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Aug 02 2013

Advice Please! Retaining Students

I’m in need of any advice you might have about how to make the second year in the same grade a really effective experience for retained students. If you’ve seen anything work well, or have a great idea that you think should be tried, or saw something that doesn’t work and I shouldn’t try, I’d…

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Jun 05 2013

Hating My Job

I should probably have mentioned that I hate my job.   It is hard. There’s a constant stream of angry middle school students in front of me, who aren’t sent to me until the situation is so dire that the teacher feels helpless. They are explosive and defiant and wildly irrational and I have to…

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May 29 2013

Evening Stroll

I am walking a hungry boy home from dinner when we see his mom on the porch across the street. She doesn’t have custody and he’s seen her very sporadically over the last year. His face lights up like he’s ten years younger and he waves his hand over his head while he yells “Mom!”…

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May 25 2013

Damp Biceps

One of my office regulars got into a very big altercation with a teacher recently that landed him in some serious trouble. He got back from his suspension while I was out for a few days, and there was no one around to sit them down and have them talk it through. Unsurprisingly, he was…

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May 01 2013

Twinkle Twinkle

A student suspended in my office today was having a reeeeeaaallllly hard time sitting and completing his assignment. He was whining incessantly about the injustice of it all, tapping his pencil, asking a million questions, constantly having to go to the bathroom, and going through long stretches of refusing to work at all.   Finally,…

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Apr 30 2013

Armed and Not Dangerous

Once upon a time, we had a pretty serious incident at school involving a knife and some police officers (and me crying in my office as I realized one of my favorites had ruined his life and I couldn’t save him, but that’s for another story). Unfortunately, it also involved me being new to my…

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Apr 17 2013

HAVE A GOOD NIGHT

I had a parent this evening screaming at me on the phone. This isn’t exactly uncommon in my job, and it’s definitely not uncommon with this parent. She was giving me a piece of her mind, and I was staring out the window with the phone about three inches from my ear, waiting for her…

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Mar 13 2013

Fun With Confiscation

A student in my office today had a pair of white Apple headphones hanging out of his pocket. I held out my hand to confiscate them, and he unplugged them from something before passing them to me.   Obviously, I then also wanted whatever was in his pocket playing music. I held out my hand…

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Mar 12 2013

Just Kids

I’ve dealt with enough knives that I don’t mess up the photographing procedure anymore. I’ve done enough bag searches that I can tell you which stashed lunch items rot and give off the most drug-like smells. I know my district police phone number by heart and can tell you most of the officers’ names. I’ve…

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Feb 22 2013

Stress-Free and Popcorn-Full

Imagine a middle school child throwing a temper tantrum. There’s yelling, crying, running around, and lots of refusal to follow directions. Naturally, it always ends up in my office.   Today, the tantrum was coming from a girl who decided that defiance was her best course of action once she’d been sent out of class.…

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Feb 15 2013

Valentine’s Day

I was much more forgotten this Valentine’s Day than I have been in years past. The sweet kids who think to bring presents for teachers don’t normally spend much time in my office, so I was hardly top on their lists this year. I had more than one awkward moment where a kid would see…

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Feb 13 2013

Not a Punk

School rule: punch someone, get suspended. Simple enough.   This also happens to be a highly controversial rule. Last week, one seventh grade boy said something very disrespectful to a classmate, who turned and punched him. A fight ensued, and I suspended both of them. The family of the kid who punched first is up in…

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Feb 05 2013

Speaking of jail…

Imagine if your dad went to prison when you were in kindergarten. You visit him every Tuesday afternoon for six years and wait for him to come home to your family. Then he gets released a year earlier than you expected and doesn’t come home. Poof. You don’t hear from him again.   I’d probably…

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Feb 01 2013

Where You’ll End Up

I am surrounded by a lot of talk of jail recently. I don’t know why, but it seems to be trending pretty seriously over the last few weeks.   Sometimes, it’s a teacher giving the “what do you want your life to be?” lecture, which ends up involving a “wouldn’t this be terrible?” piece about…

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Jan 25 2013

Tantrums

She came into the office screaming in fury, fresh out of a furniture-flipping fit she’d thrown after being marked tardy to class. She sat in my office and ranted about all the injustices of the world, making her story bigger and bigger as she talked. She went on and on and on…while I stared at…

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Jan 15 2013

Becoming Heartless

A parent was near tears on the phone with me today, explaining why she’d stood me up for our meeting this morning. Her son was on trial this afternoon, facing serious sentencing, and her good friend was just hospitalized. Today was just not a good day.   I heard her to the end and then…

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Jan 14 2013

Gotta Have Faith

I never looked to my future and said, “Man, I hope one day I’m in charge of resolving all middle school drama.” I’d actually bet a lot of money that no one has ever said that – why would you? It’s endless and impossible and it’s middle school drama. But now, here I am, in charge…

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Jan 11 2013

What’s That Sandwich?

I usually wait to eat lunch until after student lunch is over and I’m back in my office. It’s almost always the same type of delicious sandwich that I’ve developed over my last few years of teaching, although it varies slightly as I get inspired by different items in the supermarket.   I know a…

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Jan 10 2013

Show of Force

There was no food fight today. Instead, there was a pretty impressive show of force from the adults. Almost all of our teachers came to lunch, acting casual while strategically chatting with kids all over the cafeteria. Parents I called yesterday showed up to babysit their children and their friends. The security officer was roaming and…

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Jan 09 2013

Food Fight?

The kids are planning a food fight. I am terrified.   The good news: we learned about it in time. A kid reported it to a teacher, who bothered a whole bunch of kids to get names and then gave all those names to me. I got each of those kids in my office, put…

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Jan 02 2013

New Year’s Resolutions 2013

Blogging my teaching resolutions at the start of 2012 was surprisingly effective. I worked hard at pretty much all of them for the rest of the year, and I felt like it really paid off. (The notable exception was transferring my teaching license, which I never got far with. Instead, I’ve developed the nasty habit…

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Dec 31 2012

Call My Mom

It was the last day before Winter Break, and I was proctoring detention after school. As you can imagine, the kids were not thrilled to be there. They were grouchy, slow to follow directions, and trying to test my resolve to keep them without crossing the line and getting in more trouble. Needless to say,…

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Dec 13 2012

Escape

A kid climbed out my office window today and ran away from school.   I wish I could tell you that caused me to do more than sigh and make a phone call, but it’s been one of those weeks. Not much surprises me lately.    

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Nov 16 2012

All over my body

A sixth grader has gotten in trouble for horseplay so many times that he finally landed himself in my office. We went through the whole standard process and then started planning for how to do better from here on. We talked awhile and then I said, “Where’s a good place to keep your hands while…

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Nov 14 2012

Defiance and Deep Breaths

One of our seventh grade boys has started to blatantly and publicly defy me. He refused to follow my directions when I was covering his class, and the other day he yelled, “NO! I’m not listening to YOU!” at me in front of a huge group of students. (That’s despite the fact that I had…

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