Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Herding Cats and 12 Other Reasons I've Not Posted About Education Lately

Looking back I’ve not actually posted about education and my role within a school for several days. This time last year I was posting about discipline problems, frustrations, anticipation of a break to plan for the coming year, and kidding my husband about having eight weeks away from the classroom. However this May has been different. I’ve been writing about anything I possibly can dream up to avoid my fine profession, so here are some possible reasons why.

1. Momma said, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.” That kind of says it in an abbreviated version. Things have been tough lately in elementary world, and I just didn’t feel like airing my dirty laundry at the time.

2. My trip to Mississippi of course diverted me from my end of the year frustrations, and it has been fun so far to write about the things I saw.

3. I’ve been exhausted lately… that the big test is over students think school is over and how can we tell them otherwise when we have day after day after day of “activities” such as “Thank God the Big Old Test Is Over” Celebration, Career Day, Field Day, Accelerated Reader parties, and “You Have Amassed a Collection of 10 Great Behavior Slips Over a 9 Week Period” Party. I’m not knocking these these…..I’m just saying it’s hard to comply with an administrator’s directive to maintain order and structure when kids are are fliting about hither and yon. It makes for a crazy, confusing, exhausting day. One student had it right yesterday when he said….”When are we going to talk about history again. I miss it.” Gee little buddy, I do too. I showed my kids my Mississippi pictures today and we discussed how plantation owners lived. They were amazed.

4. Awards……Just like Santa I’ve been checking my list twice….trying to see who has been naughty and nice. I know to a non teacher type filling out award certificates seem like a no brainer, but this is a high stress part of my job. If I miss one kid…..if I misspell one name…..if I use a middle name instead of a given name…a given name instead of a nickname…..get the picture?

5. End of the year letter……I still haven’t printed these out. I must do this tomorrow. You can see my letter here. My letter is a tradition I have with all of my students. As of Friday 463 children will have received my letter. My high school intern was in my class when she was in the 5th grade, and she brought me her copy of my letter for my students to see the other day. They are now anxious to get theirs. I usually try to write a little personal note on the letters, and I hand them out when we are doing our awards ceremony in the classroom. I have 83 to complete by Friday.

6. I’m not sure why but Dear Hubby and I decided to begin yet another renovation project in the kitchen. Every dish, spice container, can of food, glass, and every other object in my cabinets is now spread about the house, and the cabinets are waiting patiently for a good sanding and paint job.

7. Test score analysis---------scores came in last week. Mine were great. I’ll post more about it later, however, as team leader I was asked to figure out our team’s high spots and low spots. I’ve been up to my elbows in long division and percentages…not my forte by any means.

8. A good portion of yesterday was spent taking up textbooks, checking them to make sure the numbers matched the ones I issued, and making sure there were no damaged pages. Loud Mouthed Boy better bring his math book to me tomorrow or I’m going to have to resort to filling out all sorts of required forms and will send home the letter informing Mom how much she owes. Why I have to go through this labor intensive exercise I don’t know…..Loud Mouth Boy’s Mom will never pay and it will never be brought up again.

9. Fights. Some kids have simply had it with each other by this time of the year. One of my sweet boys served three days detention because of a shoving match with another young man. Even our girls have had some problems. The stress of remaining vigilent every educational moment is draining the life right out of me.

10. Frustration……….We give awards for all As all year, all A/Bs all year, most improved, all As all year in each subject area, citizenship, and perfect attendance. We found out last week that administrators were directing us to make sure that every…..EVERY….student left school on Friday with an award. I cannot even begin to post here my opposition and total aversion to this practice. I am not alone in how I feel. Many at my school are also fuming. We began the year advertising the awards that would be available, and we discussed goals and benchmarks to reach the levels to receive these awards. I find it repulsive that the hard work of many students will be made so little of by also awarding students who have done only enough to get by. Do we think the children who work hard don’t notice this? As a parent I would consider it an insult if my child received an award they did not earn. I tell you….we had a hard time figuring out how we would meet the administrator’s directive. The main reason this is so hard to comply with is the directive isn’t to motivate those who didn’t make the cut……it is simply a diversionary tactic so that administrators can avoid those certain parent complaints that are inevitable as they wonder why there baby didn’t get an award for all As……gee, get a clue. Did you see any As on the report card all year? Where were you when we called you for a conference? Why did you hang up on me when I called to speak with you?

