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39 – WTFFF?*

I can’t seem to have ONE complete thought in this joint!  My name is constantly being called, someone always asking me to give answers to questions I have already covered…wanting, wanting, wanting something!  By the time I get home, I have nothing left.  I feel like a victim of some sort of elaborate government mind control program.  I remember nothing.  I know nothing.  I am nothing.

At the end of the day, I walk to my car…tightly clutching my purse to my chest…attempting to piece together the events of the day and figure out WHAT IN THE HELL JUST HAPPENED???!!!!!!  My non-teacher friends never understand.  They think I am exaggerating.  I say to all of you non-teachers out there…if you have three or more young children at home…think of rainy, Saturday afternoon when no one can go outside.  They are ALL in the house…and they are ALL vying for your attention.  Now, multiply that feeling and imagine a different set of THIRTY people doing that to you every fifty minutes.

Yesterday, during my last period class…I was having one of those moments when I would rather (a) stand in the middle of I-75 and wait for the next barrage of cars to put me out of my misery, or (b) make a run for it, right through the cement walls and all…leaving only an outline of my fleeting figure as evidence of my existence.  I desperately craved a moment of sanity.

It was our first day back after Spring Break…I have Seniors…and they could not give a rat’s ass about learning to wield literary voice, tone, audience, and descriptive/narrative writing.  It was like that scene from Ferris Buellar’s Day Off, “Anyone…Anyone…”  *sigh* At that point, even though I knew I really didn’t have their FULL attention, I only hoped to muddle through it all and get them brainstorming with me.  And just before I reached the center of the Tootsie Roll, a grainy voice interrupts, “Ms. Friendly, do you have a moment to pick up the phone?”  God!?  Is that you? I thought, excitedly…a reprieve to this torture…death! Yayyy!  But, no, it was one of our dearly loved assistant principals, Mr. Tightly Packed Afro.  “Yes, I do.”  Fuckity fuck fuck!  I don’t want to talk to you, fool! I’m…like…TEACHING!

I pick up the phone.

Friendly: Hello

Afro: I have Never Does Shit here in my office with me, and I’m wondering if we can all come up

with a  way for him to graduate.

Yeah!  Come to class and do your fucking work!

Friendly: Well, I sent failure letters home and everyone should have received them during Spring Break (Don’t judge me! LOL!).  I included a list of the assignments I was missing from them, along with the link to our class website.  All the work is uploaded on that site.

Afro: Can we set up a few times for him to come after school so he can get this work from you?

Hell no!  I gave time for doing make-up work, in class, the entire week BEFORE Spring Break!  This is on him!

Friendly: I can send him to the Media Center, tomorrow, when he comes to class.

Afro: No, I don’t want him missing any instructional time for make-up work.

He doesn’t care about missing instructional time!  He NEVER comes to my class on time.  I have him first period, and his mother drops him off to school on time…but he never makes it to class on time.

Friendly: Okay, well, I will come to your office and talk to you about it another time.  I really need to get back to my class.

Liar! Liar!  Pants on fire!  I have absolutely NO intention of doing that.  I will tell Never Does Shit that he will need to do the work.  Period.

Afro: Okay, thank you, Ms. Friendly.

I hung up the phone.  My class was derailed.  All of the pseudo-attention they gave me earlier was lost.  I was furious.  How dare that man interrupt the learning of twenty-eight other people on behalf of ONE person…and one person who repeatedly shows just how much he doesn’t care about his education?  I taught him during his Junior year, and he did the same thing.  I was not impressed…Social graduation dressed in it’s Sunday best!

A teacher’s efforts never go unpunished.

Thank you, No Child Left Behind!

*WTFFF = What the Fuckity Fuck Fuck?

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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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!

 
4 Comments

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!

 
13 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2008 in Work

 

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27 – Why Mechanics Should Not Perform Heart Surgery

Okay…so Tom, a reader of mine, posted the following comments (he’s always finding/asking the good stuff):

There’s an interesting discussion on Hard Times at an education blog here. Teachers who have actually been in an urban classroom were not impressed with the bloggers National Review article. (I responded to this one first)

The ed. blogger makes a poor argument which needs to be ‘unpacked’ as he so condescendingly and wonkishly put it. (I responded to this one second)

The “wonkishness” that Tom refers to is an education blogger/researcher (probably twelve years old) who writes for the National Review Online. This blogger has taken his pre-pubescent thoughts concerning Hard Times at Douglass High, and created a dismissive, snobbish, condescending, and judgmental evaluation of the teachers/administration at Douglass High. Needless to say, our Little Blogger Boy did NOT receive a warm reception from any of the commenting educators or people with the ability to think rationally (myself included).

