The Last Day of School

Today was the last day of school. I cannot believe I made it. Especially since it was just over a month ago when I emailed the Samaritans after feeling suicidal and said that I could not make it through the school year.

It was definitely not an easy day, despite getting out early. This morning, the entire elementary school was going on a short trip. I was dreading the bus trip because last week, my students had to ride the bus to a school event and they were horrible. There is a reason I decided my difficult class was not going on a field trip on our own. Today, I made sure my class was the first one on the bus and then I spread them out so that they were not near other people from our class (except their seat partners and I had planned those groups). Surprisingly, they were well behaved on the way there. It was on the way back that there were problems but it was a student from my class and a student from another class.

Once we got back, the students had to eat their sack lunch they had brought from home. This led to an argument because many of the students had packed pop. The school forbids pop at lunch. I know many teachers would probably make an exception since it was the last day but I did not care. My students had had enough sugar from buying things at the concession stand on the trip. Plus, they have horrible behavior all the time. They would use the excuse of having pop in their system to act even worse.

After lunch, we watched a movie and went to recess. Then, finally, the day was over. It was a long day despite getting out early. I have finally made it though. I have made it through my first year as a teacher with very difficult students. I thought this day would never come.


Kids and Pop

Today was the last day of school. This morning, when the student arrived, they were talking about the upcoming trip as well as the lunch they had packed. Since it was the last day of school, hot lunch was not being provided. The student were to eat their sack lunches once we got back from the trip. Many of them were talking about the pop they had brought. I made it clear right away that they were not going to get to drink it. The school does not allow pop at lunch and I did not care that it was the last day. There was going to be no exception. I might have made an exception if my class was one that was well behaved but after a year with my students, I knew that they would use the opportunity to have pop as an excuse to act wild. Plus, I knew they had brought money to buy junk from the concession stand. It was not like they needed the drink anyway.

One of my students would just not drop it. On the trip, he argued several times that he was going to have nothing to drink. I told him he could have water. He also argued several times after we got back. I finally told him that if he wanted to argue, he could go talk to the principal.

I do not understand why parents allow their kids to have pop. My mom only let me have it when we went out to eat. It was a special treat. I never would have gotten one in my lunch box. I was lucky if I even got a juice pouch.

One time, at a school concert, I saw one of my students that has ADHD drinking pop. Another teacher and I were astounded. This kid has enough energy and focus problems. He does not need the extra stimulant of caffeine and sugar.

Since I did not allow the kids to have their pop, they can just have it at home. Maybe now parents can have a taste of what I had to go through this entire year.

Can’t My Life Get Any Easier?

In the last six months, it seems like everything that can go wrong will go wrong. If my life gets a little bit simple, something comes my way to make it more difficult. It seems like I never get a break. I have written on several occasions about the events of my weeks. Here is the last week:

I really did not want to go to school last week. I had been enjoying my Christmas break too much. After the semester I had, I was not ready to go back to my classroom of students (most of which do not like to behave). The idea of going back caused my great anxiety resulting in my painful stress headaches. But all good things must come to an end and I had to go back to school.

The students were misbehaving the minute they walked through the door on Monday. That is not normal. Usually, they behave on Mondays because they are tired. And their bad behavior just continued throughout the week.

There were two late starts and one early out last week because of the weather. I was all right with this. I wanted the extra time alone away from school. But of course, this just messed up my lesson plans.

I was really looking forward to this last weekend, like always. But on Saturday, I had a visit from an unwelcome friend: Depression. Depression has been fairly rampant in my life. Lately, it comes and goes. I blame Saturday’s episode on loneliness though. I usually spend my weekends all alone. It was enough to bring me to tears several different times on Saturday. And I did not feel much better Sunday.

Every Sunday, I call my mom. I used to love talking to her on the phone when I was in college as well as when I was living with my aunt during the summer, working at the amusement park. But lately, I have nothing to say. I do not want to tell her how I feel like a failure because of my misbehaving students. And right as the phone was ringing, I nearly burst into tears. Thankfully, I managed to control it though.

After ten minutes on the phone, I was ready to end the conversation. That is not normal. We used to be able to talk for about an hour. The call managed to last thirty minutes and then I gratefully ended it. I felt very down though and turned to the only thing I knew that would make me feel better: Cutting.

My wrist looks like I got in the middle of a cat fight. It is cold enough though that I can hide my wrist from everyone by wearing long sleeves.

To make my life even more complicated, I got selected for jury duty today. I was greatly angered by it. I did not even know that I could get chosen because I am not registered to vote. That was the whole reason I chose not to register. But after doing some research, I learned that it does not matter whether you are a registered voter.

