Hunger Games… of Paper Copies

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All of my students are so impatiently whining, “Is it Christmas break yet?!” and I’m like, “WORDDD.”

I don’t think they understand how much teachers need a break from school, too.

We (most of us, at least) really love our jobs. We do. But we have to put up with whining students AND demanding paper nazis administrators. No, we can’t run off copies for you, because we are being rationed. Like Peeta and his bread. We are the District 12 of paper copying. May the odds be ever in our favor… but they won’t because we can’t print them out. We have to listen to teenagers moan and groan for 8 hours of the day, and then stay up grading their illegible papers all night. We have to listen to those teens complain endlessly about exams, but we can’t print them a review sheet to study at home. Maybe we can claim tessarae and get our names entered into the drawing more than once? I doubt it though, because then they would have to print out the paper with our names on it. We are living in a modern day Hunger Games where paper copies are like money and bread to us District 12’ers and iPads are forced upon us like the Capitol guards. Maybe I shouldn’t be making that comparison, but sometimes it really feels a little too dystopic for my taste. It’s gotten to the point where people are “stealing” others’ copier ID numbers so that they can run off more copies than they are given without getting reprimanded by the Capitol Guards administrators.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop. I’m starting to sound like my students. Back to my original point – I think we are all in dire need of a break here. So when students express their eagerness for the break, we teachers CAN RELATE.

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I survived my first FIASCO.

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I have a student in my class who is… how do I even put this gently? A COMPLETE TERROR. He is downright awful every single day. Every. Single. Day. I honestly can’t count the number of “good days” I’ve had with this kid since the beginning of the school year. I have written him up about five (5!!!) times this year (Let me remind you, it’s only November!!) and that’s only for the absolutely horrendous things he does. There are times that I just don’t have the energy to even write out the referral, even though he has deserved it.

So let’s take a stroll down memory lane to the third day of school. Yes, the THIRD day of school, the day that I first contacted this student’s mother. She seemed very optimistic and overall the phone call went well. We thought we had found a way to get through to her son and hopefully get the year going on a better foot. Fast forward a few months to mid-October. I can’t even write all of the awful things this child has said to me for lack of time and, and to be completely honest, energy. I say “child” even though he is a teenager because of the way he acts on a daily basis. I caught him cheating on his iPad, so I sent him to the office with it. He accused me of deleting a project and called his mother, so naturally she wanted to speak with me about it. I called her back and cleared it up and took that time to inform her of some of the other issues I’d been having. She let me know that she would definitely take care of it and that she wanted to set up a parent/teacher conference with me about it. I agreed and said to let me know when she was available.

Did I ever see her? Of course not.

Last week, my Principal told me to write down all of the terrible things he says or does. After three days, I had two full pages of insults, hateful comments, and off the wall things he had been doing and saying. I took my Principal’s advice and called the mother again. She was so angry with her son that she called his father on three-way and told me to tell him what all had been said and done. I barely got past the first word and the two of them were yelling at each other! “Umm… ma’am? sir?” …no response. “Hello?” …still no response. More yelling on their end and more awkward silence on mine. I was so confused because I really couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I knew it wasn’t good. I found that part of the situation extremely funny and so did my coworkers and administrators. I thought everything had been taken care of, but boy was I wrong.

Fast forward another two days, to yesterday. I received a message to call his mother, so I did. I had no clue what to expect, but I thought maybe she was checking on his progress since our last conversation. Nope, wrong again.

She proceeded to yell at me over the phone for twenty minutes about how I am mean to her son and I pick on him. She told me that he wouldn’t lie about it (he obviously did) and she questioned some of my teaching methods. She called me childish and rude and a number of other names, and she basically decided that I’m a liar and her son can do absolutely no wrong. I actually got upset about it and shed a few tears (damn!) but I definitely didn’t let her know that. After talking to my Principal about it, he told me to stop calling/taking calls from her and that he would handle it from here. Now the student isn’t allowed in my classroom, but instead has to work by himself in the library.

I keep remembering something that the mother said yesterday, and actually every time we have talked. Each time we had a conversation, she said that she felt like it was time to take her child to a different school district. Naturally, when I heard this, I thought “HALLELUJAH!!!” but as soon as I walked in today, I saw him. Damn my luck. Although I guess it is pretty amazing that I don’t have to deal with him anymore.

I may have ended up with a few emotional bumps and bruises, but I survived my first confrontation (fiasco) with a parent! It wasn’t fun, but MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Hooters

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I seriously hear some of the most hilarious things from my students. For example, today THIS happened. 

 

Boy #1: I wish I worked at Hooters!

