First Week Rants

Oh hey remember me, I blog around here. Or something like that.

Let's be real for a moment:
I haven't read any blogs on bloglovin in almost a week. Don't get me started on other forms of social media.
There are at least 3 episodes of PLL on my DVR box.
And I have only washed my hair once this week.

Happy first week of school!


Real talk, I hate the first week of school. Don't get me wrong I love being back, interacting with the students everyday brings a great big fat smile to my face and I crave routine. 

But the first week is not routine: our campus runs homeroom 2 hours each day for the first week of school. The rest of the year its two 40 minute periods a week. We do this to go over school wide norms and procedures and don't get me wrong, I see the importance in this...hell I wrote all of the lesson plans for pbis...but only seeing my classes for 29 minutes a day is rough. What can really be done in 29 minutes?

Let me tell you, I talk about my classroom rules.

And then the class leaves and I repeat the rules again, and again, again and again. Until my voice is sore and my feet hate me.


I run a technology shop so for me procedures are my bread and butter, I spend the first two weeks reviewing them. Drilling them into their pretty little heads until they have no choice but to conform to my crazy. And for the rest of the year I generally have very few discipline issues. It's worth it but so exhausting. I just want to fast forward to week three when I give 10 minutes worth of instructions and they spend the period doing something creative, solving real world problems and actually using technology. And I get to really know them. #thatsthedream

While I am on a roll, why don't I share a few more first week rants with you:

one. The students get to make schedule change requests for the next two weeks based on how much they like me, the students in the class and their lunch schedule. The important stuff. So my roster changes literally every hour and our new grading/attendance sucks a big...


two. My class size is way too big. 32 students. 30 computers. Do the math. We are a magnet/comprehensive school and comprehensive students have block english/math so there are fewer electives that aren't magnet electives so they have been packing the classes. I have been biting my tongue until schedule changes even out but CTE (my departments) policy is there are no more than 26 students for safety, they literally only gave me 26 chairs to make that point. Management wise I can handle 30, but I don't even have a place for two extra students to sit.

three. My teacher computer has a virus and literally every time I try to take attendance tells me I am forbidden or has 800 pop ups making different noises. Fun times.

four. I don't have a homeroom, our homeroom is called Social Emotional Learning and I am on the SEL leaders team, cause I can't learn to say no. I was told I could use this time to plan for PBIS stuff since I am the leader of that. But literally every SEL (twice a day) I spend running around campus collecting attendance sheets...you know to help out. I obviously will/do have other duties but since its the first week this is where I am needed. Fine whatever so glad I did my make up and hair. But then I saw a fellow SEL leader making her classroom copies and I wanted to choke her. #proudadultmoment


five. This one is long, you were warned and has basically made me feel like the biggest b*tch all day.

I teach Robotics, Web Design and Career Technology. Since I was hired my principal has expected me to have a team compete in a Robotics tournament each year, last year was my first time. I need to find grant money to do so, hello this weekends to do's. But it is something that is expected of my job, you know that whole other duties line in contracts.

I tried doing this after school but no one showed up once they learned there was work involved. So last year I ran it through the class and just took the 10 best students. It worked out decently well. My plan is to repeat this process this year, but it means I have to teach Robotics incredible fast in order to have them be ready by December. Like a fast that doesn't bode well for accommodations or modifications. But in the last two semesters my students have really surprised me with what they can accomplish with the bar set that high.

This year I have 6 lifeskills students enrolled in my Robotics classes, this was tried two years ago and then stopped because it wasn't a good fit, but we have a new program leader and so here we are again. The capabilities are all over the place and yes there are two teacher assistants present but some of them don't/can't/will never get on the computer and some of them just sit on the floor and play with toys they brought. 

In a highly mobile classroom with lots of equipment this just seems unsafe to me. Seriously I had the easiest day until that class today and I am trying to cover my 25 students, not trip over students on the floor and at least help those lifeskills students try and log in that can. As it is the class is overloaded so if a student is just going to sit there and not log in it irks me. And at this point we haven't introduced the 9000+ legos. 

I understand the need for inclusion into the mainstream classroom but I feel like there needs to be a realistic chance of success and I don't see that with most of them. At the speed in which I teach the class in order to get ready for the competitions I feel like they will never keep up. I could say they do every other project or something but they always end up being completely lost as projects require set up and I only have one project table. Students are constantly moving to get supplies, practice and legos are every where. But if a lego is thrown they all get locked up. end. of story. 

Isn't the point of inclusion so they start to accumulate to the mainstream classroom, see those little successes and build skills to allow them to progress. Maybe I am being quick to judge, unwilling to accommodate or change...all thoughts that have ran through my head. I know the class gets treated like the red headed step child and there aren't a lot of options but I feel like the choices should be made based on the best fit both for the lifeskills students individually (not as a group) and the class as a whole. 


So today reluctantly, I emailed the lifeskills teacher kept my focus on safety and how as of now the class isn't going to be a safe environment given the logistics of class size, range of the lifeskills students abilities and types of materials. I did offer a solution I have another class, Career Tech, with only 15 students and we could make it work but I know the times don't mesh well with their schedule. So we shall see what her thoughts are come tomorrow.

Either way I feel like a selfish b*tch. My students and classes mean the world to me and I want the best experience for all of them but I also can't sacrifice our competitions so I feel like I am stuck.

#endrant

Don't worry I do have positive moments from this week, cause this post took a debbie downer turn quick, but I think I will save those for tomorrow's Five for Friday. A sign I am back at blogging regularly this is not.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday, I figure if we aren't doing this tomorrow we will all be alright...



4 comments

  1. I am totally Team A on point 5. I lived this last year. The other TAs and I just took our kids into another room and did our own projects with them for an entire semester. We started with puzzles. Puzzles are cheap, they're problem-solving, and they can be easily differentiated. Just a suggestion for the short-term. I hope you find a better solution!

    In our staff meeting this week, we were supposed to be making a list in our PLC groups about what we want to see change in our building/district. My group wrote that they wanted tracking. I cringed a little bit as I wrote (I got stuck being the scribe) because I know it's taboo to say aloud to administrators. Everyone thinks it, but I just don't want to admit it aloud!

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  2. The first few weeks are exhausting! I went into meltdown mode last night and crashed hard. After the first really good night of sleep since school started, I finally feel like a human being again:). Hang in there!

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  3. That's right! School starts sooner in your neck of the woods. We start school after the Labour Day long weekend in September. You start mid August, am I right!?
    I can imagine it is all very monotonous for the first couple of weeks. You'll get through it! Hey..! Where's your 2014-2015 New School Clothes Fashion Show? We've got to see some new outfits lady!

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  4. Hey, it's okay to feel that way about the life skills students. I teach autistic support and a few life skills students at the middle school level so I get it. My students do go to a technology class with their peers for inclusion but, it doesn't sound as complicated as yours. They learn how to type and that's about it. I work with the teacher to make realistic goals for them and instead of using the face paced typing curriculum she lets them type sight words on word. It works for my students. I agree having Legos all over the floor for them to play with while the other kids do the normal work is NOT inclusion. See if that teacher has the ability to come up with ways to adapt for the kids. Also, I think you are right to try and put them into the career class. That is much more realistic for these kids. They need to be taught things that can help them after graduation. Good luck and if I can help come up with adaptations if you get stuck don't hesitate to contact me!

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