Tuesday, November 29, 2005


In some ways, I have been amazingly motivated lately, yet in others, amazingly unmotivated. Teaching is a job. Like any other job, it has good parts, bad parts, boring repetitive parts, and paperwork. I've been getting better at the routine parts that used to bog me down. I'm even getting used to the paperwork (a little). But with that easing up, I've given myself more work and been requiring more daily organizational necessities, which begin to be a drag. And every day, are things to prepare for the next day, the next week. Constant improvement is one of the tenets of Teach for America. Onward and upward...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Incredibly Far Behind their Peers

I have been home in Massachusetts since Saturday evening, and it's time to go back to Mississippi. The past two nights I've had dreams about my classroom and my students. In the first dream, they were taking my class away from me and giving it to some old woman teacher with no warning. I wasn't allowed to say goodbye or wrap up loose ends. I woke up in a panic -- how can I contact them? how can I make sure they are still learning? that they like the new teacher? that they know I didn't abandon them? This morning, I woke up with a zillion logistical thoughts spinning out of control -- centers and Mad Math Minute folders and rearranging the room and grading and what to do in centers about the three students I have that have no idea what is going on, who don't undrestand, remember, or follow any directions -- how can I turn them loose on orally explained but mostly "follow the written directions" centers?

I visited four of the first grade classrooms in my hometown. A huge shout out to those teachers -- they're doing a tremendous job. Their students were on task, could explain what they were doing to me, the classrooms were neat, colorful, and student-centered. They also each only had 16 students and rooms at least 1.5 times the size of mine. Their classes showed evidence of team planning and cooperation, their math curriculum was set for them, and they didn't have to turn in any lesson plans. And then there were the students. Not all of them were better in math than my students. In fact, they are probably on about the same level. In reading and writing, they were much more advanced, though. MUCH MORE. They were writing full-out stories about things that had happened in their lives. In sentences, almost correctly spelled, with details and appropriate pictures. They had clearly worked on each piece of writing for multiple days and it showed.

I thought quite a bit about why they might be able to do that when my students can't yet. It certainly could be the teaching. In part, I'm sure it's parental involvement in school and at home. But what really struck me was their spoken language development. I've writen several times about M--, who can't speak. But while he is certainly the worst in language development, most of my students are far behind their Massachusetts peers in SPEAKING skills. First, there is the accent. In Massachusetts, there is little to no accent. We pronounce all of the sounds in words, our vowels are the sounds taught in school. That makes it easy to sound out words such as "this." A Massachusetts child says "this" and breaks it into three sounds: /th/ /i/ /s/. Then, assuming the know the sound-spellings, they write down those three sounds: th-i-s. A Mississippi child says "this," and it sounds like "dih." If they break down the word into sounds and spell those sounds, they would write down d-i, or, in a better scenario (where they know there is a /s/, even if they don't typically say it) d-i-s. The same goes for most ending consonants. In Massachusetts, we say them. In Mississippi, they don't. And it's really difficult for a child to spell something that has sounds they can't hear. In Massachusetts, you can sound out. In Mississippi, you have to memorize.

Second, there is the sheer number of words heard and learned. By age 4, children from poor families have heard more than 30 million fewer words spoken than their counterparts from higher-income communities. An average child growing up in a low-income family receiving welfare hears one-half to one-third as many spoken words as children in more affluent households. At these rates the low-income child would know about 3,000 words by age 6, while the child of the high-income family would have a vocabulary of 20,000 words. My students, then, probably know about 3000 words, whereas the little boy from my hometown was talking to me about Star Wars told me that "Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side." And he wasn't just repeating -- I said, "Seduced? That's a big word. What does that mean?" and he told me, "It sort of means that he was taken over by them. They made him want to be on the dark side." He also told me (in his words) what he "anticipated eating" for Thanksgiving dinner (and then definined as "expected to have for dinner"). My students aren't going to learn that vocabulary at home. And yes, they can learn it at school, but their higher-income peers aren't cooling their heels, either. So while my children learn words that the higher-income children were learning at age four, those MA kids are learning words my children may never know or use.

All in all, the trip home was rejuvenating, but it was also infuriating, because I saw just how far behind my children are starting out. Incredibly far behind...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Please, Give Us Another Chance

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hopes, Dreams, and Aspirations

Friday, November 18, 2005

We Stink

North Bolivar School district was taken over by the state today, in the first takeover in Mississippi since 1997. The state investigates schools with over 50% level-1 priority, and so, being 66% level-1 priority, we were investigated. And now the results are in, and we are being taken over. This means changes at the administrative level but not necessarily the school level.

