By the time I woke up Tuesday, I remembered M sitting in the back by himself with a Chromebook on his lap. And E who was quiet, but still not working. And A who has a gorgeous smile but doesn't work. Or D who goes out to the restroom every period and doesn't come back til the bell is about to ring. By Tuesday morning, it was very clear that there were evidence leading to the fact that my day was NOT beautiful.
Day 11- I didn't get to see my students during the morning periods because I was busy walking over to our feeder middle school, Innovative Horizons, to recruit students into my computer science classes. I took three 9th grade students with me who attended Innovative. Teachers and students alike were very excited at the middle school to see my computer science students and I'm hoping I'll get more freshmen in my computer science classes next year. It really helps that code.org has some cool recruiting videos.
In the afternoon, I had to be strict because my math students enjoyed the morning class without me too much. I had to teach them how to multiply and divide integers. I gave tricks every year for the past 10 years. I never even thought about the why behind the symbols changing. But this time, I looked up videos. And I found something from Khan Academy. Apparently 2*(-3) is two groups of -3 added together (-3)+(-3) or 3 groups of 2 subtracted -(2)-(2)-(2).
I still gave them the trick with the drawing of the face, but then I explained the why. Honestly, my students seemed more lost with the why. But I felt better about myself as a teacher. I'm including the link to the video so you can watch it too.
E was not doing work. Remember how I woke up thinking of a few kids? E was one of them. E is the girl who failed all her classes last semester except drama. And when I called mom, mom said E was always bad in math. At which point, I said to mom, "not to be disrespectful, but math is not the only subject she failed last semester." Then mom finally decided it was the school's fault that we gave her daughter a Chromebook.
I asked E a question. She had this defiant look on her face. She refused to answer. I called mom. She didn't pick up. I called grandmother. She said she doesn't speak Spanish and hung up on me while I was using Google Translate. E was so happy. She said, "my mom hates you and that's why she's not picking up. My grandma doesn't speak English and she doesn't understand you when you sound like that. That's why she hung up!"
It was clear that I wasn't going to get any support from anyone with E. I said, "if your mom doesn't want to help you and your grandmother doesn't want to help you and you don't want to learn, you should step outside and wait for me. Why are you even sitting here if you are not going to learn anyway? "
I admit I was harsh. I was sad and upset. Sad about E and my current circumstance and upset over losing my calm again.
Then she blurted back out at me. I expected her to blurt something out at me. But what came out of her mouth was unexpected.
"You just wait and see what happens to you now!"
She threatened me and stormed out.
Needless to say, when I walked out the room to speak to her calmly, she was nowhere to be found.
I don't believe in referrals. But I wrote one on day 11. Because every good day comes with a bad day. I called mom again at around 5:15pm so I can talk to her about what happened. But mom still didn't pick up.
I went home thinking about so many different ways I could have handled the situation. I wish I was a robot. Just do my job. Have no emotions. Wear a gigantic smile.
I was so tired from the morning walk back and forth to the middle school I literally passed out after asking my two children if I can go to bed early. I explained why and asked them to quietly go to bed at 9:15pm. Sometimes I think I tell my children too much. No wonder they don't want to be a teacher. But they know I love my job.
Day 12- My Favorite day! Station rotations! I was shocked to learn during station rotations that most students still don't understand how to divide fractions. I love the intimate teacher-led station. We giggled and joked around in my station. Unfortunately, the para-educator that supports D in my 2nd and 5th period class didn't show because D was absent. She is one of my favorite person right now because she also keeps an eye on L for me. And the day the para-educator was not there, L managed to make fun of a female student's name. "Skin her, skin her!" He kept repeating and started laughing. Young Ms. Skinner seemed annoyed but didn't retaliate. I had to write him a referral. I already called his mom twice. It doesn't look like mom can help me much. I also sent M out with a referral. M was the one sitting in the back with his Chromebook on his lap. M already has so many suspensions on his record but I have a soft spot for him in my heart and I didn't want to write him a referral. But I called his mom so many times and although he is not aggressively defiant with me, he is definitely not doing any work for me and it was time he knows I'm serious. The two cuties were upset I wrote them up but walked out with the campus supervisor like they should. I asked them to come back to class the next day and start over. I was proud of myself for not losing it like day 11.
Then I remembered day 11. I realized that E was not in class. I was so excited about station rotations that I forgot to take attendance! While checking attendance, I learned that E got transferred out of my class. My heart instantly filled with joy. Then within a few seconds, I realized this was actually bad. What is our school teaching E and her mom? That it's okay to fail all her classes but drama, then ignore the teacher's calls, then have the child threaten the teacher, then have her go to another class? I doubt that E will start working in her new class. I already knew as I fell asleep last night that I had to apologize to E when she comes back to class, then call her mom again. I wasn't sure how that process was going to go. So I went to talk to her counselor. He told me that she didn't have an English class, so he called mom, apologized then gave her an English class. That meant she only had one period for math so she was placed in a regular Introduction to Algebra class without the support period. I know that every time E sees me on campus, she will cringe and tell her friends how horrible I am. That's ok with me. But what's not ok with me is that every time I see E on campus, I will cringe thinking about how I failed to keep my calm and how I wasn't able to help her. I know I will always look her up on Infinite Campus to see if she ever passes any other class and feel guilty if she doesn't.
