Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday, March 11, 2005

Every year I get this horrible cough. I don’t know what it is. I have been sick, at least a little, since last Sunday. So I am going on two weeks. It isn’t pretty. Plus, last night, the horrible cough came on.

The horrible cough consists of coughing and hacking and hacking and coughing for what seems to be no reason. I am not congested. I just have an irrepressible urge to cough over and over until I wish someone would smack me in the head and knock me into sweet oblivion. Last night, as I caught up on my missed L Word episodes, I realized that the cough was here in earnest. Nothing stops it. Not Vicks Vaporub, cough syrup, nothing.

Last night I coughed instead of slept. Then I had to come to work. I could barely teach because of the coughing. The students stared at me somewhat sympathetically, but also looking concerned that I may be infecting them with something. One of my students asked me if I was positive that I didn’t have SARS.

So now, I am going to brave the local clinic. I have insurance, but I hate to go anyway. I know I will be in a room with screaming, infected babies and pale elderly people. I will be afraid to touch the magazines or breathe the air. My only hope is that I get some cough syrup with Codeine. Sweet, sweet codeine.
¶ 3:06 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2005

I don't even know where to start with America's Next Top Model.

I am so angry. Brita was my favorite. I thought that we was really the most classically beautiful girl there. Though classically beautiful doesn't necessarily have to win the competition, I don't think that she deserved to be booted off the first episode. She was so much more attractive than most of the other girls. And she seemed pretty cool.

She did take a terrible picture-- but most of the winners have, by the end. And is she really less of a top model than googly-eyes? Manly Stanley? No-neck wrestler girl?

And will Tiffany ever stop crying? It seems like if someone asked her if she wanted a sandwich it would somehow end up with a story about how she slept on a bed of nails in a crackhouse with her baby or something.

I thought that Brittany was awful subdued this last episode. And I like Lluvy and Naima.

In other non-reality show news, I figured out what to teach next. I thank everyone for the suggestions. I may use them at a later date. I decided to do a folk-tale unit. I like doing this unit because I get to read the kids stories. I always pretend it is "story time" and I act exactly like I did when I was a pre-school teacher. The eighth-graders I teach get a big kick out me having them gather around on the floor and saying things like "This is a big rabbit, isn't it boys and girls? If you have ever seen a rabbit, please put your finger on your nose." They are strangely willing to embarrass themselves in this way. I love it.

I will go mourn the loss of Brita, now.
¶ 11:09 AM
Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I love the South.

I heard the most wonderful story today. This principal of a school came and spoke to us. He told us the tale of his first year as a vice-principal. He said there were two boys that gave him "fits" (an expression that I love). He tried everything he could think of to make them behave and nothing would work.

So he decided to try to figure out what moved them. He found out that they were very active in their church. So, one Sunday morning, he dressed up and went to the services at their church. When the preacher—who happened to be the boys’ grandmother—asked if anyone wanted to come up and ask for prayers, he walked down to the front of the church.

He asked for help and patience in dealing with the boys. The grandmother/ preacher brought the two boys forward. She then smacked each on the forehead hollering, "What ever is in there, GET OUT! Get out, Satan! Go!"

Apparently the boys were much better behaved after that. Can you imagine? How wonderful to see an irritating student be exorcised.
¶ 1:30 PM
Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I am having a problem. I have no idea what to teach next.

Normally I can sort through my options and come up with something kind of interesting to do with my classes. But I just finished a persuasive writing unit and I don't have anything to follow it. I was going to do a poetry unit, but the other eighth grade teacher isn't ready yet and we need to be aligned so that we can do this slam poetry thing together.

I feel a lot like I did in my first few months of teaching when I would sit in my living room surrounded by textbooks and printouts and teacher resources feeling like I was going to cry. I also know that I am going to be observed very soon (maybe today?) and that makes it even worse.

I don't know why I can't commit to a unit for these next three weeks before spring break. I am at a total loss. I am never sitting in my room right before the bell and not knowing what I am going to do. But I am a little, today.

I got The Outsiders movie. I haven't had time to teach that novel and I think it is an important one. Maybe I will just show this movie and have them answer comprehension questions. Is that legitimate? What is with my weird crisis of faith?

Okay. Calming down. Going to show a movie....
¶ 7:54 AM
Monday, March 07, 2005

I am having a very happy teacher morning.

It didn't start that way. I woke up feeling pleasantly refreshed. The sun was streaming through my blinds and I stretched and yawned, happily satiated in my sleep. Then I panicked because normally it is dark as night when I wake up and I feel horribly under-rested.

I had slept through the alarm. I called into school, told them I would be about a half an hour late, and then sped to school. I had visions of all of the terrible things that would occur because I wasn't there and whomever was watching them had no plan. I just imagined chaos when I arrived.

When I got there, however, it turned out that the kids had told the assistant principal who was watching them what they would normally be doing. So I arrived to them starting their morning focus lesson, changing the date and objective on my board, and generally being superstar students. She was impressed and I was flabbergasted. I expected much less of them; and I will try not to do that again.

Also, my kids essays are due today. And I got a stack of these wonderful, type-written essays! And each essay have six paragraphs, just like they are supposed to! That is right, ya'll! Six paragraphs. Unbelievable. I am so pleased.
¶ 10:56 AM
Friday, March 04, 2005

I haven't had much to write about lately. Today I realized that it is because my personal life has officially out-dramatized my teaching life. I am not sure if that is good or bad. Because I don't write so much about my personal life, this development leaves my blog a little lonely.

I will post a couple of thoughts.

One: I have volunteered to, not only teach summer school, but develop a whole year of lessons with another teacher. I mean, I 'll get paid, but I didn't have to do it. I take this as a good sign. Last year you would have had to tie me down to get me to come to school during the summer. My williness to do it this year signals to me that I must be much happier and more secure. Good.

Two: America's Next Top Model was wonderful. I was left pondering a few things:

a. Why are 90% of this season's girls unnattractive? Shouldn't most of them be pretty?
b. Will someone lose an eye with Cat Woman around? Will she become more and more horrifyingly feline as the season progresses?
c. If someone does lose an eye, will it be the pop-eyed girl (whom I will now lovingly refer to as "googly")?
d. When did America's Next Top Model become America's Saddest Model? Why did they all tell us sob stories on the first show? Were they all homeless/ single mothers/ broke?
e. How will Janice handle her strange and awful doppleganger? Will they both survive?

These things and more shall become clear.
¶ 10:55 AM
Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Today is day two of calling in sick. Yesterday I felt terrible. Today I just feel a little exhausted.

But I shall buck up because tonight is the premiere of Season 4 of America's Next Top Model! This is not a teacher related blog today. Today it is a model related blog. I can't wait to see the new crew of ladies! Last season was so funny.

I shall finish coughing and prepare to be entranced!
¶ 7:43 AM
Monday, February 28, 2005

Weather people suck.

I guess I can’t blame them for the weather. But why do they always play me out by promising snow and then nothing comes? I am a girl who likes follow through. I don’t like it when I am supposed to get off work at 8pm and I get off at 8:15pm. I can’t stand it when I expect that I am going to go somewhere and it turns out that I can’t. I don’t need specific things—I’m pretty easy-going, really—unless they have been promised to me and I am looking forward to them.

So, when I went to bed the weather people were expecting up to six inches of snow. They sounded pretty firm about it, too. I went to sleep dreaming of that 5am phone call where my team leader tells me to go back to sleep. I love waking up to that call, going to look out my window at the pretty snow, then snuggling back under my down comforter. I love to get up whenever I want and leisurely drink coffee and read or take a bath. Snow days are like gifts.

I wouldn’t have minded coming to work today if they hadn’t promised snow. I wouldn’t have thought twice about getting up at the crack of dawn, struggling into my teacher clothes as quickly as possible to counter the frigid cold in my apartment, and driving my half-an-hour commute. It would have just been a normal day.

Instead, I am angry. I am so mad that I have to be here. The kids are mad, too. We feel cheated. We feel like we shouldn’t have to really work or anything since we weren’t supposed to be here to begin with.

I guess we’ll just have to suck it up. But those weather people should be ashamed.
¶ 9:23 AM
Friday, February 25, 2005

I got the vice-principal in trouble with the principal today! Quite an accomplishment.

The problem started when we had an assembly today. I can't stand assemblies, as they are just a powder-keg waiting to explode. Today's went fine, but as I was sitting nervously scanning the crowd for the first sign of violent eruption, the vice-principal came and sat down next to me.

Little did she know that I am a incurable smart-ass. I really can't help it. I can't help sort of making little quips about what is going on, especially at a cheesy middle-school assembly where a lot of funny things are happening all the time. I kept making her laugh and she kept looking anxiously over at the principal who was sitting with the superintendant. The principal kept glaring at the vice-principal who was so clearly laughing at the children during this somber gathering.

Finally the head of our English department stood up to thank everyone who had performed. She said, "We have had many events here at G Middle. And all of them have been more exciting and wonderful than this one. Please give the planners your applause." No one seemed to notice that she had inadvertantly insulted the assembly except for me and the vice-principal. She looked over at me and I started to snort. She started too. Then I kept pretending to be the English lead, saying things like, "Thank you for completely underwhelming us today!" and "This is the least best assembly, ever!"

In the end, apparently the principal got on her for being disrespectful during the ceremony and we agreed to never sit next to one another again. At this rate they will have to sequester me in another building when the children get together and perform.
¶ 3:46 PM
Thursday, February 24, 2005

My students and I have slipped into the love part of the yearly cycle. Do you have this too? In the beginning of the year, they seem to like me. Then after a month or two they begin to dislike me. By Christmas, they hate me and wish me nothing but misery and harm. After Christmas, they seem disinterested. But right about now—pre-spring—they love me. They are comfortable with me, joke with me, and understand when I am kidding and when I’m not. It is such a blissful state. Too bad I have the whole spring cycle coming up. Spring is when they think of nothing but their boyfriends or girlfriends and see me only as an obstacle to their love. In spring I become the person who is responsible for seizing their forbidden love letters, the spy who roams the bathrooms looking for couples holed up in there, and the evil monster who expects them to read and write when they should be expending all of their energy on planning their marriage. I’ll just enjoy this pre-spring time while I can.

