Red and yellow, black, and white...

Nothing noteworthy happened today at school, so I will relay a story from about a month ago. I would have related it at the time but I was too busy railing against my job back then to be in the mood.

So we were reading a story called "Sees Behind Trees" about a Native American boy who can hardly see but needs to prove himself with a bow and arrow in order to become a man. Before reading any story, I start by tapping prior knowledge and building background. I didn't get very far before I realized my 8 fifth graders didn't know what "Native American" was.

At that point, I realized I had to define and give examples of "race". (I have two African American students, five Hispanic students, and one Caucasian student). So I gave examples using my students because they already know what "African American" is and what "Hispanic" is. I also said that different races and cultures are known for different things. Like Asians eat a lot of rice. And Hispanics eat a lot of tortillas. And... before I could go any further, an African American girl piped up in the back with "I LIKE FRIED CHICKEN!"

But it gets better, folks. I was pointing out which students were what (you know, to make sure everyone knew what "race" is. You can never be too explicit when you're dealing with kids with language impairments!). And I said: "Alice and Martha are African American. Jose, Norma, Gabriel, Luis, and Roberto are Hispanic". Then before I could say another word, my one Caucasian kid shouts out: "WHAT AM I? I know, I'm WHITE". And I said "White isn't really a race."

Then, he ventured: "....French?"

And I am

My school district has this "incentive" where, if you take two professional development days during the summer or the school year, they would let you have the Monday and Tuesday off before Thanksgiving (the kids are off all week). I heard about this deal, but I wasn't in Texas over the summer, so.... I sacrificed two entire Saturdays to sitting through awful professional development sessions. I remember both times thinking it was such torture to work a six day week. But I knew that Future Sarah was going to be soooooo happy come the week of Thanksgiving!!

Stinky =

8 fifth graders crammed into a small room with one window that DOESN'T OPEN!

It may be time to have a discussion about proper hygiene.....

Note to self: close all doors

Today was Day One of Barney's new living arrangements. Over the weekend, we furnished our guest room in preparation for my parents' arrival for Thanksgiving next week. That meant that it was no longer this nice empty space for Barney to roam around in during the work day (we put up a baby gate in the doorway since we don't have a door there yet).

So today we decided to let him loose in the house while we were gone for work. We still put up the baby gate so he couldn't get IN to the guest room, then we scattered his toys, bed, water dish, and pee towel across the living room.

Imagine my surprise when I got home from work, totally expecting to see an excited puppy greeting me at the door, and instead am mobbed by three hungry cats! "Barneeeey!". No answer. (Where did he go?). "BARNEEEEEY!!". And then I heard a whimper from the other side of the house.

I walked down the hall and sure enough, the doof had gotten himself shut into the office. I opened the office door to be greeted by a leaping dog, and I looked past him see the wreckage he had left in his wake: a river of pee flowing from a chewed up Intro Psych textbook, and a two-inch gash where he stripped the black bookshelf of its wood.

I have no idea how long he had been stuck in the office. I have no idea HOW he got himself stuck in the office. Was it for some alone time? Was he trying to preen in the full length mirror on the back of the door? Or was this some evil scheme on the cats' part?

I guess we'll never know....

I say the same thing every time I go to the mall

As my fourth graders prepare for store, they take inventory of all the tokens they've earned for good behavior. I have one particular student who absolutely cannot concentrate on counting when others are counting around him. "STOP TALKING", he'll insist, as he himself continues to count out loud. Finally today I said: "Hon, just take off your hearing aids if you need it quiet to count". He was happy to tear them off.
Looking back, it may not have been the smartest thing to call his attention to the fact that he can selectively hear whenever he wants, but for today, it stopped the whining, and that was really all that mattered.
This same student had twenty-five tokens and took a lot of time deliberating over what prize he was going to buy at my "store". He thought through a few scenarios, working out the subtraction on the board to see how many tokens he would have left if he bought x or y or z. He finally settled on two pieces of candy, but walked away afterwards declaring: "I will spend no more and I am NOT kidding".

Musical intelligence in action

We were reading about the Iditarod Race, held in Alaska every year. We came across the word "champion", and because students who are deaf/hard-of-hearing usually have vocabulary difficulties, I stopped to see if anyone knew what that word meant.

"Does anyone know what 'champion' means?"
(No one did).

In a fit of inspiration, I sang this line (hamming it up, as I usually like to do): "Weee are the champions, my frieeeeeends....."

Eight faces stared at me blankly, some clearly confused as to why their teacher had just broken into song. There was deadpan silence for about two seconds.

Then, from the back, one of my fifth graders stated matter-of-factly: "Queen"

Ahhhh, there is hope for this generation after all!!

Tactful Ultimatum

As you may or may not have noticed, I'm unhappy with my latest job assignment. I've been having a rough time of it since the beginning of the year, in fact. But I kept telling myself: "Sarah, it's just because you're in a new school in a new state. Things will get better soon". Then I would put my big girl panties on and try to get the job done without a breakdown.

Well, we're almost into week 12 and, while some procedural things have gotten easier, the bulk of my job has gotten harder (this may have something to do with the fact that for every new meeting I go to, I discover another set of paperwork to fill out!). I could give you a laundry list of why this teaching assignment is too hard for me, but I'll sum it up this way: I'm teaching 14 students while each of my deaf ed. colleagues is only teaching 5. Oh, and I have three out of the four "difficult behavior" students in the program, and two out of the three "impossible" parents.
Last week was a particular nightmare with some major behavior issues, a meeting EVERY SINGLE day after school, and a parent who yelled my ear off for a good fifteen minutes on Friday afternoon. So (after all of the sobbing stopped), I felt completely justified when I started job hunting again this weekend. I even replied to a job posting! (The fact that I would be willing to leave this school mid-year should tell you something about how difficult and stressful this job has been.)
On Monday, one of my co-workers encouraged me to talk to the Deaf ed. administrators about this situation. So I did. I was very tactful and polite but I explained that I was being stressed too thin and that it was ultimately my students who were suffering. She was very understanding and concerned that I would quit before June, and she promised she would collaborate with the other deaf ed. administrators to see what could be done to help me.
I don't like quitting and I don't like this feeling of perpetual, overwhelming stress, so I hope to goodness that someone can do something!!


Yesterday, as I led my students into class, I was asking them if they had a good Halloween. The first two students replied enthusiastically (Yes I did! I got so much candy! etc). The third student said: "I did not go to Halloween". I prodded: "Why? Why not?". He just kept repeating over and over again: "I did not go to Halloween". Finally, after I kept pushing him for an explanation, he stated: "Because Jesus does not even like Halloween!"
At least his dad gave him a bag of candy as a consolation prize!
Newer Posts Older Posts Home