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Tag Archives: Humor

15 – A Piece of Humble Pie

I almost walked out yesterday.

I have never taught somewhere and felt the urge to just grab my belongings and leave…I am not a quitter, but I am not a masochist either!

I looked around the pandemonium of what was doubling as a “class” and “students”…and I just could not take any more of the loud noise (louder than a seven-year-old’s birthday party at ChuckE Cheese), I could not take anymore of the “chemical warfare” (students repeatedly spraying perfume in the air), I could not take any more of the extreme disruptive behavior (students yelling obscenities, hitting each other, mocking each other, the extreme horseplay, and NEVER doing any work)…everything is a joke to them!

I hated them ALL! Then…I went by the Spanish teacher’s room; there’s something about that woman that always puts me in a better mood…she has a wonderful way with the kids and her humor is as dry as the Sahara (my kinda gal)…so I went by for a little escapism. We discussed the ins-and-outs of making churros (very intellectual) until a former student of hers stopped by to visit.

I had never noticed her before; she was one of our school’s up and coming 2008 graduates…she looked twelve! I mean…seriously! Sometimes, the seniors don a superficial “look” of maturity, but this young lady did not.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to prom,” she stated rather matter-of-factly to La Professora. She didn’t sound all angsty like most teens would. It was a statement. In fact, it was the un-angsty-ness of her voice that made me look at her…REALLY look at her. She was wise beyond her years and she wore all of her wisdom in the deep, mysterious onyx pools of her eyes. Her eyes told the tale of a girl far older than the age of eighteen. She began to weave her tale as to why she may be missing prom and why she had missed the last three weeks of school.

Her mother had been very ill and she was responsible for taking care of her mother, Sara* continued…she said her mother had Cervical Cancer, Bells Palsey, and Rheumatoid Arthritis…and her mother is only thirty-six! WOW! Then Sara said that due to the severity of her illnesses, her mother has been preparing her and her two younger sisters for her possible, impending death.

Oh…but WAIT…it gets worse!

Sara has to move out of the three-bedroom apartment she shares with her mother, step-father, two younger sisters, a dog, and a cat…their rent is subsidized so they only pay $87.00…and Sara says that the Section 8 Housing reps make regular check-ups to ensure that no one eighteen or older is living in the apartment while not either in school or employed. Currently, Sara is neither of the two.

After that, my ears were lit with information I never knew any eighteen-year-old to know of…Sara’s biological father is in jail, soon to be released – he was incarcerated because he snapped the neck of a man who was in the act of attempting rape on Sara. Sara said that her father will be released within one month. Sara spoke very strongly of taking care of her family and assuming her mother’s role as caretaker…she admitted that she has already stepped in several times (unbeknownst to her mother) and provided monetary largesse. Sara said that between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, she sold drugs and would place a large percentage of her earnings in her mother’s purse when her mother was not paying attention…Sara said that it was easy for her to get away with selling drugs when she was younger because police officers never took her seriously…she said she looked nine or ten when she was thirteen.

As the tales of her enthralling life began to wind down, and the time for the end school approached, I asked Sara the one question that was burning within me.

“In retrospect of everything you have said here today about your life…How does education fit onto your list of things-that-are-important?”

She did not hesitate to answer, “Education is my only way out. I will be the only person in my family, except for my younger sisters, to graduate from high school and get a diploma…And I don’t plan on stopping with that! After getting my diploma, I want to go to massage therapy school, and then to college to get my degree.”

I nodded my head in silence. I was humbled by the tone of motivation I detected in her voice…she reminded me of WHY I wanted to work in the inner-city. I wanted/expected to meet students like her…people who WANTED help to help themselves. Sara is the anomaly.