Liam Julian, bless his heart (A Southern phrase I learned from my aunts which really translates into: What a horse’s ass), feels that the teacher’s at Douglass High just “weren’t cutting it” (Yes, I am quoting Julian). Julian goes on to lambast the lesson plan of Mr.McDermott, the 9th Grade English teacher (whom of which posts a direct response to Our Little Blogger Boy)…claiming that his writing topic was inappropriate (paraphrase). Please feast on a few more written gems from Our Little Blogger Boy taken directly from his article Liam Julian on Hard Times at Douglass High on National Review Online:

Yet this film makes clear that kindness and devotion do not great teachers and administrators make, and despite their intentions, the staff members at Douglass aren’t cutting it.”

“But some of Douglass’s staff members actually heighten the discord of their pupils’ already discordant lives. The film shows an English teacher who asks his class about people they know who have screwed up or failed. Thus, instead of having a valuable conversation about Nick Carraway’s flaws, say, or the mistakes of old men who fish for marlin, the students tell stories about relatives who are pregnant, in prison, or dead.”

Hard Times at Douglass High shows that troubled urban schools can succeed only if they’re staffed by competent people. In urban education, good intentions alone will not yield good results.”

If this is who we have to count on to forge the way for educational research, then we REALLY ARE in trouble!

***UPDATE:  This is for my disgruntled Wednesday (wdnsday) commenter! 🙂  This is my posted response to Liam Julian (click the first link to see full information).

Mr. Julian,

“Hard Times at Douglass High shows that troubled urban schools can succeed only if they’re staffed by competent people. In urban education, good intentions alone will not yield good results.”

There is nothing more unnerving than the mechanic who attempts to perform heart-surgery. As a seventh-year teacher in the public school system, I must say that I find your irreverence for the scope of my profession quite offensive. This is not a game, Mr. Julian! American education is in trouble; suburban and urban. NCLB has been fuel to the fire because our POLICY MAKERS are not educators! For you to condense the culpability of this massive issue down to one minuscule group of people shows your lack of preparedness. You should not have written your article without further research…you deserve to be torn a fresh asshole due to your pompous oversight.

There is a recipe that one should follow when engaging in the proper education of a child: parents, community, school, and policy makers. Please notice that I listed four components…four…like the number of tires it takes to support a car. It’s a machine. What would happen to your journey if one or more of those components were faulty?

I viewed that documentary, and I saw a lot more than good intentions in the works. There were plenty of competent educators who were featured on Hard Times. As an individual who has never taught, I find it rather presumptuous of you to evaluate something you know nothing of. Please keep in mind that we need solutions in order to fix this mess…people who are able to view the “big picture,” and that picture boils down to this…policy, policy, and MORE policy; after policy…parents, parents, and MORE parents; after parents…environment…THEN, maybe THEN are we able to look at what I am able to offer in the classroom.

Sincerely,
Ms. Friendly
http://www.msfriendly.wordpress.com

 
14 Comments

Posted by on July 2, 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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9 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2008 in Work

 

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25 – Everything Is Equal Here

I watched a documentary that aired on HBO entitled, Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card Monday night, and it was like stepping back into my prior school year. The documentary chronicles a year in the life of the urban high school located in the inner city of Maryland. The school is being threatened with the potential of a state take-over due to failing test scores, poor attendance, high drop-out rates, etc.

“…The film captures the complex realities of life at Douglass, and provides a context for the national debate over the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the brutal inequalities of American minority education, considered an American tragedy by many.”

“Brutal inequalities of American minority education…” I’m not sure how I feel about that phrase…especially after what I have experienced. I certainly will admit that there are aspects of Douglass High that lend themselves to being labeled as sub par…they perpetuate the imbalance of social and educational equity among students. However, I also believe that the failure of Douglass and other schools can not solely rely on a definition as narrow as a “brutal inequality.” The problems that educators see in schools are the same issues that students are dealing with in the streets…these kids are not leaving their personal baggage at the door before walking into the classroom because they carry too great a load.

More students experience unstable lives outside of home: teen pregnancy, drugs, alcoholism, gangs, non-traditional families where the grandparents are the parents, incarcerated parents, personal incarceration, hunger, homelessness, etc. School is a non-issue when facing the big bad of the issues I previously named.

