Friday, September 26, 2008

All Right Everybody, Just Relax

So my last post stirred up quite a frenzy. I have a few things to say about that.

1. Anyone who REGULARLY reads my blog will know that I love my students. Even though I miss my friends from last year, I do care about my current ones and want only the best for them. I find it offensive that many anonymous people out there feel as if they can read one post and judge me - hook, line and sinker. If you don't like what I say, please remove me from you favorites bar (because I know I'm there.)

2. I would NEVER harm a child. And, again, if you regularly read my blog, you will know that many other adults in my school almost routinely make decisions that consciously and unconsciously negatively impact students. I, and many of my Super Colleagues, are the ones who care for them, keep them safe and teach them. Many schools are VERY negative places in which children must endure whistles blown in their faces at lunchtime, the scorn of burned out teachers and the ridicule of their peers. I work hard to make school a positive experience (as much as I can within the four walls of my classroom).

3. That being said, I do NOT believe in an environment in which every child wins and no one ever has to address their shortcomings. In my classroom, we constantly celebrate our victories but we are always mindful of areas in which we can improve (both academically and personally). This ONE MOMENT IN TIME was an example of a group of people attempting to learn to work together in very close proximity on a daily basis. There have been MANY OTHER MOMENTS in this new school year where all my children have been rockstars and their rockstar-ness was acknowledged. Publicly. Including Big Boy. (Oh, and I have met with his parents, talked about this issue and talked to them that day after school. They were fine. Because it was fine.)

4. Big Boy had a fabulous day. And another one today. What I didn't include in my post was that we debriefed one on one during a private lunch, sharing strategies that he can use to be more productive and less disruptive. We talked about his previous year in school, during which he was constantly isolated by his teacher and spent 75% of his time alone in the hallway, and how it was much nicer THIS year now that he is part of a group. A group that cares enough to help him be the best self that he can be.

5. Everyone cries sometimes. I cry. They cry. And sometimes I cry because I've done something to hurt others. And sometimes they cry for the same reasons. There was no name calling. No bullying. No pointing. No tattling. Just I statements. About feelings. Followed by a conversation of why we want Big Boy to be a part of our class and all the things he can add to our class. Publicly. With him listening. I didn't post that part, because it wasn't as interesting, not as challenging for me and THIS ISN'T A TRANSCRIPTION OF MY DAY.

6. Go away. Just go away anonymous. Let this be a space where TEACHERS can share with other TEACHERS their struggles, triumphs, angry days and funny moments. We are not perfect but we are on the front lines and are being brutalized. Stop taking yourself, and a BLOG so seriously.

In closing, this is not a hateful site, or at least it wasn't until you came along. It is not intending to personally bash anyone. Rather through humor and good storytelling, it intends to make public some of the issues teachers face across all kinds of schools. At the end of the day, YOU are not my administrator. And before you want to be all Judgey-Judgerstein, walk a mile, sister, walk a mile in my shoes. Because they are fabulous.

45 comments:

MsMalarkey said...

Having read the earlier post and all the comments, I think you did the right thing for all the kids involved. Those kids were able to constructively communicate to Big Boy without yelling or resorting to name calling. It's such a challenge for me to get my students (who are probably older than yours) to effectively express when they are hurt or angry, especially when another student frustrates them.

I can't tell you how many petty spats I had to deal with today, and yesterday...frankly, if my supervisor had walked into your class I bet she would have applauded you.

The world is not a nice place. Big Boy needs to learn that he is acccountable for himself and that he is accountable to you AND the other kids. They are all accountable to each other.

WackyMummy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WackyMummy said...

Bravo! It's never too soon to learn how to appropriately interact with others. And it sounds like it was done in a supportive uplifting way. Yes, your blog is meant to be humorous reflections, and No, I'm not a teacher, but I love to read it just the same. We're not ALL like that out here in cyberspace, and I hope you won't let some cowardly reader (anonymous, seriously???) keep you from expressing yourself and giving other people (non-teachers) hope for the schools!

UltimateTeacher said...

I agree with Mrs. Malarkey and also the majority of the others as well that you did nothing wrong. Having "Big Boy" stand and listen to others with the "I feel" commands are not insulting but rather more emotional and indepth converstions that any teacher would dream of having in their class.

