A Phillie Teacher

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

Archive for December, 2009

Protected: Transfer

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 23, 2009

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Protected: Updates

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 13, 2009

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Protected: A State of Readiness

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 10, 2009

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Protected: Soft Pretzels for Everyone!

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 6, 2009

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White Crackhead

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 6, 2009

That would be me. “J” was unhappy with the paper I handed back to him, so besides calling me a white crackhead, he also told me I’m crazy.

So what. That’s small potatoes compared to the things that happen to me on a daily basis. When our school Enforcer stopped by a few minutes later, I handed him the disciplinary slip and let him deal with it.

Since “J’s” grandmother is white, this should lead to interesting discussion when he’s home.

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The Same, All the Way Across the Ocean

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 4, 2009

I’ve taken interest in reading teacher blogs where I can find them. So far I’ve found two that I utterly love. The first is “Mr. Teacher” which is written by a man in the UK. I love this guy. Please give him a try.

The second is also in the UK (found through a link on Mr. Teacher’s blog) called “To Miss with Love” which you might have guessed is a take on the Sidney Poitier movie “To Sir with Love.”

Both bloggers manage to discuss topics that have become part of my sleepless hours when I’m not preoccupied with scheming up ways to get my own Philadelphia students to stop talking for at least a little while and try to learn something.

These are 12 year olds. They need to learn, but their hormones and social needs tell them to talk talk talk, flirt by stealing something from the opposite sex, and gossip.

My question is: why do we place their desks in social clusters facing each other so that their backs are turned away from the teacher and toward another student???

Here are a few choice quotes from “To Miss” that I particularly liked:

About “group learning”

. . . I said, why not improve discipline and concentration? We could rearrange the tables to face her and she could stand in front of the board. She looked at me with horror. “The pupils are working together, directing their own learning,” she said, her voice almost drowned by noise. Had I not appreciated what was going on?

Hahahahaha Directing their own learning!! My kids do that. Two weeks ago their “learning” was what I called The Rubber Band Wars. After a week of whizzing rubber bands nearly putting people’s eyes out, I called 7 ringleaders’ parents and put a stop to it.

The current craze is paper football – to the point where I am nearly beside myself with those damn paper triangles everywhere. Apparently the boys are “directing their own learning” toward flicking paper triangles across the room toward a classmate’s goal post fingers.

This must be far more important than learning about the Middle East or reading with understanding! What a great idea, letting 12-year-olds direct their own learning. Certainly they have wonderful perspective on essential skills and lifelong learning. (not)

Today I had another “cooperative” lesson with screaming, throwing, wrestling, gabbing, cursing, flirting, giggling self-learners and absolutely longed to make them sit facing forward, independently working on projects and taking personal responsibility for their own learning by quietly listening to a lesson and asking intelligent questions.

When did this grouping/learning partnership idea get started? whose bright idea was this in the first place?

More importantly, where are the statistics that prove that sitting in a group of three other kids will improve learning? Until you show me those numbers I will always believe that this is the worst idea since “open classrooms” back in the 1970s.

I can’t wait for it to be over.

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A quote for educators to live by

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 1, 2009

“Teaching is leaving a vestige of one self in the development of another. And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures.” -Eugene P. Bertin

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Gossipy

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 1, 2009

Mr. P the math teacher and Ms. H were face to face and mad as hell yesterday during lunch. The kids were in the cafeteria and the argument quickly boiled from a clipped, professional I wish you hadn’t done that to an out-and-out shouting in your face with an attitude that said, YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND I AM THE BEST TEACHER IN THE WORLD SO DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION ANYTHING I SAY!! (Ms. H is a first year teacher with strong self-esteem)

Mr. P is your average human with 12 years of classroom experience who doesn’t like being talked to that way. He let loose and just yelled vague stuff that I couldn’t understand, but his meaning was clear.

Man. I just keep my head down and try to tough things out. Fortunately I don’t have screaming arguments with anyone in the middle of the day.

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Boing Boing

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 1, 2009

I teach 12-13 year olds. Their bodies are growing faster than their maturity and you can tell they won’t be terribly coordinated until mind, body, maturity and everything else get synchronized (age 24? ;)

So there’s a big moose of a kid who I can describe only as tall and pudgy who starts every day bouncing around looking for something to knock over or run away from. Bounce bounce bounce up our 6 flights of stairs to the third floor.

Bounce bounce bounce into three kids, ricocheting into some girls, crashing into his desk before falling at last into his seat.

Finally I had to ask him: “Jhalil, How do you have all this energy so early in the day?”

First came the look of suspicion. Why does she want to know that? Then disbelief This must be some kind of joke that I don’t get.” Finally, trust.

There’s a store around the corner from my house where I buy wings. I get 10 wings every day. They’re really good!

ah. Wings. Probably with a soda to wash it all down and just enough to get his engine revving as he arrives at school. Lucky us.

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