Shaddup Already!


National Board Certification, hypocrisy, attacking parents and thug wannabes

I think I'll go in reverse order of the title because the first one (actually the first two are combined) is the longest of the bunch.

I teach in a low-income school, so it has a lot of the problems of inner city schools. However, it is far from an inner city school. Basically there are inner city ghetto schools and there are suburban ghetto schools. Mine is the latter.

It is very cool at my school to be "ghetto." There are a few kids who, I believe, really fancy themselves thugs. Truly, they are not thuggish, they are pathetic.

One of those boys is always in trouble. He thinks he's cute, he thinks he's clever and he thinks the world owes him something. He revels in being bad and misbehaving. He refuses to use his smarts to get ahead, he actually uses them to stay waaaaay behind. He has less than a 30% for me. That's pretty bad considering most of my work is effort based.

Anyway, the word now is that J's mom can't handle him anymore and he will be moving in with his dad.

In Chicago.

He will be eaten alive.

Or join a gang and be dead or in jail by 20.

That makes me very sad because he has such promise. We should not give brains to kids. They should have to wait until they are mature enough to appreciate what they have, then get their brains.


We had a conference this morning with a boy, R. He is failing miserably. I think he should repeat 6th grade. I don't say that lightly, I honestly believe he has some growing up to do before he will be ready for 7th grade.

We have had 3 conferences with this child, which tells me that his family cares. Most of our parents will never come anywhere near the school. Those that have conferences show me that they care.

So we sit down with R's mom and R. At first it was just me, Thing 1 and another teacher, Mr. Cranky. Mr. Cranky started because he had somewhere to be. He never has anything nice to say, but I was surprised that he wasn't too terribly negative. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

So while Mr. Cranky is talking, Thing 2 and Friend come in. Thing 2 proceeds to take over:

Thing 2: You know, I was driving in this morning and thinking and you really need to be involved with R's school work. He needs you there at home working with him, following up with him and caring.

She continued on in a very accusational manner implying that R's mom just doesn't care about him. I was pissed for her (his mom), but in an effort to maintain my professionalism, I didn't say what I was thinking.

Then I started talking, when I got the chance I really hate our conferences because it consists of Thing 1 and Thing 2 interrupting everyone with little solutions or insights. Anway, I said what I felt, that it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he repeated 6th grade.

Every single teacher there disagreed with me--verbally. I felt like a fool sitting there, even though I have the same expertise as they do.

As we began talking and looking at his numbers, it became clear that he might not even be eligible for summer school. You have to have a 2.0 to pass to the next grade. You have to have a 1.67 in order to be eligible for summer school, which means you might be put on a contract for the next year and actually be able to pass to the next grade mid-year. R has a 0.67.

Of course then everyone started agreeing with me. Grrrr.

So basically mom was defensive (because of Thing 2) and I was pissed. What an effective conference that was.


Thing 1 has been getting on my nerves lately. I see her as a hypocrite of the highest order. Here are some examples.

Last year, she refused to stay after school or come to school too early to help anyone. Often she was coming in around 8:30, which is when we have to be there.

This year, she set up a morning program and an afternoon program for tutoring.
Last year, she wouldn't even consider using television in the classroom. To suggest it to her was to be turned on promptly and swiftly:

Me: Have you seen Cyberchase? It's on PBS.
Thing 1: I don't have time for all that "fun" crap in my class. We have too much work to do.

This year she has been suggesting shows that everyone should use in their classrooms. So I decided to try again:

Me: Have you seen Cyberchase? It's on PBS.
Thing 1: No, when is it on?
Me: I don't know, I watch it on satellite. It's a math show though. They cover everything in your curriculum using a cartoon.
Thing 1: I'm really looking for some fun stuff like that. Thanks for telling me about it.

Last year I would listen to Thing 1 saying things like this:
No matter what we do these kids aren't going to get the material. They're as dumb as stumps.

This year she has been saying:
I don't know, I just have to save all these kids. They MUST be successful, I have to get them on level!

I couldn't figure out what had changed between then and now, but someone finally started me thinking on it. She is trying for her National Board Certification this year. So when I said something to Friend, she said, "Maybe she's actually learning from the National Board stuff."

I didn't think too much about it until I was on the National Board website (I think I'm going for it next year, the bonus for it in FL is HUGE) and everything she has been doing lately is outlined in their requirements for the portfolio section.


I wonder if there is a connection there.

The more I think back on this year, the more I realize that all of this started when she began her portfolio process. Before that, she was the same old Thing 1 we all knew and loved.

I wonder what she'll be like next year.

Part of me really doesn't want to be on her team. I'm leaving it in Fate's hands, though. I told my principal what I wanted to teach (a change from now) and whatever happens now will be the way it's supposed to be.

Who knows, maybe I'm supposed to end up in prison for life for murdering a coworker or two. I hear the prison system has a great healthcare plan.

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