Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I've developed a strange tick

Sometimes in the morning when I'm arranging my room, moving chairs around and moving ten steps ahead in my head to the math, the Writer's Workshop, the gosh darn SFA!, I say "shhhh." No one's there.

When walking around a person or two in the busy subway underground, instead of saying "Watch it!" or "'scuse me," it comes out as "shhhh."

Then I say it back to myself to see if that's what really just came out of my mouth. "Shhhh"?

* * * * *

The news from 301--
I told a City College observer to get out of my room today. People skills. I got 'em. The kids are getting hyped up UP UPP. Today was muy mal. I was angry. Grrrr. But I'm not really discouraged like the Ms. Haley of old. I'm tired. Tired. But I think I'll whip 'em back to acting right. I've got to make parent phone calls up the wazoo, which I hate doing. DEspise. I told the lady to git! She didn't say a word, turned around and walked out. Taunting the forces . . .
(the principal accompanied by a police officer came a knocking during the last period today . . . so what else is new.)

Ms. Haley

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Good morning friends. If any of you will be driving Texas way for the holidays, avoid the state of Virginia for gosh sakes (I'm watching Sunday Morning and Joey Chen reporting on the latest shooting).

Thanks for all the cents y'all chipped in. An update--they were able to figure out most of the boys who broke into my friend's room. Police officers were at our school on Thursday and Friday. The boys have parole officers now, and if they get another offense they will go to juvy. Apparently our principal gave the fourth grade a big speech with weight. Our school on Friday was more of a normal place, but I'm not fooled. These kids' moods swing wide. I do not know why they act out the way that they do. Seeing and hearing violence and having it well up within me is a disturbing place to be. I'm sure whatever is coming out of them is a result of their surroundings.

Drifting in and out of blog and Sunday Morning, the movie reviewer reviewing "The Grey Zone" quotes, "We are all in the ghetto."

I haven't made any decisions. I was able to have a very good day with my class on Friday. Those days help but are rare. I need the paycheck. That's a big motivator. Oh, and I want to be a teacher. That's motivator numero uno. Every first year is difficult, but is every first year violent?

Our job at PS Dirty Dozen (The Post grouped us as one of the 12 worst schools in the city) is to socialize these children. I don't believe I have any special talents in that area, no inclinations or affinities. I'm free-to-be-you-and-me girl. Never had the sales touch. I'm down with the mind, analytical processes, language, expression. Socialization is for social workers. Mom, Dad, how did this happen?

Joking aside, I'm not a social worker. I've lived, learned, and I know this about myself. When whimpers come out like "I suck . . . I can't do this," I'm saying this isn't me. We are most miserable when we try to be something we're not, right? But I do believe there are teaching jobs where you're primarily instructing. Alas, I'm going to keep at it this week. I hope I stay with it so that I can find myself in a rewarding teaching job perhaps next year or the year after with some stability in my life.

Me, me, me!!! What about you! Let's hear some posts about you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I was going to blog last night with cheer, but the site wouldn't let me in. Perhaps it knew more than I. Today all I can say is, uuuuuugggghh. My brother warned me last night. He was right. Today I was hostile towards them. That's what lingers with me, my growing resentment for it all. I have four tables. One became a table of four boys who resisted their new seating arrangement. They got away with it, and proceeded to push my boundaries at every turn until they were throwing paper wads, one after the other, right at this poor little girl's head. I couldn't do anything to make them stop. I can't do a thing. I'm useless. I suck. I fucking hate it. There's no detention room right now, no one to call for aide, just me and my babies, threatening phone calls home, which I made tonight. But I hate them for doing it to me. I am taking it all personally, which is going to defeat me all the more.

Today the fourth graders rioted (about 70 of them), throwing chairs at Ms. Berry and Ms. Taylor, breaking the metal door handle off of Ms. Brown's door to break in and wreak havoc. They stole stuff and threw books and papers around the room. They inflict and they inflict. The smart ones (the teachers I mean) maintain themselves. They stay centered, thus maintaining their authority. I get angry. I scream at them. I've been manhandling my boys, yanking them by the shirt or coat to get them in line or to keep them inside my classroom or to make them sit down. I said, "Get the hell out of my room" today to this strange little girl who kept popping in. I don't even know who she is. Kids coming into the rooms all day! Whose kids? I'm sure some are mine after they decide it's time to roam. I feel like I have nothing on them to make them do the right thing, thus I don't. I see teachers who struggle and I see myself. I see teachers who are cool and who know who's boss. I don't have that. I can't seem to get it. And underneath it, I don't think I want to get it because it's not who I am. I don't know how to find it because it's so unnatural.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Terrific Tickets, they're Grrreat!