Read about it in the Clarion-Ledger here: State to take over N. Bolivar or in the Biloxi Sun Herald here: Miss. Education Board to take over North Bolivar Schools

This means that I work in one of the two worst schools in Mississippi, which may or may not put me in the running for the worst school in the entire country. It's a toss up between my school, the Middle School, and maybe a school in New Orleans. Whoa. Whoa! You can now all brag that you know someone who works at the worst school in Mississippi, if not the USA.

I am thankful... that I have a week off!

Today I felt like a real first grade teacher when my students made construction paper cards for their families that had a paint handprint on the outside (decorated to look like a turkey) and some writing about what they were thankful for on the inside. Some were very touching... "I am thankful for my mom and for my dad." "I am thankful to have food to eat." "I am thankful because I have legs to run and play."
And some not so touching... "I am thankful to have a bike." "I am thankful for turkey."
And one... "I am thankful for my dad but he left so I will eat his turkey all up." Taking positive steps towards recovery from loss, I guess.

On the downside, I had to take two kids to the office (separate occasions) for stealing dollar bills from other students. J-- also tried to cheat on a test using a crib sheet, and shoved another boy. I think after vacation I need to have a conference with his mother.

I am excited to go home and to see my family and some of my friends. I am excited to be in a comforatble setting around people I really know. I am excited to observe at the Steward School, an excellent public school in my hometown. I'm excited to go shopping. To go to any bookstore, a clothing store I like, and to someplace that serves coffee without looking at me funny.

I know I'm going to bring a lot of my students and a little of the South with me wherever I go now. My little of the South will be my slowly maturing Southern accent, my current reading book, the The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty, my adoration of hot chips (Red Hot Cheetos, can you believe it?) and catfish and sweet tea. I'm going to braing teacher stuff to prep for the next three weeks until my next break and pictures and maybe a couple little notes from my students. I forgot to bring my camera in today so I didn't get pictures of the turkeys, but it's okay.

I'm thankful to have been placed here. I'm thankful for the continuing support that my Program Director and the rest of the Teach for America staff offer. I'm thankful for my TFA collegues, my friends, the other misplaced souls gouging a place for themselves, however temporary, in the fertile, overworked, over-chemicaled soil of the Delta, and the fertile, often untapped minds of their students. I'm thankful for my roommates and my friends Edubs and Lin, who inspire me to keep going and push a little bit more. I'm thankful for my family and friends from home, who are also there for me, and who keep up with my ups and downs through this blog and the phone (and for those who never read it, I'm thankful for them, too.) I'm thankful that I have a principal who likes me and who I respect -- not always the case in TFA/Delta principal relationships. I'm thankful for the other teachers, tutors, and staff at my school who provide conversation, entertainment, cookies, and occasional aid with discipline. I'm thankful to have my children and I know that every minute I can spend trying to help them is a minute well-spent.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bodily Fluids

Today two kids went home early. M-- peed on himself, and J-- threw up on me (and all over the floor). Awesomeness! We went on to have a great time with manipulatives, though.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Other Red Meat

In other parts of the country, people joke about what they cook up in Chinese restaurants. In Shelby, Mississippi (where 76% of my students live), it's not a joke, it's some poisonous cottonmouth snake killed in the local sewer.

Click here for the article.

Eddie Boone, the city worker, was cleaning streets when he noticed the cottonmouth moccasin. He killed it with a pipe.

"He was gonna get me so I had to get him first," Boone said.

Boone carried the dead snake across the street near James Quality Market to show it off. He said the store owner "came out and asked me if he could buy the snake for a dollar."

To show it off? A dollar? All ready to be cooked?

In another article, it says that the thing the market owner is in trouble for is buying wildlife... Not for having it in the kitchen, and not for intending to cook it up and serve it...

A Curtain of Discontent

More press on the potential state takeover of the North Bolivar School District from the Clarion-Ledger:

Click for the article

Interestingly, Ms. Hayden focuses on Broad Street High School, which is the only school in the district which is NOT a level-one priority school (I believe it is a level four, which is pretty close to a level five, which is the best rating). She barely mentions Brooks.