…And to think I thought I had it bad…

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 1, 2008 in Work

 

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9 – When Students Attack…Oh and They Do!

ostrich

“Experts dubious about 3rd-graders’ plot …Nine girls, boys apparently mad at veteran teacher at Georgia school”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23905909

http://www.newsweek.com/id/130150

Okay…my panties are definitely in a bunch! People…come on now…REALLY? …The sweet child routine? Ummmm…NO! I see it happen every day. The biggest bully, and I’m talking Repeat Offender Award for Being a Brat Bully will shove their peers, curse loudly in the classroom, yell obscenities at the teacher, ditch class, make sexual innuendos, etc. AT SCHOOL…but when Big Brat Bully is called on the carpet and Mama Brat Bully comes to the school, then Big Brat Bully transforms into this unrecognizable church mouse…quiet and unassuming…lover of nature and all mankind (bite me). The parents have bought the act and are going to bat for B.B.B., as all the teachers wear their most incredulous “What the French Toast?” faces. All the B.B.B.s I have ever taught are the future sociopaths of the world, and Mommy/Daddy/Grandparents make it worse for these children to learn some good old fashioned DISCIPLINE!!! Mama Brat Bully only opens the doors of the penitentiary/unemployment line/extra-room-in-the-basement even wider by making lame excuses for Big Brat Bully’s inappropriate behavior.

Currently, a case involving children and a murder plan for their teacher is “shocking” the nation! I laugh. Why is the nation shocked? Why do adults believe that little people are incapable of murder…plotting murder…the execution of a succinct murder plan? Wake up America! Your children are not innocent…you are blind! So what if the alleged are 8- to- 10 year olds…they are people, too! Crime does not have an age limit.

In a Newsweek article, Elizabeth Berger, M.D. (child “shrink”) states, “When it comes down to it, the whole weight of the adult world rests with the teacher’s authority. And this is something that few children would have the folly to buck.” I almost fell out of my seat with laughter! Surely this woman is visiting the weed man along with my student’s mama! I realize that I teach an older crowd, however, I do have friends who teach elementary school…and their stories are not pretty, either! The teacher’s authori-TAH means ABSOLUTELY zilch, zip, zero where I work! However, that goes back to improper home training (another blog for another day).

Students do attack, both verbally and physically. I want to take you back to the day our school issued progress reports…the day that I thought I was going to be attacked by a mob of students! Never in my career of teaching had I felt in danger of my life by the hands of students! These “kids,” however, were not joking! After progress reports were issued, they piled into my room with the ferocity of a tsunami. Each of them stormed in my room donning scowls and spewing obscenities from their mouths. “You gone change dis motherfuckin’ grade!” “What the fuck is dis shit?” “I ain’t got no 18! I come to class every day.” They crowded around my desk, leaving me a marginal view in which to map out an escape route.

The hair on the back of my neck rose at attention. I had no help. My door would not lock because I had no key…so the students continued to pour in until there were at least fifteen to twenty huddled around my desk. I looked up into their angry faces and saw that they WOULD strike me if they smelled my fear…this was an important wake-up call for me. I had no help. No security or hall monitors were alerted…I had no way of getting the attention of the administration (and I guess no one thought it strange that these kids were freely roaming the halls and pouring into one room when they were not supposed to be)…None of my other colleagues (who are usually VERY supportive) came to help because I assume that they were experiencing their own private hell in their classroom as well. It was fight or flight…I was left to my own defenses as means of survival and in order to survive, I had to communicate with them in terms that they best understood.

The message is that there must ALWAYS be consequences for those who fall off the path. As an educator, I can only do so much…my impact is not as lasting as the one that has begun in the womb. If you are a parent, and more than one person/teacher calls a personality trait of your “darling little one” forth to you that you find unsavory and difficult to accept…so what…deal with it! Do not stick your head in the sand! You are a human…not an ostrich! It is your responsibility to attempt to steer your little one away from Hitler-esque/David Koresh/Uni-Bomber tendencies! If the teachers tell you that your child is a bully, then chances are…your child is a bully…FIX IT! If teachers tell you that your child has an attitude problem, talks back, can’t sit still…seek medication, counseling, an exorcism, some type of intervention but the bottom line is that you must FIX IT! Do not ignore it! If you do not, then your child will have problems as an adult because those types of issues just don’t fix themselves! …Just ask Ted Bundy.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2008 in Work

 

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8 – Demoralization is a Hot Mess!

flava flav

*Crittle73 said in response to7- Life During Wartime (Removing Our Heads from the Inside of Our Asses)”:

This system is set up so that these “students” fail! There are no consequences for anything they do. They aren’t held up to expectations, but the teachers better get those test scores up! Who cares if the kids come to class 30 mins late and leave 10 mins early? Who cares that fights are breaking out in the classroom? Who cares if “students” are cursing out the teacher? Just don’t send them to the office!! It’s your job as a teacher to break up fights, stop constant name-calling, bullying, and cursing, AND to produce a 70% pass rate on the state test!

