Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More tidbits I keep forgetting to share...

The month of time from Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. So, every morning for our Read Aloud, I've been reading a book from my Latino collection. There are many Spanish words for the babies to learn, and they love it! So far, we've been sticking to one book for the whole week, which was how the babies wanted to do it. So far, we've read Abuela, Manana Iguana, The Cat Who Came for Tacos, and this week's book, Elena's Serenade.

I just realized that I started reading Manana Iguana before Hispanic Heritage month officially started, which is why we're up to four books already. Anyway, one of the points of telling you all this is that the babies are sooo into learning Spanish words. About three days into HH month, I was getting all the babies to the carpet and settled for our story, and I hear J.L. say, "Delicioso!" (I hope that's spelled correctly.) I was cracking up! We've been trying to use the words we know whenever appropriate. We start with "Buenos dias!" when they walk in, "si" and "no" when we remember, as well as "gracias." Then there are some words that are especially fun for them to say. Tortuga (turtle) came from Manana Iguana, and they just love to say it. They also learned rabbit and snake, but both words are escaping me right now, sorry. Of course, they learned pinata and fiesta, which are both a big part of that story. They know that at the end of HH month, we will be having a pinata at our fiesta. Culebra! That's snake. Maybe rabbit will jump into my head, too. Wait for it... Conejo! Ah...I might be a little slower at flipping through my mental roledex, but eventually I find what I need. (God, it sucks getting old!!)

We also practice some Spanish when we do our Calendar Time. I've always done my calendar this way with my babies. We count the days of the month in English, but then we do 1-10 in Spanish, Italian, French, and American Sign Language. We use ASL every morning when we do our ABC Book, too. As we say each letter, we also make the sign. We learn some basic words, too, like Mom, Dad, brother, sister, yes, no, please, thank you, and so on. We really get excited about how it's our "secret language," and the babies love trying to finger spell words. Sometimes, I will test them on their Treasure Words (the sight words from our reading program) by spelling them in ASL. Yes, I know, they're sight words, but the kids love to try and figure out what I'm spelling. My absolute favorite thing to show them is the "I love you" sign. We learned it today, as a matter of fact, and the babies could not stop flashing it at me ALL day. I loved it!!

I always make sure they know to explain it to their Mommies and Daddies as soon as they get home so 1) they can flash it to them! and 2) so their parents don't think they're flashing gang signs of some sort. Trust me, some of them would surely think that. Hell, some of them might actually be proud of that.

I was planning on sharing some more cute stuff about the babies, but I'm suddenly freezing. Naturally, I have all my windows and doors open, to catch every bit of the delightfully fresh air coming in, but I'm suddenly feeling cold. Hmmm, maybe it's the capri pants and the flip-flops I'm still wearing? Oh, wait, I just glanced at the TV, and because the news is on, there is a time and temp stamp in the corner. It says 55. Yay!! This is MY kind of weather!! I'm going to sign off and go turn the oven on. I feel a batch of cookies coming on!!!! Man, I'm in a good mood! I almost forgot what that was like.... I'm going to put on my jeans and a sweatshirt (yay!) and get to baking. Have a great night!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Memorable Monday

I mentioned Thursday that I had a rough morning with three boys, one who was punching people all morning. This is J.F., who I think I'll call Twin Boy. (He and his twin sister are both in my class.) I just went back and reread all the posts from this school year so far, and I see I haven't written about Twin Boy yet, so here goes...

Twin Boy has had many "issues" since school started, the most troublesome one being his aggression. The very first day of school, he hit me at least three times. And, for seemingly no real reason. The first time, I simply asked him to find his name tag. He kind of grunted, then punched me. WTF?! It happened a few more times, like when I asked him to line up, and when I told him he had to wait his turn for the bathroom. Naturally, I spoke to Mom immediately about this. I had one of his older brothers a few years ago, so I'm familiar with the family. I believe there are about 9 kids in the family (all with J names!) and the twins are the babies. I've been really struggling to figure out how many of these issues are simply due to being babied for the past 5 years.

Over the next few days, Twin Boy hit me several more times, as well as many of my babies. I spoke to Mom every morning about it. Mom strikes me as being a bit "slow," (I promise I'm not trying to be funny) which I noticed several years ago when the brother was in my room. The father of this brood is about 70 years old, Mom is probably younger than me, so it's an interesting coupling, to say the least. I wish I knew the back story there.

The following Monday, Twin Boy had an explosive episode in which he beat the living crap out of his sister. He was kicking and punching with both hands and both feet. I literally lifted him up off her, and then removed him from the room. I went straight to the office and called home, hoping someone would be able to come get him. Dad answered, I explained what happened, and filled him in on what has been going on for the past week. He immediately started telling me about how Mom babies Twin Boy, and doesn't discipline him like she should. He told me he was from Nigeria, and he believed in spanking his children, but Mom doesn't do it like she should. Then he says, "I'm giving you permission right now to spank J anytime he needs it!" I almost laughed. Trust me, he is FAR from the first parent who has told me the exact same thing. Not that I haven't thought about smacking a few of the babies on the bottom over the years, but I would NEVER do it. Besides, I know that if I did, the very parent who gave me permission to do it would be suing me faster than I could blink an eye!!

Anyway, Dad said Mom wasn't around to come get him, but he wanted to speak to Twin Boy. I don't know what he said, and Twin Boy didn't utter a word into the phone. The next day, he had a MUCH better day. Wednesday, again, a fairly good day. Thursday morning, Dad brought the twins to school, and asked how Twin Boy has been doing since Monday. I happily told him that the past two days were much better. He says, "Ah, that's good. I've been whooping him in the morning before school." Jeez Louise!! NOT what I wanted to hear. Hopefully, after a "good report" that morning, Dad stopped with the morning beatings.