During the course of her research, she visited my classroom. My students were *silently* listening to a book on what makes leaves change color as we waited for lunch to begin (I had extra time at the end of writing because their Computer class was cancelled.) They were actively engaged in listening, and answered questions in chorus when I asked for it and raised hands when I asked for that. She watched the class line up. She watched them leave. She asked me some questions. I assume she peered in on some other classes in the school and saw students engaged and learning as well. Hence, there are no comments about Brooks. Everyone at Brooks passed the state evaluation, so we're not scandalous news.

She also visited the Shelby Middle School, another level-one priority school -- one that did not have all its teachers (or administrators) pass the state evaluation. And yet, they are hardly mentioned, either.

Granted, the focus of the article is the superintendant. Of the quotes in the story, two are from high school teachers (irrelevant), one is from a high school student (also irrelevant -- it's as though she is looking to discredit the MTC.) Only one deals directly with the actual problem (Shelby Middle School), and then it's not a student, administrator, or teacher, but a parent. And, I'm sorry to have to report, but the parents in this town are on the whole not involved in their childrens' education and have no idea what goes on in the classrooms.

"Our kids are going to be lost," said Waukesha Townsend, whose daughter is a seventh-grader at Shelby Middle. "I don't think the teachers are putting the kids at heart."

Townsend doesn't think teachers have control over their classrooms. And she wonders why higher test scores haven't resulted from various state and federal grants the district has gotten over the past several years for such things as distance learning, French classes and new library books.

Ms. Townsend: the kids need to be taught self-control and focus on schoolwork at home in order for it to be applied in schools. That is a large part of why the kids aren't in control in the classroom (the other part being an administration that doles out punishments inconsitently). And at least one of the seventh grade teachers, my roommate Patrick, most definetely has the children at heart. He moved from Pennsylvania after graduating from an excellent college with a degree in his subject to come and teach at an impoverished district in Mississippi. He didn't do it for the respect, the pay, or the locale. He did it for the kids.

And as for the things that are supposed to have improved the school -- distance learning isn't operational yet, French isn't tested (and it's only taught in the high school), and the library books (at least at Brooks) can't be checked out.

As an AmeriCorps member, I can't comment on a political situation. So all that I will say is that in my direct experience, Brooks Elementary School is on its way to improvement. Yes, there is a long way to go and a change of attitude that needs to happen, but I think our principal is taking us in the right direction despite/in spite of any problems at higher levels of administration.

A final comment about the article, though. Teach for America is presented as a "program that puts college graduates without education degrees through training and help them find teaching jobs." While that is technically true, it is a misrepresentation of TFA's mission (and probably MTC's mission as well). We're not people who wanted to be teachers, forgot to major in education, and needed help finding a job. We are high performers from excellent schools, elementary through college, who are giving two years of our lives to these children and doing our very best to help them.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Beyond the Bland

My father (his own interpretive photo portrait is to the left) has started a blog! I have added the link to the right. I like to think that he was at least partially inspired by me. Anyhow, his blog is about food/wine/cooking (are you surprised?) with brief forays into two of his other interests -- music (references like "Simon and Garfunkel Mix": Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) and conservation (Community Supported Agriculture, which makes more delicious foods). His "Why I Started This Blog" is very well-written and deserves a read.

And it fits with my previous post. As we in TFA encourage excellence in education, he encourages " a revolt against mediocrity" in gustatory pleasures.

One Week Until Thanksgiving and Inspiration

That's right, just one more week. And my goodness, I am looking forward to it. I am grasping at a brief respite from the physical and emotional demands of teaching and living independently. It will be a vacation, a time to relax and be in a place where I am actual comfortable and life is familiar. It will also be a time to regroup my thoughts, though. How can I make my classroom a better place? To that end, I am going to visit some teachers at the elementary school that my little brother and sister went to and try to leech as much wisdom as I can from two more days in classrooms. Interactions with other teachers have been the most helpful thing for me in making improvements, or at least seeing what improvements I could and should be making, even if implementation is a little more difficult.

Yesterday we had a Teach for America professional development day in Helena. It's just across the Mississippi. I have to say that it was a rejuvenating experience. I got to talk to the other first and second year teachers and get some ideas, and I also had a class on vocabulary instruction and a class on math manipulatives that inspired me to teach better.