In other news, Angry Teacher wasn’t even reprimanded for her behavior. When I talked to her about it again, she told that she was trying to drink this sleepy-time tea stuff during the day. She says it keeps her "steady". All day yesterday when I saw her, she was holding her teacup so tightly her knuckles were white. She was swilling the stuff by the gallon. What does a teacher need to do to get in trouble around this place? Actually hit the kid with the podium? Gee whiz. I hope she remembered her calming herbal tea this morning.
¶ 7:45 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dear Angry Teacher,

I'm sorry that you are having a bad day. I am sorry that it is only 7am. I know you must be having a bad day already because when I say "Good morning!" you always reply with, "Is it?" or, my favorite, "Can't be that good. I'm here." These kinds of early morning messages really help me prepare for a day of wonderment and loving interaction with my students.

I'm also very sorry that you decided to have a lab with your students today. Sounded like a good idea, but when I heard the screaming from your room and the buffalo stampeding of out-of-control children careening around the hallway I knew it wasn't. I was sad to hear you yelling things like, "I WILL LEAVE THIS PLACE! DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU HEAR ME?" I could bearly concentrate on teaching my lesson from the constant and ear-ringing slamming of your door over and over. I found it even harder to pay attention to my students when one of yours came into my room and sheepishly informed me, "Mrs. Angry Teacher done lost her mind. She gone."

Once the vice-principal convinced you to put down your car keys and get back into the room, I had high hopes for the rest of your day. However, when I heard you bellowing, "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHAT IS THE M A T T E R WITH YOU? ARE YOU STUPID? ARE YOU A MORON? YOU MUST BE!" at a student that I also teach, my heart sank.

It sank further when, after school was finally over, you told me that you had thrown your entire podium as far across the room as you could. You told me this with a smug smile of furious satisfaction and declared that you would hold a (entirely ineffectual) silent lunch tomorrow. I asked you if you thought your furniture toss was a little much. You simply replied, "At least it wasn't a student...yet."

I know the kids are irritating. I teach the same ones you do. They make me mad. They push my buttons. But can I give you a bit of advice, Angry Teacher? Even though you have been teaching decades longer than me? The anger and shouting doesn't seem to be working. Especially since I don't yell and scream and insult and the kids do better with me than you. It didn't work when you busted your overhead marker in half out of rage and colored your hands and your floor green. It didn't work when you backed a student up against a fence and hollered in his face until he finally threw his binder across the field. From what the students told me, the podium throw didn't help them want to listen better or do more work.

You hate teaching. You hate the kids. If I had so little control, I would hate it all, too. Perhaps a career change is in order? I mean, I know you have a lot of years racked up, but are you happy? At all? Please consider what I am saying. If you hate kids and teaching, please do something else. You don't help the students. You certainly aren't helping yourself.

I write this with much love and hope for your future happiness.

Take care, Angry Teacher.


¶ 4:37 PM
Saturday, February 19, 2005

As a Teach for America alum, I felt like I should post this Onion article. It is so funny.
¶ 12:26 PM
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It finally happened to me. That moment. That moment that I had nightmares about on the night before my first day teaching. It happened to me.

I stood in front of my class to teach. The Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum was observing me. My fly was completely unzipped.

Luckily, one of my nice students motioned me to talk to her. I said, "Just a minute." She said, "No, Ms. R. Please? Can I just tell you something?" Then she whispered in my ear, "I’m not looking or anything, but your zipper is down."

I thanked her and zipped up my coat. I was right in the middle of a lesson about double-bubble maps—a lesson, incidentally, that required me to stand on tip-toes and point, thusly opening my fly even farther—so I couldn’t just zip it right in front of everyone. I stopped pointing and tried to move on.

I don’t know if the person observing me saw my zipper down. But I thank the stars above that one of the kids just didn’t scream out, "I can see your underwear!" or worse, that the entire room didn’t just giggle and make fun of me and not tell me at all.

I am so thankful that I just gave the girl who told me quietly all of my Valentine’s Day candy.
¶ 9:34 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Two teachers just stopped outside my door. One said, "Mrs. I! You won’t believe it!" Mrs. I replied, "Tell me!" The first teacher said, "Jesus talked to me last night. He said that I was bathed in the light of the holy cross and that I had passed my Praxis exam!" Mrs. I squealed, "Sweet, sweet, sweet Jesus! Praise Him!"

I couldn’t make this stuff up. I wonder what it will be like to teach somewhere not this religious. I find all of it fascinating…especially the visuals that these kinds of conversations conjure. I don’t know if I will ever be able to look at a troubled student again and not picture him or her "hanging on the cross with Jesus".

In other news, I am waiting on my Praxis results, too. But I have received word neither from the Praxis people or Jesus. I guess I just have to wait for the U.S. mail.
¶ 8:06 AM
Friday, February 11, 2005
We are finishing up Lord of the Flies in my class with much excitement. They have really liked this novel and their observations have been astounding. I thought I would share some of their responses to the journal topic, "If you were dropped on this island and had to be chief, what would you do?"

"I would be nice to Piggy cause they alwayz talking about Piggy and call him names. Cause they get jealous and say fat, greek, Piggy, Piggy, Piggy." (I didn't realize Piggy was Greek!)

"I would smack Jack becuz Jack smack Piggy and make his glasses fall off. Thats not cool."

"The way I would get peace is tell everybody to shut up because I am boss and call meetings all the time if they act up or just been wrong and never quite!!!"

"I would act like a stright fool unknown." (This is the journal entry in its entirety).

"I would probly die because I am not strong because I am a girl. So I would just die."

"No poop by the fruit. That is nasty."

"I would make rules like only 6 cocanuts a day. If they have cocanuts. I don't think they do."

"I would still kill pigs because I like bacon but not all wrong like Roger. Do you know he stick a stick up that fat pig but? You don't have to stick sticks anywhere to eat. You could just eat."

I think they got the main points. Interesting what each student focuses on. ¶ 8:10 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2005
You know what I love? Campbell’s Soup at Hand. How wonderfully convenient! I can’t say enough about the ease of having a sturdy thing of soup that has to be microwaved for two minutes and then drank out of the same sturdy thing. I can let it roll around my bag. No muss, no fuss. I can then just carry it around with me while I make copies, talk to parents, etc. What a wonder.

You know what I hate? War. Hate. Prejudice.

Speaking of prejudice…

The conference that I went to yesterday turned out to be about teaching English Language Learners (ELL). These are students who used to be referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL) students. In my district, as in many districts, these students are overwhelmingly Hispanic—mainly from Mexico. Had I known this was the kind of conference I was going to, I probably would not have gone. My family is Mexican and I don’t find the attitudes around where I work very favorable towards Mexicans. I would have realized that I would probably only end up offended and would have bowed out. However, I didn’t know.

At the beginning of the conference, the woman in charged talked about the change from "ESL" to "ELL". This change takes into account that some kids know more than just their native language and so English may not be their second language) and sneered, "Probably this change came out of California somewhere. All of this ridiculous political correctness, my word!" Being from California, I took this as my first indication of trouble.

I won’t bore you with too much mention of the general snarling disgust in most teachers’ voices when talking about these "ELL’S", as they were referred to through the entire day. They kept saying things like, "They are taking over" and "They are everywhere, now"—phrases that bring to mind infestation of insects rather than an abundance of students in a school. I won’t linger too long on the fact that they kept referring to our ELL students as "those kids" and the regular education students as "our kids". You know, like "Those kids take up resources that our kids used to get".

I was more upset when the woman who led this thing said, in a warning tone, "Even more of them are coming!" She cited her proof as, "They are building trailer parks by the school! So you know they are on their way!" Clearly, trailer park equals Mexican.

I was most upset when one of my co-workers (I wrote of him the other day, the guy who thinks he knows everything and makes meeting last forever) said, "Most of those kids know English. They are just faking it because they are lazy. If I say, ‘Get moving, Mexican Jumping Bean’ I bet they would know what I was saying."

I freaked out a little and just kept sputtering, "That is so offensive. That is so offensive." But he never listens to anyone and probably didn’t hear me and everyone else in the room was so mortified by the potential confrontation that they moved on very quickly and didn’t let me speak. I spent the rest of the day glaring at him. And he didn’t notice because he lives without any sort of recognition that there are other people on the planet with him.

I have to do this thing four more times. Someone is going down before it is over. I don’t think I am capable of just letting these horrible attitudes slide for three more entire days. Luckily, it is only once a month.
¶ 8:44 AM
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
I am frightened and guilty.

I have been chosen to go on this workshop with a few other teachers. I leaped at the opportunity because those of us going get to go to five all-day sessions of this thing. While I know that I will kick myself later when I am sitting in some boring conference room hour after hour, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get away from my kids for five whole days and still get paid.

However. Tomorrow my students are going on a big field trip. It is a complicated affair where they have to interview people. There will be other schools there. I know that it will be madness. Only the tightest reigns will keep this thing together. And tomorrow is day one of my conference.

This means that I will be leaving this field-trip up to my substitute. I know some subs read this, so I will just apologize to you, in case it is you that will have to slap name tags on my obstinate students who will insist that they can't wear them because it will ruin their clothes. Oh, and I am sorry that they will throw things in bus and cause the bus-driver to scream so near your head. I regret the fact that you may not be able to find some of them after the get off the bus because they will be lurking around the back of the building to make-out with one another. I am all torn up about your shirt or pants that one of them will ruin by spilling something on you...or worse, throwing up.