Me: I don’t think they’d hire you – you don’t have the right… equipment. 

Boy #2: What equipment? What equipment do you need to work there?!

Girl: BOOBS, FOOL!!!!

 

 

What a great start to my Monday. Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself laughing at something they do or say. 

TAFE

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As I have mentioned, this is my first year as a high school English teacher. I graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor’s degree in English, but I didn’t get certified to teach right away. Instead, I worked as a waitress, nanny, tax office clerk, substitute teacher and day care teacher for 2 year olds. Keep in mind that I’m only 24 years old. I often had multiple jobs at a time and considered going many different directions in life, but teaching was always at the end of the road for me. So about a year after I graduated from college, I decided to enroll in an alternative certification program to finally get certified to teach. I thought I would definitely want to teach 4th grade, I always had wanted to and that’s what I was going to do. Then I went to sign up and the program was only accepting Secondary applicants. Secondary… meaning High School. I did a little soul searching and a whole lot of praying and finally decided to give it a try. At first I was scared to death (Teenagers? High school kids? They’re only a few years younger than I am… they’ll eat me alive!) But I finally decided to go ahead and enroll in the program. After all, they said I only had to teach high school for one year, then I could just take the EC-6 exam and find a job as an elementary teacher once I was officially certified. That was the new plan. 

It finally came time to start looking for jobs and putting in applications. I live in a small town where teachers either die or retire from the high school, so I knew finding a job there would be difficult. I started applying at all the neighboring small towns and communities, realizing I would have to drive quite a way to work every day. There was a school about 30 miles down the highway and they were looking for an English teacher. I was asked to come for an interview within a few days of applying, but then after my interview I hadn’t heard anything for a few weeks. I started to get really bummed out because I didn’t think I would get the job. Finally I decided to call the Principal just to let him know that I was still interested and to check on things. As soon as I told him who I was, he offered me the job! I was so excited! My first “big kid” job! A real paycheck! (or so I thought…) Things were finally feeling real. But of course, I was planning on only teaching high school for a year… 

When I got to RHS I knew I would never teach anything other than high school. I absolutely love it. I can talk to the kids and be honest and real with them about things and they don’t whine and cry like younger kids do. They understand my sarcastic tone and my witty humor. I can’t ever see myself teaching any kids younger than this. 

Within a few minutes of meeting my new coworkers in the English department, I knew I would love it here. Since I am only on a probationary certificate because of the alternative certification program, I had to be assigned a mentor. Mine rocks! After attending a workshop with my fellow “interns” as they call us at the service center, I have heard many horror stories about mentors not helping or doing their required paperwork and I am so grateful for mine! 

Not only does my mentor exude awesomeness (shoutout to Mrs. T!) but she also sponsors a group on campus called TAFE (pronounced “taffy”) which stands for Texas Association of Future Educators. I spend a lot of time in her room after school and during our conference period so I have constantly been around this group of kids. They do really great things in the community and they all actually want to be there. I teach students who absolutely hate school and everything to do with it. It gets very disheartening at times, so witnessing these kids who actually WANT to stay late after school and do service projects is very uplifting for me. Yesterday after school, I asked my mentor if she ever needed help with TAFE and after talking for a while, we decided that I would be her co-sponsor! YOU’RE LOOKIN’ AT THE NEW TAFE CO-SPONSOR right here! I am probably way too excited about this, but I can’t wait to be a part of this group! If we had a group like this when I was in high school, I definitely would have joined, so why not just help run the show now? This weekend we are having a “fun run” 5k fundraiser to support breast cancer awareness and donating 100% of the funds. It’s so great to see teenagers who actually want to positively impact their community.

 

Have a TAFE Tuesday, y’all… even though it’s Wednesday. 

Gray Hairs?!?!

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Wow… I’m 100% speechless. Well, obviously not, because I’m about to write a blog post, but you get the picture. 

After lunch, as I made my daily trip to the ladies’ room, I was washing my hands when I noticed something glimmering in the mirror. I looked up, ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIED, to find not one but two GRAY HAIRS staring right at me. My long, dark brown hair that everyone is envious of, is being invaded by nasty silver ones!!! I am only 24 years old, have only been teaching for two months, and already have these awful things creeping into my life?!?! *faints* TELL ME THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. 

 

The worst part is that I can pinpoint exactly where those ugly gray hairs are coming from: 5th period. The class sandwiched between my lunch break and my conference period (THANK YOU BABY JESUS – because I need serious mental health time to prepare for them, and again to recover). This is a class of only four students, but trust me, these are the four most annoying, frustrating, needy, make-you-pull-out-your-(gray)-hair, kids. “They’re just kids,” some of my coworkers say… Well you’ll think otherwise when they get to your class. They really drive me absolutely insane.  