I am trying to find sources of focus and drive for myself. Last Professional Saturday, one girl recommended the song "The Revolution will Not Be Televised," by Gil Scott-Heron. Although it is an old song, it holds a good message for anyone who wants any sort of revolution (including the fight to end educational inequality): nothing is going to happen until you do it, the point is not your personal glory or self satisfaction, and it's not going to be easy, pretty, or pre-packaged. The song goes in part:

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

I also heard a song by Daft Punk called "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" that reminds me how I am supposed to be working. It reminds me that when it gets easier, that is the time to work at it even harder.

Work it harder, make it better, do it faster, makes us stronger;
More than ever hour after our work is never over.

Finally, I think of the "Mission" that my collaborative had our students read every morning this summer. It was written by Mr. Colin P--, who still teaches in Houston. Perhaps because of the number of times we repeated it (I guess it was only 20 times), it pops into my head in the mornings on the drive to work.

Today is a new day to work towards our mission.
We will stay positive and keep on track.
By working hard and sticking together,
Nothing in this world can hold us back!

Interestingly, Mr. P--'s real class theme is the Olympics, which has the motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (faster, higher, stronger). Another good message.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shake That Thang, STOP

I am not a happy camper when I leave my tea in my roommate's car and I don't have it to begin my morning. Not a happy camper at all.

Two good things that happened:

I put my kids in groups of 6 instead of groups of four. Now, I know the mathematicians amongst you are saying, "But doesn't she have 25 students?" Yes, in fact I do. I have 4 groups of 6 and 1 group of 1: R--. He was incredibly well behaved today, because whenever I gave out group points, he got a point if he was on task as well. Yes, listed on the board with tally marks. And R-- was great. There were no other kids for him to touch, he was right near Mrs. B--, and it worked! For some reason, E-- has also been pretty on track. My two newest issues are A--, who is just constantly out of her seat coming up to me, and C--, who has decided not to be quiet or stay sitting correctly in his seat.

The other good thing that happened in the new groups was right at the beginning of the day. The class is supposed to get out their readers at the beginning of the day and "read" from them. They can read the story I have on the board and then they can read whatever they want. Well, when reminded, the red team got out their readers, all opened to the correct page, and READ TOGETHER. Yes, spontaneous choral reading led by one of my little loudmouths. It was INCREDIBLE.

Nothing else was particularly good. Manipulatives didn't work in math for fact families. And believe me, I modelled and modelled. Oh, well...

Going outside with them was fun. Remember "Ring Around the Rosy"? Well, there's a new one, called "Sally Walker," which my girls showed me today. Basically, they get in a circle around a girl and say:

Little Sally Walker, walking down the street,
Hey, hey, she didn't know what to do so she jumped in front of me.
(The girl in the middle jumps)
She said, go on girl, shake that thang, shake that thang, shake that thang.
(The girl in the middle shakes her booty and gets down.)
(The girl stops.)
She said, pick your partner, pick your partner, STOP.
(The girl closes her eyes and spins in a circle until they say STOP. Then the one she is pointing at gets to be in the middle.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Improving...Schools, Discipline, Gangs

Today after our mandated one-hour (twice per week) grade-level meeting to discuss reading strategies (and nothing else), a handful of the board members came to meet with the teachers at my school. The assured us they were not there to place blame, and proceeded to tell us that other schools had done fine with our resources and that it wasn't that the students could not learn and that we were sending 2/3 of our students on to fourth grade without teaching them how to read. (Which is just not true. I'm sure 2/3 aren't reading on grade level, but almost all of them can read at least a little.) They asked us what the problems at the school were, and what suggestions we had to fix them, although they wanted the suggestions in a memo next week. Some problems listed:

* Using the America's Choice Reading/Writing Program last year
* Edusoft (our testing program) tests are created by administration and include questions on subjects not taught
* District created tests are upwards of 20 pages long, students give up before they start
* Kindergarten and First grade teachers have to grid in their students' answers to the tests, it takes forever
* There is no recess
* Teachers can't maintain discipline because they can't paddle in their classrooms (I still don't think this should be allowed)
* Kindergarten parents can choose to pass on their failing students regardless of performance
* First grade used to have five teachers. Now, with the same number of students (about 75) there are three teachers. All other grades (with about 75 students each) have 4 teachers, and yet, we have to teach them how to read.
* The paperwork is too much (I turn in 20 pages of lesson plans not including the attachments (ie worksheets, game boards) every week).
* Administrators don't listen to teachers. An example: evidently the teachers voted against the Reading Sufficiency Grant, which is the program that is giving us money for books but requiring LOTS of professional development (read: missed teaching time) and two hours of additional meetings per week.)

