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Monthly Archives: May 2008

22 – Ho, Ho, Ho…Green Giant and The Liquid War

First, please allow me to apologize for the extended hiatus I have taken between posts…the last few days have been very emotionally charged…and I will get to that, but FIRST THINGS FIRST! I’ve got to tell you about the last day of school.

Needless to say, I was filled with terror. Never in my life had I felt so anxious over the words thrown about by a group of teenagers! UGH! I woke up that morning and dressed “down” in a pair of jeans and a “disposable” t-shirt. I drove to work singing sporadic bits of Guns-n-Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle…the line that truly resonates with my job is “You’re in the jungle baby… you’re going to diiiiiiiiie” (You know how Axel has a penchant for stretching his words).

Upon exiting my car, I expected student snipers…appropriately equipped with water balloon-age (lol)…but instead, I was met with the stony resolve of “just another day at school.” I was suspicious. I passed Bite-Sized Teacher’s room and he was brazenly standing in the middle of the hallway in front of his classroom…wearing one of those touristy Hawaiian shirts. UGH! He may as well have opted to wear a fluorescent orange air-traffic controller’s vest…really…he reminded me of those small exotic fruit bowls that are sold at Publix.

My final exam was a joke…I know it was. I have never, in my life, issued something so pathetic and attempted to masquerade it as legitimate and sound. They didn’t know the difference. Their Final was a questionnaire I concocted ten minutes before school started…I had already decided to allow the big project they were working on be the final grade (I don’t usually EVER do that). My first period class concluded with the tackling of a trespasser on school grounds, directly in front of my room! One of the jolly-green-giant male teachers recognized the person as a VERY FORMER student who did not belong on campus…he tackled the boy…pinning him to the ground with such force that the wind was knocked out of them both! The lesson here folks: Never run from the jolly-green-giant, for he will always catch you…and perhaps not be so jolly! (But why wait until the LAST day of school to exert one’s authori-TAH…just a question)

My first class was virtually non-existent…maybe 70% thought to show up. As the day wore on, student behavior became more erratic…They were room hopping (the sister act of bar hopping but without the vodka)…and I was wondering “What happened to taking final exams?” So, after lunch I was mentally preparing myself for the worst because, in case you didn’t know this, I was given the WORST BEHAVING class of students to “teach”…so I knew that my kids would be the ones with the bleach balloons and whatever else!

After lunch…NOTHING! The hallways were uncharacteristically calm…to the point of eeriness. In fact, my normal after-lunch class is somewhere around twenty-seven students…that day I had seven IN class. The seven who were in class were there because they were afraid of being hit by their seemingly absent peers. My students told me that everyone else was outside of the school, running around, attempting to strike unsuspecting victims with their liquid-filled weapons. My students said that the in-school fun would not begin until 1:30 (fifteen minutes before my current class was dismissed). Many “victims” passed by my room…dripping water from head-to-toe…wearing the disgruntled countenance of defeat…I did not want to become a victim. I opted to remain in my room at ALL costs!

It was 1:30PM and Bite-Sized Teacher had managed to remain dry…even through the dangers of a fire drill (on the last day of school? WTF?)…so I knew there was still hope for me!

My last “class” for the day was dismissed at 1:45. I wanted to leave, but I heard the shrieks of war being waged around the corner. Students from my last class came running around the corner, “Help! Ms. Friendly, open the door! They’re coming and they’re throwing balloons!” I let them in. They hid in my room for about five minutes until the halls seemed clear again, and then went about their way. I’m thinking…at what point will my fearless leader actually “grow a pair” and get his ass out in that hallway (with a law enforcer) and start taking prisoners…HA HA yeah right!

The fireworks didn’t occur until school was officially out for the day. Students came out of hiding, and they came locked and loaded…I did not get hit…and no one was seriously hurt…not even Bite-Sized Teacher!

When I left work, there were three police cars parked in the student parking lot, and two more parked outside the gates of the school…I guess, somewhere, the message had been heeded from last week’s gun incident. I’m just relieved that everyone was safe.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2008 in Work

 

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21 – The End of Days

Drum Roll Please…

Our “school” conducted an awards ceremony two days ago and it went well. I liked the idea of students receiving accolades for their accomplishments throughout the year…the only complaint I have is that our fearless leader did not find the ceremony important enough to attend the first hour (it lasted 90 minutes). He came just in time to deliver his lame speech about “good work this year” and “let’s keep it safe over the next four days”…blahblahblahblah

One of the most interesting awards was given to a Senior…Oh wait! Please allow me to set it up for you the same way in which it was presented to the audience!

