Monday, February 16, 2009

Memory vs Anecdotal Records

I've been searching around in old papers and found my anecdotal record for the bird incidents. I don't want to run this into the ground, but I put it here because it shows the difference between a detailed anecdotal record kept at the time of the incident and a story written from memory after four and a half years (See Jan 3,2009 Chickens and Pajaros). I have to type this into the computer all over again because the file somehow got deleted. This is why it is good to keep hard copies.


WEEK 2 OF SCHOOL YEAR (9-20-04 through 09-24-04)

Tuesday, 9/21 Period 2 Class 8K Room 600

Fire drill: Students made bird calls as they went down the staircase, out the door, and up the street. They continued making bird calls when we returned. I had the class repeat the drill because they had behaved so badly. Principal P came out of the office and reprimanded them. I called the parents of several students. I called the parents of several students.

Wednesday, 9/22

I sent home notices to the parents of 8-K that their children could have detention the following week because of misbehavior during a fire drill.

Friday, 9/24 Period 4 Class 8L Room 601

Coverage for Mrs. Garry. When I walked into the room, I was welcomed with hooting and trilling sounds. Several students started talking about birds by making statements such as "Are you going to teach us about BIRDS? Do you like BIRDS? Do you like to each CHICKEN? What's your favorite BIRD? Every time they said the word "bird" or the name of a bird they put extra emphasis on it and then started giggling hilariously. It became obvious to me that this was some kind of code and that the meaning of the word "bird" was not the same for me as it was for them. Every time I tried to start the lesson, they responded with bird calls. Mr. Z. came into the room, and I informed him that the students were making bird calls and I asked him if he knew what that meant. He replied that he did not, and left. Most of the students stopped at that point, but some continued referencing birds such as SPARROWS, PIGEONS, DUCKS, ETC. At the end of the period I took one of the students aside and asked him about the significance of the bird references. He said that it was a nickname for someone, and that it didn't mean anything.

When I walked out of the room (They had a double period in the same room) several students made bird calls and references to birds.

WEEK 3 OF SCHOOL YEAR (9-27-04 through 10-01-04)


I began mentioning my experiences of the second week to other teachers and asking them if they knew if bird was a code--perhaps for something gang related. Everyone I talked to said that they didn't know anything that could help me. I made several phone calls to parents of students advising them that their children were misbehaving in class, making rude noises, and not doing their work.

9/28 Between Periods 6 and 7 Class 8L room 613 (in front of Assistant Principal Z's office)

I was waiting just outside the door for the period to change. When the bell rang,
I walked into the classroom as the students got up to leave. Several students made bird calls and called out the word "bird". The teacher of 8L heard the calls and admonished them.

9/29 Periods 1 and 2 Class 8J Room 627

Bird calls. I called the parents of several students and noted their behavior on the section sheet.

During week of 9/27 to 10/1 I asked teachers, counselors, deans, and assistant pricipals if the word "bird" had a second meaning. I shared my concern that the bird calls might be gang related.

WEEK 4 OF SCHOOL YEAR (10-04-04 through 10-08-04)

10/08/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 613 (In front of office of Assistant Principal Z.)

The class that occupied 613 during period 7 was 8-L. Several students yelled out "bird" and made trilling noises while looking at me and pointing at me and laughing. I mentioned briefly to their teacher that they had done the same thing to me last Friday, and I was trying to find out if it was some kind of code. The teacher said she didn't know what the bird references could mean.

During this week I met with the parent of one of the students who was making the bird calls. I told her about her son's behavior. I asked her if she had any idea about why her son was making bird calls. I told her that I was worried that it might be gang related. She told me that she would talk to him and that it wouldn't happen again.

WEEK 5 (10-11-04 through 10-15-04)

During week 5 I continued to call parents of student sin my classes if they misbehaved or did not do their work.

10/12/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 613 (In front of Assistant Principal's office)

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls. Their teacher witnessed the behavior.

WEEK 6 OF THE SCHOOL YEAR (10-18-22 through 10-22-04)

During week 6 most of the bird references disappeared in students that I teach, but it continued in students I do not teach--especially those in class 8L.

10/19/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 413

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls and called out he word "bird". Their teacher witnessed the behavior and admonished the children.