Ms. Friendly says:

This particular system IS constructed so that these children will fail…and they do! The verdict of DEMORALIZATION has been bothering me…still! I know it shouldn’t because the person who made the decree has no idea of what he’s talking about. It is easy to dish out judgment from the “cushy,” comfy, and cozy side of the fence. It is more difficult to come away with rose-colored glasses still intact when the shit is all up in your face on a daily basis…when the stench follows you home like a lost puppy (but less cute)…when the ailment of the machine grips you and infects you even in the hours you are away from the building.

A failing system is one of smoke and mirrors…everything looks to be in place from the outside. However, if you scratch the shiny surface…you will recognize the veneer to be yellow plastic and never gold.

During the first week of school, we had no schedules, no text books, no copy machines, or printers. For those of you who are NOT educators…I will translate. A HOT MESS! We had students in rooms doing absolutely NOTHING for an entire school day! This continued for three full days until they were given a quasi-schedule (meaning it would change yet AGAIN)…WTF? And while I had said “students” in my care, serving their quasi-student-tude, I was to provide them with “QUALITY” TEACHING! (bite me). How? How? and…How? I had no text and no way of copying or printing anything to assign to my quasi-students! What did I do? I’m sure you’re asking that question…I did what any seasoned teacher does…I improvised. I used my PERSONAL money to make copies at Kinko’s (class sets)…that’s sooooooo fucking demoralizing isn’t it?

I did not understand why I was using my HARD earned money to fund the FREE and PUBLIC education of my students when a well-known philanthropist just donated $3 billion dollars to our school system in the name of school reform…WTF? Can I get a copier, printer, and some texts please?

Guess what? I STILL DON’T HAVE TEXT BOOKS FOR ONE OF MY CLASSES! The school year will be over in a few months.

*To read crittle73’s full comment, please refer to Post #7

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2008 in Work

 

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7- Life During Wartime (Removing our Heads from the Inside of our Asses)

 

happy bunny

…I think the title speaks for itself…

…I think the title appropriately illuminates my life as a “teacher” in the inner-city…

Who would have thought that the Talking Heads would be able to sum up a year of my life…the WORST year of my life…within three simple words?

I am writing this in response to a claim from a friend who said that what I’m doing on this site is demoralizing and shameful. Is it? Is it really? …Because this is the stark reality and truth of my life. What you read here is not staged or contrived…it’s REAL! It’s the stuff you do not hear about on the radio or see on the television.

The truth is ugly sometimes.

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
this ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now

(a little more Talking Heads)

Yes, I do have students who:

  • Think sexually harassing a teacher is okay
  • Curse the teacher out on a daily basis. For example, I was asked during the first week of school, “Why we gotta do this shit? I don’t wanna read this. Dis shit boring!” …referring the Elie Wiesel’s Night
  • Defecate in the trash “can” instead of the toilet
  • Curse the principal out
  • Tell the Assistant Superintendent of the school system, “You betta stop talking to me you old, white-ass honkey”
  • Plug their cell phones up to charge while “class” is in session
  • Wear red, orange, yellow-blond, or blue weave


…Shall I continue? Demoralizing?

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2008 in Work

 

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6 – Stuff Inner-City Students Like (Visiting the “Weed” Man with Mama)

not crack

Today, my students were given the assignment of collaborative essay writing.  Somewhere in between brainstorming and outlining, two students who were sitting the closest to me began to discuss the ills of living with mothers who are always saying that there is no money.

G1: “Oh, girl, yeah I know…my mama is always talkin’ bout she ain’t got no money, but why she be turnin’ the corner to the weed man house when she sayin’ it?”

G2:“-And goin’ right to the do…”

G1:“Umm Hmm” 

 Oh the irony; Mama had enough money to buy “weed!”