I feel so guilty making a sub go on a field-trip. I hate going on field-trips. They are so stressful and awful. I am very sorry that you may have to deal with that while I sip coffee and listen (by listen I mean doodle and daydream) to a presenter and do ice-breakers. I'm sorry.
¶ 3:22 AM
Saturday, February 05, 2005
I am having one of those weekends that makes me realize how separate "real life" is from my "teaching life". That is to say that I am having a weekend of complete debauchery. I know that on Monday I will be in front of my students at some point saying something like, "Your education is your ticket to freedom!" and then I will remember myself only days before drunk and stumbling through my apartment fumbling for the light-switch. And I will be tickled.
¶ 7:10 PM
Friday, February 04, 2005
I just got another poster to put up in my room.

Is this common? Do all districts mandate eight hundred posters to be hung from teacher’s walls? This most recent one is a very nice poster that says we will get 90% of our students to pass the state test by next year. It is very nice. It is very unrealistic and I have to wonder why we spent all this money to print a lie on really good paper, but it is a pretty sign. Last month we got these HUGE posters that tell what kids are supposed to know by the end of year. Also very unrealistic, and nice, and did I mention HUGE? I had to take down some of my word wall to put it up. We are also required to have posters with the school rules, the team rules, announcements, editing marks, etc. Every surface of my room is covered.

It seems like my district thinks that if the kids stare at something long enough, they will learn it and do it. I have to wonder if money wouldn’t be better spent on something other than signs that just seem like wishes. 90% of our kids passing the test by next year? Really? How, by looking at signs?

These online classes, coupled with my insistence on a social life, are really kicking my bootie. I have cable that I am too busy to watch, a gym membership I am too tired to use, and a comfy couch that I no longer get to lay on and blissfully eat sunflower seeds. I want these classes over. Going out last night seemed like a great idea. I had fun and hung out with good people and ate delicious fries and drank delicious beers and listened to cheesy songs from a jukebox. But this morning my coat smells like cigarettes, my eyes are puffy, and I would sell some serious blood in order to go back to bed.

I wish only that the children would be quiet today.
¶ 5:03 AM
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
I got horrible news about one of my students today. She has been gone from class for a few days. Then the guidance counselor came and confiscated all of the daily newspapers. Later, when I looked at them, I realized why. My student was in the paper. Let's just say it had something to do with a stepfather, child-protective services, and a suicide attempt. Sadly, I am sure you can connect the dots.

This is the girl I had written about who I sort of thought had a crush on me. She was always hanging around me. She came really early to school every morning, but another teacher yelled at her for doing that (it is technically against the rules to be at school before a certain time) and she stopped coming. When I was thinking about her today, I suddenly wondered if she had been coming so early to get away from him. When I thought of her being told she couldn't come to my room anymore, I just sort of wanted to throw up.

There was a picture of the stepdad in the paper. When I found out what had happened, I just sat in my room (during my planning) and stared at it. I thought about how if he happened to walk through my door at that moment, I really think I could just kill him. I know it isn't helpful to wonder, "How could he?" but that is all I can wonder.

Now I am supposed to be writing two papers for my stupid online classes and I just feel incapable of it. I'm so tired of feeling so helpless in the face of my students problems. No wonder they aren't paying attention to what the antecedent of a pronoun is. Jesus.
¶ 4:22 PM
Monday, January 31, 2005
How do obnoxious people have absolutely no idea that they are obnoxiou? Why do they get let off the hook in such a way? Why must we all endure them in silence? Couldn't one of us sit them down and say, "Look. I'm sure you want to be liked. I'm sure you don't understand how obnoxious you are. Let me tell you the ways in which you irritate the hell out of everyone." It would be a public service, no? And good for them, too?

There is a teacher here who has what a friend of mine describes as talkamonia syndrome. It is this syndrome makes a person believe that everyone would be happy just to sit an listen to them talk, whether or not they have anything on topic or of interest to say. These people cannot let a comment go by without responding to it, even if what they are going to say has just been said by someone else. This person turns "quick" gatherings into marathons and makes your heart sink when they walk through a door of one of your meetings. These people have a tendency to miss every other meeting and so then must be brought to speed when they do appear and they insist on asking a million questions about things that people who were responsible enough to show up have already covered.

One such gentleman who suffers from this works at my school. Today the conversation in the meeting went something like this:

Me: We are here to talk about the Career Fair and divide up the tasks.
Him: Yeah, well, before we get to that, what are we going to do about L’s suspension?
Me: We came to a conclusion about that last time. I’ll be happy to catch you up later, but right now we need to—
Him: Yeah, because I’m not going to tolerate that kind of behavior from him. Once, when I told him to—
Me: Please, if we can just get to—
Him: --go back to class and do you know what he did? He—

I wished him slight harm by the end of the fourty minute meeting that was scheduled to last ten. He needs an intervention.
¶ 1:38 PM
Sunday, January 30, 2005
I am taking a couple of online classes. Not only am I taking classes while teaching full-time and working part-time, I am taking accelerated classes...which means they only last three weeks, but I have papers due almost every day. Since I am taking two classes, I have two papers due almost every day. I am putting myself through hell.

I am always amazed by how little an instructor will accept and call it good. I have been writing my papers in a matter of a half an hour or maybe an hour, if I am lucky. I'm not getting A's. Oh, no. But I am getting B's and I will definately pass these classes with just spewing bull. I am a little mad at one of my classes though. It is full of over-achievers who are clearly doing the reading. They just make it harder in the rest of us who are just reading the posted responses and then paraphrasing them for the instructor. Bastards.

I also find that online classes may not be the best thing for me. You see, I tend to have a beer or two or a glass of wine or three in the evenings...which means that I have been doing a lot of my school work kind of drunk. C'est la vie, no?

Tomorrow is a 2-hour delay. Why? There isn't a bit of ice on the road that I can see. What is up with North Carolina? Not that I am going to complain too much. With delays we don't have to make up the time on a Saturday or the summer. So bring it on.
¶ 5:56 PM
Saturday, January 29, 2005
So, the forecast for where I live is calling for freezing rain and some sort of ice-storm. I, of course, having been paying no attention to such things. I always think that nothing is actually going to happen.

But this morning, Owen called to tell me I might want to go to the store to stock up on food. I obediently did so. But when I got to the store, I realized that I had no idea what stocking up on food meant. You always hear about people getting bread and milk. But what do they do with it? They don't just sit around munching bread and sipping milk, right? Do they have cereal? Because I don't like cereal. And I don't much care for milk. I don't feel like eating sandwiches, which is the only thing I can think of to do with bread at the moment. Anyway, I ended up walking out of there with chips, wine, soda, and pasta. So I won't die of starvation and I can be drunk if my power goes out and I have to be cold.

This day is a great opportunity for me to do some work for my classes so that I am not slammed this week! Perfect! I think I'll watch some cable first... just for a minute or two...
¶ 7:27 AM
Thursday, January 27, 2005
This morning I got into one of those teacher conversations about how shocking our kids' lack of respect for authority can be. We were all lamenting what our society is going to turn into once these kids are in charge of everything. I've been thinking about television and how it sets an example. The examples of parenting that I have seen lately show a trend, for sure. Nanny 911. Super Nanny. The Soprano's. Any sitcom.

Have you noticed that all the kids on television treat their parents like crap? And have you noticed how it is supposed to be funny? And have you also noticed that the parents are completely ineffectual at parenting? What kind of example does this set and what are the effects of it?

Now, I know some awesome parents. My brother and his wife are amazingly artful at parenting my niece and nephew. It seems to come to them naturally and they love their kids enough to be thoughtful with their consequences and be firm without being mean. Good parents are out there. I know my niece will probably not come to 8th grade and tell her teacher to "Shut up, B$@%&". But there are so many kids who have no respect for authority and I have to wonder how much of that is learned from the media (I know there are tons of other factors, too).

But the conversation with my fellow teachers ended with all of them deciding that kids just needed to be spanked more. That to fix this problem we should hit them and then they won't be rude because they'll be afraid. I have always been against spanking (and I still am), but this environment challenges me on that. Some of my students respond to "the rod". But I'm sticking to my non-violent guns. My brother and his wife don't spank their kids and they mind. I know it can be done. ¶ 4:48 AM
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I wonder why it is so hard to forget what you know. Like, I knew that the second half of the year is so much easier than the first, but I still fell into the December hole. All December I felt terrible and useless as a teacher-- it was hard to get over.

But now, at the end of January, I feel great. I guess it takes half a year for the vibe to work itself out in the classroom and for the kids to really trust you and get what you are trying to do. I have had some really cool conversations with my kids this week-- some about school stuff and some not. And when I came into school on Monday (they hadn't seen me for three days due to snow) I had kids all over the place saying, "Ms. R! Know what?" and "Ms. R, come here!" trying to tell me things that had happened to them. Like they *gasp* missed me! It felt really good.

And my slower class "got" Lord of the Flies today! They were excited to learn about symbolism. I almost didn't even talk about it because I thought it would be over their heads, but when I did they really liked it. They thought it was fun to try to figure out what everything symbolized. I almost underestimated them. It is so easy to do.

Things are awesome right now. ¶ 7:54 AM
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Teaching The Lord of the Flies is the best thing ever. I have to admit that I was very worried about choosing a book that I actually love so much. Last year taught me that more I was invested in a work or an idea in particular, the harder it hit me when the kids spit all over it. I learned very quickly that I had to keep my sights set on helping them improve and not really invest in my own likes and dislikes.