So, over the past four weeks, Twin Boy has had some bad days, even more really awful days, and a couple of good days. Thursday, obviously, was one of those awful days. When I called home, Dad said he would send Mom to come get him. That was at 11:15. Nobody ever showed up. Around 12:30, I knew I was reaching the end of my rope with him, so I asked Ms. W. if he could sit in her room for a while, which gave me the respite I needed, especially because I was still dealing with the other two boys. (This may be a good time to remind everyone that I have NO ASSISTANT again this year. Ugh!) I was hoping to talk to Mom and/or Dad the next morning, but neither of the twins came to school that day. Truth be told, I wasn't that upset about Twin Boy being out, but I missed Twin Girl. She has her own "issues," (for another post!) but she's generally a very sweet little girl. I guess Dad decided to keep them home after what happened the day before. I just hope it wasn't a day filled with spankings....

Today, Twin Boy started out a little rough. Before lunch, he punched two boys. Then, during rest time, he absolutely would not be still or quiet, which is annoying enough, but I was trying to DIBLE some of the kids. Finally, I had him come sit on the floor next to me, and warned him that he needed to be absolutely quiet because I was testing at my desk. Believe it or not, he was actually pretty good. Granted, it was only for about 10 minutes, but still, not bad! After I finished the last test, I had Twin Boy come stand next to me and have a little chat. We decided that he could be quiet when he tried, since he just did it, and that maybe he could try to be really quiet for the remainder of rest time. We talked about why he needed to be still and quiet, and how it was hard for his friends to rest when he was disturbing them, etc. I wasn't really sure how much of what I was saying was sinking in, but I hoped for the best. I made sure we only had a couple minutes more of rest time so that he could be successful at his first attempt. He was!

After going to the bathroom, we started our Math Centers. Usually, there is a LOT of fighting during centers because Twin Boy doesn't particularly like to share all the time. This is when he normally does most of his hitting. Today, he chose the center he wanted, and actually played nicely for a quite a while. The fact that I was sitting next to his center may have helped, but I was still impressed with him. Even better, the two boys he was playing with noticed how nicely he was playing, and said so! It was great!! This was done with absolutely no prodding from me. It came directly from the babies, which just made me beam with pride.

We continued our afternoon without any problems, and before I knew it, it was time to go home. I was calling tables to go to the coatroom, and suddenly one of the boys who had been playing with Twin Boy earlier again made mention of what a good afternoon he was having, and told me he wanted to give him a high five! I almost fell off my chair. It was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. Then, naturally, ALL the babies wanted to give him a high five. Too cute! So what if we were going to be late for dismissal today, Twin Boy needed to get his props!! What a great way to end the day. Especially a Monday! Maybe it's a sign of what the rest of the week will bring...

That's when it occurred to me that I needed to thank all of my longtime readers/friends who must have been praying for me all summer. I know we all were hoping I would find myself at a new school this year, but I'm just as happy to be having such a great year so far, even if I am still at the Hell-Hole. (Good Lord, I hope I didn't just jinx myself!!) I think I'm really going to enjoy the 2008-2009 school year :) Just to be safe, feel free to continue those prayers ;-)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Try this...

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

Advanced

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 73% Expert!


You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.


Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!



For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.


Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

BTW, I'm totally blaming the 73% on the fact that I got home at 5 this morning, after working for 12 hours, then was up again by 10. I'm too tired to think straight!

OK, I just went to the answer key just to see what I did wrong, and now I'm just annoyed with myself!! I got two answers wrong, and one seems like a trick question. Take the quiz, and tell me how you do.

Whew...

Right after last night's whine, um, I mean post, I figured, what the hell, I'll watch the elimination night of Dancing with the Stars, since I missed it Wednesday cuz I was working at the bar! So I get it all set up, start watching, and then I think to myself, I bet someone will come in now because I want to watch this. 7:15, 7:30 go by, no one comes in. Part of me is actually glad so I can watch TV, but most of me is getting even more anxious. Then, lo and behold, when there was only 5 minutes of the episode left, a couple of women come in at about 7:45. (Little side note: I love watching ABC shows online the next day because there aren't any real commercials and you can watch an hour long show in about 40 minutes!) By 8:00, all hell broke loose! The women were part of a BIG group that was celebrating a birthday, and then a bunch of other people came in right after them. So, by 8:30, I was swamped. It was great. Turned out to be a great night after all. And, as an added bonus, I have $200 more in tuition money. Yay!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not good...

It's now 7:00 PM, I've been sitting here at the bar for over two hours, and not one single person has walked in here yet. What the hell is going on!!?

So sad...

You will be missed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Look what we made...


I totally stole this from Michaele over at Kindergarten's 3 Rs. However, when I read her post yesterday, I couldn't see the pictures because I was at school, so we just made them the way I thought her's looked. We finished ours today, then when I got home, I checked her blog and could see ours are not the same at all. But, I think they're still really cute! Her class made fall apple trees, but we just made Fall Trees, hence the leaves that are also on the ground. The babies loved making these. I'm sure they would have loved it even more if their anal-retentive freak of a teacher would have given them a little freedom. I didn't let them do the fingerprinting by themselves because I was afraid they would "ruin" their trees. I actually held their little fingers, dipped them in the paint, and pressed them down on the paper. Yes, I know, I'm so mean!! But, look how cute they turned out!! I did let one of the babies attempt to do her own, but I had to literally sit on my hands to not jump in and help her. I don't think her tree is as cute as the others. (Did I just say that out loud?)

