Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where Are MY Students

And who are these well-behaved kids sitting in their desks???

...In case you think that all Ms. Lisa-tastrophie can do is b@tch about how awful things are and that her coworker is the non-cartoon version of Yosemite Sam.**  Let me share this shocker with you...

With the exception of an incident on Monday:  This week has been WONDERFUL!!!!!  The kids have behaved. No one has back-talked me (more than the required amount to save face in front of their peers). No one has peed on or in anything that wasn't the proper receptacle.  No one threw anything or tried to make a 3-point shot from half-class.  And only one student has been hauled off to jail this week (and he wasn't one of mine).  Oh Happy, Happy Day!

Of course, there might be some other reasons behind this perfect world.  Like, Yosemite Sam has been out all week and may not be back until next week (while I don't wish him any ill-will: dare to dream).  Or that the kids are exhausted from having to take the school district's equivalent of an LSAT EVERY subject, all day long, for three days in a row.  GAWD bless the inventor of the scan-tron form.  Cause, you know I would be a-b@tchin' about having to grade those things.

I however, prefer to indulge myself and believe that it is my superior classroom management and relationship building skills that have incited this pre-apocalyptic change in behavior.  Of course, we all know how delusional Ms. Tastrophie can be when she is hyped up on Ho-ho's and the thought of 20 NEW episodes of The Girl's Next Door.

I just thought I would share this positive teaching moment because, if the forecast from the other teachers is correct, there's a storm brewing and the four horsemen will be riding hard when it comes***....

**Don't worry.  More tales of him are coming.  He's just too much NOT to write about :-)
*** Hell, yes, I will post about that.  I would never leave my loyal readers (all four of you, bless you all) hanging in suspense.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Breakin' Da Law

OK, we have all worked with someone at least once in our lives that we felt was the world's biggest blow-hard... 

Or is it just me? Because I seem to attract this jerk~off at my jobs.  If there is some asshat who HAS to go by the red-letter law of every rule/policy/procedure of the company, my boss is going to team him/her with me.  It's this giant karmic employment ass-kicking that I keep getting.  I am beginning to think that in my past life I must have stomped baby chickens for a living because I KNOW I haven't done anything in this life to reap this little piece of joy.

My co-teacher, hereafter to be referred to as Rebel with No Clue (RNC), has this thing about following every rule to the 10th degree.  Unless that rule is deemed stupid and "unlawful" by RNC in all his infinite wisdom and then I get to listen to why it is wrong and how he is going to make "The Man" see the error of his ways.  I can't tell you how many times he has "informed" me that someone is wrong and the policy states blah, blah, blah...  Usually he is trying to tell me that I am wrong.  Which of course make me HATE him more than any of the other crap he pulls.  (But you can read about that fun when I finally retire and publish my memoirs of teaching kids suffering from "punkitis".  By then I will be able to afford to change my name and move to another state.) Back to RNC's latest By-The-Book adventure.

Last week my boss tells me that to do X, I can do steps A-B or C.  To which RNC goes ape-shit nuts and tells me he (Boss Man) can't do that.  I inform RNC that if Boss Man tells me to stand on my head and whistle zippity-doo-dah out my ass, I'm pretty much going to do it...because Boss Man is (DUH) my BOSS and HE signs my paycheck and until RNC ponies up the big bucks in my bank account RNC can shut the F* up.  Now I was using this as a generic example to make the point that I work for Boss Man, not Rebel with No Clue.  RNC however misses the point by a MILE!!!  He starts telling me that Boss Man can't tell me to stand on my head and whistle zippyity-do-dah out my ass because policy says that Boss Man can't make me do anything degrading, blah, blah, blah.  I walk away and go make copies of my class assignments because had I stayed the desire to put the smack down on Clueless would have won and I would be telling you about my new found unemployment status instead.

So, I am walking back to the class and RNC comes rapidly walking towards me with this look on his face like some one just pissed in his Wheaties.  
RNC:  "Can I ask you a serious question?" 
ME: "yeah, what is it"  Now I am thinking he is going to ask me if I like working with him (Hell No) or if his feet stink (don't ask) or something even worse like if I wanted to go out with him on Friday night.  But this is what he asks:
RNC:  "If you had been one of the guards at Abu Graib prison, would you have followed orders to torture those prisoners, even though you knew it was wrong?"

OMG!!!!  "You've got to be fucking kidding me!"* (Thank you MJenks)  THAT IS YOUR SERIOUS QUESTION!!!!  Seriously!!!!

After several deep breaths, in which I envision not having to work with this jerk next year, I answer him.  No dumb-ass.  I know the difference between being told to do something that is right and something that will endanger the lives of the children I am entrusted to teach.  Not to mention this that little argument of "just following orders" doesn't have the best track record - just ask the Nazi's at Nuremberg or the guards from Abu Graib.  Again, RNC completely misses the point and begins rambling on about "lawful orders"...

I walked back to my desk, pulled out my stash of Ho-ho's and started shoveling them into my mouth as fast as I could.  To which RNC begins to tell me the district policy on eating chocolate in front of or giving chocolate to students. (BTW the students were not in the classroom at the time.)  Lord, Help me Jesus cause I am going to have to kill this man if they take away my Ho-ho's or if he quotes one more chapter/verse of the policy/procedures manual.  

So, does anyone else have to work with asshats like Rebel with No Clue?  Or is it just a small hell saved only for me?  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Dreamed A Little Dream...

and today I watched it die.

I am a freshman teacher.  I started this job as a lowly substitute and worked my way up to a full-fledged, first year teacher complete with my semi-own classroom.  I say semi-owned because I co-teach with another person who ~trust me on this one~ will occupy SEVERAL chapters in the book I am going to write about this when I retire.  (I still have to see if they will publish a memoir with a chapter called "Why I almost lost my teaching certification by killing my co-teacher in the first six weeks".)  But I digress. 

I entered this field with a dream: The dream that I would change the life of every student I taught.  That I would inspire in him/her maybe not a desire to learn, but at least a desire to be more than they dared to dream for themselves.  I would make a difference.  I had dreams of seeing my students years after they would leave my middle school classroom and they would have become more than the "punk-kid" who got sent to an alternative school.  Doctors. Lawyers.  Architects.  Analysts.  Writers.  Whatever they could conceive (other than a baby at age 14); they could be.  

I talked about my dream to any teacher who would listen.  And I was warned.  Veteran teachers told me it could not be done.  That I would learn that there are some kids you just can not get through to or teach.  They said my heart would break if I got personally involved.  They would sigh and get a knowing, sad smile on their face as they suffered my foolish fantasies.  Like an old man who can still remember when he was young and thinks to himself of a youth so long ago.  Still I talked and dreamed...

Today I sat in the restroom and cried.  I realized my dream was dying right in front of my eyes... and death wears the face of my very first student.  The pupil who was to be my defining accomplishment.  My pride.  My proof to the pedagogical society that ALL students could be reached and taught.  He was to become more than the gang he so desperately wants to join.  Somewhere deep inside I knew I was going to have to learn this lesson, but I had hoped it would be later.  Not now.  Not with the first child to sit in my classroom.  Not with angelic face of a child who carries the emotional scars of an abused 50 year old.

But I will not give in.  I will not allow my dream to go quietly into this good night.  I will fight.  If not for him, for the ones that will come after him and the ones that will go on to win the good fight.  I will go on so that one day, if only for one student, I will have made a difference.