F. Scott Fitzgerald said,

"There are no second acts in American lives."

Most people think he was crazy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Poem for 8th Grade

You Have My Books

And I want to yell
"Give them back!"
(Because over the last
ten years
I have lost
Roughly five hundred
And I used to send notes home
Saying "Please
Return the book or
Pay for it"
But it didn't work.
Even when I tried to
Collect the money,
It was turned in to the
Main office
And I never saw a
Dime, so
What was the point?)
I'd like to think that
If you knew
I paid for those books
Out of my
Own pocket,
You'd return them.
And then I think,
Maybe you really
Love that book!
You simply
Must have a copy of
Your own!

But I know in reality
The book is
Under your bed, along with a
Hundred thousand
Dust bunnies.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Education Revenge..er...Reform.

Hi, Friendly Taxpayers!
I know you're pi$$ed at me. And you have every right to be. Honestly, of all the people in the world of whom you can be jealous...I should definitely be at the top of your list. Because I'm FABULOUS! And I have an AWESOME WARDROBE! But best of all, I'm a STATE EMPLOYEE!
I have it made. Because we all know that state employees are paid for doing nothing, basically. And that great pension and all those honking benefits! Jeeze! I'm even jealous of myself!

But I have a challenge for you, you pitiful folks in the private sector: Be me for a day. This should be fairly easy, as we all know that I just work part-time. Heck, 7:00-2:15 is a walk in the park! Piece o' cake! Don't forget, though, that you need to get to school about 6:40 or you'll get caught in all the traffic because parents don't want their kids taking the bus. Plus, it'll give you a few minutes to gather your stuff for your lessons for the day. You have three separate lessons to teach--one for Academically Gifted English/Language Arts, one for regular ELA and one for Social Studies. But it's no problem...you're obviously bright enough to put together good 50 minute lessons that'll keep kids engaged. Just don't forget to know what the essential question of the day is, post it on the board, and be prepared to explain how it fits into the NC Standard Course of Study. (You should have that memorized, by the way. It's not hard; there are only about five dozen bullet points for each. Oh, and be prepared to tell how you differentiate the lesson for slower learners, kids with learning problems, and kids who don't speak English at home, as well as the kids who are working above grade level, okay?)

Take attendance (on the computer), make sure you change the absence status of kids who bring in notes (on the computer) and keep track of kids who come in late. If they come in late more than three days a quarter (let's face it, some come in late more than three days a week), be prepared to keep them after school for detention. This means you have to find something to do that keeps them occupied for an hour that isn't class-related, so be sure to figure it out ahead of time.

You'll have about forty-five minutes of planning time (that's why the job is just part-time!) a few times a week. This is a great time to (a) straighten up the room, (b) find some good supplemental lessons on the internet, or (c) figure out the technology you're going to use that day, if you're lucky enough to HAVE technology. If you're not, this is a good time to make sure your overhead bulb still works. Of course, the last few minutes of planning you should tinkle, because you won't get another chance for a couple of hours.

Some days you will have meetings. Your meeting might be with other teachers who teach your subject (if you teach two subjects, you might go to two, or just feel like you're completely out of the loop). Sometimes these meetings are fun and you get to discuss great ideas, but sometimes they are not fun and you talk about tests. When you talk about testing, feelings get hurt. And no matter how bad you feel, you CANNOT have a DRINK, even if you are over twenty-one!
You may have parent conferences, as well. Know that no matter how wonderful you are, there are parents who HATE YOUR GUTS!! Please understand that they don't really hate you, they hate their CHILD right now because he/she is thirteen. They may call you a lesbian, they may use cuss words, and they might cry...but none of this really has anything to do with you. They are frustrated, and because you are a public employee, they feel like they can take it out on you. They want you to fix their kid and you can't. Because if you could you would write a book about fixing kids and every parent in America would buy it and you would make a bajillion dollars and you would QUIT TEACHING and never look back!

After you have done all the stuff other people need you to do, then you get to teach! Yay! After all, that's what we come to school for, right? And how hard can it be? You stand there and talk about the subject for 50 minutes and the kids take notes.
But that's just some days. Actually, those days are few and far between. Because that's not the best way for kids to learn, and the whole point of school is so that kids learn, silly. So you have to mix it up. Today, for example, we did vocabulary review in Social Studies. It was a group activity, so kids got to talk a little. And they were to find out what things like "The Anaconda Plan" and "Jim Crow Laws" and "Reconstruction" were as review for a test. They could use the Social Studies textbook, but that wasn't enough for some of them. They wanted to know which pages the various topics were on! I used the word 'index' and they looked at me as though I had three heads! One boy REFUSED to do the activity unless I told him a page number! (I said "42" just because I will take any and all opportunities to be a smart-aleck. Because I'm not allowed to drink.)

Of course I do get a lunch hour, even though it's really only a lunch twenty-five minutes. Even if I got an hour (an hour! Who gets an hour? What do they do with all that time, fercryin' out loud?), I would have to spend it in the cafeteria, monitoring kids. So it's eat, tinkle, back to class (or tinkle, eat, back to class if I'm feeling frisky) except Monday and Friday we have exercise!

Then it's back to class for more teaching (don't forget to differentiate!) and then the day is over! Wasn't that quick? Sure...it's part-time! Just tidy the room and pack up--it shouldn't take you more than thirty minutes. Unless, of course, it's tutoring day. You have to tutor failing kids, it's part of your job. Some kids stay on Tuesday, some Wednesday, and some Thursday. And if you have a group project, the kids stay after because they can't drive and therefore cannot conveniently meet at Starbucks. Your room is like Starbucks without the mocha frappacino, so you may have to stay until 3pm. Unless someone's mom doesn't show or you have corraling. Then it might be 4. But that still is just part-time, right?

Oh, I forgot to mention grading papers and entering grades in the computer. Sometimes you can get that done during planning, but sometimes you might have to take stuff home at night or over the weekend. But how long does it take to grade 100 research papers, really? No sweat! For the big bucks and incredible benefits I get?

I know you wish you were me.