On the bright side, Theresa started Girls Who Code at my site. She was very kind when she asked me to partner with her and facilitate the club together. I accepted. She has second lunch and I have first. We decided we'll run the club on Wednesdays during both lunches. Today was our first day. We only had a few girls show up, but it is the beginning of something beautiful. I am grateful for Theresa and our partnership. But that also meant I skipped lunch.
Another great news! During my prep period, I had a meeting with my tech coach Deatra, my principal and assistant principal in charge of counseling. I finally got the green light to offer the AP Computer Science A course. They told me they will include the course in the master course list so students can select it when they register for classes next year. They also told me they will support me in my efforts to recruit. But if I don't get at least 20 students, I won't be able to teach it. This is great since I've been working with administrators to offer this course for the past 3 years. I am so grateful for Deatra who always reminds me to focus on the task at hand and not complain. She tells me I can complain to her instead. I really love this woman. She is my number one precious person at work. She also helps me organize my thoughts. She also creates diagrams and outlines presentations for me. If I ever become a millionaire, I'm going to hire her to be my full time life coach. It also helps that Amazon is offering the courses through Edhesive for free this coming year. I applied for the free program, got interviewed and received the offer for our site! I don't want the free course to go away. Please send me prayers so everything in the world will align correctly and there will be more students pursuing computer science as a career.
Day 13- And today is day 13. I am very relaxed today. My students have now realized that I'm just a fluffy bunny with a high pitched voice. They make fun of me and mess with me. Even the students who don't do work smile at me when I prompt them and show effort for a few seconds while I linger around. They are no longer scared of me threatening them about making phone calls. They know all they have to do is answer my questions to the best of their ability, copy notes, and try to solve the practice questions. They know I do good news calls too. L came back to class after yesterday's referral and the para-educator for D was here today so L behaved. When Ms. Skinner walked into the room, I gave L the death stare and he acted as if he is innocent and smiled at me and reminded me that he hasn't said anything. I was worried because M was not in class yet. Suddenly in the middle of class, a campus supervisor walked in and asked me if my students are working outside in the hallway. I knew that I didn't have any students waiting for me outside. My neighbor teacher saw M hanging out in the hallway with his friends. She is very helpful. She told me that I can write him up for being truant and if discipline needs help they can call her. I talked to M. I asked him, "remember how I told you to come back today and start over? So why were you outside?" He told me he had a tummy ache and that he had to poop. I accidentally let out a laugh at his choice of words. But I got my stern face back. I told him I'm going to write him a referral again for coming to class at the end of the period and for disturbing my neighboring teacher. He pleaded me not to do it. He said he will surely be suspended again and it will be my fault. My heart was breaking into a million pieces. I told him, "please listen to me. I know you think I'm trying to get you, but I'm not. I really am trying to help you. You really have to work with me. Please come back tomorrow and start over again. Please listen to me. Please look at my heart."
He wasn't angry and he didn't say anything back to me. I hope he will come back tomorrow and start over.
As for my lesson, I used the CS in Algebra course from code.org today. We are in lesson 2. Students were having so much fun in the morning period. Most students had difficulty with this problem above. I thought that the lesson made PEMDAS visual and easy to understand for my students. Most students wanted to move on to Lesson 3, but I told them we only work with code.org on Thursdays so they have to wait til next week. In the afternoon class, I taught them how to solve one-step equations. Based on the practice questions they solved, I think we are good. But most students had a difficult time with questions where a fraction is multiplied by x.
I stayed til 6pm again today just like yesterday calling parents that I don't write about here. I noted that Erick did all his work today. I called his mom yesterday. I'll talk about Erick another day.
Today during my prep period, Deatra came so we can work on our plan for the computer science pathway. She suggested and I agreed that once the students complete the third course in our pathway, AP Computer Science A, they should be able to leave the school with something like an industry-approved certificate. We found a certificate from Oracle. Actually, she found it and I thought the students could earn it if they take the test at the end of the year after reading the description of the test. During my lunch I ran over to counseling to find the counselor who is in charge of the master course list but she was at a meeting. I caught her for a few seconds after school right before a parent conference and asked her to include the course. I felt bad because the assistant principal already told me that she was done with the list two days ago. He told me I have to go ask her as soon as possible because of that. She seemed irritated, but she is a professional so I'm sure everything will be fine. I'm sure glad everyone I talk to are good at what they do. Like Deatra always says. We are a team. And we can't do anything without a team.
Right now, I'm writing because I won't be going to school tomorrow. I will attend the Southwest Riverside County Think Tank meeting. I'm excited. But I have Saturday school the day after tomorrow. Boo to that. But this is life, right?