Shout out to Pinky B for your kind words last week. Shout out to Anne for your many superb inspirations. I believe in the bribe. I'm a believer. My friends who came in this week to shake up the joint (4 Fellows were sent over to help the international teachers--Americans take it to the mat) started this whole Terrific Ticket thing. You get a ticket for each thing you do right. Positive reinforcement all day long! Complete switch-a-roo from, "DAVONDAVONDAVON!!!!!!!!!" Now it's, "Thank you for being on task," "Thank you for raising your hand and not calling out." ["On task," "Calling out," "She's fresh," "He's fresh"--this is teacher speak.] "Fuckers" is also teacher speak, but only after hours.

So we had this whole blind drawing and prize giving at the end of the day. It was fun. Good times. One of the best girls won. My girls. And then two of my annoying-but ever-so-cute-in-a-weird-hateful-kind-of-way boys were stomping their feet, twisting, crying for ANOTHER DRAWING. "Only one a day," she says with glee.

I was laughing out loud, saying, "Straighten your lines!" hee, hee.

Prizes are so complex and psychological. They're amazing.

So today was a good day. Grace be to God.

Sistra Teach

Thursday, October 03, 2002

the yard

Today was humbling (as is every day). I called in sick yesterday thanks to my sweet brother's insistence, slept for 15 hours, no shit, did some school-like stuff, and then went out to a comedy show last night for a few hours. I felt like a human being again, or at least that I was playing one on TV. So this morning it was back to PS in yo face, and what a difficult walk it was. I said "grrrrrr" as I entered my room, thinking, "What did they trash?" After a minute or two my eyes found their way to my board, which read: "Ms. Haley, we talked a lot, but weren't that bad. We miss you and hope that you're okay," signed 5 of my girls. Lashonda, my bad ass tough mama, who I love, wrote me that she loves me and misses me. What? And then tart Destini wrote that she followed my homework direction accordingly to sign each child out a library book. (no boys expressed no love, you know, but they feel it, right).

Well, anyway, that gave a jump start to my day. Downstairs in the yard it was a show. Every teacher in the place was on hand. We were told to keep our children there until they got it right. If they couldn't walk up right, we were to walk them back down. My class was the last to go up. We made it to floor two, and then headed back down. We made it to floor three, and then Ms. Garvey told us to go back down for one girl at the end of the line, leaning on the wall, and not in line. We went all the way back down to the yard, and slowly crept our way to the top of the building on the far end. (This was an hour after school starting time, no lie).

So the morning started off with children sitting in my chairs, but after an hour or so their unstoppable will crept back in and I was fighting them yet again. Not sure what to do, I asserted my authority by calling them out one by one in the hall (which never works, but today it did a little good). By noon, their heads were down with the lights off. They hadn't gotten the message, were talking all over the place, ignoring their classwork and me.

One of the APs gave me a long talk after school, saying that they see me as this mild mannered, petite woman. She told me to lower my voice and put on a show. To take vitamins and go in with as much energy as I can muster. Rough em up. Tear em down. Break em. Let them know I'm in charge.

I'm questioning all that because I've tried a million things. I'm not consistent with my persona everyday, which likely hurts me. Sometimes I'm more demanding. Sometimes they're so freaking crazy that I try to ignore their shit. Sometimes I'm zapped. I keep wanting to defend myself to me. Ms. C, who's telling me all this, told another teacher that she'd spent most of her day in my class and was wiped out. I spend every day there. But maybe it's such a chore, or more of one, because I'm not whipping them into shape.

Well, my principal told me this morning that it's my classroom, not theirs, and to do whatever it takes . . . "Whatever it takes." Any clue as to what she's talking about?

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

my whole school is wack! tid bits: 15 kids having a paper fight, disregarding lunch detention consequences, mother fucker, i don't fucking care, somebody said dildo, paper penises being made, two strangling attempts, doritos in yo face!, discipline board? my discipline board, ms. haley, seed spittin, trash can contents out the window, me locking kids out my room, 5 chanting down the hall as they stroll 20 paces behind my line. ridiculousness. so what do you think they're really saying, yo? that they rule the school? yes. that's it. they do. for fighting they write a sweet little note that retells their story. for disrespecting the teacher, breaking the rules, walking in and out of rooms, trashing the place, swiping, drinking on gin and juice with a side of now and laters they get lunch detention, a phone call home, told to walk themselves down to the detention room, left there alone while the dean gets his lunch, writing on the blackboard for fun, then granted the keys by being allowed to walk back when and how they please.

i writes my shit down.