I still think that is a pretty good idea. Being an English teacher, I had all these fantasies about how I was going to instill this love of literature and help my impoverished students escape the problems in their lives through books. I realized that there were particular books I had in mind and particular ways I wanted them to show me they were loving literature and escaping their problems…I think in my head it looked a lot like an after-school special. I even had this particular outfit I would be wearing--button-down red long-sleeved shirt tucked into perfectly tailored khaki slacks, and a shiny silver bracelet.

I figured out pretty quickly that they don’t all like what I like. And that I was going to be too tired every day to iron slacks and I don’t like wearing bracelets. So I am in school today in my college hoodie, slightly wrinkled corduroy pants, and tennis shoes. And I don’t try to make them love what I love…well, yes I do, but I try not to take it as hard when they don’t.

But this book! They do love it! And they are making connections and saying the smartest things in the world. They are really engaged in this and they aren’t even focusing on this complicated game I created to trick them into learning. Two of my high level classes are really grooving on symbolism—which is what I loved about Lord of the Flies when I was a kid. They rock my world.

My two lower classes have no idea what I am talking about and hate the book. I don’t know how to make them understand even the most basic of concepts. But my two other classes show me how fun it could be to teach English if all my kids cared and could read well. It is a good day, so far.
¶ 7:22 AM
Monday, January 24, 2005

My drive into work today was incredible. Have I ever mentioned how beautiful my commute is? I drive thirty minutes to work every morning at about six in the morning. This morning the temperature was fourteen degrees. This meant that I drove down a mostly deserted highway surrounded by frozen fields and big, icy trees. Also this morning I was graced by the presence of a huge orange-yellow moon hanging behind these shimmery clouds—is it full today? There are also all these old, rickety farmhouses with giant silos poking into the sky. I listened to Dar Williams and peaced out.

Whoa. Hippie moment. But really, it was pretty. I know that this drive will be one of the things I miss about North Carolina when I leave here.

I’m excited to get back to my students. No, really, I am. I’m trying to get through this dang novel and it is taking forever. Novels are hard to assess. I am struggling with that, right now. I don’t want to focus so much on comprehension, but I feel like they need so much help with that. So many decisions.
¶ 4:35 AM

Monday, January 24, 2005
Why is it that starting a class is so exciting but actually doing work for a class sucks so much?

I couldn't wait to get the textbook for my new online class about reading. I waited for UPS to come for days. When it finally came, I cracked it open with relish and smelled the inside (do you do this too or am I a freak?) and dreamed of all the learnin' I was going to get from it. I took it into the bath-- where I do all my serious reading-- and read about learning styles and phonics v. whole language. I highlighted to my heart's content.

Then I got my syllabus! Oh, the excitement! I carefully went through it, made sure to write down each due date in my Palm Pilot, and then wrote all those due dates again on my magnetic dry-erase calendar on my fridge. Then I took out a fresh notebook and new pen and set them neatly on my dining room table, ready for work.

Now I have my first paper due tomorrow. And I am sitting here in front of the computer knowing quite certainly that I am going to pop in a dvd of the Soprano's and watch about five hours of it. Actually doing work for this class strikes me as an impossibility right now. I just can't do it. And I don't want to.

Why do I so love to prepare for things but not do them? I love the idea of classes but I despise taking classes. I love fresh paper and books with uncracked spines...but once the spine is cracked, I don't want anything to do with them.

This is all going to leave me with two hours tomorrow in which this paper has to be written (posthipchick, bring back any memories?). I will do it. I know I can. But it will be a crappy paper and I will have to panic while I do it.

Why, oh, why?
¶ 3:53 PM
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Two reasons to love cable:

1. When I turned on the t.v. yesterday, the first thing I heard was, "So, where were you when you were struck by lightning the first time?"

2. When I turned on the t.v. this morning, Discovery Health had a show on called "Trash Can Full of Skin".

No joke.
¶ 10:02 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2005
The first part of the morning was a little hairy. The kids seemed nervous and The Dragon Lady was going way too fast for them. She was also showing them things that were not exactly necessary for what they were doing, like how to change the color of their fonts and how to save things in different folders and whatnot. The kids began to twist about and whisper. The Dragon Lady became a little annoyed. Eventually she started shouting, "You have to LISTEN and LOOK UP HERE AT ME!! If you don't LISTEN and LOOK UP HERE AT ME you will have to LEAVE!"

The flaw in this is that they cannot simultaneously listen, look up there at her, and also do what she wants them to do on their computers at the same time. So they fidgeted. They became anxious. They gave up a little. It was painful to watch. I am a control freak when it comes to my kids. I hate watching other people do things with them that I can see is not working.

Finally, though, her lesson ended and the kids were left to create their own PowerPoint. I was so amazed at their skill in doing this. I was also really amazed by their creativity. They are creating presentations about societies they have created (tied in to The Lord of the Flies) as an advertisement to convince others to move there. They can do things with the computer that I have only dreamed of! I love to see things they are good at. And they are engaged! Engaged! Every teacher’s favorite word.

I am having my cable installed tonight…and my Internet! So exciting! I just hope the snow doesn’t delay it again.
¶ 4:40 AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
This week I have the dubious pleasure of taking my kids to the computer lab. I really wish that "fun" activities were fun for the teacher as well as the student. I have grown to hate field trips, electives, and yes, pep rallies. They are only an opportunity for the children to commit random acts of weirdness or violence.

To top this off, the computer teacher is not so fondly referred to as "The Dragon Lady" here at my school. She is, probably, the meanest teacher here. She has really good intentions. She loves technology and really believes that kids need it. She stays late devising PowerPoint presentations to die for—the kind that relate to all the state standards and have links up the wazoo.

Only problem is—she hates kids. She hates talking, whispering, dirty hands on her keyboards, beeping computer sounds that she deems unnecessary, when they move out of their seat, when they wiggle in their seat, when they don’t remember how to cut or paste, when one kid asks the same question another kid just asked—essentially she hates everything that kids do.

She does not understand that only two of my students can sit for more than three minutes without making a sound or moving around. My one student who has Turret’s Syndrome (I am 99% sure) certainly cannot meet her standards. He beeps, bleats, and yells out "What What??" every minute or two. He stands up, spins in a circle, and yells "What What??" at least once a class period. These are things the Dragon Lady cannot stand.

She screams, "What are you doing? Get out of my lab! Get out!" and then she yells at the teacher. I have been able to control my classes, mostly, and I avoid the lab, so she hasn’t yelled at me, yet. But today may be my day. I am not looking forward to it.
¶ 4:43 AM

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday, January 13, 2005

This weekend at UNC there is going to be a Blog Conference. I think I might go. Any NC bloggers want to come with me? I am not one to usually attend conferences by choice but I think this might be kind of interesting.

Last night I ordered high-speed internet and cable television...I feel like I am entering a whole new stage of luxury. I still don't have a bed, really, but I will be able to check my email at home (no more daily trips to the public library sitting next to men trying to sneakily look at porn!) and watch Baby Story.

Heaven. ¶ 5:00 AM

Thursday, January 13, 2005
So, today we had a pep rally. Anyone who teaches at a middle-school where kids are constantly monitored because of violent tendancies knows that pep rallies are a teachers nightmare. Who had this brain-child? "Hey! Let's take 500 violent and enraged 13-year-olds, put them in a gym that is too small to hold them all comfortably, and then raise their excitement levels to dangerous by having them scream and scream and scream as loud as they can! What could happen?"

Well, we learned what could happen today. First of all, as I sat on a bleacher in the tiny gym being jostled by children, deafened by screaming, and jabbed on the top of my head by the girl's basketball team's elbows, I thought about how funny the situation was. Among the staff during pep rallies, the nervous tension is palpable. The children's very happiness and excitement puts us on edge. I watched my fellow teachers dart their eyes to and fro, trying to spot the inevitable fight or fracus before it explodes. I laughed at how the administration ran back and forth, yelling into their walkie-talkies. I noted that our "Resource Officer" (ie, the cop that we pay to carry a gun and big stick around our school) was standing with his chest out in the corner, alert and at the ready. All the while, the children are blissfully howling and shoving and allowing their blood pressure to be raised.

Scene set? Okay. So the rally goes pretty much without major event. One student fell out of the bleachers onto the floor and scraped her knee, but that always happens. One cheerleader tripped on her way out onto the gym floor if front of the entire school, causing what, I am sure, will be a life-long embarrassing memory that she will tell either her children or Oprah, but that was no big deal. The children were released to go to their classes and we teachers went to meet them. Actually, I made it all the way to the end of school thinking that things had gone okay.

I was talking with a teacher on my team when the principal came up to us breathing heavily and looking uncomfortable.

"Have you heard?" she asked us, clearing her throat.
"What?" We both asked in unison, secretly pleased that there was something interesting going on and we were about to find out about it.
"Um...your son..." she started. "He was, um..."
"Oh my lord!" My teammate breathed, suddenly realizing it may be serious. Her son is a very tiny 6th grader at our school. "What happened? Is he okay?"
"Well, I'm not sure," replied my principal. "Well, as we let out, it appears that he was..." she seemed to not know how to say it. "He the 8th graders. He fell and then no one stopped to help him up. They just walked over him. I think he may have been kicked a couple of times. One of the coaches found him underfoot and carried him to the office."

My team teacher flew to the office. As it turns out, the boy was fine. He had a cut ear and bruises and, I am certain, a new loss of innocence from knowing how cruel people can be, but he will be okay.

Now, these are my kids we are talking about. They saw a little boy on the ground and stomped him and kicked him. They didn't stop on their own-- apparently the coach had to physically move the kids to get to the boy. Yikes. A new low.

