1. I’m sorry for what I did yesterday.

    — Sherman, who had a water and flour fight in the middle of class yesterday and left when I asked him to clean it up. And then today, he washed dishes and cleaned the sink to make up for it. Victory!

  2. Thankful Thursday: Who I Show Up For

    Last night, I had this conversation with my boyfriend:
    me: i really, really miss my old class today. like i want to cry about it.
     Boyfriend: :-(
      
    9:42 PM me: it does no good because it’s just me holding onto something that has passed. but it’s hard to teach two or three periods of pure insanity without anyone having any redeeming qualities…like, there is just no one to make me saw, “aww I don’t hate this because i am here for you”
    And I wouldn’t hate it so bad if I didn’t know how it could be better.
    9:47 PM Josh: how could it be better? or are you saying you don’t know
    me: no i mean in my classroom..like, i’ve had an awesome class with kids that i absolutely adored and loved, and it’s hard to have a bad class with kids who have no redeeming qualities right now
    9:48 PM Josh: oh yeah
      ….yeah that’s tough, i’ve gone the other direction
      i can’t imagine going from here (which isn’t even that great) back to richmond
    9:49 PM me: It’s just weird. It’s March, and I’m still thinking, oh jesus would love this, and kishawn would think this was so funny, or brittnae would crack a joke right now. Blah
    __________________________________________________________________________________

    Obviously, I was feeling sorry for myself, because it’s true—no matter how hard things got last year, someone would redeem the situation. Also, I just grew to love those kids. 

    Anyway, most of the students I have now are so “good” that all the spunk and spark and curiosity has been conditioned out of them, and in short, they don’t necessarily endear me to them. And the others, they are extremely defensive, reactive, and disrespectful and just plain hard to love. Overall, I’m feeling the end of the year approaching and can’t help but broach the question, “What’s the point?” Like, there’s no time to stir up the good kids or convert the bad ones. But having felt bad about thinking that and really, out of hope for surviving the rest of the year, I gave it some thought and realize that the following children are funny and responsive, and I look forward to teaching them:

    • Dominik
    • Christopher
    • Paula

    So, let’s start there. I am thankful for them, and I will show up for them, if not for anyone else…yet.

  3. WTF Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, TGIF all rolled into one.

    This week has been ugly outside of the classroom. It’s all IEP stuff, so I can’t share, but all I have to ask is, how explicit does one have to be in a Behavior Support Plan? Do I really need to spell out that an adult cannot scream at a child? Yes, is the answer. Do I really need to spell out that every adult is responsible for executing this “plan”? Yes. Does it matter? No, because in the end, “only the case manager and teachers in direct contact with the child are responsible and qualified for executing the BSP.” So, I am the only one qualified not to yell at a child. 

    Was in a two-hour meeting about the above. And right after, separately—different adult, different kid—I banned an adult from my room who was yelling at my kids and calling them names.

    But other than that, my seventh graders are coming around and already seeing math growth—even more than the eighth graders—all while illustrating the misery of being a middle schooler. Seriously, this is the worst age, and it is only exacerbated by being in Special Ed. 

    I am thankful for my assistant. I finally have a good one, and I finally feel team-ish (this has never happened). She led a whole group on fractions in a rather tenuous afternoon, in which switching stations just wasn’t a good idea, and we needed to ignore the time and keep doing what we were doing. 

  4. Thankful Thursday: My district joins the 21st century!

    I am at a PD to get trained on our new IEP software. I’m thankful for it because:

    • It is hooked up with student contact info, so it gets updated on IEP automatically
    • It has notification capability.
    • Most of California uses it, so most kids’ IEPs will get automatically put on my caseload, rather than having to wait. And wait. And wait.

    And most of all

    • It doesn’t look like it was cobbled together by a high schooler messing around with HTML in the 1990s!

  5. What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn’t just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn’t expect them to be.

