An Ohio Catholic school teacher tells all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Cheating

Pop quiz time!

Question #1 -What should happen to a student if he/she cheats on a test?
Answer - Take the test away, and give the kid a zero for the test.

Question #2 - What happens if a student cheats on her test in my school?
Answer - The teacher is reprimanded for not watching the kids closely enough and the student receives full credit.

Here is just more proof that my school is beyond messed up. I had a girl cheat on a test last week. She wasn't even a good cheater. She did the old "open book on the floor" trick. This might have been revolutionary around the time of Gutenberg, but this is the easiest cheat to catch now. I don't even have to get out of my chair to nail her.

I catch her and take her test away. I tell her that she will get a zero for the test. End of story... Not at my school!

Yesterday, the spineless principal called me into her office. She informs me that the school has a policy to grade students on their academic achievements, not the behavior. Because cheating on a test is a behavior issue, not an academic issue, you cannot lower a child's grade because of this. So, the grade the student received while reading out of the book counts.

But it doesn't end here... I was told that Cheating is a result of bad classroom management. If I could control the kids, this would have never happened. I tried pointing out that I caught the student cheating, so I was doing my job. It did not matter, I had a formal reprimand put in my file. It was for "failure to maintain an environment conducive to learning." I think that giving a student full credit for cheating on a test is not conducive to learning, but what do I know?


Monday, December 13, 2004

New Teacher

I love new teachers. They still look at the world as if they can make a difference. They see a classroom of bright-eyed, eager to learn students. New teachers don't realize that these kids will walk all over them if given half a chance.

It was official last week. The teacher who brought pepper spray into the building was fired. (See another post, "We Lost a Teacher" for details.) With her firing, we were able to hire a full-time teacher. Oddly enough, she is my spineless principal's son's fiance. Hmmmm...

I was assigned to show her the ropes. So I did. I showed her around the building, explained the procedures, and warned her about the kids. Because this school is an upper class, white school, it is assumed that there are no discipline problems. That is about as wrong as assuming the moon the size of a quarter because it looks like it is about the size of a quarter.

I looked in on her during her first period class. She was busy telling the kids about how much she wanted to be their friend. She told them that she was not like all the other teachers. If the kids wanted to talk, they could talk. There are no limits on passes. She would not enforce the silly parts of the dress code, like having to tuck in shirts. And so on and on and on...

At lunch, I met with the new teacher. I brought up what she said about being friends with the students. I asked her if she saw any problem with that. Of course, she did not. Then I asked her if she thought it was weird that a 20- something wanted to be friends with a bunch of 12-year-olds. Again, she thought nothing odd about this.

I tell her about how I have seen several teachers try to be friends with their students. Each time, the teacher became ineffective because he/she could not discipline "friends." The kids will take advantage of her. I told her that kids need and want limits. Kids are too stupid to realize it, but they do want these. If there is a classroom without limits, it will soon be a classroom full of chaos.

She called me old and jaded. I'll bet that I will have much to write about in the future.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Dress Code

I work in a Catholic school. The dress code should be fairly simple. Not at my school. At my school, we try to enforce what types of socks the children can wear. No tube socks or ankle socks. All socks have to be crew length. I hate this rule. But, it is my job to enforce the rules, so I have for the past couple of years. I make the kids pull their pant legs up and check how long their stupid socks are. Like I could not use this classtime any better.

Part of out dress code also states that dress pants have to be worn. No denim or corduroy pants are allowed. This has been all well and good ever since I have been there. Not anymore.

A fifth grader received a dress code violation form. She was wearing corduroy pants. The parent had a fit. She emailed the spineless principal wanting to know why her daughter could not wear corduroy pants, but teachers could. Rather than stand up for her teachers, my spineless principal changes the teacher dress code. We are no longer allowed to wear corduroy pants.

The parent was not happy with this. So, after much conversation, she and the spineless principal agreed on fifth grade girls being allowed to wear corduroys.

Back to the sock rule... I have been fighting against this every year at the school. Parents find this to be the silliest rule ever. Most teachers do not even bother with it. I have dealt with this stupid rule for the past five years. But, as soon as a fifth grade parent complains, their rules are changed.

Friday, November 12, 2004

11-Year-Old Girl Suspended For 'Dangerous' Cartwheels At School

local6.com - News - 11-Year-Old Girl Suspended For 'Dangerous' Cartwheels At School

Ok, I think I am going to take an unpopular stand here and say good for the school. I heard Rush Limbagh complaining about this one the radio. I saw it on Drudge Report. It's just a matter of time before this shows up everywhere. Before we oversimplify the situation, let's stop. Get past the shocking headline. And think.

Quoted from the above link:
"Deirdre Faegre, who is a Student of the Month at San Jose-Edison Academy in West Covina was dismissed from the school this week after school authorities warned her for the last time to stop doing gymnastic stunts during lunchtime."

Ok, before we jump to conclusions, let's think. This student has been told several times to stop. This student did not listen. Although a suspension might seem a bit over the top, let me tell you the behavior test for my class. First, I believe that kids will screw up. They will do stupid things. My real test (for minor infractions) is what they do when I tell them to stop. If they stop, all is good. If they do not, then punishments begin. So this student did not listen to what the authorities told her to do. Does she deserve to be punished for that? I cannot even begin to name the times that a student would not have gotten in any trouble if they would have just stopped screwing off at the first warning. But, students choose to keep going, and that is what really gets them into trouble. It's called insubordination.