Also, today, one of the students that I have been trying very hard to help told the in-school suspension teacher he was going to bring a rifle to school on Tuesday and "blow his brains out". Instant long-term suspension for him. I'll not be seeing him again. It is always such a mixture of sadness and relief when one of these guys goes away.
¶ 2:28 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
I have been feeling a little buried in silly (but super necessary) tasks. I am faxing this and calling that. I am remembering this and forgetting that. I keep waiting for it to end, but then I remind myself that life is just a whole litany of tasks to get done. Life is very deadline heavy. Not so horrible. I just hope I can get it all done.

In order to soothe my burdened soul I have been getting all of the PBS reality shows on Netflix. I have worked my way through the 1800 House, the 1900 House, and the Frontier House. These are the shows where they take a modern family and make them live "exactly" how they did back in whatever century they are dealing with.

I love how different people handle being thrust back into a different century. I think it is funny how certain people fall apart (usually the women because being a woman back then is just awful) but I am a sucker for how much they learn and change through the whole series. I always cry and join them in lamenting about how our society is so disconnected and obsessed with material things now. It seems really attractive to just sit with your family in a parlor and create games together instead of playing video games and not speaking to one another. But then I remember that they also get up at four in the morning to milk goats and eat rancid bacon and I get over it.

Anyone know the names of the other PBS shows like this?
¶ 11:13 AM
Friday, January 07, 2005
Today I called in sick. I am mainly sick because I stayed up way too late doing karaoke with friends. I am also sick because I have to study for the Praxis II exam that I will be taking at 7am tomorrow morning. The third reason I am sick is that I had to go try to register for classes today at a community college near here.

All of the requirements that I have to meet in order to be certified to teach seem to be preventing me from having the time to actually teach. I am having a bit of a quandry because I was too late to register for classes today (by 5 minutes!) so I think that I am not going to meet that requirement. I don't know what that means for my license or for my ability to stay out the whole year at my school. They threaten to kick you out if your requirements aren't met by a certain time, but I don't know how serious that all is.

In other news, remember when I wrote about that kid Zach? His dad was dying of lupus? Well, as it turns out, it was a lie. His dad is apparently a fraud. Isn't it a sad world when that happens? What a weird thing to do. Yikes.

Off to try to register for online classes. I don't have a computer, so I don't know how that will all work...but I am a little desperate, now.
¶ 11:51 AM
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Yesterday’s comment about my negativity and self-absorption really took me aback. I guess I am lucky, actually, that I don’t get many negative responses to what I say. I forget that there are potential downfalls to spreading my thoughts around on such a "public venue". I guess I just always think that if someone hates what I say, they would just not come back and read again.

But it did make me think about whether I am just whining. It made me consider for a while whether I am too negative. I pondered whether I am too cynical. But then all of that thinking about myself made me feel very self-absorbed, so I stopped.

What Amanda L.’s comment did for me, in the end, was remind me that I write for a particular audience. I don’t write for the teachers who say things like, "Well, even if this new curriculum standard seems impossible, let’s all pull together for the children!" I don’t write for teachers who insist that one must remain cheery and smiley every second to prove that they love their kids.

I write for those of us who are pissed off that the educational system is so messed up and aren’t afraid to admit it. From watching teachers all around me, I find that the smiley, never negative or upset, teachers are usually the ones who are either right on the verge of a break-down or the ones that don’t seem to care one way or another about their kids.

I can be negative sometimes. I am upset sometimes. I feel like I can’t do this, sometimes. But only because I want to so badly.

So for us honest, complaining, cynical teachers—keep reading. We gotta sick together.
¶ 9:13 AM
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
In fifteen short minutes, classes begin again.

I kind of missed these guys, I realize as I see them again. Well, some of them. Some of them still make my skin crawl.

New Years Resolutions:

1. Don't let it get personal in the classroom. I want to not take it so personally when they are jerks. It seems the only way to survive.

2. Be more prepared. If they are busy, they behave better. I know this. Now I must actually do work...even (gasp!) at night.

3. Volunteer with the Literacy Council. Again, get off my bootie.

4. Make more parent phone calls. A couple every day, maybe.

5. Be nicer. Try to be nicer.

The bell just rang. Here they come. ¶ 5:02 AM
Monday, December 27, 2004
With the children in the care of their loving parents (ahem) for a week, I am able to attend to very important matters in my own personal life. Here is a short list of things I will occupy myself with during this well-deserved break from school:

1. Working a lot of hours at the for working but yay for $$
2. Getting the muffler on the 'ol VW replaced so that I no longer sound like I ride a Harley instead of a Golf
3. Eating chips
4. Watching movie after movie until my eyes ache and I forget that I am a real person and that movie stars aren't my friends
5. Drinking beer
6. Creating a Lord of the Flies unit where I pit the children against one another and flirt with the line between learning and chaos
7. Talk to on the phone finally because we are too busy to do so otherwise...we will sigh and revel in the the lack of complaints due to the lack of children
8. Meditate, paint, garden, create a scrapbook-- well, not really but I have always wished I was the kind of person who did stuff like that
9. Take at least one (but probably two or three) baths a day
10. Sleep past 5am every single morning

¶ 7:49 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
It all started because I let a kid come to my class while another class was showing a Christmas movie. I think I responded, when asked, "Sure. We aren’t doing anything Christmas-y. I don’t really celebrate Christmas.

Sometimes I forget where I live. This is a very religious community. They not only pray in school, they do all kinds of things that make me a bit uncomfortable. The other day, when I was complaining about a certain student, the teacher I was talking to shook her head calmly, smiled, and whispered, "Just picture the cross behind them. Like Jesus Christ. You can't be mad at a child who hangs on the cross with Jesus!" Disquieting image, if you ask me.

When I said that I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I didn’t mean it in a non-Christian/ Jewish/ Jehovah’s Witness kind of way. I just meant that I don’t really get into the season much, don’t have kids coloring reindeer or writing poems about snow. It wasn’t a big deal in my family. And this year I’m not going home for Christmas at all, so I am especially not into it.

But now everyone here thinks I worship the devil or something. At least four people have asked me why I don’t celebrate Christmas. I told one woman, "I just don’t. It isn’t a big deal or anything." She replied, sadly, "You may not think so. You may not think so." Then she shook her head and walked away. (An aside: Why is it that so many things these folks say are so cryptic? I don’t understand half of what they tell me. Is this a Southern thing?)

And now all the other teachers are sending their Jehovah’s Witness kids to me, as well—which if fine, but kind of funny, too. My room has become the haven for all kids of non-Christian persuasion. I certainly don’t mind that. I am starting to mind everyone acting like I am going to hell for not celebrating a religious holiday in my state-run school, though.
¶ 6:26 AM
Thursday, December 16, 2004

Well, I was really, really wrong in my predictions of who would win America’s Next Top Model. All along I was sure that Amanda would take it—at the very least I was sure that it was going to be Amanda and Eva as the final two.

But when Tyra showed Yaya’s picture first at the beginning elimination? The gasp in the room was audible (by the way, sorry to anyone who reads this and does not watch ATM). My heart dropped. Especially because Yaya had done that whole "I don’t really want to make Eva feel comfortable" thing. I was very sad for Amanda because she needed the money for her kid and all.

But in the end, I am very pleased that Eva won. She seems like a nice girl and she really does represent all that Covergirl stands for! Wait, maybe that is a little much.

Oh, I am so sad it is over.
¶ 4:19 AM
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
So, America’s Next Top Model final episode is tomorrow night. I find myself thinking of all of the possibilities for who will win when I should be doing things like… I don’t know…teaching? I’ll be thinking to myself, "Well, Amanda has that whole blind thing going for her and she also doesn’t implicate herself into too many of the sort of absurd situations that the other girls get involved in (i.e. the brownie writing situation). But Eva has been the Covergirl pick from the audience for her "vivacity" almost every week. I just can’t even accept YaYa as a potential winner. It is too upsetting.

I went to a workshop on Friday and the talk turned to ATM and I found one person really liked YaYa. She was very defensive about it.

I am holding a detention and I just realized that someone put gum on my seat. So now I have gum on my pants. I am so enraged I feel like leaving and never coming back. Now these pants are ruined. They are such little jerks.

Wow, I have a lot of anger about these guys right now. I really need a vacation.
¶ 1:38 PM
Monday, December 13, 2004
I bought a movie guide yesterday to help me fill my Netflix queue. By far my favorite movie that I want to see was written up as:

Battle Royal: "A middle-school class is ostensibly taken on a field trip; unfortunately, when they arrive, they discover they’re to fight each other to the death on an uninhabited island, until only one of them is left alive. The rules are laid out by their teacher (the frightening and funny Kitano): they each receive a weapon (ranging from rifles to pot lids!) and are each fitted with explosive necklaces that will detonate if they try to run, or if there is more than one student alive after 72 hours."

How wonderful. Explosive necklaces. This will be number one on my queue.
¶ 1:29 PM
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Things I was Supposed to Know Today and Didn’t:

1. My dental insurance covers basically nothing and I now owe six hundred dollars when I thought I was all paid up.

2. I should only let Justin out of class at 9:04am when his pass says to report to the cafeteria at 9:05am because when I let him out at 9:03am like I did today I "basically encourage him to act out because he has too much free time", according to the vice-principal.

3. What time the assembly was.

4. To bring a "favorite student writing sample and an OUT OF THIS WORLD writing prompt!!!" to the English department meeting.

5. The younger janitor doesn’t like me very much…considers me snobby, apparently.

6. My roof leaks and there should be a trashcan placed in the center on the room whenever there "be even a whiff or hint of rain", according to the older janitor, so that I don’t come into a puddle of a classroom like I did this morning.

7. Teachers are responsible for taking attendance, taking the notes and excuses of each of her one million students, fill out an attendance correction form for each note, maintain a file of the notes, and report the attendance and attendance changes to the "Attendance Officer" who has her own little office.

8. What the hell the "Attendance Officer" does in her own little office since I am responsible for doing all of the tasks in #7.

