Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Before bed rambling

    Today was a great day. Last night, I ended my "end of the year performances" with a concert of my select choir. The audience enjoyed it. The kids sang well. I was happy. After the concert, a few parents even helped clean up so I could get home earlier. (They did not ask, they just saw what I was doing and helped.)  Then, since I was out slightly earlier than I expected, I drove to the baseball field adjacent to the middle school and watched a little league game in my black, formal dress because a 7th grade boy asked if I would come to see him play sometime. I left my house at 6am and got home at 9:30 pm. I did not see my own children.
       This morning, my oldest son was having major allergy issues. He stayed home from school. I spent a little time with him and gave him some medicine before going off to work. I left at 6:45. On the way to work, I chatted with a colleague about some teaching candidates who would be in today. When I got to school, I helped a colleague with some photocopying because one of my classes was on a field trip. Then I had a prep period where I organized a field trip for my select choir- on a Wed night at 7:30- after arranging the carpool, collecting money, etc. My first class was wonderful. I have a few students who really need individual attention there and I answered a ton of questions, but it was rewarding to see them really understanding the materials.
      My 2nd class was 7th grade, who all turned in projects that seem like they worked hard on them. On top of that, I enjoyed talking baseball with the boys who thanked me for coming to their game and have gained a new respect for me now that they know I actually understand music AND baseball. I even made it through (mostly) unscathed when I was typing a list (that they were copying) on the SMARTboard and accidentally typed a swear when I mixed the word I was saying with the word I was typing. Thank God it was my 7th grade class. Only 2 kids caught it before I turned red, said "Nope, that's not what I meant," and fixed it.
     Next came 5th grade- 24 kids- 8 in line learning how to clap rhythms that they composed, 16 independently working on playing their composed rhythms on instruments and trying to put them together with other group members. 16 kids allowing me to work individually with 8 kids- 1 at a time- without me having to stop to fix behavior or get them back on track.
     My last class was another 6th grade class. This class is so polite and hard-working. They have a ton of personality and are just a delight to teach.
      Lastly, I had chorus. I wanted to tell them all the "last minute" information about the end of the year- how they will sing with the group that will be joining them next year at our next rehearsal and how the band teacher and I will be having an end of the year sundae party for them. Then I allowed them to go back to their advisory period, which is like a study. All but 2 stayed and volunteered to help out, sang, did homework or just hung out.
      After school I had a party for the group from last night. We talked about the concert, ate, and went through the end of the year info for them too. On the way out, a 7th grade girl said she had something for me and gave it to me as they left. It was a book of "poems" about me written by 4 of the girls. It was kind of a mix between a thank you note and a gift. It was very flattering, sweet and personal.
      I left school at 3:40. I got home at 4:30. David had to be at baseball at 4:45 and Tim at tap at 5. Got both boys where they needed to go, waited for Tim to get out and then watched David's game. I had some delightful conversation with another mom despite the fact that we were being bombarded by these disgusting beetle-like bugs.
      We got home at 7:30, had ice cream, relaxed and read. The boys went to bed at 8:30. It was a wonderful night and the earliest night in a very long time.  I corrected a bit, watched about 20 minutes of tv and then decided that I'd like to read a little extra before bed. So, I took my medicine and went to shut down the computer. Wait! Maybe I should check my work e-mail. So... I did- and found an "angry parent e-mail." 
     Long story short, I wrote a suggestion on a paper that was a rough draft for a project. The girl wasn't sure what I meant so she talked to me. The parent note was telling me that they were upset that I had accused their child of cheating (which I didn't), reprimanding me for tearing their child down instead of being an encouragement and then letting me know that they CCd their english teacher. I'm assuming this is because I'm a specialist, which means I'm not a "real teacher" and I couldn't possibly give any educational feedback about writing about something music related. Needless to say, I was furious. To make matters worse, I have had the girl in my class for 2 years and her older brother for 4, so they should know me by now. I e-mailed the parent back and worded it very diplomatically (also CCd the English teacher). Here's what I would like to say to all of my friends who do not work in education:
      Although my contractual hours are 7:50-2:20, I rarely work those hours. Being a specialist, I do not sit at my desk all day and play on the computer while students do worksheets. (I do not know any teacher at my school who does- in any subject). In fact, being a specialist, I never sit down because I'm running all over the class making sure each individual student 'gets it."  I usually hit my 10,000 steps on my Fitbit before 11am.
      There are many times when I am "at home" where I am here but working on school stuff. Timmy's last project was not well done because I was too busy helping your kids to prepare for our concert, their projects (in my classes and others), and talking to families at parent night. There are days where I don't see my kids because I'm doing something that YOUR kids needed or wanted. In my head, there is constantly a running list of due dates and to do lists.
     I worry about some of your children as much as my own. One parent last year told me that they figured out the math- I was the adult that saw their child the most on an average week. In fact, when they combined the time both parents saw the student- it was only 25% more time than I saw them by myself. I get to know your kids over 4 years- I learn a lot and see signs of warning and improvements. Often times, I have difficult conversations to let you know some of the things your children are dealing with/doing or send home messages to say "Great job! Keep it up!" to you and your children. There are many kids who pass through my class once a year (I have 750 a year) that I don't get to know well, but MANY that I do. (About 1/3 of those kids since for me so I know them very well)
     When you tell me you didn't meet a deadline because you "were busy;" I understand this. I am busy too. In fact, because you missed my deadline, I may miss 2 or 3 of my own to make up for the time that was just wasted on the thing that I could not do because I wasn't prepared since you didn't turn in your stuff.
      I work extremely hard to be a good role model for your children. I give of my own time/money/ effort/ strength to do my job well and to provide your child with a great education. I genuinely care about your child and, realistically, about your families too. So... when you send me hateful e-mail that insults me and questions my integrity- it hurts and it makes me forget all of the good things that happened in my day.  It keeps me awake at night and makes me question every interaction with your kid.  It makes me wonder why I teach.   Just as I attempt to try to treat you professionally, in every action I have with you- I would appreciate the minimal reciprocation of that respect and kindness.

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