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34 – Ms. Friendly’s Back…and Hey, Why Don’t You Work Here Anymore?!

No!  Don’t panic!  I didn’t ask for my old job back, but it did ask for me…(kind of)…

 

This week, my school system had two days off in the name of “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…okay…so maybe it’s not REALLY called  “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…maybe more like Fall Break.  But, whatever, it’s all the same to me!  Anywho, I had some business to attend to and that business happened to include my Fearless Leader from Ye Olde Ghetto Asylum in the inner-city.  Meaning…I would have to return to my old stomping grounds.  Whew!  My stomach was grumbling like two cats and a hyena stuck in a bag.

 

Two of my former students spotted me in the hallway, before I could even make it to the front office.  They both started giggling uncontrollably.  I gave them a hug and inquired as to what was so funny.  They shook their heads vigorously and were not able to produce a coherent response.  I made it to the office and Fearless Leader was not there; he was somewhere else in the building (apparently he leaves his office during work and walks about the school now…who knew?).  I sat in the office while I waited for him, and the word spread like wildfire…Ms. Friendly’s back!  Students were flooding the office to see me.  They came bearing hugs, smiles, and questions such as “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  I answered their questions and sent them on their way.  I was beginning to get a warm feeling inside after the welcome I received from my former students…after conducting my business with my former Fearless Leader, I decided to take the “long way out of the school.”  I ran into more students, and the reception from them was identical to the prior reactions of their peers.  “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  Then…more hugging…more squealing (OMG!  Ms. Friendly!)…more hugging.  It was like a family reunion.

 

I was nonplussed! 

 

Me: But you did everything humanly possible to place me in an insane asylum!  You barely listened to me when I was here.

 

Them: But the teachers here are boring.   Please come back!  Why did you leave?

 

Me: I don’t know…we’ll see…(Read: Fat chance!  Not as long as that man is the principal!)

 

Needless to say, I left feeling full of love and appreciation.  I think about those kids often…they have so much personality.  I wish I had a more experienced “leader” because the students suffered from the lack of administrative discipline and the eventual loss of two extremely talented teachers.  I can honestly say that I miss them because I know that they need me…however, I have teaching long enough to know that sacrificing values and personal health for others will only send one to the grave that much more quickly.   

 

Apparently I did make a difference.  Too bad the administration did not recognize my worth.

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2008 in Work

 

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33 – The Testing Trap

 

I’m trapped! My concentration is shot…once again…being ass-fucked by the system (FYI: I don’t like that sort of thing).  Today is PSAT testing day…all teachers with homerooms are required to administer the test (Normally, I would not be one of those people because I do not have a homeroom…OBVIOUSLY because I already have a nit-wit).  However, when I arrive to work, there is an entire class of SOMEONE ELSE’S STUDENTS waiting for me!  Bye-bye to the three hours of grading and planning…bye-bye to my sanity…bye-bye to quiet.  No one told me that I would have to cover for a long-term sub because long-term subs cannot administer national tests. Yayyyyyy me!

 

So, in walk The Keepers of Grade 9.5 (now how in the hell you achieve such a status as nine and a half is beyond me…but that’s how the school has them listed).  How do you expect people who range between the ages of 15-17 (and one donning a house arrest anklet) to act?  UmmHmm…well, you’re exactly right!  Like poster children for Adderol!  Although not quite as unruly as my last punch of Garbage Pail Kids, they have mastered the art of whining, complaining, making plucking sounds with their mouths, talking, tying ropes around their necks, attempting to pass food, etc.!  No tom-foolery should be occurring during a national test!  Now, all we do is whine at the student…hoping that he or she will see fit to listen to our song of woe and cease their behavior (it doesn’t work).  This school will suspend students, but not for something like the disruption of a national test.  You have to fight.  Be in a gang.  Threaten bodily harm to a teacher.  All of those things have already happened here.  Last week was an arrest-fest!  I saw two students arrested during school hours, and heard of twelve others who were as well…So why would maintaining the integrity of a national test be of any importance to my adopted 9.5ers?

 

Public education is a joke! If I ever have a child, he or she will not attend one!

