A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Archive for November, 2009

Dreaded Sunday

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 29, 2009

It’s Sunday and I dread the 5 hours of prepping that lie ahead of me.

Every week I prep, research, scan, print and plan for my classes. Every day, every period, they throw it back in my face. Loud talking, disrespect, non-attention.

Regardless of my efforts to “transition smoothly” and let students know what is expected, they’ve written me off. As soon as I begin to speak they turn off and play the day away. I’ve never approved of busy-work and worksheets, but it seems that is all that this group can relate to.

Discuss? not likely. “Here’s the worksheet. You have 20 minutes to complete it. I will come around to see how you’re doing.” That’s what works with them. That is, if they actually have something to write with.

Post the PSSA essay three days in a row, explain in detail what is being asked, give them notes to draw on then assign it for homework.

Result? 5 kids out of 28 turn something in the next day.

Quality? two excellent, 3 mediocre. The rest are zeroes right up until grade time. Then they rush to complete work they should have done and are shocked shocked! – to discover they will receive a lower grade for lateness.

I’ve become bitter.

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Assertiveness Helps

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 21, 2009

Everyone new to the district is assigned to a building mentor. This mentor is supposed to help us through the maze of deadlines, paperwork, lesson plans and classroom management. I assume they get a stipend for their effort, which is right.

Unfortunately my mentor is a busy woman. Not only does she mentor me and about 5 other teachers, she teaches the Extended Day program Monday – Thursday after school. This means she is available only on Friday afternoons and her time is divided among all of us.

Panic set in when I realized no one had shown me how to enter grades online. There are many other gaps to what I still need and want to know, but when it comes to essentials like this I get really nervous. At this point I have only this weekend plus a few days to get those grades in.

I sent one email to my mentor. She didn’t see my email until days later. Didn’t have time to answer my questions. Finally I went to an Administrator who took the time to sit with me. *whew* It was a lot easier than I feared but still — I would have preferred avoiding the sweaty palms and wakeful nights worrying if I would get things done in time.

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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 21, 2009

When one of my fellow teachers learned my previous experience was in suburban South Jersey, her only comment was, “Culture shock, hm?”

Hoo-boy, yeah. I’m used to kids who are motivated or at least somewhat socialized. Never in my wildest dreams would I expect students to behave the way my present students do – not without the kid being referred to the child study team and getting a visit from a psychologist.

My current mantra is “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” That might help me get through the day but I sure miss Auntie Em.

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Protected: Buy In

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 14, 2009

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Protected: Fight! Fight!

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 7, 2009

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Posted by aphillieteacher on November 4, 2009

I’m exhausted.

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In-Service

Posted by aphillieteacher on November 3, 2009

Bob Herbert wrote an interesting column for the NY Times where he mentioned the importance of attracting talented, intelligent people to education and hiring them in groups so that they could build a sense of comradery and avoid the feeling of isolation so many new teachers feel. editorial here

I know that feeling. Every day I find myself swimming as fast as I can against the current of interruptions, deadlines, student behavior, parent phone calls and papers to grade – just to keep up. No one stops by my room to kibbitz and every day I eat alone in the Faculty Lounge. Aside from the 70 year old janitor, apparently I am the only one who uses that room.

Today we’re having a one day district-wide inservice/professional development. I eagerly signed up for classroom management and noticed that our principal also signed up two other teachers who have difficult classes. I’m hoping to get a little more insight than

  • reward good behavior with candy (no mention of the wrappers left on the floor)
  • don’t take any bullshit. Talk tough (ummmm that hasn’t worked)
  • call their parents. That’ll straighten them out. (Called nearly every one of them. Very little change seen)
  • My boyfriend spoke with a professor he knows at U of Penn about my situation. The man’s advice: “Get out now. If she doesn’t have their respect she’ll never have it and they won’t change their behavior.”

    Today I hope to hear from the District gods. Maybe they can help me.

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