Those of you have been reading this blog for a while will undoubtedly remember my darling D.J. from last year. For those not in the know, he was probably the most difficult child I've had to deal with in my nearly 20 years of teaching. Well, his little brother, also D.J., is in kindergarten this year. Thankfully, he's in the other room. However, I've had to deal with him in one way or another every one of the past 17 school days. He makes my D.J. look like an angel! Today, he went too far, and I lost it. He had been acting up all morning, and all through lunch. Ms. W., the other kindergarten teacher, is a bit lax with her children, and even though it bugs the living shit out of me, I haven't said or done anything about it. Today, however, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. D.J. was a beast all through lunch, throwing food, getting up out of his seat, running around, etc. She finally tried to get him and three other boys to sit and behave properly, but it was pretty much a lost cause. She took the rest of the class with her when lunch was over, but left the four boys with a parent who was there helping her. Naturally, they starting acting up immediately, and completely ignoring this mom. Mrs. Meanie wasn't going to stand by and do nothing, so I went over to reprimand them. D.J. basically just looked at me and laughed, then continued to act up. I warned him that if he didn't straighten out his act, he would be staying with me while the rest of the class went to gym.

I then left with my class, walked up to the third floor to art, and ended up coming back down with two of my beasts. I mean babies. One had been punching people all morning, and did it again on the way to art, and the other wouldn't stop pushing people on the stairs, and ended up causing about 6 boys to fall, like dominoes, on the stairs. They ended up falling into ME, almost making me fall down the entire flight of concrete stairs!! Needless to say, I was NOT happy. I stopped in Ms. W.'s room, and saw that she had kept those 4 boys back from gym. They were supposed to be sitting with their heads down, being quiet, but of course, they were talking, playing, generally doing whatever they wanted. She seemed oblivious to their behavior, which really was starting to piss me off. I told them all to be quiet, and little D.J. proceeds to pick up two pencils and starts banging on the table!! I wanted to "bust my foot off in his ass!" (One of my favorite Englewood-isms!) I told him I was taking him to call his mother, and he just smirked. We started toward the office, and one of the assistants that was in the hall asked if I was looking for his mom. Mom apparently just picked up the little brother from preschool, and had just walked out. Ms. S., the assistant, literally ran out the front door to try and catch her. In the meantime, D.J. starts with the crocodile tears. (A word to the wise: That only manages to piss me off even more. Pass it on.) Ms. S. just missed catching Mom. She then told me that this morning D.J. had been banging on a door, and when Ms. S. told him to stop, he stuck his tongue out at her! Ugh! Then, another woman spoke to him about the same thing, and he stuck his tongue out at her.

All this time, D.J. is still wailing. We went back to my room to get his phone number, and he just wouldn't be quiet. There's NOTHING I hate more than fake crying, simply for the show. Especially when it's LOUD! He was being incredibly defiant. I told him to sit, he refused. I told him to be quiet, he got louder. He was so loud, the class coming from the library heard him. One boy suddenly stopped at my door, and lo and behold, it was his big brother. I explained what had been going on and why his brother was crying, and big brother started to lay into him. It actually was hard not to laugh at him because he was trying so hard to sound like a parent. "Stop all that noise, boy! If you want to cry, I'll give you something to cry about!" He knew the crying was fake, and told D.J. just that. In the windup, he went to the office and called his mom for me. He came back and said D.J.'s dad would be coming to get him.

About a half hour later, Dad knocks on my door. Now, this man is also my D.J.'s father, but I never met him once in the year his son was with me. I let him know what's been going on today, as well as the past three weeks. I've decided that this year, I wasn't going to hold back at all with my parents. They need to know exactly what their children are doing, even if they then want to deny it. ("Not MY baby!") I gave dad every detail of what I've witnessed and dealt with first-hand. I told him that no matter how D.J. is allowed to act toward the adults in their home, he was NOT going to act that way at school. He IS going to be respectful, he IS going to listen, he IS going to do what he's told, and so on. Of course, Dad is nodding his head, saying, "You're right, you're right, Mrs. L.!" and acting outraged at his son's behavior. Was it just an act? Who knows. My guess is yes, because if he really believed his child should be acting a certain way, then he would have taught him that at some point in the past 5 years, would he? Whatever, I'm just glad he showed up. At least that's a step in the right direction, as far as I'm concerned. I told them both that if he didn't start showing some respect to Ms. W., I would be transferring him to MY room. D.J. didn't like that one bit! I'm curious to see how tomorrow goes. God knows, I don't want to take him, but I don't want to make empty threats, either. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

Other than all the BS I had to deal with thanks to these boys, the rest of the day was pretty darn good. I loved making the trees with the babies!! I know, I know, I should have let them do it alone, but I'm really happy with the way they turned out. I'm moving them to the hallway tomorrow. My little buddy, D.B. had yet another great day. He very nearly made me cry this morning. He actually said, "Mrs. L., I gotta pee." I realize this seems like a bizarre reason to get teary-eyed, but up until now, he has NEVER said my name. It's been all grunts, pointing and banging on me. The only word he's uttered to this point has been, "pee." The first week of school, he would just burst into tears when he had to go to the bathroom. It would take me several minutes to figure out he had to go to the bathroom. I starting telling him that I couldn't understand him when he cried like that, and all he had to do was say he had to use the bathroom. He could only manage to get out "pee," but at least it wasn't crying!! Other than that, he literally has not said one single, solitary other word. At some point this morning, I felt someone banging on me (He's FAR from the only one who does it!) and then I heard, "Mrs. L., I gotta pee." I looked down, and saw that it was D.B., and I swear to you, I got teary-eyed!! He didn't say another word the rest of the day, but that's ok by me. In my opinion, today was a break-through.

As much as I'd love to keep boring you (haha!), I need to get my act together for tonight. I'm working at the bar, and we're having our third Dinner, Dancing and Drinks event. It's going to be a busy night, so I think I'm going to try and nap. I ended up working last night (maybe I'll bitch about why later) so I'm wiped out. Especially after the day I've had! Maybe I'll fill my tub, and nap in there. Hmmm, sounds heavenly....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bits and Pieces...

