Friday, November 11, 2011

Unfair and ridiculous situations

I have a class of 26 kindergartners. In some places that may be the norm, but in Florida where a class size amendment was passed and is enforced I believe it is illegal. I have been told that regardless of my over large class and that of my two co-workers, not only will they not hire another teacher because the funds are not available but I am not given any kind of help.
I probably would not make a big deal of this situation in most other schools but because of the concentrated population of children with emotional problems, ADHD, and horrible parenting in the area in which I teach it can make a day of school seem never ending. Not all of my students are examples of these situations and it is for them that I show up each day, but the neighborhood in which I teach sadly not all parents care about their child's education. They care about ridiculous things like dance money getting lost (by their child not me, though they blame me regardless), about their child not receiving treats (you wouldn't give a treat to a child writing on your furniture and disrespecting you), or getting mad because I threw out their child's hair ribbon (after repeatedly getting told to put it away and then told it would get thrown out if not done so, she said no, and I threw it away). This is what I deal with on a daily basis. I understand budgets are tight everywhere but the lack of sympathy and assistance is just starting to get to me. I spend hours preparing for lessons, trying to make them fun, interesting and interactive. I spend my own money buying supplies for art, copies (which I am also being gipped on), and laminating and neglecting myself and my spare time coming up with all these activities.
I love teaching but it seems to not love me back very much. And I know it is silly to expect love back from a profession but teaching was not one of those. The kids made the jobs worthwhile. But each and every year the children are becoming more demanding and less agreeable and in this particular neighborhood where a lot of the parents are having children with issues just so they can  collect money from the government and not because they want to raise them properly they can be downright horrible to teach. Its sad to see children jaded at 5 and not at all respectful of authority figures.
I love some of my students and I can usually tell which ones I will like depending on what their parents are like. The parents that are interested in their children tend to have the children most interested in doing well and it is for them I come to work each day. It is for them that I am happy to spend my money and time. Those children do not deserve to have their days ruined by the children who will grow up to be just like the parents who can not be bothered to raise them. Though I am old enough to be raising children of my own I am not so it upsets me that I have to be the one giving these children manners, showing them how to behave while eating, and how to deal with others.
This is not one of my better posts but between the horrible experiences I have had the past couple of weeks and how I felt yesterday it was something that needed to be expressed. I have had many people question why I have stayed at this school for as long as I have if it frustrates me so and I usually answer because of the children. For some of these children I am the only stability in their lives. Coming to school and seeing me and telling me about their day helps them feel loved and safe in a way they don't always feel at home. For them I have stayed. For my babies who I taught in kindergarten who are now in third grade learning to be young ladies and gentlemen. To see them grow and mature, it is a special priviledge that elementary school teachers are privy to more so than those in middle school and high school, but my sanity probably can't take any more of this population no matter how much I may be needed there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carving a Pumpkin...

Well, I have been complaining to myself about how few interesting activities I have been able to plan to do with this kids. Things that make them excited and motivated to learn about things so I decided to do something that I have never done before...carve a pumpkin. I may be an American citizen but I wasn't born here and did not grow up with any of these traditions and frankly as adorable as all these pictures of kids with pumpkins look I also think it is kind of an odd thing to get so excited about. Then again I have never done it so maybe I shouldn't prejudge an activity I have never participated in.

The past couple of weeks personally have not been great. My sciatica pains are improving but it can still be painful to walk or sit or stand for long periods so work has been crazy. I have not been at my best with the kids so I also did this as a bit of a make up activity for my lack of enthusiasm about the things we are doing lately. I truly think some of these children were sent by the good Lord to test my patience and others as a gift. Some of these children are so bright and interested in everything going on around them it astounds me and makes me want to do more for them, so I sent my poor, already over worked mother out in search of a pumpkin. (Driving around and carrying things are sadly not allowed in my condition, so my mom who is probably the nicest person I will ever know volunteered to find a pretty pumpkin to use.)

I had perfect attendance of course, I have almost always had perfect attendance for some crazy reason I do not understand and don't always want to have. The kids noticed the big pumpkin almost immediately along a with a baby pumpkin my mom thought to bring for me to cheer me up and got super excited, which may not have been the best way to start the day. They were talkative most of the day and drove me bananas, so in the afternoon when I got ready to carve I called up only a handful of students to help me with the prep work.