Having said that, I am a special education teacher and I believe that behavior students act out without any idea of others around them. Your activity caused an enlightment and might have even caused him to his attitude towards his classmates. All, of which being done in a calmly manner without the finger pointing or the "lord of the flies" attitude either.

If this anonymous person really is an adminstrator than they should first try to gather the whole information before rushing to judgment. (i.e. talking to the teacher and asking questions, like what happened?) Instead of just relying on a blog post to make your full and outright opinion on something.

Don't let these haters bother you...I enjoy reading your posts and I'm looking forward to more.

jerel said...

I was actually going to comment yesterday on how much I liked your class meeting idea. I think it was creative, well managed, and yes, appropriate.

It's hard to explain the kind of frustration we teachers feel about our students. We love our students. But some days, they get on our last nerve. They're young, they're needy--it's very tiring! And we have to deal with a bunch of bureaucratic BS that gets in the way of the actual teaching. Most of us feel like society's punching bag. So yeah, we get bitchy and irate sometimes.

Every teacher at one time or another has walked into the lounge and said "I'm going to kill those kids!" None of us call child protecive services, because we all know it's just a metaphor. It means "I'm completely frustrated and I don't know what to do."

Jen Barney said...

mimi girlfriend....
Are you causin' poo stir'n' or what? Don't let the haters bother you my friend... we do what we do because we love what we do... and don't ever feel that you have to explain yourself to them- we know, we are there each and everyday in this teaching world with you!

Take care my friend....
PS- Dude, I totally shouldn't be away from my blog this long. Look what I am so missing out on! LOL.
Jen

Mrs. Such and Such said...

Mimi.... don't give in, and don't give up. Many people who don't understand the love and care and heart and time and commitment we put into our jobs and our kids, JUST DON'T GET IT!
Most likely, your troubled little guy will remember that day fondly as the day when he found out that other kids noticed and cared enough about him to let him know what to do to be a better friend and classmate. I predict he'll also remember YOU as the one who finally "got" him.
Keep on truckin', sister. Don't let the man get you down!!!
BTW-- Thanks for all you do for your kids, and all you do for us fellow educators out there making things right for kids!

Art said...

Mimi,

I teach high school now, after having spent 18 years in a middle school, and I have a daughter in kindergarten. As a teacher and a parent I think my daughter would love your class. There is a young man in her class who could use this kind of reality check.

In fact, I think I might go ahead and forward your blog to her teacher.

Keep on keepin' on.

LaughterHappens said...

Can I just say: you go girl!

Some people are ridiculously stupid. I thought you handled the situation in your classroom well.

Sometimes you just need to vent and realize that there are people out there who know exactly what you're going through.

On that note, I want to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog. I found it last year during my first year of teaching, and it really brightened my spirits. I thought I was doing something wrong to have as many problems as I was with my admin, but now I realize that there are idiots all over. And though I'm no longer at that school/ district (cuz apparently you can base a person's ability to teach by coming into their classroom 10 TIMES in 181 days... (yeah, I counted. And that's times, not days. stupid non tenure...)) I still read and relate to your blog.

Keep on keepin on, sister friend.

RoseNoel01 said...

AWESOME.

I teach high school and am a total lurker on your blog, but I just had to comment - boo on anyone who DARES to judge anything that happens in our classrooms (god, if ONLY they knew) and FANTASTIC on both your terrific ability to handle a ridiculous situation and your awesome defense of your own right to write about it however you darn well choose. BRAVO.

Francie said...

I came across your blog about 2 months ago and I'm loving it! It is obviously a place for you to let go of some of the MANY frustrations of school life and let other teachers and non-teachers know how the real world is. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, and making us laugh along the way! And just for the record, my first year teaching my principal was working with me to improve my classroom management skills and had me do a weekly meeting with the class to bring up problems the class was having. Sounds much like what you did with "Big Boy", and admin approved!

Michelle said...

I'm a teacher and have been for fourteen years. Thank you for taking the time to address the behavior and hold ALL children responsible for the community. You should be commended. I'd like to be in your class. You clearly care about all students and show them that they will be protected from inappropriate behavior. You also show them that even though we all make mistakes, that you will help them find ways to fix the situation and rejoin the community...without excusing or ignoring the problems.

Congratulations! You are an extraordinary teacher. I love reading your blog.

Ms. Beane said...

You are our voice, Mimi. Keep it up.

Jpm said...

Like I have said before your blog has done a lot for me in the past few weeks. All I can say is thank you.