 

So now I have gray hairs. I’m appalled. Thankfully I’m already engaged, so I don’t have to worry about finding myself a man SINCE I’M OBVIOUSLY AN OLD SENILE WOMAN. Guess it’s off to Walmart for hair dye this evening… and it’s only October… 

***New Addition to Teaching Teens!***

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It should come as no surprise that as an English/Reading teacher, I absolutely love to read. Unfortunately, I rarely find time to indulge in a great book, but when I do, the Young Adult genre is my guilty pleasure. You’d think since I have a degree in English Literature that would be my favorite. But really, are you kidding me, I spent four (actually five – victory lap!) years studying that crap, why would I want to read it now for fun? There’s something so simple and easy about the YA genre that really captures my attention. I could seriously sit around reading YA books all day every day if I didn’t have to support myself with a job. I’m serious – ADED – all day, err’day. Bring on the teen angst and boy drama – I love it! Whenever I get time, I try read new books by random YA authors. I have a few favorites (cough, Sarah Dessen, cough) but I’m really up for anything. My sweet fiancé bought me a Kindle Fire for my birthday last year and I have definitely put that bad boy to good use. Since I’m living on a teacher’s salary, I often browse the “Daily Deals” section or the “Under $3.99” section of the store. I have found some really great books for under a dollar OR EVEN FOR FREE! So I’m by no means a book snob. Anyway, onto the actual point of this post (I’m obviously a little ADD)… I’m going to start including Book Reviews (!!!) to my blog. (DISCLAIMER: THESE REVIEWS WILL PROBABLY ALMOST ALWAYS MAYBE INCLUDE SPOILERS!!) I’ve never really written book reviews before, but it seems like simply talking to someone about a book and/or why you liked/disliked it. So, just as a head’s up, get ready for some reviews. 

Oh, Monday…

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Mondays are always rough – at least Monday mornings are. Growing up, I always loved Monday mornings because I loved school. Now that I teach high school, I still love it, but I absolutely hate getting out of bed to go. I have this really warm, soft, goose feather down comforter and a fluffy body pillow, and my sweet furry pup cuddled up next to me and the last thing I want to do is leave that little piece of heaven every morning. Once I’m out of bed and moving, I’m good to go, but until that point… good luck. 

 

So my 0-4 football team did the impossible and won the Homecoming game Friday night! The final score was 27-13 and I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. The dance was exponentially more fun due to the fact that the team won, so that was a definite plus. There’s something so surreal about seeing all of the smiling faces of my kids out there having fun together on a Friday night. 

 

Onto Saturday. I had to wake up way too early to go to a teaching workshop (oh, joy.) but the up-side to that is that I definitely made a pit stop at Starbucks for a HUGE pumpkin spice latte. Another positive note is that I got to spend my 30 minute lunch break indulging in a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich AND waffle fries. (win!) After the workshop ended I had a few errands to run before heading home for a baby shower for my future brother and sister in law. I was in charge of picking up the cookie cake. The mall was extremely rowdy, so as soon as I got the cake I bolted. I was already running late (thanks, teaching workshop!!) so I was filling up with gas and heading out. While I was waiting for the gas to pump, I looked at the cake again and read the sweet words, “The big day is drawing near, Baby is almost hear!” —-WAIT, WHAT?! (DISCLAIMER: as an English teacher, it should be known that any and all grammatical errors give me high blood pressure and make me think bad things about people.) Did these unintelligent people seriously just misuse a homophone? “Hear” has the word “ear” in it… meaning that you HEAR something with your EAR. “Here” is a place, a direction. The baby is almost HERE. No, he can’t HEAR what you’re saying because he isn’t HERE yet!! I was so incredibly angry about this, but I had already picked the cake up and was heading to the party – there was nothing I could do. So, naturally, I made a joke about how the cake decorators could use a day or two in my class to get their homophones right.

The party ended up being amazing. We played some fun games and the guys made incredible fajitas. The night ended with mostly everyone playing dominoes and drinking beers. I say mostly, because I had nothing to do with dominoes since the A&M game was on. Obviously I was glued to the tv for a few hours. Then of course I spent my Sunday watching football as well.

This leads me to another reason I have an issue with Mondays. Football. I stay up late on Sunday night watching big games, as do my students, so we are all exhausted on Monday and no one wants to work. Then we come home and do the same thing for Monday Night Football. It’s a revolving door. Thankfully, I’m a genius first year teacher and I plan laid back lessons on Mondays to benefit both myself and my students.