 

Yes, I know I’m a teacher…a veteran teacher at that…this year begins my 8th in the hole.  And I’m looking for an out…I predict graduate school in the very near future.  By this time next year, I hope to be knee deep in a Ph.D. program…possibly drumming up solutions to this mess we call public school education (and pissing off the educational policy makers who don’t know what they’re talking about…I’m coming for youJ).  This school year, so far, has been…eye-opening…a rollercoaster…difficult to muster through because I realize the problem with education is far bigger than “Do your work,” “Make good grades,” “Come to school.”  No…this is political, social, and economic… it has nothing to do with education.  This is about the “Have’s” and “Have Not’s” – the “Have Not’s” who eventually become the “throw-away” people of this society…the ones who are the most misinformed and the least educated.

 

Where have I been over the last few weeks?

 

Well…the last couple of months I have been trying to balance the shock of having to share my class with a nit-wit, illness, and warding off an upcoming case of Mid-Life Crisis (i.e. hanging on for dear life)!  Oh…and I forgot to mention the most scintillating news…the ENTIRE county lost its ACCREDITATION!!!!! Yayyyyyy!  So, I will not be returning here next year even if I wanted to…who would knowingly sign a contract with a school system that has no accreditation?  (sigh)

 

Okay, well…I’m out for now.  Next time I will tell you about Julius Caesar, the Evil Twins and “Whoopsie! There’s water on the floor.”  

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2008 in Work

 

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32 – Hay Gente Importante …And I’m Not One of Them!

Hay gente importante…pronounced (I *Hen Tay * M Pour Taun Tay)…which means…There are important people…

…and I’m NOT one of them!

I believe that I’m FINALLY getting the message…there’s no such thing as “just teaching.” Before I begin, please allow me to preface this rant by reiterating that this school is BETTER than where I came from (but so is Sasquatch’s bunghole), however the façade is beginning to crumble.

I believe in education. REALLY. I’m a nerd…I know I’ve said this before, and I mean it when I say it (proud of it, too). However, as a teacher in the urban and/or near-to-urban public school system, I believe that I am in the WRONG profession. Those people keep fucking with me! I just want to teach! I don’t want to deal with displaying their dozens and eons worth of meaningless, standards-based, data-driven posters and shit in my room! Today, a representative from the central office visited our department meeting to “warn” us that gente importante (important people) will be coming to our rooms this week in search of this paper shit on our walls. Also, said gente importante would be subject to place students under interrogation…seeking to discover the following burning academic enigmas:

w How often has your teacher incorporated writing into your lesson?

w Is your teacher preparing you for the state graduation test?

w Has your teacher demonstrated the proper method in which to structure a persuasive essay?

Never mind the fact that our school system has been in session for EIGHT DAYS!!!! This is the Inquisition. This is the delousing of a dirty whore’s crabs. This shit is for the birds! I don’t give a damn about the county and their expansive charts that cover a good four feet of wall space…what I care about is the cultivation of a positive learning environment/community within my classroom. I also care about:

w Making photocopies for students (of which is nearly impossible…13 English teachers have been allotted 1000 copies for the entire school year)

w Internet connections (so I know there’s a damn fire drill or STRANGER DANGER)

w Ability to access the school’s online grade book service (I just got a working computer in my room today)

w Student access to technology (non-existent)

w Updated class rosters w/access to student personal info…like parent’s phone number

Okay, okay…I know…I’m complaining again! But damn it…why is it so difficult to JUST TEACH? I am obviously not una persona importante!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2008 in Work

 

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31 – Lessons in Falling…Oh the Humility!

Do you realize that on the SIXTH day of school, I was informally observed by an administrator? Normally, something like that would not ruffle my feathers…but I am housing a nitwit in my room, so the situation got hairy. The administrator who came to observe my class reminds me of a cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and Alex P. Keaton of Family Ties…he’s an overzealous bundle of little man energy. The children were reading when Alex P Keaton walked into the classroom…they had just begun a lesson focusing on the folk tale and the trickster.

When Pollyanna saw APK…she commandeered the class…MY class, and began to stop the readers in random places to ask them questions of no relation to the text (as I reflect now, I believe she thinks she was emulating what I had done the previous two class periods…NOT). When one of the students asked her “What’s the difference between a folk tale and a myth?” …she replied “A folk tale is just a sidebar of a myth.”

