Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fun's Over

After being off work since December 22, tomorrow is my last day of the Christmas break. It has been a lovely three weeks off away from the chaos and near-anarchy that is the school in which I teach.

I have bookmarked, and I will be checking it a few times a week for any job opportunities that might pop up. At this point, I would even be willing to give up my tenure by taking a job in a different district. I love teaching, but the problem for me right now is that I don't get to do much of it. I am a cop, a babysitter, a conflict mediator, and an all-around scold; teaching is something I get to do if I'm lucky.

The one thing I plan to do when I return on Monday is to really turn the screws when it comes to calling parents. Calling home is such a time intensive activity, but I have learned from experience that it really does make a difference. I told my students at the beginning of the year that I would call home if I had to warn them about their behavior more than once in a class period. Some days during August and early September, I was making 10+ calls a day during my prep period or after school. After a while, the calls began to diminish as many of my repeat-offender students got the message that I was serious and they quit goofing off. Then, after we came back from Thanksgiving, I started to lose my resolve. We only had a month until an even longer Christmas break, and I have a hard time steeling myself to make those parent phone calls in the first place, so it is pretty easy for me to come up with an excuse not to do it. Sure enough, the behavior in some of my classes, which was pretty much tenuous to begin with, went south in a big hurry.

For this new semester, the stakes will be even higher. I will reacquire the period that was under the tutelage of my student teacher last semester. They ate him alive quite often, and I look forward to regaining control of many of the students in that class, including one student who I do not believe should be in a regular classroom environment, and has an enabling mother on top of it (the dad is out of the picture).

So as you go about your upcoming Monday, keep me in your prayers as I once again face a gauntlet of adolescent angst and belligerence while I attempt to actually teach these students something.

Good Day to You, Sir


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I mortify my offenders by making THEM call their parents and tell them exactly why they are in trouble with me. I stand there and listen while they place the call. If the parents speak Spanish, my bilingual aide sees to it that the offender gives a true report to Mom or Dad.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a 7-12 school. Only one of my 6 classes is 7th grade; the rest are high school. That one is the bane of my day. I bless the one day of the week that I do not have that class. I do not know how you, or any middle school teacher, maintains sanity and enthusiasm for teaching having to face them every hour, every day. You've got more stamina and courage than I do.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

7th graders are a world unto themselves. Everytime I sub for that grade I end up wondering what I was doing.

Darren said...

Three weeks off for Christmas? Awesome!

Polski3 said...


Calling home works somewhat, if you have phone numbers that haven't been disconnected, numbers that are really for the people you seek, parents who can speak english and parents who will do something about whatever it is that you discuss with them about their child.

Like CA.TCHR.GUY, I often have my students do most of the talking to the parent that is called. It is, in a sad sort of way, amusing. The rest of the class gets really quiet and is eagar to hear as much as they can.....

HAve your school admin. adopt the Salzman Discipline plan.....encourage proper behavior, reward classes with little stuff like radio time, issue one warning, then off to time out, send to buddy room, send to office and in-school suspension. Some of Salzman's stuff is on his website. Some of it does work at middle level, but lots of it is geared for a single classroom, not necessarily a teacher dealing with 150-230 students per day like my school does.

Chanman said...

I have tried the thing with having the students call home during class. I have noticed that more often than not, the students relish calling home in front of their friends. They put on a big show as they tell their parent how they did nothing wrong. The students in the audience are amused and yukking it up the whole time.

I stopped doing it this year and decided to make my calls home right at the end of the day or during my prep period.

I do little rewards like radio time or 2 minutes free time at the end of the period plus whatever time they earn on top of it. I dole out additional time in increments of :05 or :10 seconds, and a class usually ends up with 3 or 4 minutes by the end of class.