A Long Week

Have you ever had one of those weeks?  You just feel like Friday will never come.  Obviously this was one of those weeks for me.  At the beginning of the week I had to deal with a student who no longer wanted to be at our school and he was refusing to come at all.  There was a lot of contention between him and his mother which she ended up channeling to me because she was just so frustrated.  So, I had to deal with the special education process for that and set up a meeting so the team could talk about options and appropriate placements.  It ended well, but it was tough dealing with it for the week.  I put some new options onto the table and generally helped the student feel better about his placement and his school day.

I also had a student (who had a baby over the summer) who has been living with no electricity.  It had been several days by the time she talked to me about it.  Apparently her mother hasn’t paid the electric bill in so long they owe over $1300, and her mother has burned all of her “payment plan” bridges with the company.  This girl told me that they have an extension cord running to a neighbor’s apartment to keep the fridge running, but they have nothing else.  It’s been chilly at night so they’ve been swaddling the baby up with a lot of blankets.  I was outraged on this girl’s behalf, and frustrated that she is living with a parent who cannot or will not take responsibility for the bills as well as she ought to.  I got some information about local programs to help her out so that she might take it upon herself to improve things, if not for herself then for her baby.  I called a number and got information for this girl; I told the girl to take the bill (and her baby) to the community action office (and gave her the address) because they were going to help her out.  Yesterday I asked her how it went and she said, “Well, my mom called, but they couldn’t really do anything to help us.”  After all that I was frustrated with my student who now has the adult responsibility of being a parent, but doesn’t know how to be responsible for  her child properly.  Our school social worker said that we need to report it to our city’s child protective services on Monday if they still don’t have electricity because it endangers the baby to swaddle it up under a lot of blankets.

I’ve also been dealing with my school district‘s need for all technology applications to be free.  They don’t want us buying any programs when free ones work just as well.  The truth is the free ones don’t work just as well.  My school keeps behavioral and attendance data on students on a daily basis; that data is compiled bi-weekly for parent/teacher meetings.  We have been using Excel for the last 8 years to compile this data and merge it into a “parent-friendly” Word document.  This year we went to the totally free Open Office program.  Well, our Excel spreadsheets don’t work because merging statistical data is too sophisticated; so, with the help of another teacher, we re-made the whole data collection spreadsheet right down to all the calculation formulas.  It should also be mentioned that there is no one in our district yet trained enough in the program to train teachers to use it…so this teacher and I taught ourselves.  It is similar enough to Excel that we learned quickly, but we soon discovered that some basic calculation functions in Excel don’t exist in Open Office, so we had to figure those out.  We finished the spreadsheet today with a sheet that calculates year-to-date data so we can share it with parents.  Open Office doesn’t merge easily the way Excel can, so that sheet is, unfortunately, less parent-friendly than before, but at least it’s useable.  Now next week we can make a separate copy for each student in the school.

I will close with a comment I got today from a parent related to the fact that students have 2 days off next week because of teacher inservice.  She said, “Wow can’t you guys train on Saturdays and Sundays, it seems like you guys never have to work.”  I’m so glad it’s the weekend