The only thing that is really keeping me going right now is knowing that in about five months, I will be able to return to the amusement park and to the job that I love.


The Classroom Fish

At the beginning of the school year, one of my students decided we needed a class fish. I was fine with that because  I have fish of my own. The parent had said she would bring in everything the fish needed. The students were so excited.

The mother cut a lot of corners though. She brought in a small clear tote box for the tank and brought in goldfish food even though the fish was not a goldfish. She had not brought a filtration system or anything else.

A couple weeks later, the fish died, probably from lack of oxygen. It happened over a three day weekend so I told the kids that was the reason why he probably died. The kids wanted another fish but I told them I would think about it after Christmas. I really did not want to have to deal with a fish over the long break.

I had kind of forgotten about the fish until a couple weeks ago when one of the students reminded me. I have done a lot of thinking about it and I have decided we are not going to get a fish for the classroom.

First of all, I have fish and hermit crabs of my own. I also work at an amusement park during the summer that is several hours away. I live with my aunt and uncle during the summer and I have no room in my car or at their house for an extra aquarium. If the students ask, that is what I will tell them.

My mom told me I could probably get a fish if I let one of the students take it home during the summer. I know my students though. They are very lazy. If I let one of them take it, the fish won’t come back alive. And for me, I am very attached to my pets.

Plus, my students’ behavior since the beginning of the school year has been terrible. They do not deserve a fish.

Well, at least I gave it some serious thought. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen.

The Week before Christmas in the Classroom

When I made my lesson plans last week, I knew that this week was going to be easy. We had wrapped up every subject except science so with the exception of that class, everything I did consisted of different review activities that I thought the students would enjoy.

On Monday, there was no school due to snow and Tuesday, there was a late start and I just knew my week was going to be even easier than I had originally thought. Really though, this has been one of the worst weeks I have ever experienced.

Tuesday, the students were wound up. I had expected this since my class is usually very wild on a normal day. I knew with Christmas approaching they would be even crazier. But I expected them to be quieter on Tuesday because they always are after a weekend. But I guess because of the snow, they got extra rest. So they just got steadily crazier throughout the week.

Tuesday brought more than just wild students though. On top of my student problems, the music teacher decided the students needed extra music practice for their concert. She kept them an extra thirty minutes. It was a good thing the only subject I wanted to accomplish anything this week was science.

On Tuesday, I also got a bill from the book company saying that I owed money before Christmas. I had not ordered anything recently and I had paid the last bill. But when I called the company, they told me I needed to contact the parent that had ordered the book and get some bank information from them.

Despite the book problem, I figured Wednesday would be easy. We had an inservice in the afternoon so it was a short day. Plus, I got the book problem figured out early that morning after another call to the company. The company was charging me for a book that they had accidentally duplicated in my order. When I told them about the mistake several weeks ago, they told me I could keep the book for free. But then they forgot to take it off my bill.

But then on Wednesday, the students had a surprise music practice. Then, I spent the next two hours at the most pointless inservice ever. We got nothing accomplished. We talked about having meetings to talk about curriculum. We also had a library meeting that lasted thirty minutes even though the idea they decided to go with was the one that I suggested at the very beginning of the meeting.

I was dreading Thursday. It was a full day and I was not in the mood to deal with students. Then, I ended up having two students gone and because I needed to have grades done before Christmas, I was busy trying to arrange makeup work.

I should have known that I could not have a normal, decent day. Because there was a very disorganized music practice that lasted over an hour in which I stayed to help. Then, my students had barely gotten back when another student got sick in the classroom.

Thursday night was the music concert and the students were required to be there an hour early. I showed up about forty five minutes early and then had to help with costumes and makeup. Then, I spent the next hour backstage watching and assisting with the concert.

I went home exhausted. Of course, I did not sleep very good.

I was dreading today as well. I really did not have anything planned because it was the Christmas party. I knew I would be dealing with overexcited kids that do not behave on a good day. And sure enough, they met my expectations. We did not even get out early so I had to spend seven and a half hours watching the kids watch a movie and then play games. It may sound easy but it was not. They would not be quiet and they were not being nice to each other.

I guess now I have two weeks to recover from the short/long week I just experienced. And I am going to need every minute of it.

