Today was somewhat better. It's never easy and I'm coming down with a cold. Having a cold sapping your strength isn't much fun when you are in the classroom teaching all day. There's not much time to regroup and catch your breath. We don't have a coffee machine either. Hot beverages help you feel better when you're sick and we don't have access to any. No coffee shop or quickie mart in our neighborhood either. I work in a bad end of town. My voice is going, my throat is sore, and my nose is running. I hope that I can shake this for the weekend. I'd like to be healthy and happy on Christmas morning.
My wife just gave me a big hug. I needed one and she magically appeared. My teaching life has been in the toilet lately, each day worse than before, and I have lost perspective. I do have a wife and family that loves me. I have friends. I have a life. I need to let it go.
On the way home from school today I turned off the radio and reflected in silence about all the stuff that happened today. I spoke to God for a moment. I'm not much for praying or religion but the question needed to be asked: Is there a reason why this is happening to me? I've been in a nightmare teaching situation for two years. I've been on the wrong end of the stick for the entire time. Why? What is accomplished by all this misery?
Why didn't I go to law school or something? At least I would know how to do something and perhaps have something to show for it. I'm tens of thousands in debt for my postgraduate work and for what? So every day I can go home feeling like death warmed over? So every day I can fight with the same dummies? I'm sick of this. I've got to get out of the friggin' inner city. My teaching is not teaching. My school is not a school. I cry in my car on the way home from work almost every day lately. This is not the way it should be.
Every five minutes the phone rings in my classroom with stupid questions from the main office. Every six minutes one of my wonderful students erupts in rage and begins pummeling another student. The kids run wild in the hallways. The fire alarms are constantly shrieking. There's someone constantly yelling or howling out in the halls. The bulletin boards in the halls are being destroyed on a daily basis. The kids never shut up. They're always talking. Always disrespecting you. I'm sick to death of it. I work in hell. The demons run the classrooms, the hallways, the bathrooms, and the stairwells. They torment us.
Christmas vacation cannot get here soon enough. One question for the boneheads who run our crummy school district: Why couldn't you make this week the report card conference week? We could have half days for the end of this week when we need them. You know that no one is going to want to work a full day on December 23. What would a half day matter anyway? None of this matters. None of this s%&t matters. No one is learning a damn thing in my school. Our school is just a K-8 babysitter.
I'm not getting many parents to show up for their report card conferences. It's not a surprise. Most don't answer the phone or do anything when I phone home. It's not like it's important or anything. I'm only their child's teacher with information about their child. Nothing important and sorry to waste their time.
My experiences of waiting around in a freezing cold classroom for parents are a sad commentary of the state of education in my school and likely in the neighborhood. Education is not valued and the kids know it; hence, they treat us like dirt. A shame since education is the only way to have a chance at a good job. These kids and their parents can't see that.
I'm in the middle of another horrible week. My kids don't stop talking or yelling or running around or anything else. It's like I don't exist. Will someone tell me what the point of this is? No Child Left Behind says we have to educate every kid. Please oh smart ones in the Bush Administration tell me how I educate monsters that would like to kill me? Monsters that think books are for throwing, paper is for eating, and pencils are for snapping. Tell me swami how I educate kids that would rather smear ink all over their faces than try and use a pen for its true purpose. How the f*ck do I teach these goddamn kids?
My wonderful weekend is drawing to a close and I have not accomplished half of what I wanted to do. I did go sledding and got the house cleaned up a bit. My laundry is washing. I'm not looking forward to being at school tomorrow. It is a shortened week, though, because we've got report card conferences on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Those are all half days, thank God.
I've been thinking about my class a lot over the weekend. They've been out of hand over the past week. One of our administrators likes to tell me that everything is my fault. My kids are horrible because I am a rotten teacher, etc. I am the quintessential rookie schoolteacher but that's only a small part of what goes on in our school and my classroom. It isn't all my fault in there. My students need to accept some blame too. They act like animals and have for the entire time they've been my students. They have acted like this since they came to school as kindergarteners. The class has never been broken up (a problem at our school) and they've always acted like wild animals, yet some want to bust my chops because my class is rambunctious. Bullsh%t!
I refilled my fountain pen the other day and have been filling my journal with bright blue ink. Why did I wait so long to refill it? My Pelikan glides so easily over the creamy white pages of my journal. Last night the wife and I ate Ethiopian with friends we haven't seen in more than a year. The food was excellent and we all delighted in each other. Why did I deny myself the pleasure of their company and the deliciousness of Ethiopian cuisine? Life is too short to deny oneself a good woman, a good pen, a good meal, a good book, a manual transmission, the laughter of a child, or a stiff drink. In the course of my often horrendous inner-city school teaching life I lose track of the important things.
I got that snow day I've been wanting and it is F-ing sweet. I haven't seen a kid all day except my own. I need some time to regroup and recharge and catch up on my laundry. It's really nice to be home instead of being yelled at by kids that should be chained up and breaking rocks for use in our nation's cement industry. It's almost cocktail hour.
Here's to everyone who got a snow day today. I hoist my glass in honor of you!
I'm depressed and tired and dejected. I'll be back tomorrow for more but there has to be a better way. I try so hard and it all blows up in my face. The same kids treat me like sh%t every day and do exactly the same irritating behaviors. What do you do with kids that crawl on the floor and won't get up or stop; shriek like banshees; eat and spit paper; cry at the drop of a hat; shout obscenities; throw books, crayons, pencils, pens, and everything else; steal everything that isn't nailed down; and fight without warning? Someone please tell me because this is F-ing crazy. My students are demons straight from Hell. HELP! I've had enough for a week. Can't we have a snow day tomorrow? Please? I hope it snows five feet. I want to hear those magic words on KYW: "All Philadelphia public and parochial schools are closed." Do demons worry about snow? Does it effect them?
On another subject, not one of my students knew about Pearl Harbor.
"I'll give you a hint, 12/7/41 had to do with World War 2."
I think about my kids all the time. They treat me like sh%t and do no work. They think that they own the world and need to listen to nothing. It's a shame that they are so stupid. They don't have any idea what time it is. They don't realize that racist America wants them to do exactly what they are doing. They want them to screw up their lives and stay in the ghetto. They want these kids to stay exactly where they are. Out of sight and out of mind and ready for prison when they get out of hand. The most radical thing they could do is to get an education and really stick it to the man. Instead they act like knuckleheads and go nowhere. How can I motivate them to want more? To try to be more? Why don't they listen to a word I say? Is it as simple as "you're white" as one teacher told me the other day? If so then I really am sunk. I have no idea how to deal with their racism.
The last few days have been terrible; actually they've all been terrible since returning from Thanksgiving. I'm feeling hopeless. The kids don't want to do anything. Their attitudes are piss poor. Their benchmark tests are a blight upon the city of Philadelphia. I'm not sure what to try next. What do you try when nothing works? How do you try new things with kids that don't want to try anything? How do you motivate them? How do you do this?
My mantra is I will try to help one person every day. That's all I can do. I'm in a huge school filled with an insurmountable amount of problems and an administration that beats up the teachers. I'm trying my best and that's all I can do. Oh, and where was our snow day today? I sure as Hell could have used it. Perhaps Friday will amount to some real snow.