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36 – The Slush Pile ABCs

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I’m trapped in the gym today…it’s club/organization picture day, and I was “suggested” as a candidate for yearbook sponsor in the later part of last school year.  Of course, my initial response when asked was, Hell No! But I never said that aloud…to my boss (yeah, right…I’m snarky…not crazy).

Okay…so…before I start gripping about my newly appointed duties…allow me to (1) apologize for my EXTENDED hiatus, and (2) catch you all up on what’s been going on with me.

A. Not still teaching with Pollyanna Sunshine. I firmly informed my new department head that I’m a one-woman-show…no assistance needed!  In fact, Pollyanna’s “help” crippled me and (more importantly) my class.  I let my department head know that I did not want anymore collaborative teaching situations (whole “My Buddy and Me” thing creeps me out).  I offered to keep the subject I was already teaching (American Literature – 11th), but instead I got British Literature…Seniors!!!! Yayyyyyy!

B. Got stuck with yearbook. I don’t know shit from shinola about a damn yearbook.  The only thing I know about yearbooks is that the guy I had a crush on in high school, drew a picture of a penis in mine…and I had to do everything in my power to keep my very authoritarian mother from seeing that!  Had she seen that, she would have demanded to speak to his parents immediately.  My yearbook staff, while sweet kids, is inexperienced…kinda like having sex with a 40-year-old male virgin (throwing up in my mouth a little bit).  They don’t know shit from shinola, too!  We all make an interesting group.  All I can say is that yearbook is stressful, and I’ve already had to decline a part-time adjunct teaching job I was offered.

C. Have high blood pressure. I never thought I would admit to having HBP…at 34!  Perhaps the stress of my profession does not agree with me.  Last year, I over did it.  Last year I smoldered from within every time I came to work because I didn’t like co-teaching and I hated my 6th period class (damn delinquents…literally).  I was teaching as an adjunct professor, two nights a week, at the community college in my neighborhood (which added another 15 miles to my already 32-mile-one-way trek to work).  Also, I was pining away over an idiot asshole who did not care for me the way I cared for him.  I could not just wake up and smell the bullshit.

D. Got accepted to the PhD program I applied for. This is a bitter-sweet situation.  My student loans were in default…HEAVY default.  I was under the impression that they were deferred because I filled out loan forgiveness paperwork, but it was for something entirely different than what I thought it was for.  So…to make a long story longer…I had to defer my admission to Fall 2010 in order to fix my financial issues.  Although the university is offering me a stipend ($1100 a month BEFORE taxes), free tuition, and medical…I would still need minimal loans to cover my personal expenses.  However, I’m grateful for the offer and can’t wait to get started!  It’s a PhD in Education (of course).  The goal is to teach other teachers HOW to implement meaningful/authentic/germane teaching strategies in which to teach the new breed of people/situations we are being faced with in our classrooms.

So now we are all caught up!  I look forward to posting my daily goings-on more often!  🙂

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2008 in Work

 

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19 -Idiocracy

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

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

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

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

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

Forest Hill Academy: The Children Left Behind

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2008 in Work

 

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18 – “D-Day” is Near!!!

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

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

“Were these students reprimanded?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2008 in Work

 

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17 – Underprivileged and Oversexed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 
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Posted by on May 5, 2008 in Work

 

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16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

Would you answer this ad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Work

 

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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…

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Work

 

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