11. 178 days on the same roller coaster. I’m ready to get off the ride.

12. Herding cats….that’s what I have been doing for the last several days….and as I told someone today….we are attempting to herd a group of cats, and they are all distracted by a constant supply of lint blowing around on the floor. There is simply no way to maintain any semblance of classroom decorum at this point. Hmmmmm…….I wonder if I could manage to get everyone on the floor tomorrow, assume the lotus position, and chant for awhile. Ommmmmmmmmm…. Well, it was just a thought.

13. I’m tired, I’m brain dead, and I’m almost catatonic. I simply don’t have it in me to banter about educational issues because at this point I think I’m about as done as the cats, er……the kids.

Two more days with students and three additional with administrators and then…..elementaryhistoryteacher will be doing the happy dance once again.


Dewey said...

I totally agree with you about number 10.

And I saw my last students today. I have two more days of work, but finals are over! Time for a much-needed break.

Anonymous said...

::herding cats::

as an almost-40 college student hoping to be a teacher I am shuddering in fear LOL

Mama Kelly

my 13 are up

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you that I understand your frustration. They should only get the awards that they earned. My main frustration is with the lack of discipline....which is definitely needed at the end of the year. This was my worst year in 10 years....I'm hoping that a change in grade level will make a difference. Just will be over soon. I feel so much was my last day...until August! happy tt!!

Judy Callarman, Scrabble Has-Been said...

I teach English in a junior college, and I can see the results the last five years or so (getting worse, too) of the babying children get in public schools. Your #10 is a good example of how kids are almost encouraged and taught to think they are "entitled," without deserving anything. My last couple of TT items are related! What's to be done about it? They have to be taught accountability.

pussreboots said...

My MIL is also a teacher. By this time every year she's completely spent and doesn't want to talk about school. Happy TT.

HappyChyck said...

Oh my dear! We are totally on the same page, but I still have ten days of school. The awards issue is terrible, and I would be so irritated. The REAL awards won't be as valuable. I hope that the students who worked hard to earn the rewards can still be proud of themselves. To frame it for them, it's about personal goals, not what's fair--that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

My husband's a teacher and he just went off on a tirade about #10.

He quoted The Incredibles
"When everyone is special, nobody is."

It's just wrong!!!

His last days are sucky too.

Anonymous said...

Hats off to you! You have one of the hardest jobs in the world and I am very grateful for teachers.

Enjoy your summer.

Lee Dixon said...

Hang in there.

We patiently await your return.

Christina (BookTasty) said...

Ya know, this was my first year and the end of the year was definitely filled with excitement and stress and lots to do!

Christina (BookTasty) said...

The end of the year is exciting mixed with stress and lots to do!

NOLADawn said...

Awards are the toughest part. As a teacher, I try to think of the positives for every child. As a parent, I must say I was disappointed that neither of my children got an award from their teachers....
I love your letter, I am stealing that!!

Stephanie said...

Sounds like you are ready for summer vacation!!

Have a nice one!!

Mrs. Bluebird said...

ARGH! I so totally agree with you on number 10. We went through that same nonsense with our Title 1 absolutely infuriates me!

Harriette Jacobs said...

Me thinks you need a week long uninterrupted sleep-in......and then some!

Bless your heart - I hope Summer is lllllooooooonnnnnngggggggg.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I so hear all of you when it comes to this. I have 4th grade and I have felt exhausted all week long. My last day with the students is Friday! Then I have 4 workdays. I'm so excited!! Hang in there everyone, it's almost over!