    — 

    Sarah Dessen

    Thankful Thursday for this opportunity

    Yesterday, someone asked me while I was in the middle of a rage about how effed our school is, if I would do it again. Yes, I said, without a second’s hesitation. I suppose I am thankful for these crazy two years, because even after the madness that I couldn’t sustain for any longer, it is all about people—the person I’ve become and the students and other teachers I feel like I’ve done battle alongside or some such cheesy metaphor. Like family. The school is so dysfunctional and imperfect, but it has made me, and for better or worse (or for scary), is responsible for the teacher I am. So on some level I have to love the whole experience, and I, without question, will keep it with me—I have to. Like family.

  6. Welcome!

    So, I’ve gotten over thirty new Tumblr followers this week. I’m not sure why, but I’ll go with it and do the proper thing—

    Welcome! Here is a little bit about me and my blog.

    I am 24, from Kansas. I am a second-year teacher in the worst school in San Francisco that will be closing at the end of the year. I teach a middle school self-contained Special Ed. class—the same kids two years in a row. I am in Teach for America and will be moving to Brooklyn to teach at Achievement First charter school after this year. I wasn’t going to teach after my two or three years in TFA, but after what I’ve seen, I am incensed about the state of our public schools for poor kids, minority kids, and Special Ed. kids, and I want to sink an indefinite chunk of my life in it. 

    Opinionated Side Notes—

    • In spite of being in TFA and working at a TFA-spawn next year, I’m not sold on their model as the model of success. I currently teach a population that I personally believe they can’t and won’t reach, but I always have to credit them for getting me involved in the first place. And I will have to credit Achievement First for giving me the intense, quality professional development and accountability that public schools won’t give me—I need to know, at least for a little while, what it means to teach and teach well for a sustained period of time in a functional environment.
    • There are some sucky teachers, but all the teacher-hating that TFA seems to evoke (I don’t think it says it, but I think people misinterpret it) isn’t the solution. From what I’ve seen, you could have an A+ staff, and it will be absolutely ruined by administration every time—principal and up. Therefore, I am distantly interested in school leadership and policy.
    • I don’t mind if you TFA-bash. I will probably respond, because I think I have a unique perspective, and I assume you are an open minded individual who wants to know all view points. If you aren’t, tell me to shove it. If you are, let’s have a conversation! Teaching-through-TFA is the only thing I know, and I would love to hear perspectives of more traditional educators.

    Anyway, my blog is called Grit In The Gap, because I find that I have a lot more, healthy relationships when I save for my blog the nitty, gritty details of teaching within the worst part of the achievement gap—rather than the dinner table or the bar.

    I’ve kept this blog since Day One, so if you’re interested in ev-er-y detail of my first year of teaching, check out my #teaching tag and just go back, back, back. This year, as things in my classroom became more and more routine, I had to make an effort to keep track of my experiences, so most days, I try to run themes.

    • Moment Mondays are for reflecting on the sweet, harrowing, funny, and/or movie moments that occur when you teach any kids but especially Speech-Language Impaired tweens. All day. For two years in a row.
    • Toilet Tuesdays are collections of the negative. My first year was really rough, and because of how the schedule worked out, I was in the same room with eleven tweens six hours in a row everyday. Sometimes my only refuge was going to the bathroom during passing periods, sitting on the toilet, and texting or Facebooking my friends. haha that is so sad when I type it all out. Life is much better now, but there are still things that drive me to the proverbial toilet.
    • Thankful Thursdays are for finding something to be thankful about in my job.
    • Fun Fridays are for those times when teaching is just fun, whether because we do something fun or, for once in the midst of the chaos of their home lives and school lives, the stars align, and they grasp concepts.
    • On saturdays and Sundays, I try to lay in bed and read the news, commentary, other Education Tumblrs, etc.

    And that is that. Things will be looking differently soon, as summer is approaching, and as a major shift in my environment, expectations, and support will occur in the Fall. I have a feeling it won’t be so gritty, but I might be able to contribute to the Education tag in legit, curriculum and pedagogical ways and not kids-in-my-school-have-formed-milk-gangs-and-my-students-got-hit-and-were-too-bruised-to-learn-today ways.