As we were walking out of lunch, I was my usual cranky self because we have about 30 seconds to line up, then walk up 4 flights of stairs to get to gym, and the babies all want to hug me cuz it's been 10 minutes since they've seen me (I love them!!) but they all have "lunch hands," so I'm pulling them off me like they have the plague, all while crabbing at them to "get in line, please!" As we were speed walking toward the stairs, D.U., who is this week's boys' line leader, looks at me with the big, goofy smile, and says, "I LOVE SCHOOL!" I haven't a clue what brought that on, but it instantly put my crankiness to an end. I smiled right back and told him, "So do I!"

As we were walking up the stairs, my buddy D.B. was having a little trouble staying in line while we were on the stairs. He was in line near E.B., who is the little boy who was at the therapeutic school last year. They seemed to form this instant bond, which I'm guessing is because E.B. feels comfortable around D.B. since he's probably a lot like the kids at his old school. So, D.B. was having trouble staying in line and would randomly move in and out of the line, in whatever spot he felt like. As we were going around a corner, I heard E.B. say to D.B., "Go ahead, Little Man!" and when I looked, he had stopped and was bending forward, sweeping his arm in front of him, letting D.B. step in line in front of him. My heart just melted!!

When we reached the 4th floor, I was leaving my babies in the hands of Mr. M., the gym teacher, and of course they all had to turn around and say good-bye to me. E.B. yelled, "Bye, Mrs. L.!" then blew me a kiss! So sweet!

I had to test a few more babies from the other kindergarten today. They are all her newest students, which is why they weren't in the computer last week when I did the other testing. Anyway, here are a couple of cute sentences from the test:
happy - Happy mean when you so excited! (that's not a typo, that's how it was said)
rained - When it rain, it get real dark!
happy - Happy is when you smile real big and you get so excited.

Back to lunch, the kids were served cold lunch today, which means peanut butter sandwiches. Not the kind you're thinking about, made with actual bread, but these pre-made little things made with graham crackers, with some artificial pb&j smeared in between them. Don't get me wrong, I love them! They're more like a snack or treat than a lunch. Some of my kids didn't know what to make of them. Eventually I got them all to at least take a bite, which then was followed by happy eating. They also had oranges, which I actually peeled for some of them today. I don't usually do that, because then I'd be there for 20 minutes peeling oranges. I show them all the first week of school how to use their spork to break the skin, and how to peel it themselves. But, today I was worried that some of them wouldn't eat anything for lunch, since all they got was the peanut butter bar and the orange. That's it. Oh, and milk. Not a great lunch, by any means. Although, I tried to sell my babies on the idea that it was a "fun lunch" today, all treats! Good thing they're only 5!

The reason for the cold lunch is that they are doing some work in the lunchroom. I'm as shocked as you are! There was some damage to the walls, and there was peeling paint and plaster. They broke through most of the walls on Friday afternoon, right down to the bricks, and when I came in today, I saw that they had put up some kind of paneling over the walls. It actually looks really nice. And, it will be sooo much cleaner and healthier for the kids. Unless, of course, they enjoy a little plaster dust in their ravioli!

One last little funny. One of my babies fell asleep at quiet time, and kept right on sleeping as we did our calendar and set up our math centers. I was going to wake her, but I figured that once the kids starting playing with the unifix cubes on her table, they would wake her up. Well, not so much! She slept and she slept. About 15 minutes into centers I looked over and commented to the other girls at the table, "Wow, E. is still sleeping?" and Little Miss V. said, "I wish I knew what she was dreaming about! Maybe it's The Little Mermaid." Naturally, it's so much cuter when you actually see the facial expressions that go with the words. They are just so precious!

OK, I need to get your opinion on something. I've always identified my babies by only their initials, obviously to retain their anonymity. I don't know about you, but I'm having a lot of trouble keeping track of them as I write out their little stories. Do you think it would be wrong to use their first names? Only first names, not last. And, I've never identified my school, so I think their identities would still be safe. What do you think? I think it'll help me when I write, and it'll help you keep track of the babies I write about. Please leave me a comment and let me know if you think that's crossing an ethical line. Thanks!!
Youth is a perpetual intoxication; it is a fever of the mind. ---François Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Holy Cow!

Go, Cubs, Go!
Go, Cubs, Go!
Hey, Chicago, whatta ya say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!
Sorry, I know this isn't school related but, YAY!!! 2008 NL Central Champions!! Woo hoo!


OK, my Englewood must really be showing, cuz I kinda dig this remix version from last year...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thanks, Former UN!

I miss my former upstairs neighbor very much, but luckily for me, she still checks in here once in a while. You must (or as the Big Cheese would say, muss) go to yesterday's post and read her comment. She made me laugh out loud, as usual! I miss you, Former UN!! BTW, I'm so happy to see you are no longer unemployed. Please fill me in via email!

So, as I was driving here to the bar this afternoon, I saw that the crack in my windshield has already started to spread. Oh, joy! Big Cheese better be ready to endure my wrath on Monday morning! Like I said, he was already gone Thursday when it happened, but I saw him Friday morning in the parking lot, and told him what happened. I asked him what the Board was going to do about it, and his answer was, "I have no idea." Shocking, right? So I told him, "You need to find out, because not ONE cent is coming out of MY pocket to fix this, and it WILL be fixed." He pretty much hid from me the rest of the day, which is even funnier because his office is across from my room. Dork! [On a side note, I called the central office before I called the police on Thursday, and after being on hold a total of 20 minutes, and being transferred no less than three times, I was basically told "Tough luck." They are not responsible for the actions of the students. If my car had been damaged by CPS property, they would fix it. I reassured them my car was parked on CPS property, but they said that's not enough. So, maybe if those little shits had thrown, say, a desk from their classroom at my windshield, THEN the board would pay for it to be replaced. See how that works? Good, now explain it to me!!]

