Tuesday, November 8, 2011
GANG MEMBER GROWS UP INTO A TEDDY BEAR
I have been very delinquent in not posting updates on how this school year is going. Although, not nearly as much as I'd like, I have made some headway.
The paperwork necessary to do this job was overwhelming.
I was feeling like this....but now....
....I only feel like this.
I've figured out a lot of the housekeeping issues in running my classroom and now feel more organized, which has really helped my mental state.
I wasn't willing to let my expectations drop and so a lot of students have finally realized that I follow through and some poor behaviors have declined, considerably, because of it.
It's amazing what 6th, and even 7th graders, will do for candy, and "crap" candy at that. Sorry, parents, but my mental health is taking precedence over your child's dental health.
I have NEVER made so many "!@#$-ing" phone calls to parents, in my life. In some cases I have seen immediate results, in a few cases the parents were actually angry with me for calling, but in MOST there was NO result at all. Their behaviors and lack of work completed have stayed just the same. VERY DISCOURAGING!!! But I have to still make the phone calls, because otherwise the parents will complain that they were not informed about their little "angel."
We had student let parent conferences last week with our advisory class. You would think because we ALL have advisory at the same time, on the same day, that these students would be from our own classes, but for some unknown (I can't get an answer as to why it was set up this way....) reason, only 6 out of 18 of my advisory kids are actually from a math class I teach. The rest I have no relationship with at all. So, I can speak to behavior and comments, in general, left on the report card, but if the parents have questions about why their child got a certain grade, they now have to schedule another meeting with that teacher. The parents were not happy about this, and I can't blame them.
The one highlight of conferences was "Tinkerbell's." As Dad and child walked in the door I was very concerned. Here is a big, bald man, all "tatted up" (the ones I could see....naked lady, skull, tear drop under eye, "drop dead" printed on fingers), baggy and dirty clothes, smelling like an ash tray. First shock, he shook my hand, introduced himself and smiled. Then, next shock, I passed him "Tinkerbell's" report card (2 A's, 2 B's and 3 C's) and before I could say anything he smiled at her, patted her head, put his hands over his eyes and wiped away a couple tears. He said, "I am so proud of her. She been through some crap." Then he gave me a synopsis of how last year he finally got custody of "Tinkerbell." Mom is an alcoholic/prostitute who was living on the streets with "Tinkerbell" and she had moved schools 8 times in three years. He got custody of her at the beginning of last school year. She brought up all her grades from D's and F's to C's by the end of the year. "I was a little gang member. I wants better for her. She be all I gots. I tries to help her, but I'm not that smart. She the smart one." He told me how he got into a "rehab" program that found him a job, counseling, parenting classes and they're even going to remove his tattoos for him. "Tinkerbell" was smiling from ear to ear.
This is no longer perpetually on my shopping list or the first thing I think about when the school bell rings. My headaches have gone away and Richard only finds me crying with my thumb in my mouth once a week, instead of every day.
So many of these kids are just plain LOST!
When I taught elementary school I could still see bright futures for even my toughest kids. I still felt like I had a chance to reach them, to have a positive impact on their lives.
With middle school kids...the future is here and unless they are in an intervention program (JAG, AVID, MESA etc...), they are just killing time until they can: quit, get jumped into the gang their Daddy or big brother is in, or get pregnant by their "husband" (this is the term they use these days for boyfriend...ugghhh).
It is very sad and VERY DISCOURAGING!
The people I work with are great. I don't know how they do it year, after year, after year. I will finish out this school year, but for my own sanity and need to feel like I am making a difference, I want to go back to elementary school. I am just not cut out for middle school.