Mimi said...

I am overwhelmed by your comments. Thank you so much for all your support...you are all rockstars.

And don't worry, no one keeps Mrs. Mimi quiet for long (just ask Mr. Mimi!).

Victoria Westcott said...

"And before you want to be all Judgey-Judgerstein, walk a mile, sister, walk a mile in my shoes. Because they are fabulous." - we must have been best friends in a past life. Brilliant wording.

ed notes online said...

Mimi
I identify totally and often did similar things. Kids listen to other kids more than they do to adults. We used to hold trials when there were incidents in class or in the yard. The kids loved them, even the ones on trial. Things always worked out for the best and the class was always the better for it.

Edna Lee said...

I could not be more in support of you without showing up at your door and hugging you.

Being a member of a class of students requires students understand and respect the values of their classroom community. Your students value feeling safe and being treated fairly, and one student is not respecting that. You addressed the situation in a manner that honored the feelings of everyone in your class, including the young man in question. He was not under attack. He was learning how to live within the bounds of a community. More importantly, he's learning that he is INDEED not an island unto himself, so choices he makes effect others.

That day, your entire class was exposed to mediation techniques involving fairness and respect that often go unaddressed during the elementary years, if at all.

We CAN disagree without being diagreeable, but someone must teach people how. You've started that process with your class. Anonymous needs to learn that same skill.

Maybe they offer a PhD in it?

PS: Good for you, no longer allowing anonymous comments on your blog. If someone has an opinion, let them be adult enough to think up a pseudonym like the rest of us.

WonderWeiss said...

Amen to you! If anyone had read more than a few posts, they would know how dedicated you are. Mice at your feet? I'd be long gone!!
I love you and share your posts with all the folks at my school who have taught on the "other side of the tracks," and we all laugh and laugh.
Keep fighting the good fight!

Charlene said...

With the way you describe your meeting, the one on one and the parent/teacher time, I don't see a thing wrong with what you did. I can, however, see why it would make some people mad. People don't like the idea of being responsible for thier actions and having that responsibility discussed in the open. It's embarrassing and impossible to brish off as someone elses bad mood. No one likes to be told that they are being an ass in such a calm, you-can't-get-angry-back-way and the idea of doing that to a child is scarey. Because they can't see how a child would need that public forum. Children, however, do need to know how they affect the world in both the good and the bad ways. If we spend all our time patting them on the head and ignoring the bad moments, sure, they feel great about themsleves (and that is good) but how much are they learning? How much are those around them learning? It's like not taking marks off for bad spelling. If you know what I mean? It sounds like you did a good thing. I have a quote on my blog: "I used to worry about workplace gossip and care way too much about what my co-workers thought about me. That is, until I realized that they never make movies about teachers who are praised by the system.-Me from My Entirely too Average Life"

jenefr said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Aren't you glad there's a delete button for those anonymous haters?

The Bus Driver said...

Mimi,

Having read both of your recent blogs, I wanted to comment last night, but the comments were disabled or something. I wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU. You are truely a dedicated teacher. I hope that you find some sort of "middle ground" with BigBoy to help him have a successful year. Bravo on allowing the other students to express their frustrations in an non-threatening manner.

17 (really 15) more years said...

Mimi- you KNOW you are a rock star teacher- never change!!

Katie : said...

I'm with you. I understand you and that carries weight.

Emily said...

Mimi, you are the most rockin' rockstar of a teacher there is! Don't some petty person ruin your totally awesome blog and who you are. You totally represent us teachers and our frustrations.

Keep it up, girl! We heart you!!

Chaz said...

Just learned about your post. I find your description of the special education classroom quite amusing and true. I have just added you to my blog.

eduwonkette said...

Mimi, Couldn't agree more with the outpouring of supporting above - you're the best and you did what was best for Big Boy AND your class.

ed notes online said...

Eduwonkette touches on an important point. Teachers must balance the interests of the individual child with the class, which is another entity that must be managed, almost like another child in itself. Teachers can treat the class in a certain manner while addressing the child out of the class context in a different manner. It can be a delicate dance, but great teachers like Mimi develop the instincts to do it well.

me said...

I think it is great to read your posts. I teach in similar areas, and deal with similar things...I also say WAY TO GO on no longer allowing anonymous posts! Keep on keeping on!!

Raenette said...

I read your post and all the comments.