9. That I am "taking away Johnny’s fundamental rights to education" because I have him sitting in the back of my room, according to the "Exceptional Children’s Liaison", because he is deaf in one ear. First I’ve heard of it.

10. Where I am supposed to find the time to know all the things I am supposed to know.

It has kind of been a crap day and it is not quite noon. Thank goodness I have a workshop tomorrow because I am pretty sure that if I had to come here any more this week…well, I just wouldn’t.

Tonight I am going to see Melissa Ferrick at Cat’s Cradle! I used to love going to her shows. In the last couple of years I have been mostly disappointed…she seems to chew her gum at a frightening pace and I tend to worry for her safety and health. But I am excited to go tonight. There is always, at the very least, excellent people watching potential.
¶ 8:24 AM
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Today I feel a little like having a nervous breakdown for no reason. I feel really anxious and about to cry. I feel like there is no way I can keep doing this teaching thing. I feel like it is hopeless and I am not doing any good for anyone. I feel like teaching middle school is useless and I have trapped myself in a job where I will be forever surrounded by frustration, sadness, helplessness, and irritation. As I look around at my students today, I vacillate between wanting to smack them, hug them, scream at them, or just walk out and never come back. I feel a little like I am having a panic attack.

All of this is disturbing. But then I have to remind myself that I felt this way at this time last year, too. Right before winter break is a time of difficulty—I don’t know why. I looked back at my blog to how I felt last year. This is what I wrote on December 18, 2003:

"It is pretty official in my mind that this is my first and last year teaching. I do still have empathy and I am not looking forward to the time when I don't. Some days I already don't. I really just know that teaching is not for me, and at 28-years-old I just don't feel like I have the time to spend two years doing something that is not for me. But I am holding steady for this year. And I will always have an overwhelming respect for career teachers."

I was officially done teaching at this time last year. But by summer I had decided to become one of those "career teachers" the winter me was going to have so much respect for. I write this entry mainly to help any first year teachers out there who may be feeling like they are going out of their mind this week and next.

This knowledge only diminishes my desire to weep and crawl under the covers a slight bit. But at least a slight bit.
¶ 7:56 AM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
It really is a conundrum, isn’t it? Knowing that a particular parent’s discipline style could be described as… well, painful, and having to decide whether or not to report their kid to them for misbehavior.

These parents who kind of smack their kids (I am being kind here by saying "kind of"—I know some of them really smack the hell out of them with a belt) tend to have a lot of (short term) control over their kid’s behavior. When I report these students, they come back to school the next day with tears in their eyes and apologize profusely. The good behavior doesn’t usually last—with the exception of one of my students whose mother told me she was going to "tan her hide" about a month ago and now said student only requires a look from me to shut her up good—but it’s a relief even if only for a few days.

I would have to admit, as well, that I derive a certain guilty pleasure from knowing that some of these kids are being made to regret some of the decisions they make. I, personally, don’t believe in spanking kids. I think that they can be made to behave in other ways. But when a kid has gone out of his/her way to make my life miserable for several weeks, I can’t say I am very sorry when they get "whupped and good" by their folks at home.

Today I reported one of my students for bad behavior. I took him out in the hall and whipped out my cell phone. By the look on his face, I could tell that he was scared. So I made the call. When we got back to class, he flopped down on his desk with a pained look on his face.

Ten minutes later, a banging on my classroom door. I opened it to find a red-faced man in a baseball cap asking, "Is Shane in there? What did he do?" I explained that Shane had been a little rude, kind of downplaying it a little because the dad looked so mean and angry. "Send him out." He told me.

I sent Shane out and he was crying before he hit the door. When he came back, he was beet red and didn’t even bother to look tough anymore. His dad told me that he could guarantee that Shane "gonna feel bad about what he done before the night is through".

Now I feel terrible. That boy is getting beaten tonight. It makes me question if his constant talking, strutting around, and being rude to me is worth that punishment. I never feel completely sure that I am doing the right thing in this job.
¶ 1:30 PM
Monday, December 06, 2004
I just (finally) signed up to take the Praxis exam. Do other careers require you to spend so much time and money on staying current and stuff? Does it get better once you have been teaching for a while? Because I feel like I am constantly shelling out a hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there, trying to sign up for all these classes that I need, technology credits, reading credits, workshops, etc. It is really overwhelming, expensive, and annoying.

I only have one more year before my license clears—assuming that I pass this Praxis and I get my classes done. The whole figuring out what classes I need is a mystery, too.

Last night I attended a true Southern type of party experience. The birthday boys decided to have a pig to eat. Luckily (?), by the time I arrived, all that was left was a pig head (snout blackened and crispy, eye-sockets empty and charred) and a scraped clean giant skin on the table. I was glad to not have to be a part of the clean-up crew for that party, but it was for good people so I was able to forgive the carnage. You just don’t see sights like that every day out west.
¶ 7:08 AM
Friday, December 03, 2004
Oh. My. God.

I was so tired when I was getting ready this morning, I just looked down and realized that I forgot to put on a bra. I am not the kind of girl who can go without one. Especially not at a middle school. So now I must wear my big coat all day.

I really need to stop going out on Thursdays. ¶ 4:23 AM
Thursday, December 02, 2004

I just thought you should know that I have snorting, file-cabinet thumping, fingertip tapping monster holed up in my room right now.

It is so crazy to me how desperate some kids are to create a distraction. Mr. Snort over in the corner talked all through today's lesson-- which was fun group work where they got to create a rubric about buying a car and then look through the want ads to pick one to buy. He got out of his seat twenty times, insisting that he had a runny nose while I could see him blowing as hard as he could to produce some snot for his cause. He then maintained that he had to go to the bathroom and that it was an emergency and that he had a very "special and serious problem" that made it crucial that he pee whenever he chose. When thwarted in that endeavor, he focused his energy on sticking everyone's post-it (I used them for the activity) onto his forehead and then lamenting loudly that his face was too greasy for it to stick. Then he asked me a minimum of five times whether or not I thought his face was greasy and if so if it was greasier than this other student in the class.

Finally I have sat him in the corner behind the file-cabinet. And now he is tapping his fingers with increasing speed and strength, snorting up (fake) snot as loudly as he can, pretending to sneeze, trying to peek out between the cracks of the file-cabinet to hopefully catch another students eye, etc. It must take phenomenal amounts of energy to keep that up.

Don't you love, by the way, the fake bodily functions game? They know that if they get in trouble for sneezing loudly or snorting their nose a million times in a disgusting manner, they can cry to their moms and say, "I just had to sneeze! I have a runny nose! You know how my nose runs, sometimes! How can you get in trouble for sneezing?" And the moms will usually seem hurt and mystified that you would be so callous.

I am a mean, mean woman. ¶ 6:31 AM

I know that I just posted, but something that posted made me feel like ranting.

At what point did the leading theory become that children must like and find everything that we teach relevant? I keep reading books and hearing speakers that say we have to make sure that every child finds the material interesting and make certain that the material is relating back directly to their lives. And it seems from posthipchick’s entry that the kids know we are supposed to do this and decide they don’t have to work if we don’t do it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course I would love it if every student I had was interested in every lesson I taught. And relevance is wonderful. But am I wrong to believe that there is some value in kids understanding that not every single thing in the world is about them and that they might not like everything they have to do?

I just wonder what kind of adults will be made from these kids who believe that every task they have should be enjoyable and all about them. I have kids complaining that I don’t cater to their particular learning style when I teach grammar. They say that they don’t like grammar and that I should make it have pictures or music. I have kids complaining that they don’t see what Anne Frank has to do with them—even when we have had discussion after discussion about the relevance—and then refuse to study it.

I do try, like any teacher who cares, to consider learning style and relevance in my teaching. But sometimes we are just going to do activities that some of the kids don’t like, simply because we need to! As an adult, I do a lot of things that I don’t want to do—simply because they need to be done. I don’t think that, when I go to staff meetings, my bosses give a rip about my particular learning style as they present information I have to have.

Are we creating students that are incapable of retaining information if they don’t like it—like posthipchick’s unfortunate student? Are our kids going to be paralyzed at PTA meetings in the future because the information isn’t set to music and they aren’t rapping it? Are future employers going to have to draw pictures of business plans and make sure that they are only selling products that our students like to sell?

It is frustrating. I think it is important for our kids to learn to do what they need to because it needs to be done. Right now I feel like we might be teaching them that they only have to do things if they like them, find them interesting, and will maybe get a candy.

Thanks for letting me rant.
¶ 8:56 AM
Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Whew, it has been awhile, hasn't it?

Here is a topic that has been on my mind. The kids really smell. I know that this is a topic much discussed among middle-school teachers. I have read, even recently, some other blogs addressing it. I have mentioned it myself. But gee whiz. They smell so bad. Is it the hormones? The inability to detect their own mustiness? What really got to me yesterday was that I was trying not to breathe while teaching evaluative writing during last period and one of the kids raised her hand. When I asked her what she needed, she remarked, "No offense, Ms. R, but your room really stinks."

As though it is MY fault that the room reeks of adolescent armpit! As though I have somehow created a situation where feet stench seems to leak out of old plastic shoes! As if I had just spent the day consuming giant quantities of grape bubble gum with cheeto chasers and not brushed my mossy teeth! The nerve!

Nothing to be done about it. I am considering trying out the little kids. I would like to teach kindergarten, maybe. They stink too, but in a different kind of way. Imagine kids who like you and want to hug you... I guess you then have to imagine them peeing themselves and dissolving into tears ten times a day.

