Tsarina's World

The musings, rants, and general complaints of a schoolteacher in the MidWest. I have no real social life, which sucks for me personally, but makes my dog happy- he is the center of my universe! Come on in, take your shoes off and stay a while... who wants pie and coffee?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sick Tsarina

Grrr, I really dislike having a summer cold. I know, I know, there are much worse things that can (and have) happened in my life, but this is still unpleasant.

I'm also beginning to feel the pressure of teaching for ISATs. I've never taught 7th grade before, and they take the state science tests; there's a lot of pressure. The state has been telling us that "Next year, 8th grade will take them"...they've said that every year since I've been teaching. Again, I have no problem being held to a standard, but I wish they'd take a pre-test and a post-test and compare the growth. Instead, they're tested and compared against kids all over the country. At least 30% of my kids come to me with reading levels around 3rd grade. That means that in addition to teaching concepts like the relationship between mass and gravity, I also have to work on reading skills. Please don't take my kvetching to heart, I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. I love my job, I love my kids, and I love my life.

J's boys are in Chicago with their grandma right now, shopping for school clothes. I got their supplies, which allowed her to be able to get some clothes for them. She's such a sweet woman, and she loves those boys with all of her heart. I got two of them shoes a couple of weeks ago, and was going to get the other two shoes now, but will have to wait til they get back. To them, shoes = love.

In the "every silver lining surrounds a dark cloud category", I talked to my mom yesterday. It's been a month, a very tranquil, happy month. My parents seem to think that I don't care that I still need to get the house up north sold. Trust me, I want to get out from under that monstrosity. My mom called, said "you sound sick. Have you gotten the house on the market yet?" Thanks for the concern, mom. I don't want to tell them that I owe 1200 dollars in back taxes before I can sell it.

God, I am so frickin addicted to Flavor of Love that it's embarassing. How can one hideous man, no matter how rich, find this many girls willing to humiliate themselves on national TV? Granted, they are not the top of the line women, but I can not believe that there are this many attention-starved women in the country.

Ok, I'm gonna go nap for a while. Have a great week.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Random Ramblings

Sigh, finally a (relatively) calm week. We still don't have a math teacher on our team. Amy applied to transfer, but HR is dragging their feet. She's an excellent math teacher (a rare find), and our old school does not want to let her go so close to their classes starting.

I have to admit, she did really upset me last night, though. J was with us and she began saying things that you should not say in front of someone's significant other. She started telling him about a guy I used to sleep with, even though I kept telling her that he didn't want to hear about it. He really doesn't, just like I don't want to hear details about his previous trysts. It's not that we are jealous, we've just discussed it and think that it's not important. She said a few other things, acting like she was joking, but she knew what she was doing.

She's feeling really unhappy lately: she finally has had to open her eyes to what we've all known for over a year. They guy she's been "seeing" is really using her for her money. As long as she buys him whatever he wants, he calls her and allows her to take him to dinner or a movie (always out of town). Unfortunately, since her divorce has been finalized, she doesn't have access to the same amount of cash as before, and she has to tell him no more often. His calls are less frequent and less friendly. Also, her son has been spending most of his time with his dad, as dad's new girlfriend has kids around his age, and dad has a pool. I know she's lonely and she envies J's devotion to me, but I feel like I finally deserve someone who's good to me. She should be happy. I was happy for her when she first met this loser and was giddy with joy. I'm going to have to talk to her about this.

I have to admit, J not having a steady job is draining me. He works, but he makes little to nothing because he allows people to underpay him. He's currently working for a handyman service, and makes about $60 a day, although sometimes those days are 10 hours. Needless to say, we depend mostly on my income, and I'm beginning to resent it. I know he's applying for jobs, but nothing seems to come from it. The job market is really tight here for blue-collar jobs, and he has no desire to be trained for anything else. I want him to have a job he likes, but I honestly wish he'd just find SOMETHING.

I have so much work to do for school. We have a 3 week break coming up in Sept, and I can't wait!!!! I like my job, and the kids, but the beginning of the year is always hard. I've got 2 classes that I can relax a little and have a little more fun. The algebra kids are, as usual, the most difficult. They are so used to looking things up in a book and filling in the blanks that it takes them a long time to adjust to me. I always tell them that I don't want them to memorize facts and spit them back at me- I want them to think for themselves and go beyond the question at hand. Other kids are more willing to be creative thinkers, but these kids are so concerned with being "perfect" that they're afraid to take chances. It's sad, really, and I hope this group will come around.

Ok, work to do. Have a great weekend.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Geez, how does the time get by so fast? We're about to start our third week of school already. I've finally got most of the names, but every day there is at least one new student in my classes. I'm going out with the girls tonight- it's been ages and I'm really looking forward to it. There is a huge festival downtown, and it's a great place to see former students. I need to go to the store and get some Citron for some special homemade lemon shake-ups.

Things have gone from bad to worse with John (and I believe James as well). J witnessed some suspicious behavior yesterday at the boy's grandma's house (where they live) involving John. When he asked one of their cousins what was going on, he confirmed that John was selling drugs. We brought them over here so he could talk with them. I was really pissed at James, who didn't seem to take his dad seriously, so I pulled him in the other room and talked with him while J talked to John. Every since he was in my class, James wants so badly to please me and to present his best side to me. I think that's why it's more effective when I talk about serious things to him than his dad.

I finally told him that I know he is not as innocent as he wants me to believe, and he started to cry. I explained that their dad had come home earlier crying because he's so afraid that his boys are on the same path his brother was (his brother died a year ago after a lifetime in and out of prison.). I explained that we all love John, but he's obviously too stubborn to learn from other people's mistakes, and it is stupid to tag along when you know what is going to happen. I asked him to promise me that whatever they're into, they would get out and stay out. He did....we'll see.

John was also picked up this week for something that happened before his most recent arrest. Apparently he was with another guy and John was driving when they had an accident and left the scene. The drama continues.

On the bright side, I'm really beginning to enjoy my classes. I've even been able to smile in all but one of them. I DO like the fact that they think I'm really mean (hehehe). I keep hearing that their teacher last year let them do this or that-- I smile and reply "Ok, thanks for the history note, but the answer is still no" (hehehe). Their teacher last year was also emotionally unstable after come from a wealthy suburban school into our district. She took early retirement.

I think you have to have a certain make-up to want to work with our kids. My new school is primarily African-American with 85% of students living in poverty. Most of the schools in the district are very similar. To me, it's such a challenge and such a rush when I reach them. When you see the look on their faces when they find out that they CAN be successful at something (like school) that has always seemed impossible to them. These kids need me. I've never liked being in the schools where the kids would have learned whether I was there or not. Sure, those kids need good teachers, but I don't have much interest in that. I love watching my kids go from thinking I'm out of my mind to believe that they can do something to the point where they're really proud of the fact that they did it. Most of them amaze me every day- after what most of them have gone through in their lives, just coming to school can be a monumental accomplishment.

Ok, I still need Citron, and the music and corn dogs await. Have a great weekend, and thanks for your continued prayers for my wayward lamb.