I'll hazard a guess that all the posts from 'anonymous' are from the same person. Someone with lots of qualifications, and very little sense! Take no notice. That person is one of those parents whose child is a 'big boy/girl'. He is typically the first one to blame the teacher for his child's obnoxious behavior, and the last one to teach his child to take ownership for his/her behavior. Actually he's a bully too - threatening you with the Principal...! Bah! (Mind you, he was probably 'Big Boy' himself when he was at school.)

Your blog is great, and you're a great teacher. 'Big Boy' probably loved the attention, and feels secure and safe. Instead of just sending him out day after day, you've actually addressed the issue. Well done!

I'll definitely be remembering your tip. I have a 'Big Boy' in my class too!

mex (aka Syb) said...

"laughter happens" was observed 10x in one YEAR? WOWSERS!! Congrats to that Admin! Seriously!! Fo real! I don't know 'bout yr neck o the woods, but that's pretty extraordinary! I (again, fo real) think I could get a vvvv good flavor of someone's class w/ that many visits (again, not days.. but visits)

In facK, I could (seriously) identify good teachers from a walk-by in the hall! Heck, I taught 30+ yrs. I could tell a +great+ teacher based on my V own children's comments @ the dinner table.


That said, I could be stoned.

And that^^^ said, I left a comment on the previous entry @ anon. and rebuttal, explanation, et al, that maybe you will address (privately if you have the energy... my email's in my profile) as I am now a vicarious teacher who's an ole dawg--- but I still want my bones:)

Best,
SL

Ms. P. said...

Mrs. Mimi, you faced your "Darth Commenter" (as Cool Cat Teacher calls them) and the Force was with you! Keep up the good work! :^)

splatypus said...

Should anyone be surprised that all those anonymous posters haven't commented?! (Big eye roll).

I think it's clear why you have this wonderful blog and why so many of us are faithful readers. We get you and you get us.

Barbara said...

I read your other blog, and this one...and I find that you are right on the mark. You managed to remind the Big Boy that he is not alone, and did so by helping him understand his peers better as well.

I am a paraprofessional right now, and some of the techniques and policies I see are those that I think are not effective for the population I work with. I hope that when I am done with my degree I can be far more effective because I can see some discipline mistakes that are made by even those teachers who are well-meaning.

amazeingteacher said...

Mimi, YOU ROCK!!! Keep your chin up, sista!!

Victoria Westcott said...

Hi - I'm sure you already know this, but you've been made one of the 7 best teacher blogs by Sarah Ebner, of School Gate blog (for a British newspaper called The Times - huge readership!). Well done you! That's how I found your blog as well.

Victoria Westcott said...

http://timesonline.typepad.com/schoolgate/2008/09/read-these-grea.html
Here's the link! Sorry should have put it in my last comment.

Sara said...

Hi Mimi,

I'm not an educator, but I do supervise 30 college students at a university. I stumbled across your blog this past summer and loved the humor and story telling! I read through several of your older posts, and have continued to follow you through this year. My mother-in-law is a third grade teacher, and I often hear similar challenges and struggles from her. I didn't even question your method - it obviously worked well for you and your class. I'm surprised that others would think this sort of teaching method was harmful - especially since we are only seeing your filtered and quite humorous version of events. Your kids are lucky to have you - keep up the good work!

Shauna said...

Bravo!

Teachers are educators, counselors, referees,nursemaids and so much more! great post.

mamele said...

i'm a lurker and a parent. i love your blog and i think you -- along with your fellow mensches who works so hard in such trying circumstances to educate our kids -- are a friggin' hero. (and as a parent, i think the responsibility of being part of a community is the most important thing a kid can learn.) so go on with your funny, well-shod self.

maria said...

Ms. Mimi,

I've been inundated with the start of school and have not been as up to date with your blog. Sorry to see that some people have not understood how an awesome teacher creates that magic in her classroom. I think that the intervention with Big Boy was just what was needed. Children are part of a community and need to be held accountable for how they impact thier community, in a caring, non humilating way, however accountable nonetheless. I think you ROCK!

tracytreehouse said...

well said.

Christi Overman said...

Once I had some ANONYMOUS jerk comment on my blog that I was horrible for calling a kid "quirky." Umm, first of all, that's nothing, and secondly, SIGN IN, you big chicken!!!! You'd think if they were so brave they'd let us all see who they are. You are fantastic. Love your blog, keep talking for the rest of us!

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