Some of the problems the board brought up: You never told us this. Nobody ever brought this to our attention. Those letters you wrote and gave to the superintendant? principal? never go to us. We've never heard any of this. You never cc'd us on that email. No, we don't read our emails. But you never approached us about this.


Just on a side note, as in about half of the meetings we've had here in the Delta, we opened with a fairly lengthy prayer, with added encouragements ("Yes, Father Lord! Help us help these children!" "Yes, children!" "Oh, Lord!") from the assembled participants. I bow my head and think it is so different and yet such an integral part of life down here.


One amazing thing has happened, though. I got an additional assistant for the mornings. Her name is Ms. T-- and she is a "foster grandparent" through, I believe, Save the Children. She is totally sweet, and although she can't control a group of kids AT ALL (maybe she'll learn?), it means that I actually did Guided Reading Groups both days this week. She reads a story to one group, Mrs. B-- does word work with another group, Mr. Holder takes his kids, and I take a group. Then we rotate every 20 mins/30 mins. Well, Mr. Holder only takes his kids (Special Ed) for 1/2 an hour, and then either Ms. T-- or Mrs. B-- get a double group for a session or two.

My discipline scores have gone from a fairly consistent 65/145 last week to a 91/145 both days so far this week. I'm sure it will crash as of tomorrow (as I've said before, three days in a row of good days is just not likely), but for now I'm happy.

One student who is acting up again is R--. The thing is, he wants to be a good little boy, as does J--. (J--, my youngest, craziest, totally adorable but uncontrollable little boy, has been doing fairly well for some reason.) R-- is now on a behavior contract. Today he had to flip his card for running and not following directions. He didn't want to flip it two times, so he threw a fit and we had to go cool down. After that he was fine, until he hit another boy, saw me watching, and went and flipped the card without being told. But when it was time to go outside and observe the fall leaves (no, of course it's not recess, what are you talking about?), and the students who lost their privileges had to stay inside, Robert walked out at the end of the line. Evidently Mrs. B-- chased him down the hall. I didn't see it, because I was at the front of the line to reinforce behavioral expectations outside. He came outside and I caught his arm. "You're on orange," I said, "I told you to stay inside." He denied it, cried, and tried to wrench his arm free. The thing is, he is compelled to behave even when he doens't want to. If I count "One, two, three," he does what I say, albeit angrily. He's not a bad kid. He has a behavior problem. So while the other kids played on the swings and monkey bars, I made Robert sit on the grass. I released his arm when I knew he wouldn't run. He bit my hand (gently), kicked at me, threw grass on me, cried angrily the whole time, and called me "that stupid b*tch teacher Mi' Hay'." I ignored him. I didn't punish him further when we got inside. I figured missing recess and watching the other kids play (and vice versa) was bad enough. I can't help it, though, I do love him. He gives me hugs and tells me he loves me, too, when he's not angry at me.

In the afternoon, we finally had the dance we were promised on Friday. All students who had not gotten discipline referrals last week got to go to the dance. There are a few little white kids and a few little Latino/as at the school. Most off them did not join the dancing, except for E--, one of the other new teacher's little girls. It was hilarious. She was boppin' about, doing what I would have consided kindergarten dancing, while all the other little girls were shaking their little booties and getting DOWN. It was actual Pop/HipHop they played, none of that Raffi or the Wiggles stuff. At six years old, my little girls can cut up the rug. My little K-- was dancing like a little maniac as well. The boy could actually do that spinning on the floor stuff and those little girls got down lower than I would have. Their gyrations were a bit disconcerting... But E-- was a fast learner, and by the end of the 30 minute dance, she was shaking her little hips with all the rest.

Mrs. M--, a third grade teacher, is the mother of the only male Americorps Tutor. He works in the morning reading program and flirts with me. He is pursuing his master's in Early Childhood Development and hopes to open a daycare. Mrs. M-- thinks it's hilarious that he flirts with me and urged me several times to "go shake it up with Mr. R-- out there."


