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41 – We Love You, Friendly!

This past week has been full of surprises. Some have been like “Yayyy! A surprise!”  Then others were like, “Yeah, bitch, surprise…suck it.”

Yayyy! A surprise!
1. My first period class threw me a birthday party Friday. I was all like “Awww! For me?” And they were like, “We love you, Friendly…oh yes we do! We love you Friendly, and we’ll be true.” You have to sing it to the tune of “We Love You, Conrad,” from the musical Bye, Bye, Birdie (random, I know).

2. I was offered a teaching contract for the 2010-2011 school year.

3. I finally received that fucking paper from Sallie Mae stating that I was no longer in default of my loans…meaning I am now eligible to jump in the fryer (again) and accrue more debt in the name of education.

“Yeah, bitch, surprise…suck it.”
1. I sent an email to my adviser of the PhD program I am to begin in the Fall. I was following up to an email correspondence we had in March. See, in March, she told me that there was a possibility that I would not be offered the fellowship I was offered the year before. I, RESPECTFULLY (Girl Scout promise, made with REAL Girl Scouts), went ham on her ass and explained how surprised I was at the possibility of the fellowship not being extended to me.  I ended the March letter by asking her what all I needed to do to ensure that the fellowship happened.  Yeah…I didn’t receive a response to that question.  Now, in May, I’m still being given the slip.  Thanks Dr. Douchebag!

2. MANY of my colleagues were not offered contracts for the 2010-2011 school year.  Learning that information made my stomach hurt.  Two of those three teachers are terrific teachers.  I personally know seven teachers who will not have a job next year, and that’s seven teachers too many.

3. The signing of my 2010-2011 contract and the unresponsiveness of my graduate admissions adviser, has placed me back into make-a-plan mode.  I thought I had a plan…

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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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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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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26 – The Fast Track to Nowhere

Okay…I’m a glutton for punishment…I’m watching Hard Times at Douglass High again (Ahhh! The joy of HBO re-runs).

“No teacher will receive a proficient evaluation as long as there are a high number of failing students in their class. Whose fault is it? Certainly not the student’s.”

These words were spoken (almost verbatim) by an Assistant Principal at Douglass during a Department Head’s meeting. I don’t know how I missed that segment the first time around…maybe that was when I took the dog outside or answered a phone call.

Oh the temerity! In fact, now that I am watching this documentary for the second time, I recall hearing that very sentiment echoed by the Principal during a faculty meeting. Are these people for real?

How can a teacher be blamed for what ails each and every student…because that’s what it boils down to…she’s (the Principal) asking teachers to be responsible for students who do not attend school on a regular basis, for the parents who are unable to get their children to school on a regular basis, for students who decide to hang out in the hallway instead of come to class, for students who refuse to do their work, for students who are more concerned with gangs/drugs/the opposite sex/crime/pregnancy (take your pick)…WOW! Or more like…HELL NO! Really?

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy her concerned act anymore. The first time I watched the documentary, I was too busy “watching”…not analyzing. Anyone who says, “Grades and making up assignments are up to the teacher, but I don’t change grades…” Is announcing to me that YES, YOU DO CHANGE GRADES! In every other “normal” school I have worked, there has been a solid grading policy in place…and not even the principal adulterated that system. After I put a grade in…it was in! If you (the student) did not find my work important enough to do, then you failed and you repeated…or you PAID FOR SUMMER SCHOOL! It’s called being held ACCOUNTABLE!

Anyone ever wonder how that Fast Track deal works? What kind of message does that send, anyway? There is no Fast Track program or Blaming System in the “real world”…not for people like me. I am a law abiding, hard working, tax payer who NEVER received any Fast Track or Blaming System benefits!

My students learned how to work the system at an early age, and they will continue to work it at my expense! Whenever I have attempted to explain the importance of timeliness, integrity, responsibility…many of them remind me that they will receive a “check” and that Section 8 will cover them. They did not need to hear me extolling the importance of paying mortgage on time, a car note on time, a phone bill on time, ANYTHING on time…because it did not apply to them…they don’t see that at home…apparently, where they live, no one is being made to be held accountable for much of anything.

So, somewhere along the line the government said, “Hey, these people over here aren’t ever going to really do anything with themselves…so let’s just continue to support them (minimally)…and then maybe they will just kill each other off.” But HA! Fuck you government and taxpayers…they figured out a decade’s worth of lifetimes to live and create their own alternate reality within the current existence that the rest of the world embraces as “reality.”

Now, the government wants to penalize ALL of us by: (a) including their test tube children in the scores along with the rest of ours (NCLB), (b) doing nothing to eradicate the giant crutch they have created, (c) scaring GOOD teachers into submission of the Stepford Wives Fast Track program…everybody’s doing it…just change the grade…no one will know…who cares if those kids only read on a ninth or tenth grade level upon graduation…

I wish I had a magic wand filled with all the answers…I don’t (obviously)…but I do know crap when I see it…and I’m seeing it! I believe our education issue supersedes the realm of actual education and begins in the home and the community/society in which children are reared…maybe we do need NCLB…but for parents!

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Posted by on June 29, 2008 in Work

 

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