HUH? (cue the crickets sound)

So, needless to say…no glowing informal observation for us; Alex P Keaton emailed us the type of feedback a novice teacher would expect to receive. I was livid. Who is that woman and why is she in my room?!

From Alex P. Keaton to Ms. Friendly and Pollyanna…

Good afternoon –

Below are the observations from your 3rd period:

1. Students were initially focused using the proper standard, objective and EQ.
2. The essential question was well written and reflected the days lesson.
3. The transition between readers was not smooth. I suggest using an activity such as popcorn (allow a student to read then pick another student when finished with the passage and only allowing each person to be picked once) or assigning a number to each student and picking students based on the number.
4. The reading activity did not engage all learners. They were quiet but not necessarily attentive.
5. Use some type of graphic organizer to assist student in organizing their thoughts about the reading passage.

If you have questions or I can assist you with developing strategies, please let me know.

From Ms. Friendly to Saneandsingle…

Okay, so I was responsible for #1&2…nitwit jumped in and took over the discussion when Alex P Keaton walked in (this was the time of the infamous “Folk tale is a side bar to myth” statement occurred). The kids were reading just fine, and then when he walked in…she stood up and started to interrupt them and “teach”!!!! …So I will blame #3&4 on her fucking ass (fucktard)…and #4…well…BOTH copiers in the school were BROKEN!!!! I was absent Wed, and the graphic organizer I had for them was useless because it could not be copied nor placed on a transparency!!!

Fuckity Fuck Fuck!!!! Formal or informal…I do not receive evaluations such as this one. Shit WILL change immediately. I don’t care how she takes it, but she will back the fuck down from her “teaching.” She needs to sit back and learn!

Alrighty then…back to the drawing board…so much for learning humility! Now she’s asking to write lesson plans (I said “No”) when she hasn’t even read up on all fifteen students on her SPED caseload. She says that she hasn’t had the time…HUH? Whatever…I’m beginning to think that people who have spent the last eight years in the private sector should NOT be allowed to run rampant in classrooms thinking that they can walk in and “just teach” like those of us who have been properly trained!

She’s not taking the subtle hints.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2008 in Work

 

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30 – Mrs. Pollyanna Sunshine

So many people have asked me the $1million dollar question, “Friendly, is it any better this year?” Boy oh boy…let me tell you…I could be teaching in an Eskimo fishing hole with muskrats and caribou as my star pupils and I would be THE happiest woman-not-teaching-in-the-inner-city EVER! I’m dead ass! And don’t get me wrong, by no means do I work in the quintessence of scholarly teen academia (the county is in danger of losing its accreditation for Pete’s sake…and Justin’s sake, too…lol), but at least New School High has the following:

· REAL administrators!

· REAL rules that are ACTUALLY enforced!

· A REAL principal (i.e. one who knows the difference between the hole in the wall and the one in his ass)

· An ethnically diverse faculty AND student body population (yayyyyy!)

· Students who are quiet while I teach.

· Students who complete their work (or at least they give me the impression that they are).

Now please don’t think I’m walking on sunshine…it’s still work! But…it’s nothing like the hell I was banished to last year. This is still education, which means some of the things I am required to do are half past retarded! So, the school has given me ALL collaborative classes…which means that I am the English teacher, and there is also a person who teaches Special Education in the classroom. The SpEd teacher is also supposed to be HIGHLY QUALIFIED (lol)…ummm…some of them are, and I have worked with such individuals in the past. Great experience. My SpEd teacher, however, is not! She is not HIGHLY QUALIFIED in jack shit J! In fact, she has never taught a day in her life. She will be beginning her Online Masters/Certification at the end of this month…and the thing that really burns my ass about this situation is that the administration expects to see 50/50 teaching occurring. HA!

I have voiced my dissent to my department head. I told her that it would be detrimental, to the academic progress of my regular education students, to allow this woman 50/50 teaching access. She’s not a certified English teacher. She has NO BACKGROUND in English whatsoever…and it shows! I have a total of 100 students to her 10 SpEd students. I also am responsible for preparing all of my 11th graders for THREE state tests that highly affect (note: not effect…remind me to come back to that one) the status of their graduation from high school. So WHY would the school system think it a viable learning situation to jeopardize the success of 90 students in light of 10…does that make any sense to you?

