Monthly Archives: December 2011

Passed Out, Quality Reviewed, and Labeled a Grinch

"A hippo wearing a hat!!!!" Oh man, it's just a bunch of boring words website..."

I’ve been overcome with blog-guilt the last few weeks. I feel like I would be lying by omission if I didn’t say that for a full week, I waited until I passed a milestone amount of view hits.

With a sad, sad understanding that many of the random hits on the blog are from elementary students typing “cute animals” into google image search, I nevertheless find it great that a solid group of friends and family read my thoughts on school life. This makes me feel a little guilty when I take a three-week hiatus from writing, so I must get some computer ink down on computer paper tonight. Now where do I start…

Since I last wrote about the dangers of phallic symbols in the classroom, winter has crept up on all of us in the northeast. There’s always a little melancholy feeling when the leafy season has come and gone, yet this year, the warmth has lingered so much that it hasn’t been too painful. This may be one of the reasons that this November-into-December stretch of attempting to control hormonal teenagers has seemed to fly by faster than my previous two.

This is me napping on my cubby.

In thinking back at the hazy, pass-out-for-a-longer-nap-than-you-expected-after-work-everyday three weeks since the end of November, a few moments stand out over the (its sad to say it) monotonous routines of life in 8th grade.

During the first week of December, I recall not even thinking about blogging, reflecting, or even writing down funny student interactions. Our school was undergoing the most highly stressful time of the year – our Mandatory Quality Review.

From the first staff meetings in August, to the day before the superintendent and her colleagues came dropping into our classrooms at random, our administration had been reminding and prepping us about this evaluation and its importance. It was a slowly building crescendo of  warning and preparation, and as teachers, we were expected to be on our A games.

The Quality Review is a big deal, and happens only once every three or so years for public schools in the city. It determines how well the school it doing on every level, and we are expected to have high level lesson plans and spotless classrooms. I’m afraid of going into too many details about the very official review (because I don’t want to create controversy) but in short, the superintendent and her assistants are given the job of grading every aspect of a school’s culture and effectiveness in a two-day visit. You can imagine how fair and easy that always turns out.

You can never be too prepared!

My classes were never seen by any reviewers, and for me it just felt like a lot of preparation with no exciting event. It was kind of like I was Harold Camping for a few days. I can only say that through the eyes of the powerful individuals in charge, our school is rated as still developing and there is need for improvement. I think that as a school we are better than we were rated, but if the rating can help us improve and contribute to us making our environment better, then cool beans.

Another quick thing that I feel the need to vent to the internet world about is a quick recap of how my students are doing. Many of our 8th grade students are STILL not consistently doing their homework. Today, five out of twenty-three students handed in a one page english worksheet about imagery. The absolute worse part about this was that I gave the entire class twenty minutes to complete the homework after a quiz today. Still, only five handed it in on time. After individual conferences, some of the kids themselves (without me forcing them), responded that the class was “irresponsible” and “didn’t seemed like they care”.

They have actually called me the ugly grinch.

After a bunch of phone calls home to remind parents of their students’ sup-par work ethic, I am official a giant Grinch before Christmas. It’s fitting though, because for the last month of so one of their nicknames for me has been “The Grinch”. I’ll take the funny nickname, and honestly, if turning into a meaner, heartless, green monster in the weeks following break will increase their motivation, I’m in.

Finally, another entry that I started to write, and one that most co-workers of mine saw me doing research for, is about school lunch at our school.

Due to the fact that I have never given the names of students, teachers, administration, or the name or location of my school, I think I’m in the clear to write truthfully about the free/reduced lunch that about 90% of our students eat for lunch each day. I came into my “Supersize Me”- like experiment with the same Morgan Spurlock mentality. After the week of only eating cafeteria food, I have all sorts of comments, reviews, and questions about our governmentally subsidized lunch program.

My questions to everyone out there are: Should I continue with my next post? What should my boundaries be? And has anyone read any blogs or stories that would be similar. Please leave  a comment and I’ll post before the end of the year (we are off in two days!!)

And of course, have a happy, safe, and eventful holiday!


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