Maybe I'll become an accountant... ¶ 4:49 AM

I want to be a Carolina Roller Girl! (

I want to wear skates and knee socks and knock people down! It is kind of a commitment-- like three days a week-- but wouldn't it be cool to tell people that you roller derby? Wouldn't I just rock? Don't you want to come join with me and drive to Raleigh a few times a week and get a little bit hurt? Huh? Don't you?
¶ 2:14 PM
Monday, November 22, 2004
Today I learned to power of thank you.

I accidently came up with this thing that is working (for now). Instead of saying, "Please move to the corner", I have been saying "Thank you for moving to the corner." Then, when they argue, I repeat, "Thanks." So they are like, "But I-" and I say, "Thanks." And they sputter, "You never send-" to which I reply, "Thanks. Thanks a lot." until they finally go. It's funny.

In more disheartening news-- don't you love it when the kids ask questions at the end of a long unit that prove they didn't understand a thing that has occurred in the last month? We have just finished "Anne Frank" and are watching the movie. One hour into it a student raised his hand high, his brow furrowed, and asked, "Why are they up there? Why don't they just leave?" Sad enough. But then a fellow student replied, "They outta food." Double sad. To which the first student brightened and exclaimed, "Oh, yeah! That's right."

What? Last year when I taught Anne Frank, you may remember, my students thought that Anne was killed by Osama Bin Ladin or something. What am I doing wrong?

Next I am teaching evaluative writing. At least I won't have to constantly try to teach compassion. In the movie, they just talked about how children would come home to find their parents gone, never to be seen again. I asked the class, "Can you imagine that? Isn't that terrible?" And a student just replied, "Anne needs chapstick. And she has a big nose."

Please, please just let me take a nap. ¶ 11:17 AM
Saturday, November 20, 2004
I don't know if this is good or bad but when I walked into the gym to begin to practice my jump shot, I heard, "No way! No way!" and then one of my students ran out of the gym.

Five minutes later, students came tearing into the gym to see what I was wearing. It was soooo fun. Kids were laughing and I was hamming it up pretty hardcore. I kept waving my hands in front of my face and asking them, "Can you see this? Or am I too fast?" They thought it was pretty funny.

The actual game was a bit of a puzzler. I don't know how to play and the coach really seemed to want to win, which I hadn't been expecting. I just wanted to dress up and act a fool. But he kept hollering things like "Stay in the paint!" and "You're up TOP, Ms. R! UP TOP!" I still don't know what these things mean except that it meant I got taken out of the game pretty early.

Post game comments from my students included, "You know your legs hurt. You know they do." And my favorite, "You looked pretty fly, but you run funny."

I can't wait for next year. I am going to try to find goggles like the NBA'ers wear.
¶ 1:34 PM
Thursday, November 18, 2004
I woke up today knowing that I was going to embarrass myself. But I am at peace with that.

Somehow, my team teacher managed to sign me up for the Staff v. Student basketball game and then convince everyone that I really wanted to do it. If you have been reading for a long time, you may remember last year’s Staff v. Student game where I was hoodwinked into being a cheerleader. I’m not sure which is worse.

So I have been bragging hardcore all day to the students about my "skillz". And I even wrote the word on the board so that they wouldn’t mistake them for simple "skills". I have also started every class today with a moment of silence. Then I tell them that the moment of silence was out of respect for the student basketball team and their upcoming loss. They all groan. And then I yell, "Booyah!"

I also just went to Wal-Mart and bought a jersey, the kind the boys all wear. I also bought sweatbands and athletic tape that says "NBA" all over it. Since I can’t really play basketball and don’t know the rules, I figure I will just costume myself up in a ridiculous manner and pretend I am the bomb. I plan to prance around the court yelling things like "In your face!" and "I may not be your parent, but I’m ‘bout to whoop ya!"

As I learned when I, myself, was in middle-school—make yourself a joke before someone else does.
¶ 9:00 AM
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Things that make my job hard:

1. Having a computer server that crashes at least three times a week.
2. Being expected to have lesson plans completely up to date even when spur of the moment meetings suck up unexpected time.
3. Being told I need to, not just teach, but love a student that wrote "Ms. R sucks d*%k" on a peice of paper six times.
4. Having one copy machine for an entire school.
5. Having one copy machine for an entire school that breaks every other day.
6. Being "gently reminded" that we need to maintain high expectations while also being "gently reminded" that we shouldn't fail more than a few students even though 40% of them have turned in no assignments.
7. Suffering with a blazing headache while a student shouts out "All wetbacks live in trailer parks!" and having to stifle my very personal rage as I write him up.

Not the best day ever. ¶ 1:35 PM
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I want a dog.

But I feel mean for wanting a dog because I am away from home from 6am-4pm. But then I know that people who work have dogs, don't they? Am I so mean for wanting a pup to come home to? If I waited until I was home all day to have dog, I would never have one, right?

You dog folks out there-- is your dog home alone during the day? Does it seem to be alright for him/her? What if I walked it in the morning and then in the evening and was with it all weekend? Isn't it worse to just leave a dog in the pound? Wouldn't my apartment be better than nothing?

Or am I being mean? I used to have dogs but I was young and didn't labor over such matters. The dog just stayed home and I didn't worry about it. Now I want to make sure I am making the very best decision.

Advise me, oh wise dog owners... ¶ 4:40 AM
Saturday, November 13, 2004
I am having that horrible feeling that I may be getting sick and knowing that I have taken so many bogus days off that if I am sick I will have to work anyway. Why does my general irresponsibility always have to catch up to me?
¶ 11:19 AM
Thursday, November 11, 2004
My kids and I have been having this weird period of them loving me. It is nice-- preferable to them hating me, I suppose-- but can get a little uncomfortable at times.

The other day one of my students came to hang out in my room before school. Some of the kids get dropped off for school way too early and since it is getting cold outside, I drag them in so they don't freeze. So this girl tends to come in a lot. This particular morning, she just sort of gazed at me for awhile. I finally asked her what was up and she said, "I just really like you. I don't mean to be cheesy, but I just do." I said, "Thanks. I like you too." But then she just kept staring at me. Then she went into this whole thing about how much she likes me and how she can't ask questions in class because she gets too nervous to talk to me and stuff. It was sweet, but also kind of uncomfortable for me. I know that some of the students are bound to crush out on their teachers-- especially when you are a young teacher-- but I would sort of rather them not talk to me about it.

Not to mention that this particular girl may have some serious issues. One day not long ago she came in with this sort of gleeful look on her face like she couldn't wait to tell me something. Then she said, "Did you read the paper this morning?" I hadn't. She then announced, "My uncle got chopped in half by a train!" She didn't seem upset by this. She just seemed pleased to be able to report it to me. I said, "Gee whiz! Were you close to him?" I was thinking that she couldn't be by the reaction she was having. She replied, "Yep. He used to live with us." Then she smiled. I didn't know quite how to react. I still don't. I just hope she is simply crazy and not dangerous.

In other news, come to karaoke tonight if you live here. If you don't live here, catch a plane and come anyway. I miss you, probably. ¶ 5:53 AM
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Owen and I went to our nation's capital this weekend to stare at the White House and shake our heads in disappointment and bewilderment. We were not quite finished when a group of vaguely menacing children shoved their way between us and the home of our president. We just left and shook our heads elsewhere.

I also got to hang out with an old friend who just may be the nation's first woman president if she would just cut it out with all the medical school stuff. She is awesome.

Today I took the day off in order to go to the dentist. Then the dentist called this morning to tell me she was sick and rescheduled. So I got to clean my apartment and grocery shop. Life is good.

If I was more interesting, I might have more to say. Peace out.

¶ 10:57 AM
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Last year I didn't have a computer in my room. Nor did I have a telephone or a door lock or heat, but those are other issues. This year I do have those things, but I am finding there are pitfalls to the amenities.

For instance: You know what you can do with a computer in the classroom? Bid for items on Ebay. Yikes. Yesterday, while I was supposed to be teaching or whatever, I was actually embroiled in a bidding war for a Palm Zire 31. Unfortunately, I won.

I should not be buying a Palm

(although it is a very useful thing for a teacher and my principal said it was a 'tool of the trade and indispensible' and it can also store and play music--making the purchase of an Ipod unecessary which really saves me over a hundred dollars--and I can do my grading on it at school and at home and I can store all my parent contact info in one place and keep up with my schedule and not have any use for my checkbook and I got it for $50 cheaper than retail and...)

because I still have not gotten a new muffler put on my car which sounds very much like a VW Golf/Harley hybrid. But I am so excited for my Palm to come in the mail. It is blue, I think. And has a color screen.

Work in a low-income minority school? Want to make yourself cranky and unpleasant? Then go right out and watch "The Emperor's Club". My school made me watch it today (we have a teacher work day) and it is about these really rich white boys who's lives are changed for the better by a very stuffy, wealthy white man teacher. Hooray. I would have rather watched "Dangerous MInds" because even though that movie is dumb, too, at least I can relate a tiny bit to it. And, plus, Michelle Pheiffer is hot. ¶ 8:33 AM
Friday, October 29, 2004
You know what I love about teaching? The endless opportunities it affords me to purchase. I love to purchase. I didn't used to. But as I grow older, I am also growing an affinity for purchasing things. All kinds of things. I now like to purchase clothes-- now that I have found Ann Taylor Loft, which seems to have been built and created just for my particular body. I now also love to purchase bulletin board boarders of all shapes and colors-- wavy being my favorite.

This morning I just purchased thirty dollars worth of plastic keychains, wooden pegboard games, and smiley pins from an online company. This purchase, of course, I dream will create harmony in my classroom like nothing else has been able to do. The children will be shouting and bootie dancing through the aisles. I will quietly pick up a plastic smiley face pin from my secret stash (hidden under my desk to prevent theft) and set it on the desk of the one quiet student who is awaiting instruction. The quiet student will look up and tears will fill her eyes, having finally been recognized for her attentiveness. The bootie dancers will notice this unexpected gift and, overwhelmed with jealousy and longing for a plastic smiley face pin of their own, the bootie dancing will cease. They will sit and quiety work until they receive a pin of their own. Instruction will begin.