The Classroom and the Essay Contest

I read about this essay contest so I told my students about it. Many of them were interested and got started writing right away. However, a few days later, they had forgotten about the contest without ever finishing their essays. They realized a couple days ago that the deadline for the contest was coming up. I told the students that they needed to get going but then we did not have time to do much. Then, we had computer issues that we could do nothing about. The deadline for the contest was yesterday. I had received two essays the day before and one the day they were due. As I was preparing to submit the essays, I realized that the essays had to be received by the eleventh. Most contests want the entries to be postmarked by the last day, not received. There was no way I could get the essays there so I just did not send them. I feel horrible. The students did a really bad job on the essays but they at least deserved the chance. I mean, they did try. I guess next time I will make sure I read the rules more closely and have the students submit their essays to me in advance so that the same thing will not happen again. As a new teacher though, I am still learning.

Classroom Decorating

It is no secret that I have been feeling lonely. I am in the middle of no where with no family and few friends. I spend many nights watching TV and surfing the net.

Today, the custodian entered my classroom at the end of the day and commented on how few holiday decorations I had. I have a Christmas tree in the corner and snowmen on the bulletin board that the students made. I decided not to go to all that work to decorate the classroom for three weeks. I feel the classroom should be about the students, not the decorations. Plus, we are not allowed to use tape on the walls and the sticky stuff I have been using is old and not doing the job. Things fall off all the time.

The custodian then made the comment that I should spend some of my lonely nights at school decorating. That kind of upset me. I already spend too much time at the school trying to get caught up on real work. And I manage my time fairly well.

The teacher before me apparently had very elaborate bulletin boards but she did all the work. She did not let the students do any of the decorating. I think my students enjoy our bulletin board just as much as they probably liked her’s because they got to do the decorating.

An Angry Parent

When my students get in trouble, I have them complete a behavior form so that they can think about their actions and decide on a plan for next time. I send them home over the weekend and require parents to sign the form.

Today, a student came back with two forms and a note from his mom. His mom thought that what he did was small and so he should not have been punished. She also criticized his spelling and grammar on the forms and requested a meeting.

I showed the mom’s note to the principal. I was really upset. Because while the student’s infractions might have been small, he was still not following my rules. And as for the grammar, I am not looking at that when they complete the forms. I do grade their spelling and grammar on other assignments but not on the forms. Focusing on a person’s character is just as important.

The student’s mom is a teacher (English at that) and you would think she would understand classroom discipline and be one of those parents that support the teacher. But she is something else. I have heard stories about her and would rather not deal with her.

The principal told me to ignore it. I am just hoping she will not come see me during lunch or before school like she has done before.

Underpaid Teachers

Teachers are definitely underpaid. I arrive at school everyday between 7:15-7:20. School actually starts at eight and teachers are required to arrive fifteen minutes before. Teachers are required to stay until four o’clock but I stay later than that every day trying to get papers graded and getting things ready for the next day.

I do not get a thirty minute lunch break. On days when it is my turn to do lunch duty, I get to work through my lunch. Other than a short break at lunch, I do not get much more than thirty minutes of prep a day when my students are at specials. There are days when specials get cancelled and then I do not get any prep time at all.

Often, I take work home with me. Even with good time management, I cannot get my lesson plans done. Every night, my backpack is stuffed with textbooks and students’ assignments.

I go into the school often on weekends. I have to get assignments copied and the classroom organized.

A teacher is definitely not paid enough. And to make matters worse, I teach two different elementary classes. I have double the work. Because even though I only have a total of fifteen students in the two classes, I still have to have two sets of lesson plans and assignments and centers.

I Wore My Crocs to School Today

In my tiredness, I did not realize this morning that I accidently slipped on my crocs instead of my dress shoes this morning. I only realized what I had done when I had arrived at school. I talked to another teacher and discovered that the administrators do not really care what is on our feet. So I started the day off comfortable.

The morning was good because my students had two specials first thing in the morning so I was able to get my lesson plans almost completed. I also accomplished a lot which made me feel good since this week I have noon duty and I have little time to get things done.

Throughout the day (and it was a short day due to a teacher’s inservice) the papers that needed grading piled up. Then, there was the inservice that prevented me from getting the papers graded. Even though inservices are supposed to be over at four, they never end on time. And what really bugs me is that usually, teachers are required to stay until four every day. That gives us at least thirty minutes to get papers graded and do things in the classroom. That does not happen on inservice days unless a teacher wants to stay later.

When I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher hated teachers that complained about inservices being a waste of time. But what if it is true? I mean, I do not feel that I benefited from much that was discussed today.

And now, I have additional stress due to all the papers that did not get graded as well as all the other projects that did not get accomplished because I did not feel like staying extremely late to do them.

What started off as a decent day quickly turned the other way.