They all got to feel the outside of the pumpkin and touch the seeds before putting them in a wet paper towel and a baggie to see them grow into a plant. It was awesome to see how some of them reacted to the inside of the pumpkin, a large number of them had never felt a real pumpkin before let alone seen the inside of one. I often forget that the population of children I teach has such a specific field of reference and while some of them at five and six have lived through things that would curdle my blood, some of these simple and sweet things most people experience as babies or small children they do not get. It is always awesome to see a child experience something new. Their little eyes light up and their smile is wider, it's one of the reasons I love teaching and sharing these kind of experiences with others.

I guess my own physical pains have reminded me of some of the reasons why I do what I do and have made me realize that if I am not happy with what I am doing I need to change it. Just as I always tell people if you don't like what you are doing YOU are the only one that can change it. I need to follow my own advice, so let's see what fun ideas I can come up with for November and December my most favorite months of the year... :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Feeling the strain

I haven't written in forever. It seems that no matter how much work I get done there always seems to be more. Between centers and weird writing lesson plans and all the things people want me to do I think I am going to lose my mind.

I still have 26 kids and now all on my own for sure. I wish that I could say that I am doing a phenomenal job in teaching these children but I am always behind. I am not doing the million things that are even on my lesson plans because I spend too much time trying to keep the children in order. I am resenting all the people giving me advice on handling my class when they are not in my shoes each and every day. While one kid is throwing a fit another one is hitting one on the back and running away and I am left to wonder where to turn to and which situation to handle first.

There are some days when all I want to do is cry and let them run all over me but then I see my good kids. The ones that are always sitting up nice and tall waiting to hear directions and I tell myself for those kids I need to try. I need to get over myself and teach the lesson on my plans. When I do this I know for a fact that there will be a bunch of kids not listening to directions or doing whatever they feel like instead of getting the education they come to school to get. It depresses me to think that I am working as hard as I am and still only a few of the goals will be met. I keep telling myself that if they know all their letters and sounds and how to write the numbers to 20 I will be happy, but this is a sad  little goal. I have children in that class that are already reading small words and that have a high level of comprehension but I have so many more that can barely write their first name legibly (or not at all) who may not even reach that small goal.

This year is depressing to think about but sitting here in bed while I try to get over a sciatica flare up there is very little else to think over. Maybe I should just read a book....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My view on centers

I can honestly say I love the idea of centers. Whether or not these children or my reading coach will like the way I do centers is always the toss up. I like being able to work with a small group and get to better understand my students' strengths and weaknesses. (The things they say in small groups are also hilarious!)

So tomorrow I go in to start explaining how centers will work to these 5 year olds who have just gotten used to who class instruction. I am taking deep breaths and hoping that the activities I have chosen are interesting enough to keep their attention and that most will remember the directions. My biggest concern is that the centers themselves need to be self-explanatory or quick to explain since the children can't read any directions and I can't seem to find a way to make all my directions in picture format.

I am rambling and rambling on and on but the last time I taught kindergarten was the first time I had centers up and running like clockwork. So why ramble and get nervous? Well....this will depend on a co-teacher that has never taught reading before so I will have to given him a list of activities to do with the kids in his groups. Also...I have 24-26 kids in the room so movement and having someone in charge of each group will be very important to making this work. I can't run around cleaning up after each group or that's all I will be doing.

I feel tired just thinking about beginning this mission. I also think it is odd to do centers when in all honesty most of my kids are exactly in the same place. All need to learn letters and sounds. I really only have three or four who already know this and are ready to begin blending sounds into words and I guess for them is why I would like to start centers in the first place. It will give me a chance to get them to practice reading with me and reviewing sight words. I guess I wish me luck and may hte force be with me.