WEEK 7 OF THE SCHOOL YEAR (10-25-04 through 10-29-04)

10/26/04 Between Period 6 and 7 Class 8L Room 413

As I walked into the classroom several students made bird calls. Their teacher admonished them.

10/28/04 3:00 PM Room 627

I met with the mother and grandmother of a student named Margaret Thatcher who was failing my class. During the meeting, the girl asked me in engish, in a taunting tone of voice if I had ever found out what "bird" meant. I speak sapnish, so I turned to the mother and grandmother and explained the trouble I had been having with many studens in 8J, 8K, and 8L. I said that they had been calling me "pajaro" (bird) and making "ruidos de pajaro" (bird calls). I asked the motehr if she had any idea what that might mean. Margaret's mother told me that the word "pajaro" means "gay" in Spanish. I asked Margaret if all the students who had been making those noises were doing so because they thought I was gay. Margaret shrugged her shoulders and said nothing. The mother and grandmother apologized and left.


I wrote a Dean's Referral for two boys in 8-12 who had persistently made bird calls every time they saw me for the past 7 weeks. I charged them with sexual harassment based on the new information that I had received from the parent the day before. Ms. Molly Ringwald, the dean asked me to write a statement to accompany each referral. When I left the school on Friday afternoon I found a not in my box from Ms. Ringwald stating that she had set up a meeting with the parents of the two boys for Monday and asked me to attend.

10/30/04 and 10/31

Over the weekend I took the opportunity to speak t several Spanish-speaking people in the neighborhood around the school (I live only a few blocks away from the schoo). They confirmed that "pajaro" means gay. However, they added that it was particularly insulting term, having reference to the fact of fellatio. One woman told me that her nephew, who was in high school, had gotten into a fight with some older boys who had called him "pajaro". Everyone I spoke to knew exactly what the alternative meaning was.

WEEK 8 (11-1-04 through 11-05-04)

Monday 11/01 Period 2 Molly Ringwald's office

I met with the parents of the two boys. One boy took out a statement, which he said he had written in Mr. Angulo's office. In the statement he accused me of calling him "birdman". I told him to put away his false st statement. I explained his behavior to his father in Spanish and conveyed the fact that he had been calling me pajaro over and over and over for weeks. All I had to do was say the word "pajaro" and there was no need for the boy to read his statement. The same was true for the second boy's parents. The parents scolded the boys, made them apologize to me, and we shook hands.

Monday 11/01 Period 7 Hansel Angulo's office

I asked Assistant Principal Angulo why he had allowed one of the boys to bring a statement to the meeting which basically accused me of doing to him what he had done to me over and over for seven weeks. Mr. Angulo tried to tell me that I was wrong about the interpretation of bird and that the boys had not been insulting me. Mr. Angulo stated that he was of Puerto Rican heritage and had never heard the term "pajaro" used in that way.

Monday 11/01 Period 8 Class 8-10 Room 627

Almost all the boys in the class began to make bird calls and shout out the word "bird" as soon as they came in. I had planned a test during that period, so things quieted down almost immediately, but the bird behavior began again as soon as I stopped the test. I kept most of the boys after dismissal and let the girls go. I lectured the boys, told them that I had found out what the word "pajaro" meant, I was disgusted by their behavior, and that I was pretty sure that their parents would feel the same way after I told them.

As I was talking to the boys, Mr. Angulo came in and reminded me that there was a professional development session taking place in my room after school, and that I should dismiss the students. I informed him about why I had kept them, and roughly two minutes later, I dismissed them As they left the room, they started making bird calls and shouting "She's a piece of shit." Several teachers were in the hallway and heard them. NOTE: At this point I did not mention in the Anecdotal Record that one of those "educators" was Mr. Angulo, and that as the students passed him he and another teacher started to laugh--but I have never forgotten that image, and I included it when I wrote the story from memory.

I started erasing the board. Teachers started coming into the room. I told each of them that my students had been calling out "bird" for the past two months, and I had just discovered that it meant homosexual. Mr. Angulo came in. I pointed out to him that neither he nor anyone in the building had helped me with this problem, and that I had had to find out for myself, by myself what all the bird calls were about. I repeated that he had helped a student prepare a false statement. The whole time I was talking to him I was washing the board. I began to cry and left the room.

1 comment:

Coach Grimmer said...

What ever happened? I am a high school math teacher and would have found a new position in a different district. I'm sorry to hear that you were given relatively no support from you coworkers.