Again, quoted from the above line:
"They said gymnastics on the playground creates an unsafe situation."

True. The school said "gymnastics." Gymnastics is not cartwheels. Gymnastics is flips and such. Someone who attempts to do this without training can seriously hurt his or herself. Many schools have a rule in their respective handbooks that a child's feet cannot be above the child's head at anytime. This is exactly the reason for such a silly rule. Chances are, if your child's school has a rule like this, that school has been sued (or threatened with a lawsuit) when some stupid kid hurt him/herself doing something like this.

One last quote from the above link:
"I don't think they care about the children at all," father Leland Faegre said. "What sort of a parent or administrator would ever enforce a rule that would proscribe a child from using her arms and her legs? We have got to fix this mess because we have to let children be children."

Bad, bad argument. I can use my arms and legs to beat a student. Should I be allowed to do that simply based on the fact that I am getting exercise? Sex uses arms and legs. Should that be allowed on the playground? I'm sure that we can think of a 1,000 things that use arms and legs that should never be allowed on playgrounds.

Do not just read the headline... Read the article.

Smoking in the girl's room

I caught a couple of students smoking in the bathroom the other day. These kids are so stupid, they don't even know how to hide it. When I walked in, they threw the lit cigarette onto the floor. They did not even try to hide it by stepping on it.

So I cart them down to the principal. (I know, she is spineless, but I really though she would do something about this.) She sits them down and talks to them. Then they are sent back to class.

I'm called into the office next. At first, I think it is just to get my side of the story. That is not the case at all. Instead, I am read the riot act about going into the girl's bathroom. I was told that I have no right to enter because that is the only private place the girls have. I tried to point out that I could tell that someone was smoking. As a teacher - someone who is responsible for the well-being of students - I had an obligation to go in.

From there, the argument went to the fact that I smoke. That has nothing to do with what happened. There were 13 year olds smoking in school. That is clearly against school rules. That is clearly against the law.

So I point out to the principal that she had used a wonderful ad hominem argument, but she is logically false. The fact that I smoke did not make what these girls did any less wrong. Then, I was told that I was "too smart for (my) own good." And that my "contract for next year is not promised."

Please, please, please let me find another job.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Another Evil Teacher

Yahoo! News - Parents: Teacher Made Kids Smell Urine

Ok, just in case you are too lazy to click on the link above, the short version of the story is that a bunch of kids were pissing all over the bathroom. I am betting that the teacher was trying to stop the kids from doing that, so the teacher made them smell the bathroom. Now, the parents are all upset that their kids had to smell the urine.

The best part of this article is this:

Howerton and other parents claim the unidentified teacher violated the boys' rights. Ten parents and three children, including Howerton and her son Atrayo, protested outside the school on Thursday.

Violated their rights? What right was violated? Is there such a thing as right to piss all over the bathroom? A right not to smell anything bad? Ughh...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

DNA Testing

Like most children who have hit their growth spurt, my students like to touch things they couldn't touch last year. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) Whenever they walk through a door, they have to touch the top of the door. As they walk past an exit sign, they jump to reach it. But these little puberty monsters know they have hit the big time when they can jump and touch the ceiling.

Try as they might, only a few can touch the ceiling. After they touch the ceiling, the top prize is to knock the ceiling tiles out of place. If you can do that, you will have a bunch of 13 year olds thinking you are the best thing in the world.

Now, suspended ceilings have the little metal crossbars that are, well, suspended from the roof with a flimsy piece of wire.

One of my students jumped up, knocked a tile out of place and hit the crossbar. My school was put together by a bunch of morons, so half of the ceiling fell from the roof. When the student hit the crossbar, he cut his hand.

No one will admit to knowing anything. Half of the ceiling in the hallway is now lying on the floor and no one has a clue as to what happened. It's time to play Matlock. I decide to check the students' hands for cuts. Just my luck... Three kids have cuts on their hands. I try to turn them against each other, but I cannot nail any one of these kids. That's when I remember that they are 13. They are stupid. I tell them that I am going to do a DNA test on the blood we found in the hall. I almost got called on the price on the DNA tests, but I told the little turds that I would make their parents pay for all three tests when I found out who did it.

They folded in seconds. One student broke the crossbar by accident. Then, Andy pulled the rest down. Go figure...

Saturday, October 16, 2004

We lost a teacher

We had a teacher forced to go on "indefinite leave" this week. Frankly, I doubt that she will ever be back. It's pretty sad. She is a great teacher and a wonderful person. It's a shame what happened to her.

About a week ago, a student was sprayed in the face with pepper spray. Although the student was completely at fault, the teacher will probably be let go for bringing pepper spray into the building. She did not use it on the kid. She is just like many other young, pretty women who live in a bad part of town; she had pepper spray on her keychain.

A student had re-entered the building during recess. The kids are supposed to be outside the entire time because there is no adult supervision in the hallways. Well, this student decided to go through the classroom to see what he could find. Finding the first room locked, he went to the second room. This room was unlocked. The student trashed the teachers desk, then spotted the teacher's purse on the bookshelf. Somehow, as the student was reaching into the purse, he ended up spraying himself in the face with pepper spray.

This version of the story comes straight from the kid. That is exactly how he said it happened.

According to my spineless principal, the student had been punished enough. No disciplinary action will be taken. But the teacher will be fired for bringing pepper spray into the building. Wow.