Our school does not celebrate Halloween. There's no mentioning the holiday, no candy, no costumes, no nothing. I understand the need to keep all of the commotion and time wasting away from the school day. I've taught at other schools with Halloween parties and parades. Lots of upset to the school day and no learning happens. Still, keeping Halloween from our kids stirred them up something awful. They got worse when they realized I was serious about no Halloween of any kind and no candy either. Some of my colleagues gave out pumpkin or witch word searches and things. I'm not losing my job over a dumbass policy so there were no treats like that in my room.
It's a rainy Saturday. Here's the plan for today: Out for breakfast at the local place for a little pancakes and family bonding. Get on the computer for about 3 hours of planning, if we are lucky and the school-supplied laptop doesn't fail like it did last weekend. Wash and dry as much clothing as possible, if we don't run out of detergent. Clean up anything that needs to be cleaned up along the way. Drink coffee at all times to stay awake during planning, folding, and cleaning. Hopefully, things will work out and there will be clean, unwrinkled clothes to wear on Monday as we teach our delicious lessons to a greatful audience.
Shout outs to my friends Bob and Tim.
Bob has an utterly fantastic blog - Art Blog by Bob. Check him out. Bob is one of the smartest coolest dudes you'll ever run into. I'm thinking you might spot him nibbling a muffin at the Whitney sometime.
Tim does the zine Dagger and he's got a new website. His site is awesome and is lightyears away from the photocopies and staples and LPs of 20 years ago. Has it been that long? It seems like yesterday I'd sell a few for him and try to pick up punk girls at City Gardens.
Today was a good and bad day. I was observed and my observation notes were some of the best I've received in years. My teaching was seen to be proficient in all sorts of ways. It's good to be appreciated as a professional by others on the staff. The bad part was I didn't perceive my day as being that great. My kids are getting really surly and disrespectful and it's bugging me. I hate having to deal with disrespectful kids that don't change their behaviors. I spoke to a few parents at dismissal time. That was fun. One of my new boys said "I don't care!" each time I corrected him on anything. He lost his recess and then lost it from another teacher during his special. I said to him that I'd see his parent at dismissal time and take care of him. "I take bus 1!" "Ok. I'll see you at dismissal," I said knowing full well he doesn't take a bus. Well, new boy ran to Mommy at dismissal time instead of the mysterious bus 1. I ran and caught them and told Mom all about his "I don't care." Those tears flowed like Niagra Falls as Mom put his ear in her vice-like grip and pulled him out of the parking lot. I wonder if he'll give me the same crap tomorrow.
Probably. My years of experience tell me, probably.
If you're expecting a Doors post because of my weird non sequitur head, please look elsewhere. If you are here for cutting-edge news you can use from education's top mind then read on.
President Bush is giving the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal today. I imagine it went something like "I want to award this Congressional Medal of Honor to the Dalai Lama, his heroism under fire was remarkable. He took on an entire company of Red Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir. He kept firing his trusty M-1. His ammo ran out and he used his rifle as a club. He singlehandedly destroyed two machine gun nests using only piano wire and a broken Ortega taco shell. He pulled out a man's heart and showed it to him before he died. When it was over he was covered in blood, wreathed in smoke, and surrounded by hundreds of Red Chinese and North Korean corpses. Thank you for your service. You are an inspiration." I'm sure there was a lot of awkward silence after they told him that the Dalai Lama is a man of God, not a Korean War vet. Perhaps they'll have feed from it on tonight's Letterman show. Every night they have funny footage of Bush putting his foot in his mouth.
I've received two weird and disconcerting Chinese fortune cookie messages in the past two days. "You make enough money that you should be able to hang on to some." "You will soon be taking a trip across great waters." One is an admonishment for my financial state. The other is an ominous warning of my impending death. I hope not. I don't want to die and I don't want to go to debtor's prison. We teachers don't make too much money. I will happily take any donations for my classroom. I'm not ready for a dirt nap, however.
My school is very disorganized lately and I continue to get new students on a daily basis. Hello? Powers that be? Yeah it's the teacher. Lay off. Enough already. I'm out of desks. Exnay on the udentstay.
There's a lot of negativity in my kids lately and it's getting me down. I try to stay on the bright side but it is hard when so much of what the kids bring is so negative. It is hard to be positive. I walk around my part of the school on my breaks and hear what goes on. Most of the teachers sound like me. They have their good parts and bad parts. They are all dealing with the same problems and behaviors. It's remarkable how much we sound alike at times. I laugh as I hear what sounds like my stage patter coming out of a teacher totally different from me. Obviously, not as different as I thought. So much of teaching is like some Zen koan. If you see it then you don't see it, young grasshopper. Perhaps we are all tapped into some cosmic teacher consciousness? A consciousness that gives you those proverbial eyes in the back of the head. Kind of like that magical third eye that comes after decades of meditation? Holy crap. It all makes sense now.
