On Tuesday, September 10, 2001, I mentioned to my 9th grade Pulaski High School in Milwaukee that September 11th was my birthday. I also told them of my history of having really bad birthdays. I rattled off one funny/pathetic story after another.
The morning of 9/11, I sat at my desk, getting my papers together, and as my students entered in, they brought in balloons, cookies, soda, teddy bears and cards. These sweet students planned a party for me. Minutes later my classroom phone rang.
"Happy Birthday. Turn on the T.V.," my sister said. I could hear the anxiousness in her voice. I turned on the T.V. and watched in sadness with my students.
I didn’t teach that day, but we learned that the world is a place filled with evilness, hate, hope and love.
“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”—~Donald D. Quinn
After sitting in two pointless staff meetings today, I feel the need to pass on my teaching trick #856—if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, don’t make it worse by rambling on or defer to someone who clearly doesn’t know either.
This leads me to teaching trick #855—know what you’re talking about…really, really prepare.
I left school tonight at 7:00 pm. I printed out IEPs, medical and emergency info for each student. I have my plans ready for 18 weeks (all aligned with the Common Core). On my desk, I have what I’m doing step by step. My assessments are ready. My rubrics are in place.
Today, I think I lost two hours or more of planning time because of poor planning on someone’s part. I was supremely ticked off because the syllabus requirements were not shared well in advance, and I had to redo my syllabus. I had to stand in line for 30 minutes and wait for a copy machine. I stood in line for an LCD projector that in the end, I never even received.
Tomorrow is a new day. I’ll welcome the 9th grade students to the school and to the first day of their high school career. I am ready and excited!
1.Listened to opening day stuff
2.Watched/helped my sister put up my bulletin board
3. Arranged my room. My sister balked at my desire to give the special ed teacher a small desk, so I upgraded her to a table.
4. I got all my English 9 books from the storage room into my room.
5. Dropped a case of books on my left foot. I’m limping now.
6. Redid my syllabus. Threw out the 160 copies I made yesterday because the principal wants it a certain way. I really wish this info would be shared a couple of weeks in advance. Who the hell waits two days before school to put their syllabus together?
7. Saved a few student ceramics from the garbage. A teacher was cleaning out an art room and tossed the stuff out.
My white pants were a dingy grey/brown because of the cleaning. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why teachers wear jeans on non-student days.
I used to think the suburban teachers had it made—well behaved kids, involved parents, decent work environment, but after the New Berlin school board adopted new rules that extended the work day without pay, eliminated collaboration time, and prep time, I think the New Berlin teachers got whacked.
Recently I met with special ed teacher, Ms. Raclaw, to review our students’ IEPs on our own time—without pay. Ms. Raclaw has a new baby, and I have a 21 month old son at home. I had a pile of laundry, and some grad work that I should have started a few weeks ago. But this review was necessary. We needed to collaborate and discuss the needs of our students. Yes, we gave of our own time, and the State of Wisconsin believes that our time isn’t valuable, but I beg to differ. Ms. Raclaw and I gave up our home time with our boys, and I’d say they are pretty valuable.
Contrary to popular thought, teachers work during the summer. I’ve put in around 50-60 hours alone getting my materials together for my classes. Here’s a short list:
1. I created my curriculum grid. I went through the Wisconsin Common Core curriculum and the Milwaukee Public School grade level curriculum and put together an 18 week grid that details what I’m teaching. I broke down what I will be teaching—writing, language, reading, speaking and listening. I show what stories we’ll be reading and how I will assess my students.
2. I printed out my IEP at a glance reports for each of my students with special needs and I met with my Special Education co-teacher. We reviewed the snapshots, discussed each student’s needs, and created a seating chart based upon the student’s needs. We talked about how we’ll contact parents and document how we’re addressing each student’s IEP. We also reviewed each student’s reading level and discussed which resources we could get to support lower reading levels.
3. I created my syllabus and printed it out. All of the photo copy machines have been removed out of the main office. I had to sneak my copies off of another machine. Years of experience have taught me to be prepared for the worst case scenario. I did not want to find myself in line waiting behind 100 staff members to get 160 copies.
4. I printed and reviewed the medical list for each class. If a student has a particular health need, their name prints out on a list. Now I know who has epilepsy, asthma, allergies, etc….
5. I created a multiple choice assessment for each week up to week 12.
6. I printed out parent contact information for each class.
8. I gathered support material for the book we’re reading.
9. I began to organize my room. I’m going to the Learning Shop and buy paper for my boards. I’m also going to buy white boards for my class.
10. I participated in freshmen orientation, and I met with some of my new students and their parents.
I just wish that the teacher-bashing season would end. Most teachers work hard. Most teachers care about their kids. Most teachers are professionals.