Okay…because Pollyanna is not an English teacher, she doles out misinformation like a whore gives head…it’s astronomical! (Okay…she’s not THAT much of a rock head…she’s actually quite bright, but NOT an English teacher) I will give you some examples of A Day in the Life of the Doings and Misdeeds of Mrs. Pollyanna Sunshine. I was discussing the ways in which media AFFECTS youth, with the class. I wrote a journal question on the board and modeled it after the state test format…I was actually going somewhere with the whole journal thing…and then Pollyanna interjects with her Sunshine “isms” just as I’m about to divulge the secret formula to forming a succinct thesis statement…Issue + Opinion about issue = Thesis Statement!!!! Yayyyyyy!!!!! But noooooo, Pollyanna tells the class, “Make sure that your thesis statement is interesting!”
She’s enthused as she delivers this morsel of abstract and useless information…I groan inwardly…trying hard not to throw up in my mouth a little bit…trying hard not to strangle her or tell/ask her KINDLY, “Please go and sit your ass down for the remainder of the class period and NEVER speak without running it by me first.” But I don’t say that…I ignore her…nod my head…and proceed with my goal in mind. I try not to think about the affect/effect mishap that occurred yesterday…UGH!

My department head informed me today that it is my job to over plan (for her benefit) and basically train her…so I just couldn’t resist asking the snarky ass question fighting to claw its way out of my throat. “So, you mean to tell me that she gets my Master’s degree for free and I get nothing for giving it to her?” My department head blinks twice…digests what I said…makes a slight nod of her head and says, “I once had a collab teacher who…”

I zoned out at that point because her response was a resounding “YES!” in my book. And…to all you readers out there in WordPress Land…I hope you know me well enough to know that that is a resounding “HELL NO!” in my scholarly book…It will be a cold day in hell before I allow her give my students any further misinformation (one of them corrected her today)…I know how to play the game, too!

Once again folks, this is the fine work of NCLB in action!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2008 in Work

 

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29 – Who Killed Education?

I stayed up until 3am watching CNN’s special entitled, Black in America. My mother called to tell me about the special…she said it would be featured in two-parts and that I should check it out. Well, I did…and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! The education portion of the Wednesday night’s special really hit home…hell, it even reminded me WHY I flocked towards that inner-city school the way in which I did. The statistics were mind boggling…the special report mentioned that Black children are, academically, the lowest achieving group in the world…in the WORLD…WOW! The report also noted that Black females make-up the majority of the African-American populace of post-secondary enrollment…Black males are more likely to drop out of school, become involved in a life of drugs, gangs, and crime…and end up in prison. WOW! Then the special featured how the plight of the black male (you know…not being educated or gainfully employed) affects the family structure and trims down the dating pool for Black females (if she’s only dating within her race)…and the stats for that…only 45% of Black females will ever get married. WOW! (I know that had nothing to do with education…more on a personal note)

Dr. Roland Fryer is a big-wig professor of economy over at THE Harvard University, and he is also the associate director of something called the American Inequality Lab (and yes, I so totally have a nerd crush on him). Fryer was featured on last night’s special due to his idea of “paying students to learn.” He feels that it will work. Fryer revealed that he grew up in an inner-city environment and claims that today’s students are not like the students of the past. He says that phrases such as, “Do your work so that you can make good grades and go to college,” mean anything anymore…he also says that today’s student (especially the inner-city student) needs a tangible incentive to get through school because they (lower-class, inner-city students) do not have the same role models that middle-class students have at home (which I guess would be their version of the tangible incentive).

The next thing I see is a group of Fourth Graders who are being rewarded/paid for making A’s on test. They receive a sheet of paper that tells them their balance…and the kids are excited. When the students are questioned about how they feel making money for studying affects them, one young man responded by saying that he felt it made his expectations for himself that much higher (I’m paraphrasing here). Reaching Out to Students When They Talk and Text discuss the idea more in depth, and while I understand the idea behind the action…I’m not so sure that what students will learn in the long-run will truly pay-off. I understand that students need to be motivated to learn, but is paying them THE answer? …Or giving them a cell phone? And I found the following quote from the article to be extremely interesting:

Mr. Klein and Dr. Fryer said they hoped that celebrities like the rapper Jay-Z, the comedian Chris Rock and the basketball star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would participate by sending text messages or calling students who succeed. Grades, attendance and completion of assignments will all be considered signs of success.