*Samantha is a young lady who has suffered many trials to get where she is now, in fact, many of us thought she was not going to make it! *Samantha is receiving this award because during her Sophomore year she became pregnant and had a baby…and still continued to come to school; She did what most girls her age have not been able to do. She’s graduating high school now. Congratulations Samantha!

I looked around the auditorium, searching the faces of my colleagues, attempting to read their thoughts…Did they find this award as absurd as I did? I was dying to see the actual verbiage on the trophy…I wonder how it read?

· I got knocked up and all I got was this stupid diploma and trophy.

· Congratulations! You got knocked up but you STILL graduated.

· Teen mothers can get diplomas, too.

Better Late Than Never (wink, wink)

Our fearless leader got a bee in his bonnet and decided to suspend two of THE BIGGEST pain-in-the-ass kids on the last week of school…for two days (yea him). Rumor has it that these two were spotted with water balloons…but nothing else could get them suspended (I tried the entire year)! In fact, earlier the same day, another student told one of my colleagues “Fuck you!” She escorted the young man to the office and explained what he said…five minutes later he was brought back to her classroom with NO PUNITIVE ACTION…perhaps he should have thrown a water balloon at her while proclaiming “Fuck you!” …maybe then he would have been suspended or at least reprimanded!

Then today…SAME KID…was rolling up and down the hallways of the school ON A FREAKIN’ SKATEBOARD…and my friend/colleague took him (again) to the office.

Guess what?

…He was sent back to class after a “firm” talking to…NO PUNITIVE ACTION of course 😉

All Quiet on the Western Front (or so I thought)

So far so good (Thursday morning)…there has not been an entire week of war as I anticipated. The students’ work ethic is half past slack, but gas is also $4.05 a gallon…so what else is new? Today is Thursday, so I wonder if anything will happen after school today. I am seriously stressing out about it after what happened last week. The security at this school…HA!…well, let’s just say that my four-year-old niece has a better plan for resistance than this school. Just two days ago, I ran into a student who was expelled. He was freely roaming the hallways with another one of our Garbage Pail Kids who will graduate to America’s Most Wanted status by the time she’s seventeen. It was easy for him to get in the school undetected…and that scares me.

This morning, my students were verbally anticipating the devious activities of their constituents…you know… those big plans for Friday. I was then notified that I am on “The List”…In fact, we (teachers) are ALL on the list…HA! They asked me if I was going to come to work tomorrow…Of course I am, I responded…Well, I’m not, many of them notified me…But, you still have FINALS tomorrow! I reminded them. They shrugged their shoulders. They seemed not to care about Finals. In fact, the process of administering and taking Finals is very “different” in comparison to what I am accustomed to. First of all, I was shocked when many of my colleagues said that they planned on giving a Final, but never grading it…huh? And then…why were students allowed to roam from room-to-room to take different Finals at will…it was like a wine tasting or trick-or-treating! No one remained in their respective classrooms for over thirty-five to forty minutes! I thought the entire production was the oddest thing! Oh well…doesn’t matter now…I will be leaving this Twilight Zone within the blink of an eye.

UPDATE: Just when you thought it was safe… (Thursday afternoon)…I think I spoke too soon! The war has begun! A bleach balloon hit a colleague of mine and ruined the hem of her dress (teachers are now permitted to wear jeans tomorrow) and I saw the remnants of the after-lunch-battle strewn across the walkway outside of the cafeteria…it looked as though the snack machine vomited. I made an executive decision then and there – I’m outta here! I have a planning period and not a class for the last period of the day, which means no students…which means…slipping out the side door unseen.

I’ll update you tomorrow (wish me luck).

*Image taken from www.lapsura.com

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2008 in Work

 

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20 – Trash, Guns, Idiot Grams, and Phucktards…Oh My!

So…this is the last week of school! YEAH! Woo-Hoo! Last week was…well…let’s just say I’m glad it’s part of the past.

1) Monday – I drove past this trash heap and watched as all my students walked past it in order to get to school…That was last week…it’s STILL THERE one week later! If that trash heap were in a suburban neighborhood, the community would be all over it! If I called and said anything about it…I would put my job on the line…but, the GOOD NEWS is that I won’t be returning so if the crap is still there tomorrow I’m going to call!

2) Wednesday – The natives began to get restless…students were walking, aimlessly, throughout the halls instead of going to class (hall monitors and our ONE Assistant Principal were trying to herd students back into classrooms). Stink bombs were detonated in various areas of the school, however, no motions were made by the administration to discover the culprit(s).

