November 14, 2007
I didn’t actually go to school today. I sat home and waited for a plumber to come and fix the leak in my ceiling, so the super could rebuild the ceiling. It took all freaking day.
I knew I’d be home all day, so I brought grading. I didn’t do any of it.
Something about this time of year, man. It’s the doldrums. I spent a lot of time doing everything except grading and planning. I have to get my mojo back somehow.
October 17, 2007
This is how the teachers at my school spent their day: arguing over which way this woman is spinning. It didn’t quite come to blows, but there was a lot of gesticulating and pontificating and several science/math people felt the need to draw diagrams.
Personally, I see her spinning counter-clockwise, and nothing I do makes her change directions, but I seem to be in the minority.
October 12, 2007
I had a long talk with some of my coworkers today. What is the most important thing for a teacher to do?
Is it plan? I could certainly use more planning time; my lessons Friday were rushed and not-that-well run. Group work is hard to fake.
Is it getting to know your students? Exhausting but certainly valuable; managing my classroom is much easier now that I know who is giving me attitude and who doesn’t realize he’s rolling his eyes all the time. It also helps to have several parents on speed dial.
Or is it taking time for yourself? One of our teachers ran out of the building today the second the bell rang because he was playing a tennis match. Tennis keeps him sane. If he spent all his time teaching and planning and thinking about his students he’d have quit teaching years ago. I stayed long enough to make copies for Monday and then split. Fridays are for seeing my friends and getting out or sometimes going to bed early because I’m totally worn out. Last year I took dance classes once a week, and it made me a better teacher to get out of teaching/planning/grading mode. This year I’ve been busier, what with the school change and all, but I’m going to pick up a yoga class or start running again so I can keep my sanity (DEAR 9TH GRADERS: STOP TALKING!).
I know I’m a better teacher when I work hard, but don’t make teaching my entire life. It’s something I struggle with, especially because teaching leaves me so tired. Too tired, sometimes, to do other things that would make me less tired overall. It’s a little ironic.
September 12, 2007
Teachers — and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to anyone — drink a lot. Not every teacher, sure, but a lot of teachers and a lot of drinking. I’ve graded papers at a bar. I’ve gone out lots of Fridays (and Thursdays, and sometimes Mondays) for a beer because “the kids are like… Oh my god.” I’ve been to bars for “let’s get to know you” and “thank god the semester is over” and “just sit there and listen to me tell you about this one kid” and “IF I QUIT TOMORROW WILL YOU COVER MY CLASS I AM NEVER GOING BACK.” I thought maybe it was just a living-abroad thing, and then I thought maybe it was just a student-teaching thing, and then I thought maybe it was a “working in a shitty school” thing, but now I’m pretty sure it’s just what teachers do.
Tonight I was in a bar near a middle school. I know it was near a middle school because there was a giant group of incredibly hard-drinking teachers doing shots right near me. They had a cheer and a hand-shake and a chant and many, many rounds of beer. Even by teacher standards it was pretty impressive. Plus, there were about 20 of them. It’s hard to get that many people to go out, even after school before a long weekend.
My favorite moment is still when I went in to a bar and saw one of my students trying to use a fake ID. He looked at me and I looked at him and then he walked out as quickly as possible. We never talked about it. It was way too weird.
September 9, 2007
I have a friend who works here.
August 23, 2007
I just got an email from a former colleague at the school I left.
I would like you to know that I truly admire and respect you for having to deal with the “children” that did not want to learn through out the school year. As you know, I am teaching some of these students. They are uncouth, mean spirited and unwilling to learn. The rest are yearning for a passing global regents grade so that they pass on to the next chapter of their school life. If you want, I will email you the students who passed the global regents.
Sincerely, the Dean of Hating Students [apparently]
So that’s a lot of the reason why I left. First, because I really liked most of those “uncouth, mean spirited” kids. Second, because if you think kids are mean and unwilling to learn and kind of don’t like them, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching? And I certainly don’t want to be teaching with you.
August 15, 2007
Jd2718 made a good point here yesterday — I’m moving to a new school, so there probably isn’t much point in planning super far ahead. I have no idea about reading levels or class size or school culture, really, so I can’t even guess how much I can get done in 90 minutes. Once I have the first couple of projects planned out (rubrics and directions, at least) I’ll probably be playing it by ear anyway. This does not bring down my stress level much.
Oh! I know all kinds of awesome teachers read this blog now, so I was hoping you’d be willing to share: What do you do the first day of school? I tried playing a game my first year — that was a disaster, because all it did was convince the kids that my class would be all fun and no work. That is no way to start off. The second year I tried doing procedures, but I wasn’t really organized enough to have tons of systems in place, and I’m not comfortable just talking for 45 minutes. (90, this time.) I don’t have 45 minutes of procedures in place, apparently. So what do you do? Any awesome tips for the first day? (I am Harry Wong‘s nightmare, I tell you.)
And now, because this blog has been nothing but whining almost all summer, here is a fun story about a teacher I used to work with a couple of schools ago. He was (is, I guess) pretty traditional, a little bit older, one of those people who has been in the system for a long, long time. He shared a classroom with our awesome Spanish teacher, who was young and enthusiastic and female. So one day she goes in to the room during his class to grab something, and he turns to the students (impressionable 9th graders) and says “Children, do you know where Ms. Spanish Teacher should be right now?” The kids all shrug. “She should be home. She should be raising her children.” No, he wasn’t kidding. “This is why there’s so much crime and violence in the Bronx. Mothers don’t stay home with their children, they go to work, instead. She should be caring for her family, not going to work. A woman’s place is home with her children.”
I’m sorry, did I say “fun story”? I meant “scary as hell story” about the people who are educating your children.