My dad did call a friend of his in the business to get me an estimate, and it could be worse, I suppose. His friend said he would fix it for me at cost, which would be about $275. But, when I mentioned that I was going to try and get school to pay for it, he said they'd have to pay full price, which made me laugh a little. A couple of women at work asked me at the end of the day what Big Cheese told me about it, and I told them "nothing." They were in agreement with me about how I shouldn't have to pay anything. They think Big Cheese should figure something out, and of course I agreed. One said that maybe he would pay for it himself. Ha! Or, that maybe he would offer to split it with me. I told them, "I don't care if y'all take up a collection for me, I'm not paying for this!" (sometimes my Englewood comes out :) )

The woman who said that is actually our security guard (and I use that term VERY loosely!) and she feels really bad, since she's the one who eventually shagged the kids out of the lot. But, she can't be everywhere at once, so I don't hold her the least bit responsible. In the morning, her post is the front of the school, not the back where the lot is. We obviously need more than one person doing security. And, no offense to Mrs. T., but someone else who isn't a middle-aged, slightly overweight woman in her sixties! She's said herself, a million times, "I ain't chasin' after no kids. Let 'em run!" God forbid a fight breaks out on the third floor, cuz she ain't goin'! I know it sounds like I'm picking on Mrs. T., but I'm really not. I really love her as a person. As a security guard, not so much. Unless a security guard is supposed to sit and do word searches all day. Then it would be my bad!

On a different subject, I finally took the plunge and assigned my babies their numbers yesterday. I tried to hold off because I figured I'd be getting a few more kids, but hell, it's three weeks in to the school year. Maybe this is it? Anyway, some of them already remember their number, which is huge for me! I use their numbers for everything!! First and foremost, it makes putting their papers and things in alphabetical order without any effort, because I just do in numerical order. Easy peasy! I have them write their numbers on everything, as well, because it helps me identify who the things belong to a lot easier. Most can write one or two digits, even if they can't write their name yet. We use our numbers for lining up, picking centers, raffles, jobs, you name it. I keep a can with numbered craft sticks in it, with the number down in the can, so I can't see it. Then I can randomly draw numbers for jobs or whatever. Then, that stick goes in the used can, so everyone gets a turn, before switching cans and starting over. I love that I can remove myself from the process completely in their eyes ("I didn't pick him, the sticks did.") even though sometimes, I will say a number that is different from what is on the stick. Yes, I know I'm a cheater, but sometimes I need a specific child for something. Naturally, because I assigned numbers, I will be getting at least one new student next week. Oh, well...

Oh, another funny/cute thing I wanted to share from my DIBELing last week. One of the boys from the other room was with me, and I could see in a matter of moments that this little one was very bright. The first page of pictures for the phoneme test has a tomato, a cub (that is a freakin' bear up in tree!) a plate (even though everyone else would call it a dish!) and a picture of a criminal in an old-fashioned black and white striped prison suit, complete with the hat, but we tell the kids it's "jail." (I can't tell you how many of them, upon being told "this picture is jail," say, "Oh, my daddy/uncle/mommy is in jail." So, so sad...) Anyway, as I was trying to give this boy the test, he wanted to just keep talking to me about the pictures, which would have been great, if I wasn't trying to administer this ridiculous test which is TIMED! So, everytime he tried to tell me something, I had to cut him off. I felt terrible. Well, the last of the 4 questions for each page requires the child to tell you what sound a certain picture begins with. For this page, the last question is, "What sound does plate start with?" He correctly told me "/p/", but then points to the picture and says "Cymbal starts with /s/" At first I was thinking "WTF?" but then I looked at the stupid drawing of the plate, and it does indeed look like a cymbal. It's even almost gold in color. What a little smarty pants!

I wish I didn't have this pounding migraine, which is now on Day 7, because the bar is empty, and I have lots of time to bore you with Hell-Hole stories, but I really need to stop looking at this computer screen because it isn't helping my head. Time for some caffeine, I think. Have a great weekend everyone!
In the first place God made idiots; that was for practice; then he made school boards. ---Mark Twain

Oo, one last thing. (Man, do I have ADD or what?) Last week, I added a ticker to this blog to count down the school year. It's at the bottom, though, so I bet none of you have even noticed it. I'm working on fitting it in somewhere else, but for now, if you're the least bit curious, scroll allllll the way down to the bottom. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random-ness...

There are a bunch of things I've wanted to post, but somehow always forget once I get home. I have a couple of minutes, so I thought I'd better do it right now.

This f-ed up sign was taped to the microwave in the teachers' lounge last week. Keep in mind, it was written by our "business manager." This woman is in charge of ALL OUR MONEY!!!
Who are interested looking at this next picture need to keep reading. This is the bulletin board in our main hallway, right outside the office. It faces the front door, so it's literally the first thing you would see if you walked in our front door.
First, why the hell is attendance in quotes? Second, what the hell is the message supposed to be?! As we say in Englewood, I'm gonna juss le'it go...

This REALLY is just random stupidness. I took a picture of my "color birds" one day because it was sooo flipping humid (and hot!) that they curled up on the wall. They are usually flat.

One last thing for tonight. When I came out to leave yesterday, I was very unpleasantly surprised by this:


You can't begin to know how pissed off I am about this. Apparently there were some kids outside throwing rocks in the teacher parking lot, and this is the result. I did manage to file a police report, but nothing else has really been done about this yet. I really don't want to get my blood boiling again, so once again, I'm gonna juss le'it go!

I'm off for a much-needed, looonnnnggg awaited, Girls' Night with my sister and my brother's girlfriend. Maybe tomorrow I'll come back and actually tell you something about the babies.

Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help. ---Bill Watterson, It's a Magical World

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More DIBELS fun...

Today I started testing the babies from the other kindergarten. (There was an "issue" with the testing done by the teacher. Not worth going into here.) Naturally, her babies cracked me up just as much as mine do, especially because I don't really know her babies. Here are a couple of highlights of their funny answers:

Given word - ones
"Ones is a number!"
Given word - happy
"Happy is when you smile really big!"
Given word - rags
"That's what you use to wash your face!" (Sadly, I couldn't give any points for that because she didn't actually say the word "rags" in her sentence. Stupid test!!)