After school is when all the fun and fireworks occurred. Two male students engaged in a gun fight that is said to have been gang related. When the two young men caught wind of the fact that the “po-po” were on the way, they hopped in their respective cars and fled the scene. One of the young men was in such a hurry to escape that, in his haste, his car struck the car of a student’s parent. Realizing that he was stuck, the young man fled the scene on foot, and thereby abandoned the car.

3) Thursday – More stink bombs…A news crew came by, however, they were meet with the stony silence and solidarity that stinks of “cover-up.” No one in the front office seemed to take any of the students’ threats/plans for the last week of school seriously.“Oh, they’re not going to do anything,” or “They’re just all talk” were the responses I was met with when I named three teachers who have been targeted by my students. Where are they drawing this false sense of security from? Did they forget about Wednesday that quickly?

4) Friday – I was absent. I was experiencing breathing problems due to my asthma.

The disturbing thing about it is that one of my students had just confessed to me how her peers had been spraying perfume in my class ON PURPOSE (even after I had asked them not to BECAUSE it is harmful to people with asthma) because they thought it was funny. So…Thursday night, I was not surprised when I had, yet another, asthma attack. I immediately called for a substitute and emailed my principal (standard procedures for my school).

A colleague of mine sent me a text on Friday stating that I did not have a sub the entire day, and NO ONE in the office did anything about it!!!!! WTF? In fact, my colleague said (according to one of the students we share), the counselor came in and asked, “Where’s your teacher?” (um…HELLO…shouldn’t the principal already know the answer to that question…from his email AND the subfinder system)…the kids told the counselor, “She’s not here!” So, the counselor says, “Oh! We will have to do something about that.” Then she never returned…which meant that my classes matriculated, throughout an entire school day, in and out of my classroom with NO SUPERVISION! Students could have used my room for conception, child-birthing, drug-dealing, gambling, prostitution, personal gratification, oral sex, and a host of other things I don’t want to think of! I am glad that the education of the students mean so much to my fearless leader…his actions certainly correspond with the barrage of Idiot Grams he floods our emails with…like this one sent on 5/1/08 (an excerpt):

Also, relaxing on instruction and classroom management could make the last four weeks extremely difficult in maintaining appropriate behavior. If staff show (it should say “shows”) an indifferent attitude then we can expect some of our students to act in a similar manner. The tone you display will determine how we end this year and impact the culture next school year. If unwelcome incidents arise with students in a classroom where it is obvious there was not an attempt by staff to plan instructional activities; I will view the incident as being a result of the staff member’s lack of instructional focus and/or abandonment of expectations for classroom management. The student(s) and staff member(s) will then have to be reprimanded.

HA! HA! HA! O the irony and multiple grammatical errors …Seems like the INDIFFERENT phucktard who wrote this should follow his own advice 🙂

* See Post #3

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Work

 

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19 -Idiocracy

MY students are the people who travel to the rich people malls and steal from them. I’m hearing their stories now and I’m incredulous and disgusted. Why am I so surprised? …Damn…I think I’m even hurt a little bit…WTFrench Toast? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so “betrayed” if it weren’t my “good” girls talking about doing it…okay…I am just going to have to focus on the end-of-the-school-year-no-more-Junkies-R-Us-High-School countdown. I have to get out of here. Coming here was a mistake. I can’t believe I actually thought I could make a difference.

There is way too much dysfunction in one place! This school should be given the title of a functional and operational Idiocracy…I swear…teaching here (and in general) has been a living testament of birth control for me…I want NO children of my own! You know, the irony is that the very people who have no business with children are the very people who end up with a gaggle of them (see the movie Idiocracy). My cousin and I were having this discussion the other day…

Although neither one of us are parents, both of us parent on a frequent basis; she is a social worker and I, a teacher. Both of us usually encounter the young, acquiescent, and self-absorbed parent who has no clue as to what DISCIPLINE looks like. Often times, the parents I encounter do not know how to be RESPONSIBLE for their child…and by responsible I mean making them come to school on time, complete their homework/projects, tell parents who their friends are, adhere to a curfew, revere adults and address them with respect, remain in “a child’s place” regardless of their age, maintain good grades and behavior, expect a post-secondary education…

I’m talking about the making of a fully functional and productive American citizen!