Yeah, maybe I just wasted thirty dollars...but the dream is almost worth it.

Other things I love about teaching today:

1. Being allowed to wear jeans on Friday makes every Friday seem like a special holiday.

2. I am basically unmonitored all the time. No one ever seems to know or care what I am doing in my classroom. And so I am allowed to create an alternate universe.

3. I am back in bed watching Netflix movies by 4pm.

4. Sometimes, just sometimes, I teach someone something.

5. My whiteboard is magnatized. So I have magnets on my whiteboard.

6. The constant opportunities to use a 150 point type.

7. The excuse it gives me to go to Staples on a regular basis and lust after paper trays and bulk ink pens.

8. How funny it is that one of my students came into my room yesterday, slapping his own ass like a horse, and refused to stop until he had circled every-- yes, every-- desk.

9. Today is payday.

10. I like the way kids call me "Miss". No last name. Just "Miss". I just like that. ¶ 4:42 AM
Monday, October 25, 2004
I just spent almost my entire planning period learning all about this assessment tool we are going to be using! The kids have taken the benchmark test and now I have the "opportunity" to go over each question each child answered incorrectly and figure out why they answered it incorrectly. Then I can tailor a program for each individual child which includes creating both diagnostic and remedial tests! Each child will only have the questions on their test that are designed just for their specific levels and needs!

My ass. When am I supposed to have the time to do this? Especially considering the kids that I teach? Today I looked around the room as I was trying to get them to read a play. One child was haltingly reading a word per minute, it seemed. One child was staring at the window (which is covered in paper, so he was just looking at paper) while mouthing the lyrics to a rap song semi-quietly. One student had his hand up in the air like it was an airplane, and that airplane was flying back and forth in varying speeds. One student was writing "This class suck. This class suck." over and over again on a sheet of paper...paper that he had borrowed from me, by the way. One student had his book closed and was patiently staring at the clock waiting for it all to be over so he could go to band.

Yeah. I have all the time and energy in the world to be creating two different tests and entire reading programs for every single one of my seventy students. And they are sure to focus and really buy into the program! Feeling a little negative today. Forgive me. ¶ 8:59 AM
Friday, October 22, 2004
Thanks again to all that donated to Zach and his Dad.

In more frivolous news, I am so glad that Jennipher was kicked off of America's...Next....Top Model. I hated that she spelled her name with a ph. And she also seemed asleep half the time. Boring.

Predictions for next week? I think that Kelle has got to go. Either her or Nicole, because even though the website describes Nicole as "full of controversal thoughts and opinions", I can't remember her every saying anything. Again, boring.

Tonight is the fair, again. But nighttime fair is different from daytime fair. More young people lurking in the dark to find places to make out. The carnies take on a (even more) sinister look. You can actually ride the rides because you can't see how loose the nuts and bolts look on their hinges. I can't wait. ¶ 8:51 AM
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Yesterday a parent requested a conference with all of his teachers-- me being one of them. We were surprised because the student of this parent is an excellent kid...his only real problem being that he keeps passing gas in my class. But most of my eighth grade boys do that.

When we went into the conference room, the boy's father immediately began to sob. We were, of course, totally shocked and let him take a minute to collect himself. He was a big guy, looked like a lumberjack, and I think we were all pretty uncomfortable.

He then told us that he had just been diagnosed with Lupus and that the doctor had given him less than a year to live. His son, Zach, had seemed a little off lately. We found out that because his father had been too ill to work he had been fired. He is raising Zach all by himself because Zach's mom left them when he was only a baby.

Because his father can't work anymore, they have lost their home. As of today, they live in their truck. Yesterday Zach's dad told us that he had run out of food and was trying to get into a free shelter to feed his son.

I have never done this before, but my heart is just breaking over this situation. I am going to help out anyway I can, at least to get Zach lunch and whatnot, but they need more. I thought I might ask for your help.

If you are able to help Zach and his dad at all with a donation, I would be happy to send it along to them. If you can donate even five dollars, please go to and request to send money to It is a very user friendly site and it shouldn't be hard to sign up for an account to do this. I know the family would really appreciate it. Thank you. ¶ 8:50 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
I'm going into my lesson today kind of unprepared. And it is totally the kind of lesson that I should have over-prepared for.

I have this awesome unit about Anne Frank that I am doing. Yesterday I was really proud of myself because I took my kids to the library and they researched different topics in teams. I had chosen their teams thoughtfully, keeping in mind levels and whatnot and made it a scavenger hunt so that they wouldn't know they were researching. It went so unbelievable well that the school librarian and I kept winking at each other from across the library. It rocked.

However. I put so much energy into that, I kind of forgot that I was bringing in laptops today. The thought is that they will now research electronically. Good skill, right? Only, I didn't really plan very well for how. So now I know that they are maybe going to run out of things to research and then they may just go wild in a room filled with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I am picturing hundreds of copies of Sponge Bob and 50 Cent flying out of the printer no matter how much I have forbidden it. I am imagining twenty-two kids all trying to discover porn at once. Madness.

But it is all okay because tonight is America's Top Model. And I missed it last week. No stinky presidential debate to ruin my fun this time. Stinky, stinky president and presidential contender. I mean, really. Run for leader of our nation or whatever-- but don't suck up good T.V. time.


A Concerned Citizen ¶ 4:06 AM
Monday, October 18, 2004
I went to the North Carolina State Fair this weekend and was horrified and amused by many things. When I first get to the fair, I am always so excited by the smells, the sights, and the people. Then, by the end, I am always so nauseated by the smells, the sights and the people. Watching the common folk consume giant turkey legs without using napkins is interesting at first, but quickly becomes disgusting.

The other thing I was appalled at was the number of Bush/Cheney stickers I saw on people. I have never seen such a solid Republican presence in my life. I kept trying to calm myself by remembering that the State Fair attracts a lot of people from more rural areas and that I shouldn't be surprised, but it was hard, anyway. I finally bought a visor and had them airbrush "I heart Kerry" on it. Walking around wearing it felt slightly dangerous, but powerful, too.

My students are oddly subdued today. This new system that I am using for disclipline (called 123 Magic-- it is a book) is really working. It is this system where you just give the kids a five minute time-out after they have been counted for three offenses. They have to draw or write the whole time in a book on the time-out desk, then they come back. They like it because it doesn't hold any heavy punishment and I like it because I just have to count to three and then set a timer for five minutes. I wouldn't have thought it would work, but it totally does. Thank goodness. ¶ 7:52 AM
Friday, October 15, 2004
We have a teacher workday today, which is an excellent opportunity to lesson plan and get organized. Of course, mine is almost over and I have spent the last four hours creating a QuoteBoard (something that I wasn't even planning to do), but it could have been an excellent opportunity to lesson plan. So now I have to (pretend that I am going to) lesson plan on Saturday.

Meeting with parents is such a mixed bag. I have the parents that think their kid is a genius and should be in gifted classes, but really their kid is just obsessed with questioning everything for the sake of being annoying. I also have the parents who take one look at the report card and get a wild "I'm gonna spank the hell outta him when I get home" gleam in their eye and make me feel bad. Then I have the "I'm a single mom at the end of my rope and how can we help him but no I can't bring him early and no I can't let him stay late and did you know that he stole my car and you see by my screaming, yanking on my shirt-sleeve out of control toddler that I have my hands full and can't really be bothered with him anymore because I have more kids and I give up" parents. Then there are the blessed "I don't want to take up too much of your time" parents who understand that I don't care to hear a life story and only want their signature on the report card. Bless them, bless them, bless them.

I have the most difficult time staying put on workdays. Every fiber of my being wants to run out of here even though I still have an hour to go. ¶ 11:17 AM
Thursday, October 14, 2004
I watched the debate last night. It is the only one I watched-- which is okay because I am not exactly standing on the fence as to who I am going to vote for. The only comment I want to make is that I sure am glad to hear that education has all the money it needs and that Bush didn't underfund us. Man, is that a relief. That silly Kerry, thinking we may need more. So I guess when my students ask me why we don't have enough books for everyone and when I am working my second job, I can be comforted by the fact that we really do have all the money we need. We're all set. Whew.

In unrelated news, the two janitors at my school are feuding. It is a real Hatfield and McCoy kind of situation (there is a great YA book about the Hatfields and McCoy's called "Coffin Quilt"--FYI). I tutor from 7am-8am in the mornings, so I am here earlier than everyone-- aside from the janitors. I am driven crazy every single morning by the fact that the two of them cycle in and out of my room, asking me about the weather, my health, etc. all in a thinly guised attempt to make me ask them about their health and lives. I don't mean to be unfriendly, but I get up at the butt-crack of dawn to get stuff done because I don't have time to stay afterschool, on account of my second job. Plus, they are rural Southerners, and I usually can't understand a word they say. Plus plus, one of them literally asks me the same two questions every single day. He has the memory retention of a goldfish, apparently, and I just don't have time for that.

So, for the last week, they have been feuding about some graffiti found in the bathroom. They cycle in and out of my room, watching the door to see that the other can't hear and give me their sides of the story. The elder janitor maintains that the younger "don't keep his watch, ma'am, don'!" The younger asserts that "that 'ol man always fussin' murmur murmur...something...fixin' to....anyhow!" And all the while, I stare longingly at the white board that I got up early to be able to fill with wonderful information and the minutes tick away. I can't escape them. And when I have gotten a little abrupt or even just simply said, "You know, I actually kind of have to do this or that", they sniff a bit and look very put out, as though I think I am just soooo high and mighty.

School politics are complicated.

¶ 4:04 AM