 Apparently, Inner-City students like to visit the weed man with Mama…

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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4-Stuff Inner-City Students Like (Weave)

It’s un-be-WEAVE-ABLE!!!! It’s a veritable cornucopia of colors…it’s 31 Flavors…NO! It’s a HAIR style?!

ghetto

Yes, I discovered that hair weave seems to be the ONLY arena in which my students have first-hand knowledge of diversity. Inner-City students seem to like “integrate” weave! No discrimination there!

ha

It’s like Crayola…but different because it’s for the hair and not the coloring book!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Work

 

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3- My Fearless Leader – Leader of the Drones!

fun

This inner-city world is strange to me; VERY strange! In fact, I believe Jim Morrison of The Doors speaks best for me when he states “People are strange, when you’re a stranger/ Faces look ugly when you’re alone.” I am alone. I am strange. I have encountered MANY uneven streets (metaphorically speaking) since working at this school than I have in any other and I am no novice teacher. I am beginning to think I work in a circus “Fun” House…distorted mirror images included!

I am incredulous in regards to the things that are ALLOWED to continue at this “school.” The students are not expected to adhere to ANY types of rules or standards because those rules/standards are NEVER enforced! I have never worked anywhere like this (mind you this is my FOURTH high school of employment and my 7th year of teaching)…I am no novice. The students regard our fearless leader as the biggest joke since “W” (sorry Republicans) and I agree! Oh sure…he enforces rules and asserts his authori-TAH, but only when it’s safe for him…only when it’s a teacher. And when he does that, it’s passive-aggressive, yellow-bellied, and underhanded.

My fearless leader’s main concerns are as follows (and not in any particular order):

  • Did you close your classroom window?
  • Did you make it to work by EXACTLY 8AM?
  • Are you attending your one-hour-and-fifteen-minute-long common planning meetings twice a month? (He never reads the minutes, addresses our concerns from those meetings, or attempts to resolve administrative issues)
  • Are you showing ANYTHING that closely resembles a video on a FRIDAY? (even if it’s educational…and our classes meet every OTHER day, so students are ALWAYS confused. If you are teaching Romeo and Juliet…students may ONLY watch on a Mon. or Wed. because showing it on FRIDAY is a sacrilege)
  • Are you physically PRESENT? (EVERYONE should come to work and REMAIN at work even if you are throwing up all over yourself, have a migraine, or can not breathe due to Asthma)
  • What ever it is that you are doing…does it LOOK good? (who cares what’s ACTUALLY going on)

My fearless leader is NOT concerned with the following (and not in any particular order):

  • Fights in the hallway ( he walks past those). In fact, a student once said to me, “Hey, you know how Mr.*** is always wearin’ them sneakers? It makes you think he going to be the FIRST one on the scene of a fight…sprintin’ right, but that n***a is the LAST one there!”
  • Discipline issues in the classroom – I have watched him shut the door on other teachers who have brought the student to his door! He says that he is on lunch…or too busy.
  • Standing in the hallway during class changes to monitor student behavior and (more importantly) to foster a relationship with students aside from that of a “disciplinarian.”
  • The fact that I share ONE set of twenty books with two other teachers who teach the same subject (and NO…we are not sharing a classroom, too)!
  • Students who are congregated in the hallways past the ringing of the bell – he walks past that without a word (I have personally witnessed that).
  • Enforcing the very rules he has so vehemently put into place! Guess what…you named it! He walks past those juvenile wrong doers without so much as a word!

I think it is obvious that I will NOT be returning to that school next year…in fact, the experience, as a whole, has caused me to truly question the institution and concept of public school “education.” I am conflicted. I mean…what am I REALLY doing? I don’t want to deal with anymore obnoxious discipline issues all by myself, poor administration, inadequate resources, ungrateful students, or shitty NCLB…really it’s No Teacher Left Behind (but that’s another blog).

I would like to think that the goal of education is to create free-thinkers (not to micro-manage), however the longer I remain in the profession, I notice the opposite happening. I see the creation of a corporation of drones. I see Stepford Wives. I see students attacking other students for being “different,” while I experience the school administration begin to view me as a plague because I will not wholeheartedly buy into the latest trend of educational bullshit drone-dom they are force feeding down the throats of the faculty. I feel like a leper because all I want to do is to teach kids HOW to think!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 29, 2008 in Work

 

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