    Now tell me, is there anything else you’d like to know?

  7. Commit to abundance consciousness. On a daily basis, before going to sleep, take an inventory or your life and allow your heart to fill with gratitude for the things, experiences, and people in your life. Even during those times when your life is not unfolding the way you would like it to, bring abundance into your awareness and you will notice a shift in your perspective. With this inner shift, you will observe a spontaneous clearing and abundance will flow.

    — David Simon (via bodymindandsoul)

  8. I am Thankful Thursday from the ground up to right below the top

    I think I’ve said this before, but it never gets old—I am so thankful for the counseling and support staff at our school.

    I knew that they would be the topic for Thankful Thursday today when we were in a meeting about our schools’ closure and our principal was regurgitating the rules and regulations and what they allow her to do and not to do—well, mostly not do. As it was becoming increasingly obvious that she doesn’t know anything and doesn’t know that she doesn’t know anything, which is all fine for me but not for the kids she should be safekeeping, our LSP took the spotlight and said how she, the nurse, and the counselors are making sure every last kid has a portfolio with excellent work, interest inventories, parent surveys, and letters explaining themselves to take to their schools next year, and that they and their parents are going to take field trips to the schools before the year is out. Additionally, they will be running small weekly groups to talk about the transition.

    I am very wary and disillusioned with the top-down dealings in our school’s closure. I know our support staff goes to meetings about it, but if the district’s other actions are any indications, that is just because once upon a time some other school got closed down, someone spoke at the school board meeting about how poorly and inhumanely it was done, a New York Times article was run—and now they have these meetings to be able to wash their hands later. To cover their asses, so to speak.

    I just doubt that all the stuff our Wellness Center and Counseling Office are doing is because they were told to do it. They’re doing it because they care and they work hard, and to me, it just goes to show how important a team of good individuals is—and how even the best efforts of the best people can get so wasted with bad administration.

    Anyway, Heather, Amber, Franklin, Westry, Kathy, Valarie, you rock and I couldn’t fathom going to that place without you and your support. Thank you.:)

  9. In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

    — Elizabeth Gilbert

  10. Thankful Thursday

    Truthfully, I hate my job lately. Like, I go to bed thinking about it, wake up crying about it, and just generally feel helpless and dreadful because just when we think it can’t get any worse, it does. Anyway, I knew this year would be about fighting to be happy, and what I’m holding to now is March Madness, and I’m going to ride how I’m from Kansas and Obama himself thinks we are winners all the way to April. Haha I looooove this time of year!

  11. Thankful Thursday

    Chinese New Year, furlough day, four-day weekend, trip to the good old Midwest.

    I hope I get stuck.

  12. Thankful Thursday: Finish each day and be done with it.

    Today, I am thankful that Ms. Mason made us read Emerson in Senior English. For some reason it stuck with me, and his words come to my head:

    You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. 

    Because I am really only thankful that tomorrow is Friday and that next month is February. I get to go to Kansas to see MWS, Washington D.C. to celebrate TFA’s 20th Anniversary, Seattle to see Krista G., and New York for a job interview.

    Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

  13. Thankful Thursday: Cliche, yes. But…

    This Thursday, I am thankful for each of my students.

    But not necessarily because they make me happy or have given me a lot but simply because they…exist. It is not a reciprocal feeling. It has been a rough few weeks for quite a few of them. But that has made me stop and reflect on each of them. I am not thankful today because they gave me something or because they deserve it. I am just glad for the life that each has to exert.

  14. Thankful Thursday:

    As the semester winds down, I am thankful for the staff and faculty at my school, who show up and instruct, as well as chase, advise, referee, call, scream, yell, laugh, grade, praise, manage, cry, bribe—whatever it takes, everyday.

    Even more props to those who come back for many years. Two days away from Holiday Break and five months until I am out of this school, and I am on my last nerve. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, much less how they do it year after year. They are admirably strong, and because of them, I do know images of resilience and persistence. I hope I can look like that someday.