New Delta-isms:

"Alright." -- an appropriate response to a compliment, an inquiry of "How are you?" etc. Must be drawled.
"Where you be at?" -- "Where are you?"
"Who that is?" -- "Who is that?"
"What that is?" -- "What is that?"


At home in Clarksdale:

My friend Edubs brought an article in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger to my attention. It is about gangs in my home base of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Evidently we have an extremely high concentration of gangs, and they are affiliated with Chicago gangs.

"The Delta's connection to the Windy City runs from the 1920s through the 1960s, when thousands of African Americans made their way from the Delta to escape the Jim Crow South and find better lives on Chicago's south side.

One of Chicago's exports to the Delta has been its street gangs. Alexander said visiting relatives bring with them the bylaws, codes and tricks of the city's street gangs, which are quickly adopted by some Mississippi youth. What blossomed was a trade: drugs from Chicago for guns from Mississippi."

The article goes on to say that Clarksdale was one of the most violent cities in the nation, per capita, in 2001, but that violent crime has dropped drastically since that point and the insitution of some new programs.

But by far the most interesting part of the article were the gang names (there are supposedly up to nine gangs, but only six names were listed):

Vice Lords
Mafia Insane Vice Lords
Conservative Vice Lords
Unknown Vice Lords
Gangster Disciples
Black Gangster Disciples

Original, hmm? And, I'm sorry, but the "Conservative Vice Lords"??? The "Mafia Insane Vice Lords"??? What???

You can read the article here: "Clarksdale Battles Gang Problem"

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I Passed!

Friday morning I got the results from the state visit -- I passed! In fact, everyone in my school passed, which means that all of the teachers are capable of being... well, passable teachers. Actually, everyone does really work hard at Brooks. Anyhow, I'm proud of us. Also relieved, since this means no more (I think...) state visits.

Moments from Thursday and Friday:

I told S-- to flip her card and she started to argue with me. So I went and flipped it two times. The class went silent because S-- never gets in trouble. Later in the day, S-- fabricated a story that worried me a lot. When her mother came in, the first thing she asked was, "Did S-- get in trouble today?" She knew, right away, that it was a story and that S-- had made it up to get my sympathy instead of feeling like she was in trouble.

Friday M-- came in dangling a long strand of plastic from between her front teeth. It had gotten stuck there at breatfast when she had used her teeth to open her fork bag. I couldn't pull it out. She and I tried so hard we made her gums bleed. She remained a totally good sport about it as Mr. Robey cut most of it off and managed to yank the rest out.

T-- said a complete sentence. It really struck me because he rarely talks at all, and then it's usually mumbling. But he clearly said to J--, "J--, I'm putting your marker back in your desk."

People have begun to use the word "please" in class. As in, "She's giving out points! U--, will you PLEASE get in Listening Learning Position?" It doesn't work yet and I don't think they really mean it, but it's the second step. (The first step was getting them to say "Thank You.")

It was totally silent while we played "Circle the Sight Word." Everyone participated and paid attention. Whoa.

The last thing we did on Friday was vote for the student of the week. J--, my newest student (got him on Tuesday) won because he shared his markers. Woo-hoo! I gave him a mini pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

State Observations.

It went poorly, in my opinion. Mrs. B-- seems to think both observations (reading on Tues, math on Wed) went fine, but I don't. My children were not at their best, by far. They were not all engaged. They were not all getting it. Today (math) they were loud. Yesterday (reading) the activity was a little too hard, and they whined about it and needed lots of help (although most of them mostly got it in the end). Today we did the greater than/less than sign. It was just too loud and not totally productive noise.

At Cornell, I couldn't even do schoolwork with music on. And yet I'm supposed to do my job every day with 24... no, as of today, 25 students talking?

There were four adults in the room -- me, Mrs. B--, the evaluator, and Mr. H-- (the inclusion teacher). And the children were WILD. Even though I will admit to prepping them. And then F-- fell asleep, R-- loudly refused to do work, everyone called out, and, to top it all off, J-- pretended to be drugged. When I went to tell her to sit up, she lolled her head to the side and started to slip onto the floor. Mrs. B-- took her to the office, where she perked up when Mr. R-- asked her if she was on drugs and then told her he would be speaking to her parents and if they didn't "tan her hide" he would.

Then the interview was abbreviated because of professional development (using the DIBELS reading assessment website.) I really wanted to say more, tell her everything, do well. I really hope I pass, but I am not at all sure because I did not think my lessons were up to par.