I find that quote interesting because a simple “Good job!” from your parent is no longer enough…a male from the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is now being expected to tow the line as the last hope for academic encouragement. I’m just wondering what will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world and realize that there are no rewards in college for acing an exam…there are no rewards at home for taking care of your children…there are no rewards or incentives for paying your bills on time (I don’t get discounts for that)…so, I will be extremely curious to see the end result of Dr. Fryer’s two year experiment. Also, I wonder how well this would work with drug-dealing high school students who would scoff at $25 per test…and I also wonder WHERE is this money coming from? Hey…and maybe I have no room to comment on anything like this since I had a middle-class upbringing with college educated family members, but my INCENTIVE to learn was a spanking…I didn’t want one…so I did the work, and then as I became older the spankings stopped and I understood the value of completing something via the fruits of my labor. HA! Go figure! Ideas like that are foreign and antiquated now! Now my students talk of abuse or neglect…never the middle ground where nurturing occurs…Has this also killed education?

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2008 in Work

 

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28 – Fleeting Moments of Gratitude

…And so Part II of my saga shall quickly return. I got a job at a new school in a district that neighbors Ye Olde Shoppe O’ Ghetto Horrors, and warrants a one hour one-way commute. I should feel elated, but I don’t. I mean…I have a job…RIGHT? Just today I saw a woman who could have easily been one of my students’ parents, lumbering about in the rain, pushing an industrial-sized trash can, and placing the remnants of the careless into her little treasure chest of joy…oh yes, she certainly did look like Little Miss Sunshine…only too excited to be chasing down the soggy trash of those who were too “busy” to actually take it to the trash can.*

Thank God I’m not you, I thought to myself as I watched her. She was a dead ringer for a sleepwalker. I was waiting to erupt with a feeling of gratitude…instead came the flashbacks…last year, the year before that, and the one before that…UGHHH!!! No romantic-comedy-esque warm and fuzzies were coming to the forefront. Zip. Then I called a friend of mine who teaches in Manhattan, and she told me about all the budget cuts occurring within her school…she mentioned that all non-tenured teachers, people with less than four years of teaching experience, were being let go (she is tenured). I gasped at the thought.

Then, tonight, I was cruising NPR (because that’s what I do when I feel down….???) and I came across this podcast. Scary. Scary because it’s true…the more money that is taken from the educational budget means that much less will inner-city/underserved populations be served with a fair education. Remember, I taught an entire year’s worth of a class with no book. I was not issued a teacher’s edition and my students were never issued individual textbooks. Why? No more books…no more money, that’s why! Oh, and don’t forget about the other class I taught…they had text books (brand new text books), but they were so severely out-of-date that they did not follow the current state standards for education.

I admire those teachers who got out there and protested for what they believe in. Where I work, the teachers don’t have the guts…but if they did…if I didn’t think I would be the ONLY person out there on that line…I would be there. In fact, I think Americans as a whole should go on strike…but that’s an entirely different blog!

So, New Place High School is it…after sending twenty cover letters and resumes directly to principals, and uploading my information on the state’s teacher job site…this is it, and I started back in March. This is bad. I have never had such a difficult time finding a teaching job. While this school is not inner-city, the actual school board may be in a bit of trouble…so cross your fingers for me. When I think about all the cuts in education, the good teachers out there who no longer have jobs, and that woman picking up trash…I try to feel grateful…really.

*I am by no means downplaying anyone who does this for a living. It is an honest and legal means of earning money. My point, for myself, is that I did not go to school to do that…and she looked VERY unhappy! So please don’t send me a bunch of comments saying I’m an elitist bitch because I don’t want to pick up trash for a living (because I barely like to clean my own living room). If it came down to it, then I would (pick up trash, I mean…I get suckered into doing the chores somehow – if I don’t, then no one else will)!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2008 in Work

 

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