I was giving one of the little boys the part of the test where he had to answer questions about the phonemes (sounds) in the words. I asked, "What sound does insect start with?" He looked at the picture, thought deeply for a moment, and said, "Bzzzzzz" I almost lost it. How cute is that?

Thanks to my darling brother, who brought me coffee at about 7:00 tonight while I was working at the bar, I'm still wide awake, despite the fact that it's midnight. As much as I'd love to write about my own babies today, I know I should be trying to get to bed, especially because I have to be up in 6 hours. I'll be back!
Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. ---Dr. Haim Ginott

Thanks, Suz...

...for pointing me toward this. It's a Wordle! Click on it to enlarge it. It is made up of words from this blog.


Go here to make your own.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I heart DIBELS - NOT!!!

I have so many things I plan to share from the babies' crazy DIBELS tests, but for now let me just give you this. If you aren't familiar with DIBLES, read this post from last year. One of the words the babies are asked to use in a sentence is makes. Every single one of them that gave an answer said, "When you mix stuff!" Somehow, they all heard mix instead of makes. Weird, huh? J.W. gave me this for ago (yeah, don't even get me started about that word being part of this stupid test!!) "A goat hit people with its head." It really pisses me off that I couldn't give him any points for that!! That was a great sentence, wasn't it? Especially for a 5 year old.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I only have a second...

...but I wanted to write this down before I forgot. First of all, I jinxed myself, just as predicted! I received a new boy today. More about that later. I was giving him one of the assessments that I have to give him, and during one part, he was identifying colors for me. First he made me giggle (on the inside, of course!) because he called red "dark orange." The first time I pointed to it, he said "orange," then the next one I pointed to was orange, and he again said, "orange." So, I went back to red and asked again for him to identify it, and he said, "That's dark orange." Naturally, that was accompanied by a look that said, "Jeez, Lady, are you stupid?" The last color I asked him to identify was black. As soon as he said it, he said, "I don't like black, cuz that's what makes nighttime scary." Let's all say it together now....aawwwww!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm afraid I'll jinx myself....

...by putting this in black and white. But, so far, 2008-2009 seems like it just may be a good year! Damn, now I'll probably get 6 new kids Monday morning!!!

So far, we have finished 9 days of kindergarten, and "we're 9 days smarter." For the third year in a row, I have a disproportionate number of boys to girls, as does the other kindergarten class. Right now, I have 7 girls and 13 boys. Last year, I had 7 girls and 23 boys!! I don't remember the exact numbers from the year before that, but the 2nd grade teacher asked me about it the first week of school because she couldn't believe how many boys she had. Must be something in the water in Englewood the past few years. Who knows. I shouldn't even admit this, but my cynical, jaded side thought for moment, "Gee, I wonder if the powers that be know about this trend, cuz their gonna need to build more jails in about 10 years." Yes, I know, that's horrible. That's what being in Englewood for 10 years had done to me. I immediately pushed that thought out of my head, and put my focus on trying to do something to ensure the exact opposite happens.

Another strange thing this year - our enrollment is WAY down. The first week of school, we only had 305 kids enrolled at the Hell-Hole. 305! By the end of the week, Mrs. J. in the office told me we were up to 429. Still a pitiful number. I do know, however, that during that week before the students came back, I saw three of my babies from last year and their parents in the office all asking for transfer papers.

One was my little D.S., who you might remember was the baby who needed to be thisclose to me all the time. He's the one that said, "Mrs. L., I love it when you touch me," and wanted "100 shmarshmallows." Jeez, I could think of a million more cute things he said and did. Anyway, I actually hugged his mom and celebrated the fact that he was going somewhere else. There isn't enough at the Hell-Hole for him. What a sad statement, huh? I know I gave him the best foundation I could, but I'm not that confident that there would have been a continuation of the same dedication to his education. I'm not for one minute trying to say that I'm the #1 teacher at the Hell-Hole. We have many teachers who care as much as I do about their students. But, unfortunately, they don't always have the resources to do everything they know or want to do for their students. Plus, we have a number of teachers there who simply show up everyday to collect their checks every other Friday (despite how small they are!) Add that to the fact that our staff turns over by 50-60% EVERY SINGLE YEAR, and it's a recipe for disaster.

That all leads to why so many of our kids have left. Because the Hell-Hole has been on probation for so long, the parents in the neighborhood have all been given the option to send their children to other, "better" schools. Obviously, many have opted to do just that. Which leaves me a bit torn. I'm really happy for those kids who will now get the quality of education they deserve. Hopefully, it will lead to a path of higher education that will someday get them out of that neighborhood and open doors to opportunities they might not have had.

But, at the same time, no students=no jobs. I'm not for a second worried about my job. Worst case scenario, the other kindergarten gets closed, and I will have to do both classes, probably as two half-day classes. Actually, I wouldn't mind that so much. I'm worried for the other teachers, especially those 'brand new' ones that were just hired. They come so full of enthusiasm and energy, and truly feel they can make a difference in the lives of these kids. I would hate for them to have to leave, but it's a very real possibility.

Very worst case scenario, Hell-Hole is closed due to low enrollment. Now, you gotta know, there's a small part of me that actually hope that happens. Maybe then, Big Cheese would be "forced" to retire. Within a year or two, the school would be reopened, but with a whole new administration, and probably new staff, and maybe things could finally turn around in that neighborhood. Ok, whoa, I'm getting way ahead of myself here. One can dream, can't they?