My kids flat out cannot do math. WOW is it bad. I'm going to fail the lot of them. That can't happen. I've got to figure out what's going wrong with my teaching. From what I see, after teaching for more than a month, it comes down to not reading directions, going too fast, not paying attention, and not studying. The actual material and knowing it isn't even on the list, it's so friggin' far down! What are we going to do? I go fast and they don't get it. I go like a frozen amoeba on the back of a frozen turtle and they still don't get it. I go just right and they don't get it. Word problems just kill us because we don't read them at all. We just shut down and write down anything. UGHHHHHHH!!! Why can't we just try to read them? Why? Einstein couldn't have solved a problem without reading it. No one can. Why don't these kids help themselves? Help me, St. Jude! This is a hopeless case!
I haven't been feeling so good this week. Feeling a bit more like myself tonight. It's hard to be a teacher. I'm running on fumes lately and so is everyone else at my school. It's only October and we could all use a vacation. Try doing a performance without break every day for months on end. The curtain never goes down. There are no do overs. The set will break. People miss their cues. Emotions become frayed. Voices get lost. The audience falls asleep and then reawakens and cries like a baby in a soiled diaper...and keeps crying. You try to turn off the baby but the volume knob breaks off in your hand and you just turned it to 11 by mistake. The toilet is overflowing and water is dripping through the ceiling from upstairs. Toast is burning in the toaster. There's no way out. That's sort of what's happening now on October 10.
It will get better. Next month there's about a hundred days off!
This is my 200th post. A new milestone for the rookie schoolteacher. See you tomorrow.
I'm feeling like crap. I have a splitting headache. I think it's related to this superhot weather we are having. I cleaned the gutters today and that combined with the 90 degree weather did me in. I'm going to bed soon.
This global warming sucks. There's no reason for it to be 90 in October. It should be in the 60s. Give me cold weather! I shouldn't be running my A/C now.
I'm so happy there was a Columbus. Thanks to that politically incorrect sob, I get a lovely day off. I can so use it. I am dragging ass this week. Right now it's time to play along on the drums to some Big Star. I bid you a wonderful Pabst Blue Ribbon fueled weekend. Enjoy.
P.S. I was watching Anchorman the other day. "Knights of Columbus that hurt!" What a great line and totally in keeping with my Columbus-thanking mood.
I just stopped reading some papers my kids wrote. Almost all of them are cribbed from the internet. Ah, the internet. They had two weeks to do this writing and instead they just stole it from the net. "Martin Luther King's speech at Little Rock was a facile representation of the paradigm shift of ...." Boy, what a smart elementary student you are. I'm going to staple the wikipedia printouts to their papers. I can hear the moans and groans already.
I got out of my car and the air smelled thick of sewage, at least I think it must have been sewage. It was awful, whatever it was. It was redolent of the smell of death. The inner city is a great place to score some dope, dump a hot car, dump a steamship full of sh@t. What are poor people going to do about it? It's disgusting what we do in the inner city.
One of my girls is giving me a lot of trouble. She's crying out for help, actually. I found out that she's basically raising herself and her two young siblings because mom is too busy with her new boyfriend and the new baby on its way. I feel bad because I've been a bit hard on this young lady. That comes with the territory when you disrupt my class. It's hard to be a teacher. Sometimes you come hard and it's too hard. Sometimes you go soft and it's too soft. I make mistakes all the time. I wish I didn't. I'm human and the game I play has no rules and they change constantly. I have to get better at my job. The consequences are severe because these are people not game pieces. They are damaged and fragile when I get them. I don't want to damage them any more. It's so hard.
My kids were really annoying today. I changed all their seats after they left for the day. I changed the whole room around. I don't deal well with attitude and there was loads of it today. I basically tell them to shove the attitude sideways up their keisters.
They are kids and it is important to remember that and put it all in perspective. Plus, as annoying as it was today in the afternoon, it was nothing like it was in my previous schools. I also have a lot more experience than I did when I started.
Tomorrow will be better. I haven't yet wanted to throw my desk or a kid out the window. It's October and things are still going great. In October of my first year I wanted to quit. I would have gladly left everything in the room and just walked off into the sunset. It was horrible. The kids were literally trying to kill me. I contemplated killing myself. I wouldn't have but it was awful. I was so depressed. I have never been that low before and hope never to be there again. There was no way out, no bright spots, no hope, nothing. It was relentless. The misery. I never gave up, though. Why? I have no idea. I got no medals. I should have received the Iron Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters from Dante himself for successfully transiting hell. I didn't start smoking again either. I probably should have since I was literally on the front lines caught in the open with shells bursting all around.
Seriously, those early couple of years really messed me up for a while. I got into teaching to help kids. It sucks when they can't accept your help because they are so screwed up and their life is so screwed up.
I'm glad it's getting better.
Have you been watching Ken Burns's The War? I've watched some each night as I correct papers. It's really moving. I can't get over how harrowing the battle footage is. I wish my grandfather was still alive. I'd like to ask him about his time on the battleship New Mexico. He saw some stuff.
3 things. First, go Phils. First time in the playoffs in 14 years! Hopefully, we will pull out a world series win. Let's get #2!
Second, I'm thinking of going back for a doctorate. I'm going to start my application tomorrow. "Doctor" would sound pretty sweet. This rookie schoolteacher needs to move into rookie assistant principal mode. I'm not getting any younger. Plus, I miss grad school. More diplomas. I've got a masters, might as well go for a full doctorate. Just like when I was a boy scout. Might as well go for Eagle.
Third, get the new Stereo Total record. Do yourself a favor. You won't regret it.