I once had a parent/teacher meeting…many years ago…with the parent of teen who was just beginning high school. This “young man,” within the first three months of school, had found and befriended THE WORST students of the school (gang members and overall generic brand delinquents)! I told the parent as much…in fact, I told his mother, “If you do not watch your son and the company he keeps, he will end up in jail! It’s not too late to save him!” She cried and made excuses for him. The counselor looked at me as though I had grown a third head (I guess I wasn’t supposed to be THAT honest). I call them as I see them, and my first and foremost concern is the welfare of the student…I could really give a damn about proper politics if those politics do not serve the student first! By the time I left that school, his behavior had become worse…and now, of course, I don’t know what has become of him. Patrick Welch, the young man in the following article, reminds me of the student I once taught…

Forest Hill Academy: The Children Left Behind

How can education thrive when students like him exist…but more importantly…how is a child expected to learn without the proper encouragement from his parents/guardians?

A teacher cannot be mother, father, administrator, counselor, and still have the where-with-all to teach a course subject!

A judge in Cincinnati jailed a father for not following court orders to see that his daughter attained her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). There are many people who disagree with the judge’s decision…I am not one of those people. More court judges are needed to send the message to parents that their children’s education is just THAT important! Perhaps if parents knew the possibility of imprisonment existed for poor parenting, then they would be more vigilant (and take their role more seriously) from the onset…maybe then, there would be no need for alternative schools.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2008 in Work

 

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18 – “D-Day” is Near!!!

There are two more weeks left in the hole and I can’t believe that I have survived…however it seems as though the REAL test will be surviving the last week of school! Apparently, the students at this school have a tradition of waging war by use of “weapons of mass destruction”…Clorox-filled water guns, paint-filled balloons, and water balloons…they are also planning to fight, fight, fight!

According to Upperclassmen, this day is real and this day should be taken seriously! A few concerned seniors have told me that they plan on wearing hobo-esque clothes, plastic bags over THOSE clothes, shower caps over their hair, and goggles over their eyes…WOW! They said that last year’s principal ate a “paint-balloon sandwich” and was WEARING the paint that one of the student culprits threw. OMG!

“Were these students reprimanded?” I asked.

The seniors laughed, “Ms. Friendly, please! Remember where we are? NOBODY is EVER reprimanded! The principal just went home and changed his clothes.

“So…nobody stopped the children from destroying the school?”

“Yeah, they turned the water off to the school and banned students from going to the bathroom so that they would not be able to put anymore water in the balloons or guns…but some parents called and complained and they had to turn the water back on.”

HA! Parents called and complained about the water but completely ignored the fact that their kids were fucking up the school! …Typical…Ignoring the more poignant issue at hand. And the school…why weren’t the campus police notified? Why were students allowed to create total anarchy on campus?

…So, needless to say, I am REALLY looking forward to the upcoming last week of school. However, most students say to me, “Ms. Friendly, you ain’t got to worry cuz you cool…but Mr. Bite-Sized Teacher (he’s REALLY short)…yeah…we gone git dat ass so he best not come to work.”

…So this should make me feel better…right…?

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2008 in Work

 

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17 – Underprivileged and Oversexed

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…I think this guy is SICK (in EVERY sense of the word)!

As he speaks, he warns his viewers that he is going to announce names…names of the people he has PURPOSEFULLY infected with HIV…the muscles all over my body tense. Why? I know that he’s not going to call my name. But what if he calls the name of someone I actually know? Ugh!

…And then it is roll call…fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-olds…he names virgins…males…he is indiscriminate as to how he spreads his liquid hatred…I am incredulous…my bones are trembling beneath my skin…this has touched me, and not much does these days…

Then I began to THINK about what he was saying…albeit sick, disgusting, uncomfortable, etc. to face…what he is saying (his reasoning) needs to be dissected because I have teen-aged students, nieces, and cousins whom of which I would never want to encounter the likes of this “man.”

As a teacher, I hear “talk.” Yes, the kids think I’m too old to know what they’re talking about…but most times (in this inner-city environment) they have no reverence for my age because their mother is my age, too…which is too young to have a teen! Their mother is their “friend”…or something of that strange sort. Where I teach, girls get pregnant and have babies like I refill my monthly allergy prescriptions! And the thought always crosses my mind…Why didn’t they use a condom before having sex? In fact, I remember a male student of mine asking me why I did not have any children…I explained that I was waiting for marriage. He looked confused…VERY confused! Then he said, “You wait, one day it will just happen.” And I said, “This is 2008! There’s no reason as to why something like that should just happen! Catch my drift?” He nodded and looked away. That was the end of that conversation.