OK, back to this year's babies. For the most part, I LOVE them already. D.B. has actually been able to string together a couple of wonderful days. Just like she said, Mom didn't stay on Wednesday. There were a few ugly moments in the morning when he realized she was leaving, but luckily, Mrs. G. was going to stay with me for a while and do the morning read-aloud. [You may remember Mrs. G. and G. Family because I wrote about them many times last year. I LOVE THIS FAMILY!!! But, more on them in a bit...] So, Mrs. G. simply put her arms around the screaming D.B., and continued to read the story that she was reading, gently persuading D.B. to be her helper and hold the book, turn the pages, etc. She's so great! After a few minutes he stopped crying. I was actually able to leave the room, get some things done in the office, and put up a bulletin board in the 15 minutes that she read. Have a mentioned that I LOVE THIS WOMAN?!

There were just a couple other moments of crying, but we were able to get them under control very quickly. Thursday, Mom was saying good-bye, and the crying (ok, screaming) started again, but this time, another mom was in my room. (I had her daughter last year, and her daughter, I.W. was one of my absolute favorites.) She knows D.B.'s mom from the neighborhood, so she proceeded to step in and handle the situation. That's one thing that I still can't get used to about my parents. They really believe "it takes a village" and have no problem stepping in with other people's children. I go back and forth over whether I think it's a good thing or not. I'll let you know when I decide! Anyway, she proceeded to use a little tough love on D.B., which only made the screaming escalate. This went on for a few minutes, and just when I was about to step in (and ask her to get the hell out of my room!) he sat down in his seat, and stopped crying. I wasn't really sure what I should do, because I didn't want to set him off again. I just continued on with our morning routine, and he actually seemed fine. The rest of the day went relatively smoothly, with only two other very short crying episodes. By the afternoon, he was really showing a new side of himself. For the first time, he joined the other kids during center time, and actually played! Maybe that sounds insignificant to some of you, but to me, it was HUGE! All the other days so far, he either just sat/lied on the carpet, or sat alone at a table watching the other kids. He also put himself smack in the middle of the carpet during calendar time. The first 7 days, he was either on the very outer edge of the group, or next to me. And, the most exciting part was that he did it completely on his own. I looked down, and was very pleasantly surprised to see him in the middle, surrounded by the other boys and girls. Yay, D.B.!! Naturally, I couldn't give him enough praise and encouragement that day, and even the other babies chimed in, giving him a hand for having such a great day. One of them commented that "he didn't even cry during centers." Too cute! His mom came about 15 minutes before dismissal, and was going to come in to check on him, but I stopped her at the door and said, "Please don't jinx me, he's having a GREAT day!" She seemed very relieved to hear that.

Friday, D.B.'s mom sat with him for a few minutes reading during our quiet reading time. He was actually smiling and enjoying his time with his Mommy. Right up until....I.W.'s mom walked into the room! He took one look at her, and started screaming!! Oh, crap!! But, believe it or not, he was able to pull himself together very quickly, and the moms both left. The rest of the day was great!

I actually came home Friday in a relatively good mood. Exhausted, but happy. I also came home with my period AND a cold, but that's for another post :(

Customers are coming into the bar now, so I'll have to write about my other babies later. Have a great weekend!!
Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ~John W. Whitehead, The Stealing of America, 1983

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 7...

...was a good day!!

Since it's almost 11:30, and I just got home from the bar, I gotta hit the sack. More details tomorrow :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day 6

Things have been....I don't know....odd (?)....at the Hell-Hole so far. I still only have 20 babies. Ha! ONLY!! If I thought it would stay that way all year, I would promise right here and right now to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER complain about the Hell-Hole for the rest of the year. But, I'm sure that's not the case, so I plan to continue my complaining ;-)

I have some interesting characters this year already. One of my boys came to me from a therapeutic school. WTF was his mother thinking?! Why, oh why would you take him out of that school to bring him here!?

Another of my boys has some serious issues. Developmental delays, for sure, among other things. His brother was in kindergarten a couple of years ago, and was in Dori's room. She worked her rear-end off all year trying to get this child staffed and into special ed to get him some help. She finally got him placed in a therapeutic day school, but his mother never took him. The mom used to come sit with him most days, which I think actually made it worse because he would pretty much do whatever he wanted and she allowed it. She very much babied him, and I see she's doing it with his little brother, too.

So far, she stayed in my room yesterday and today. His first day was actually Friday, and she didn't even bring him to class. His older brother, who I believe is in 6th grade, brought him. This baby then proceeded to scream bloody murder because he didn't want his brother to leave. He was screaming so loudly, that Big Cheese heard him all the way from his office and came down to see what the hell was going on. I know I've mentioned before that Big Cheese doesn't have much patience for this kind of stuff, so he immediately started yelling at this child. He then took him out of my room, and sent the brother up to class. I have no idea what he said or did, but about 5 minutes later, Big Cheese brought him back, and he seemed to be OK. At least for about 10 minutes. Then the screaming/crying started again.

I eventually had to have our security guard take him for a few minutes. He brought him back after a while, and things seemed ok for a bit. We went to lunch, then off to gym. Well, half-way through my prep, there's a knock at my door. I open it and this baby is standing there with his brother. Apparently D.B. took off out of the gym, which you may recall is on the 4th floor (!) and somehow, found his brother. So, his brother brought him to me! Well, I had just about had enough, so we all went down to the office so we could call mom. Naturally, no answer. Big Cheese happened to come in the office, and saw D.B. and asked what the problem was. I told him how he took off from the gym (which makes me wonder when the hell the gym teacher was gonna let me know about it...) and he told the brother to take him right back up there and bring him back to the gym. Yay, Big Cheese!

After gym, we were going to have quiet time, and D.B. started his screaming again. He kept trying to leave the room, and obviously I wasn't going to let that happen. He finally threw himself on the carpet, and then screamed/cried himself to sleep. Thank goodness! The rest of the afternoon went so smoothly! The rest of the babies were so funny. No one wanted to wake him up, so they were extra quiet, even during centers.

