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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Oct 26th 2009, 12:13 AM
During summer vacation I bought a new broom and a new mop. I bought cleaning supplies in spray bottles to make clean-ups easier. I kept extra rolls of paper towels. I bought chamois cloths to make board cleaning easier.

I got estimates from a local printing company on my weekly run-offs for each child. Use of the office equipment was limited to school secretaries and teacher aides specially trained to use the copiers. They did not like teachers using the expensive machines. I never did figure out why.

We were smart enough to teach the children, but not bright enough to use the copiers.

So I paid for the worksheets I needed done because half the time the aide got tied up elsewhere, and the secretaries did not have time.

Our custodians were often absent. The students and I would pitch in and sweep, clean the sinks with spray cleaner disinfectant, dust the counters. A few times when we had a rest room in the room I would have to clean that, too. I would not feel right asking the children. They loved the cleaning, but it took time from class....not good.

I bought bulletin board displays from teacher supply stores. Lower grade teachers had to have shiny happy rooms with pictures of animals, flowers, or displays of what we were studying. I had 6 bulletin boards....not my choice. But my job to fill them.

One principal called me in right after I was moved into a portable because of overcrowding....he said my room looked too bare. I had to actually defend the fact that my class had only been there two days, just moving in.

That's just how things were. High school teachers do not have to worry about bulletin boards and making rooms pretty. It was fun, but it was hard work.

Some of the students who walked to school liked to stay later and help me get the room in order. Since most teachers stayed late anyway, that was very helpful. It made their parents happy to have the extra quiet time.

I think the children learned valuable lessons about responsibility for their surroundings by cleaning and helping, but it did take from my class time and planning time.

Then there was bus duty. That's what they called it when we had to supervise the kids before and after school as the buses brought them and took them home. It was done a week at a time on a rotating basis. If a child got on the wrong bus, or wandered off with a friend...we stayed until they were found. It was our job, and they were our responsibility.

We also had lunchroom duty. What fun that was. There were always visiting parents for lunch. If we tried to get students to comply with the rules, some parents would report us for being too strict. If we let them get away with too much, some would get upset with that. Lunchroom duty was the worst.

The last few years I taught, the county offices decided that principals offices were to be authoritarian, not disciplinarian in nature. That made life easy for them, but we had nowhere to turn for the real discipline problems. I had one boy who did not qualify for a special class (don't ask me why), but he had serious problems. He would start kicking the walls and banging his head against the blackboard until it was a dangerous situation. If I tried to intervene, he would kick me as well.

Luckily the assistant principal and I had an understanding. He would come to the class and take him down to his office to calm down. He got kicked also. The parents were at their wits end, and gave permission for us to do this. We never knew what triggered his outbursts. Calm one minute, violent the next. No help in sight. At the end of the year his parents gave me a hug and a small gift. They did care but they were victims of the system as well.

We did do some teaching in between all the realities of life in a community that harbored drug dealers. We did good teaching, and there was a lot of good learning that went on.

We had a guidance counselor who had all the materials of James Dobson lined up in her office. When I discovered she shared those materials with the parents of the children she was counseling...I just handled things myself. I wondered often if the county approved those materials. In this area they probably did.

Did I tell you about the head lice? Once our principal decided head lice were annoying the office staff and bothering him, so he decreed there would be no more. We had one of the worst outbreaks ever about that time. We spread them out across the room and tried to be casual. Parents came to me asking what to do about the situation. I said go over my head to the county. They did, and the supervisor took care of it at once.

Once I was told by the principal that a mother called and said her son was being bullied during PE time. I told him that the coach and I had discussed it...that her son WAS the bully. He terrorized the other kids. The coach and I had a conference with the mother before she called the principal. We were both told to fix it, and not make the mother angry. An impossible task among many other impossible tasks.

There were great successes along the way. I saw students with severe learning disabilities get the help they needed to be productive citizens. Some with IQs in the 170s who simply could not read but were math geniuses. I know some went to college, I don't know about the others.

I would like for Arne Duncan to come to classrooms like those I saw and worked in and tell those teachers they are inept and failing. That we need merit pay. That the students we loved and taught were to be tested to show if we were good teachers or not. They would have worked their hearts out to please, but reality would set in. Some could not do the tests that were made for one size to fit all.

God did not make children that way. He did not intend for them to be treated like that, like robots.

I know it really does no good to keep posting about the coming destruction of public schools. But it needs to be done.

I never set foot back into a classroom after I retired. I talk to many teachers who are not yet retired. They will not go back either.





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