P.S. Friday was a pretty great day!!! We got tons of work done, I had very few behavior issues, and then my great day got interrupted by a data chat at the very end of the day where I was made to feel that either everything I am doing sucks or is not good enough. Being at this school feels like such a chore at times even when the kids are at their best. Oh well! Need to lift the spirits and focus on having a great week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Post Lockdown Malaise

So, yesterday we didn't do much because of the the lovely lockdown and I made sure we moved around to get rid of the kids' antsiness, so I was behind and I have come to the conclusion that I will always be behind with this group. Don't get me wrong, I have some great kids. Quite a few of them know how to listen and sit and some have been quick learners and can now do these things, but there are those five kids that there always are in every class that seem to be worth for 2 kids who will forever keep us behind. It doesn't help that there isn't a good system in place for dealing with behavior issues or that parents don't seem to instill any sort of discipline to these children until you have to call them in the middle of the day and tell them that their son spent an hour of the day jumping off the furniture because he did not want to work or acted like a little baby yelling no when given any redirection.

I don't know if any of what was written above made any sort of sense but that was my afternoon today. Each time I stopped to think: Would it have been an easier day if I hadn't had 22 other children in the room? Is it the size of the class that makes it difficult or the child's home training or even worst and last on my list to think of the quality of the teacher that makes for such a situation? I don't think I know the answer to that question and if I ever find it or someone out there knows it please share it with me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another crazy day

Well my morning started out ok. I checked on pencils and organized my copies and a milllion other little things that I can never seem to get done throughout my day and by 8 am my school was under a lockdown and around 8:50 I was in the cafeteria along with a bunch of other people trying to watch over 200 something students with a bunch of cop cars circulating the place.

My first thought on knowing that there was a lockdown this early was: "I am sure I am going to be missing a lot of children." Boy was I proven wrong. I had 24 of my 26 kids there. Who drops off their five year old at a school surrounded by police cars and waits in a long line of cars after being told of the situation? If that had been me I would be taking my child back home where I could be assured that he/she would be safe. What is wrong with these people? Is this why their children are as crazy as they are? That thought depressed me to no end. These children grown on me to such a large degree it is ridiculous, even the annoying ones, the "bad" ones, and especially my quiet ones.

Hell the police should have been the first to say, "Look, if I were you I would just take my kid home." Though from what I heard from the securities manning the gates they were cursed out by parents mad that they could not drop off their kids. People wonder what is wrong with society and I hate to say this but its the way people relate to each other and demonstrate their respect or lack thereof to others. Children being raised by these types of people end up doing and saying the exact same things.

I often wonder why it is that things have changed so much. Was it because of technology? Are we all just becoming intolerant of one another? Is it due to the break down of the family unit? Has the down turned economy and need for quick fixes done this to society? As with most things I end up with way more questions than answers about everything.

Then we come to the weirdest part of the day. Copies. Doesn't seem like it would be a weird thing but we were told today that copies must be authorized by our coaches before being made. The only things that don't need coach approval are five or less homework sheets. Mind you this is upsetting because they are asking us to be more creative and not use worksheets but I am trying to teach kids handwriting and that is hard enough to do with a pre-made sheet let alone with just a sheet of paper. We don't even get handwriting paper from the school we would end up having to buy our own. And people wonder why teachers are mad.

Well its late and I am supposed to teach tomorrow...classifying, numbers, sight words, and short a words, oh my!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Wonder

Kindergarten...the final frontier....or just an easy way to add some gray hairs to anyone's head?? That is a question I ponder on a daily basis.

Why is it that children in groups of 2 or 3 at 5 years of age are so cute and funny to talk to but groups of 22 to 28 of 5 year olds so annoying as a whole? I love children but both times I have taught kindergarten I tell my mother the same thing, "Don't expect any grandchildren unless you are willing to raise them from the age of 3 to 6, then maybe, just maybe, I will take them back."

Either way I have the priviledge of teaching 26 adorable and oftentimes challenging 5 year olds who can't for the life of them figure out not to sit on their knees or their feet or that not all of us need to know that daddy is in jail or any other thing that pops out of their head.

Sometimes I feel like the voice over guy from the Wonder Years:  "I stood there in wonder as one of the sweetest little girls in my class peed on herself because she did not want to bother me by asking to go. I watch her cry as I write her a pass to the clinic and call her mother and think what kind of a person have I become that a little child seems to be in fear of asking to go to the bathroom." (one of many instances lately).

Am I cut out for this? Maybe not, maybe so. I guess only time and my own inner madness will tell.