I realize this sounds like I didn't have a lot of patience for D.B., but remember that in between all this fun, I still had 19 other babies to take care of, assessments to administer, teaching to do, 100 bathroom breaks to take, all without any assistance. We don't have teacher aides AGAIN this year, so this is just really way too much to deal with for one person. Believe me, I would have loved nothing more than to take D.B. aside and talk him through his fits, and try and make him more comfortable, etc. But, how do I do that without ignoring the other 19? The answer is, you don't! Thankfully, I only have 20 instead of the usual 30, cuz then I'd really be screwed!

I found out today that this mom has 7 sons, and they are almost all this way. The talk around school is that she did a lot of drugs when she was pregnant, or more precisely, she just didn't stop doing them while pregnant. So very sad... D.B. has only been with me 3 days, so I'm curious to see how the rest of the year will go. Hell, I'm curious as to how the rest of the week will go, since Mom said she isn't coming tomorrow.

There are many other things I wanted to write about tonight, but I'm too beat. I actually was able to get up a few minutes early this morning and stuff my crockpot with deliciousness, so I had my sister, two nieces and my dad over for dinner tonight. I haven't cooked like this since probably before we opened the bar. (Chicken w/mushrooms, onions and diced tomatoes, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, tomato and basil salad, tossed salad, whole wheat pasta and the most delicious Butterfinger cake for dessert) Yesterday was my sister's birthday, and the Butterfinger cake is one her favorites, so this was sort of a birthday celebration, even though we all went out for dinner last night. Today is my mom's birthday, so we sang to her, even though she's in Italy. Then, my niece started crying because she misses her grandma! Ah, good times, good times...

Anyway, I have many, many dishes to do, so I'll tell you about the rest of the babies next time.
When teachers are mad, they don't blink.
---William, age 12

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We interrupt my usual criticisms for this...

Friday afternoon, after an exhausting first week with the babies (mostly thanks to working at the bar both Wednesday and Thursday nights!!), I rushed like a bat outta hell to leave at 2:45 when the bell rang so that I could pick up my son, who also gets out at 2:45. We're still trying to figure out how this is going to work, but more on that later. I literally ran out the door, rushed through traffic and got to my son's school by 3:05. A little sidenote (read: bitching) At 3:00, my son called, which I assumed was to say he was waiting, but no. He called to say he was hanging out with a bunch of his friends, just chit-chatting. Good thing I drove like a lunatic, trying to make sure he didn't have wait for me! But, then my next thought was, perfect, I can relax a bit, he's not waiting, he's socializing, etc. Well, like I said, I arrived at 3:05, parked and got out. He and his friends were out in front of the school. I was finally able to meet his "new friend" which was great, because my son became fast friends with this boy, so of course, I wanted to check him out. I was also able to see one of the girls he graduated with, who attends the sister school next door. Perfect way to end a long, stressful week, for sure.

Anyway, back to the point of this. After running a few errands, we finally arrived home, and I went to get my computer out to do some work. That's when I realized - EGADS!! I left my laptop at the Hell-Hole!! Holy crap!!! Not only did I need my computer, there was NO WAY IN HELL I wanted it sitting in my room all weekend, because I guarantee you it wouldn't have been there Monday morning. (Sad, right?) By the time I realized this, it was about 5:20. I figured everyone would be gone, but I decided I would call the Big Cheese to see if anyone was going to be at the school on Saturday so I could rush there first thing in the morning to see if my computer was still there. So, I called his cell phone. As luck would have it, he was just walking out of school. Yay! I told him my dilemma, and he says, "Do you want me to get it?" Oh, holy hell, YES! He actually doesn't live very far from my house, so I figured I could meet him somewhere, like his house, anywhere, and get it. Then he said, "You know, I'll be here tomorrow from 9-12 if you just want to come get it tomorrow." Um...NO! He realized, without me having to say anything, why that really wasn't an option. He may be an ass, but he's no dummy. (OK, he IS a dummy sometimes, but I digress...) He said he would grab it, and suggested that we meet at a Burger King that is in between our homes. Perfect! We both literally pulled up at the same time, I got my computer, and all was right with the world again.

So, bottom line, Big Cheese did a good deed Friday afternoon. I had even planned to bake him his favorite oatmeal raisin cookies tonight, but seeing how I've been here at the bar since 4:30, and it's now 8:30, I don't see that happening. I will make every effort to do it tomorrow, though, because I truly appreciate him doing this for me. And, back in the day, when Big Cheese and I were tight, I used to bake for him on at least a weekly basis, and he always appreciated it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What a stud muffin!!

Is it wrong for "the mom" to make that statement? Oh well. I mean, just look at him!! So CUTE! The scary/sad/weird thing is, I see A LOT of CSJ in him right here....

Friday, September 5, 2008

I just sat down...

...to write a proper post, and turned the TV on, only to be surprised by Stand Up to Cancer. I'm sure I'm the only person on the planet that didn't hear anything about this program/fund raiser. Just in case one of you has also been under a rock lately, this program is being aired on ABC, CBS and NBC simultaneously. It's chock full of celebs, and is a fund raiser for all types of cancer. So far, I've already been reduced to tears by the most adorable little girl who has cancer and it's only 16 minutes into the program. I'm going to watch the rest and come back later.

I suck...

...at this "blogging about school" thing. In a few short hours, I will be starting Day 4 (!) of the 2008-2009 school year, and I have yet to write a single post!! Part of the problem is this has been quite a hectic week. I just walked in the door from working at the bar, it's almost 12:30, I have laundry to do for tomorrow, the fucking dog decided to piss in the basement while I was gone, gee, I could go on and on. I also worked at the bar last night (Psychic night) so I'm really running on empty. Thank God tomorrow is Friday! I plan to spend some time this weekend writing all about the first week with the babies, I swear. Let me just say, it's been a rough three days so far...

Monday, September 1, 2008

We're back....

...and I need to hit the sack. The weekend was glorious, right up until the 3-freakin'-hour drive home thanks to road construction, and holiday traffic. I'll give you details tomorrow, and maybe even a picture or two!