January 17, 2009 10:18 PM

You don't care about the teachers? Fine. But when you have a low morale with your employees it is PROVEN to affect their performance results.

The low morale of teachers at my school has led to the loss of 2 first grade teachers, leaving the first grade class to be taught by the Computer Resource Tech. The low morale of teachers has led at least 3-5 20 year+ DC teachers to state to me, "Get out while you can! I'm going to Maryland!"

And personally for me, coming into this negative environment with a low morale for the teachers brings me down every single day.

It could be bearable that the temperature is outrageous at nearly 80 degrees. Fine, I'll whip out the summer clothes while I'm in the building.

It could be bearable that I miss close to every drop of daylight in the windowless building, coming in at 8 and leaving out at 5. That's fine I'll bask in the sun on weekends.

But it is not bearable to be coming into work everyday and have the feeling that most everyone there does not want to be there. I know that. The kids know that. And that is an ineffective way to teach and not the supportive, learning environment that is supposedly endorsed.

Its even harder to do a hard job when it feels as if no one gives a damn about you or what you are attempting to do in the face of what is definitely not a perfect system (hello, we still don't have a contract?). Show some appreciation, respect or at least try to understand the impossible tasks that are demanded of many of us every day. The community of parents, children and children's advocates and the community of administrators, education policy makers and Rhee's office are able to function as well as they do together and attempt to enact change on each other because of teachers. We make this shit work.

Read the Blog and the ignorant responses...

Inauguration Day~!

The day Black America has been waitin for has finally arrived...2 short hours ago Barack Obama was sworn in to become our nation's 44th president. Livin in DC has been definitely exciting if not completely overwhelming this past weekend...

I guess this weekend in particular would be one where I should be excited to go out and be a part of the unique DC festivities that came out to celebrate this incredibly historic moment. And I had every intention and plan of going out and doing just that and then I began to feel a little bit suffocated and stifled....looking on facebook: "so and so is in DC," "so and so says on my way to DC," "let's start celebrating Obama!"

While as much as I feel the spirit of celebration and the pride and that have taken over I also am still grounded by the state of the country, especially DC. With the city crowded, over-crowded with tourists, public transportation flooded beyond any normal capacity the inauguration seems to not really be an event that many people of DC would be attending. Other restrictions on the event, such as the use of strollers, prevented a single one of my students (who come from families of 6 or 7 children) from attending the event.

One of the things that I have really supported of Obama has been his advocacy of public service. As a public servant I wish that:

1) Advocacy of public service was incorporated into schools in more than just the teasing of children who receive them. I see our schools instilling beliefs of individualism in our children rather than encouraging them to work together. I know of some private schools that require community service for graduation, but I think better than that (and more practical for me the urban public elementary school teacher) would be school service trips and larger than that an entire effort by the public school system to support itself, as well as the school communities.

2) I saw more people working to support and provide public services to those in need. It seems that despite Obama's advocacy I saw more people talking about celebrating, attending events, drinking on U St, standing in the winding lines at Ben's Chili Bowl and throwing around money downtown, than talking about donating their time to Obama's call for service on Monday's holiday. I'm not gone stand here preaching like I didn't go out and celebrate and I'm not faulting anyone for that. I'm just saying. Sadly for DC this weekend's events didn't really seem to spur that much public service outside of profiting bartenders and cab drivers downtown and all the vendors at the inauguration events. Then again I thought about going to go volunteer at the middle school down the street from me, but then couldn't bear to see a child on my day off of work...

Obama spoke today on the work America needs to do and the American people need to do to bring this country together and to get us through this depression (get it right. not a recession. we in a depression now).

So for me, I'm not going to preach what I think anyone should do. But as I watched the inauguration from the comfort of my crib that as much as I realized how blessed I am in this time of immense need that I have been comfortable doing my job and nothing else. Seeing that as my contribution. But I should do more and I can do more. And that is my goal.

So rather than spending the extra money from my check partying or getting drunk with the white people downtown, I have recommitted myself to my dreams and ideals that brought me to DC in the first place and I see what I need to do to improve myself and my new community.

A Little Something to Make You Feel Grateful

Friday, January 9, 2009

Here We Go Again....

So here I am beginning 2009 with a renewed promise to myself that I am going to post more often and more thoroughly. So here goes----

Welcome to my life as a 5th grade teacher. First week back to school was probably just as miserable as I had imagined it would be. A full 2 weeks away from school definitely spoiled me...and here comes Monday morning. I had an impending sense of doom all break, but as soon as I hear my alarm Monday morning I know this week can only be worse than I had predicted.



Have y'all ever seen that Dr. Miracle ad with ole girl pulling at her hair? That picture can pretty much sum up to you the level of frustration that I have been having this week.

After...count it 3.
THREE WEEKS of trying to drill in the relationship between multiplication and division with absolutely no Christmas season co-operation from my lil angels I told them Monday morning that we would be having our unit test on division on Friday. I gave them a practice test on Monday and Wednesday and we played division related games on Tuesday and Thursday.

Welcome to Friday where I pass out the math test (which is *SURPRISE* mostly composed of EXACTLY the same questions from Monday and Wednesday's practice tests which we went over...well to be fair it was more of an attempt to go over the test).


"Can I take this home and get my mother to help me?"

"We haven't learned division."

"How many years have you been teaching? This is gonna be your last year because you're not doing your job."

~select quotes from unhappy 5th graders concerning division, which has been taught to them since...get this....THIRD GRADE.

~happy friday. im leaving to start forgetting about this week and preparing for the next one....