These girls are LUCKY to only get pregnant and not contract any of the other sexually contactable and non-returnable goodies…and by non-returnable I mean that there is no pill, powdered drink, or salve that will return that bad decision-made-tangible to the clinic! My students talk about the sex they have with their boyfriends…who are oftentimes GROWN-ASS MEN…I had a student proclaim, in the middle of class, “Ms. Friendly, I’m a hoe! You wanna know how many n***s I done fucked?”

Another student, on Valentine’s Day said, “I love my man cause he pays for all of my abortions and then he takes me to Red Lobster.” …Her “man” is twenty-six and she is fifteen, the same age as the prior student I mentioned.

I have a male student who pretends to like girls, but REALLY like boys…in fact, he prefers GROWN MEN! He told one of my colleagues, “I can’t take being around you anymore because I really want to fuck you.” My colleague, of course, called the student’s mother for a parent/teacher conference. The mother said, “Sometimes *Steve doesn’t come home at night because he is spending the night with strange men.” Oh my God! And she knows this?

So what happens when/if one day these kids ever come across the likes of this HIV-spreading sicko?

As a community of parents and teachers, I believe we must do a better job of providing REALISTIC information for teens about sex. Not that crap about: Don’t do it! That shit may have worked for me because…well…have you met my family? (lol) But not everyone has a family unit like the one I grew up with…real talk. And if we want to keep these kids safe (and I do), then we have got to learn how to talk to them…REALISTICALLY!

This sicko says that it is the ghetto, inner-city mentality of wanting a man with an expensive car, money, and nice clothes that gave these people HIV…not him. He claims that these girls gave themselves, without abandon, for want of the material…and I understand what he is saying…and what if those same girls had better self-esteem, role models, goals…something else to set their sights on other than the attainment of a guy in a Jaguar?

Okay adults…I am giving you some homework here. Refer back to post #9, note the picture…the theme…get your head out of your ass and TALK to your kids; It may save their life one day!


 
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Posted by on May 5, 2008 in Work

 

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16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

Would you answer this ad?

NEW ORLEANS — Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

I know…I know…It sounds good, but don’t believe the hype! “Adventure” is quite a stretch in the use of euphemism. My experience has been anything short of an “adventure.” When I think of the word “adventure,” I think of fun on the tangy side!

Besides…anything that is described as a “Peace Corps-style adventure”…yet takes place in America…sounds scary to me!

Norman Smith III, recruited to Rabouin High, said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids wary of authority and uncertain of their potential. It has been tough at times, he said.

Smith is right…and tough is understatement! Finding QUALIFIED teachers who are willing to commit to such conditions is close to impossible. The school where I teach employs recruits from Teach for America. One stipulation of TFA is that the candidate must commit to one school site for two years…and before being placed at the school site, TFA candidates are given a summer-long crash course in teaching.

When I first met the TFAers in orientation, I took one look at them and thought Oh…You’re going to be eaten alive! Ironically, it has been the veteran teachers who have had more problems than the TFAers…granted, the vets are equipped with the teaching experience…but the TFAers have the magic ingredient – IDEALISM!

The two TFAers I work with are phenomenal people who (I think) will take their experiences at this hell hole and (hopefully) make a larger mark on the world…but they won’t stay in the field of teaching. Idealism is plentiful when you know it has a shelf-life! I hope this place does not suck them as dry as it has sucked me.

Many of the schools inherited by the state were run down even before Katrina, plagued by leaky roofs, lead paint or poor heating systems. Many of the students are indifferent to learning or are far behind, with some freshmen unable to read and some teenagers disappearing for days. Some have been arrested for fighting with each other or beating up security guards. Some schools lack classroom supplies.

Save for the lead paint, the school mentioned in the above quote sounds like a shoe-in for where I work. From my perspective as a vet, there’s not enough IDEALISM in the world to convince me that this situation is acceptable…especially since I know that this school system has recently received largesse from a wealthy philanthropist (to the tune of $3 Billion)…no school in this school system should be without anything, and our security systems should be tip-top! I feel like I work in a third world country.

At Rabouin High, which has about 600 students, the halls echo with the shouts of teenagers who should be in class. Many have to share textbooks, if they have them at all. Doors lack knobs or, in the case of a girls’ bathroom, don’t close completely. Students have to pass through a metal detector to get inside, and guards patrol the halls.

You would almost have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but YES! IT IS TRUE!!! If someone told me, a year ago, that a school like where I work exists, I would never believe them. This is real, folks! In fact, it is so real it makes me wonder why politicians don’t take more interest in the welfare of education, or why the N.A.A.C.P. doesn’t pick up this cause…a REAL cause (more to come on that topic)!

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Work

 

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