Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paperwork and the Little Fat One

Pressure. The year is in full swing, and I'm back to feeling like I can never catch up with what I got to do. For one thing there is the continuing paperwork struggle. There are attendance booklets to keep up with, schedules to update and the ever present struggle with the IEPs. Trying to chase down all the IEPs that match all the new students is challenge enough, getting copies distributed to everyone who needs one is the next level of excitement and then the new guru from the network comes in with instructions that can be best described as contradictory. So emails and phone calls later, I'm stuck in the do what she says or do what I'm pretty convinced is correct-hell. I was so frustrated by the middle of the afternoon that the senior math teacher -never the most perceptive person in our school- asked me what was wrong. He'd never seen a student get me upset.

The eighth graders are ruling the roost in the science room. Earlier this year I called Ursula's mom. I left a mesage on the machine that she had been continuously disrespectful. Her attitude changed- for about a day. By Friday, I was the victim of her mouth yet again. I walked out of the room and then decided I didn't have to be abused bu someone forty years younger than me. So I re-entered the room and somehow managed to get her to the dean's office. Somehow, I left the office with a negotiated truce (I promised not to get in her face and she promised to torture me less).

Today I sat with Ursula during science and tried to re-establish a civil relationship. I asked about the correct pronunciation of her name. And somehow this story came out.

Years ago I had a student named Jesus. Some called him by the English pronunciation of his of his name, some used the Spanish. I asked him what his mother called him.
-Gordito, he answered (the Spanish word for little fat one)

-His own mother violated him?- Ursula's tablemate asked.

Maybe, I think he just though it was an affectionate name. At least I made through science class without being disrespected.

And sometimes it feels like it is all worth it. Last week, we came to the conclusion the Avid teacher couldn't possibly get through the required binder check with 32 students in the class.So seventh period I showed up to help- so did the rest of the Avid team. Five teachers gave up their prep to get through the tedious paper work. No one asked anyone to do it. We just did.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Obstacle Course

First week over. I survived. We are having construction in our school and the student support service team is squished into one little room. Computers, boxes and books and books and books are everywhere. I feel like that tv show that aired over the summer where the contestants had to cross an obstacle course to get a prize. The tv contestants traversed trails of padded rolling blocks and jello pool pits to get to a monetary prize. We jump rolling printer carts and milk crates to answer the phone.

Tara brought Terrance into our room at one yesterday afternoon. If I have to scale large boxes to make it to my desk, that's nothing compared to Teriq's commute. Apparently this young man, who came from a self contained Special Education class, had left his home at 8:00 am traveled on three trains through three boroughs and walked the final two miles from the subway station to reach the school. I lost my train of thought while trying to answer a question he asked (I had only been interrupted twice)
"I get easily confused," I told him.
"Me too,"he agreed.
But he had made it here.
We sent him home with directions from HopStop and the a metro card and the hope he makes it back earlier on Monday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two days down and one hundred and eighty three to go. Things I am thankful for: cool weather, a computer that is connected to the internet and a principal that is not insane- perhaps not in that particular order. I could probably deal with hot weather and no computer.

I overheard a young lady on the bus describing her new AVID program excitedly. "Wow, I though- our AVID program is off to great start. But alas she didn't go to our school. Someone else's AVID program is off to a great start.

Edward came in with his mother today. After a year of hell and a full medical evaluation this summer, Edward returned to repeat the eighth grade. He sat through the conference looking surly but he was compliant and restrained for the whole day. The recommendation from the summer private evaluation asked for the moon and the stars as well as Non-public school placement and I have my doubts that will happen but let his mom try.

Also repeating 8th grade is Dorothy. Years of living with a father a step mother who regretted Dorothy's existence has made Dorothy a student who could best be described as not a perfect match for school. Last year she did not spend any two days without having a major conflict that involved security being called in. Then she spent three months in a residential program in a facility that specializes in students with emotional difficulties. But she returned the last month of school- sporadically attending but on our register. She, like Edward was disappointed and frustrated at being held out of the high school. But with her magenta dyed bangs and newly contrite attitude, she explained yesterday that her missing the summer school state tests was just another way she felt screwed by the adults in her life. Her brother turned eighteen this year so maybe he could petition their real mom into the United States and she wouldn't have to live with the evil step mother anymore. So I negotiated a meeting with the principal and maybe she could make it up to the ninth grade at some point during this year. Dorothy has been to every class and two days have passed and we haven't called security yet- not even close.

But she a magic uniform- it disappears from her body at least three times a day.

And so another school year begins.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The last waves

I found a website this summer -write your life memoir in six words. Here's mine
Old teacher, new school year-again.

And so the last year I must work before collecting my pension begins. At 9:30 PM five days before the school year actually opens, my cell phone rings. K. wants to know if she has to be in school tomorrow because L. told her there was a meeting for the college peer leaders. So a few phone calls later I confirmed that was actually true. And so another school year begins, albeit a few days early.

Tomorrow I will try to make five special ed teachers, a literacy coach, a paraprofessional and the IEP computer all fit into one half size room. It should be something like the clown car in the circus.

And then I will go to the beach- catch a few waves before the school year settles in.