Why read? Why do homework? Why respect teachers when no other adult has shown you any respect?

That documentary made me want to cry because I was surrounded with the memory of the despair those kids wore every morning. As one person, I could only brace myself and eventually fight to save myself…I feel like I failed them because I could not save them. And the startling aspect of my experience was the realization that many of them didn’t want saving nor did they see any reason as to WHY they should be saved. They didn’t want to function in my world…your world…our world. They perceived themselves as fully functioning beings within American society…???

That school was A LOT like my school…and believe it or not…from what was shown…those kids were better behaved! My tenth graders acted like that obnoxious boy who was always in the hall…about 75% of them acted that way. My fearless leader would NEVER make a home visit to discern the ailments of a student…he was there to collect a paycheck. I will say that ALL of our teachers were certified, save for one…and ALL of them were phenomenal people and teachers. They taught on a different frequency (kind of like incorporating a sixth sense)…the inner-city will do that to an individual.

In the documentary, there was a teacher who (after three years of teaching at Douglass) resigned in the middle of the school year. I almost left my school, too…

You know…if I were the one examining Douglass, or the inner-workings of Inner City High School USA…I would have to examine the structure of American society. Politicians say these catchy phrases to make people think that things in this world are change-able…but are they really? Were these structures set up on purpose? Are some people just meant to fail based on the unfortunate event of WHERE they were born? I mean seriously…how many thugs REALLY make it out of the ghetto?

…It’s a struggle between the powerful and the subjugated (oh…wait…that sounds a lot like Marxism)…shhhh! I really didn’t just say that because this is a democracy where everything is equal! 🙂

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Work

 

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14 – Dorothy, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!…Or Are We?

8-year-old arrested, accused of hitting teacher

HA! They get younger and younger! However, that’s the thing I think many parents do not recognize…teen and adolescent behavior is a direct reflection of early childhood rearing. I hear so many of my students say,

“My mama can’t tell me what to do!”

“I drink with my mama.”

“I hit my mama.”

“I ain’t never had no spanking.”

“My mama ain’t never beat me.”

“My mama beat me with (fill in the blank)”

…and I teach high school…

“Little” eight-year-old Deshawn Williams got into a physical altercation with another classmate over a box of crayons…apparently chairs became projectile objects, classmates were hit, and the teacher was struck in the face when he did not get what he wanted. Deshawn ended up in the back of a police car, while wearing the latest fashion the penal system had to offer – handcuffs!

The thing I find most disturbing about this story is what Granny Dorothy had to say about her grandson’s behavior:

  • “He gets very upset and he loves to hit,”
  • “If he was overpowering her that much, I feel like she shouldn’t be in that line of work,”
  • “If she can’t deal with him, put him in someone else’s classroom. If it’s a male, whatever, and let them restrain him,”

And obviously, we really are NOT in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

I wonder if Granny D is familiar with the other “D” word?

Discipline! Whatever happened to good old-fashioned discipline? Permissiveness (sorry Dr. Spockers) and child abuse are obviously NOT what I’m suggesting because the two are so far from discipline. It is evident, from the behavior of my students, that their parents never provided discipline. Perhaps some of their parents abused them…slapped them around and inducted them into the world of hard knocks…perhaps their parents were absentee…either way, this type of faulty parenting is like a medieval scourge descending upon our society! Soon enough we will be living a rendition of Lord of the Flies…no adults and every child for himself.

Alas! There is something else that is bothering me about this particular case in light of all the newly surfaced stories of juvenile anarchy…this Deshawn kid attends an “exceptional school,” which means that his behavior could be a tad bit excusable if there are considerable emotional disabilities involved.

  • Why was he arrested and not the kid who attacked Jolita Berry or the kid who attacked Felecia Williams?
  • Should allowances be made for Deshawn Williams if he is truly emotionally disturbed?
  • Do parents realize how many Emotionally and Behaviorally Disturbed (EBD) students are mainstreamed into the regular education classroom with their student due to No Child Left Behind?
  • Do parents realize that the regular ed. teacher is not fully equipped to handle the outbreaks of these students…and therefore, instruction suffers because the regular ed. teacher spends 80% of valuable instruction time “putting out fires?”
  • Do parents realize that the special education staff is often times over-worked, and are not always going to be present in a student’s class to offer assistance (assistance they are not highly qualified in)?

Oh my…I think I’m airing all the dirty laundry…and boy is it dirty…

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Work

 

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