Fourth year – second semester – I’ll almost outta here!

I’M ALMOST OUTTA HERE

 

Second semester came and I knew there was no way I would be there the next year. I was getting out of teaching – going to grad school!  But I still had to work and wait for the acceptance letters to see where I would go (they were all out of state). 

So, I had my Spanish Three class still in the study hall time since it was a yearlong class.  Now my World Cultures class was in the morning which immediately cut down on problems and I took a real laid back attitude – lots of research projects, they made their own skits, and I had no problems except when three of the kids took it a little too far with the video camera and filmed goofy stuff instead of the cultural information they were supposed to film.  I just told them not to do it again.

Instead of World Cultures being the last and horrible class, my Spanish Two class, which had previously always been great, was the last hour of the day.  That was the first sign of trouble.  The other problem is that it consisted of some of the same bunch of kids who were dead when I taught them a year earlier.  Half of the class had been in my Spanish One class first semester who actually did great with the TPRS method.  But mixing them with the other bunch was a disaster.

I got a sixth sense that I couldn’t use the skits and fun stories with this class. I knew they’d be dead again or too serious.  But one day after stalling for a week, I decided to try. I was right, half the class was dead but the other half was animated (the ones from the previous semester’s Spanish One).  It was horrible. I decided not to care anymore about the stories or teaching Spanish the best way, just getting through the year.

I did care about the attitude that was starting to brew in the class, especially from one girl that I’ll just call Pain.  The class was half the quiet yet studious type; other half was fun from first semester with a mix of academic kids and then some seniors just cruising through second semester, plus a few underclass students who didn’t care much about studying.  I gave them worksheets so we’d stay away from dangerous stories but the attitude of hate was brewing in the class.

 

February 4th

 

I wondered when it would happen. Someone would call me fat. The

“gorda” (fat in Spanish) wasn’t as bad as fattie because that resonates in my cultural

tongue.  And it even hurt more that someone wrote “fea” (ugly in Spanish) on the stupid name plaque the new principal had us put on the door. I ripped up the

piece of paper with my name and the offending words I found written on it today.  The same old pain of fat and ugly. Does that child from my schoolyard days ever go away? In skinnier days I still thought I was fat or went to some country where they considered me so. But do I tell the kids they hurt me?

I don’t even know what to do about the Spanish Two class anyways. Should I have a heart to heart since we’re all miserable? Should I tell them it’s my last semester teaching and I’m burnt and have no energy by the last hour anyways? Or will that just empower them and make it more miserable like my first year of teaching in California? How awful that was. 

Maybe we should have a talk tomorrow since I heard two rumors today and

I don’t really have much planned. But again is it best just not to say anything?

 

Today I heard from a student that a rumor is going around that Future Lawyer is mad because I’m making the class work so hard with worksheets. He complained to the principal.  At least she said it made her angry that the students were trying to get me in trouble because I’m a cool teacher.

Then the lady who runs the in-school suspension room, who was trying to calm her daughter down about her grade C in the class (from not turning in class work and failing the quiz), came to talk to me.  She said that some of the kids feel like they are being punished because of other kids and they don’t know why.

Ugh!

Should I just go ahead to the stories like I’ve done in the past? I have the chapter five lessons already in the computer so I wouldn’t have to rewrite the stories. Maybe it’s better to struggle with that and their bored looks than trying to teach something like grammar which is pointless anyways. When they don’t get the grammar I don’t even know how to explain it better. If we talk tomorrow will it become a teacher bashing session? Maybe I could lay down some ground rules like we’re still doing the stuff for the state standard on culture with the Mexico handouts, readings, and movies.

We can try stories again but if they don’t participate we’re going back to worksheets and grammar. I guess I could try. Its not like the principal has said anything, The students already hate me, I have nothing to lose. I’ll think about it and maybe try it. If they succeed again with stories, which is the best way anyways, then maybe it won’t be so tense. And now that they know the alternative of worksheets, maybe we’ll be okay.

If we talk they may feel listened to and that I care. I could try. If it gets bad like in California, then we’ll go back to cold worksheets and just get through the year.

 

February 7th

 

For Spanish Two we were expecting a guest speaker but he didn’t show up. So there was lots of talking, rude comments (to me), not listening to the movie I popped in instead.

I told Jewell to put away a letter.  She didn’t so I took it away, I told her to sit down, then during the movie she started talking to Cheerleader and Pain across the room. I told her to move. She took awhile and I said that was her warning so I wrote her a minor. Then she took a Dixie cup and asked Cheerleader across the room, if it was her urination cup.  I then stopped the movie and told the whole class that I’m frustrated and they have

a choice. If they can’t listen to the movie, listen to me, or sit quietly and watch the film than they would have to research the answers to the Mexico history questions on their own, and I already said there would not be a test review.

 

A few minutes later I saw Jewell again waving and communicating to Cheerleader.

I called her up and said she had to leave and research the questions on her own.  I also called Cheerleader up and told her that was her warning.

 

Pain I moved to the other teacher’s desk and she seemed to act better there, away from her friends. Then the in-school suspension room lady came in and said Jewell was worried she was going to fail.  Funny because she left here all smug saying she didn’t care about the test and the state standard on culture.  I told the in-school suspension lady that Jewell could research the questions on the Internet and do fine on the test.

March 12th

At lunch we made the 10 years old student’s movie from the community education class I’m teaching about movie making. I hope he didn’t feel overrun by me but I tried to have him say action and set up the scenes. Of course it was his first time and he was young. Mostly girls showed up – all for extra credit in my classes so we had to switch his story around. Pain and Jewell came from Spanish Two and it was nice working with them.  Maybe that’ll help Spanish class.

With making the movie there’s still fear. I’m afraid the principal will get word of the extra credit I offered, not in Media class but for Spanish also. She’ll probably tell me I can’t do that. It’s like my first year of teaching with Tornado always controlling and critiquing but she wasn’t the boss and this principal is. I hate working under fear. But in reality the Principal has backed way off, doesn’t do things by email anymore. And the truth is Pain already has an A + and Jewell has an A. And if it helps the class morale, well, that helps everyone. Already it’s gotten better.

I get along better with Spanish classes when they do work and we get to chitchat. It’s the opposite of most TPRS teachers. Maybe because my stories are so boring and I do all the work and they just passively listen. There were some students from driver’s education last night sitting around before my community education class arrived. One girl said she wished she’d taken my media class. I said she missed out because I’ll be gone next year. One student from World Cultures class was there and she said “She’s the coolest teacher ever” and admitted she liked my class. Mindy admitted she doesn’t do anything in Media Class and that she hates adults in general. Maybe I’m not such an awful teacher, just happen to be a dreaded adult. The math teacher was asking how I would start over in a new city because she couldn’t do it.   I’ve been telling people that I’m gone – even turned in my resignation letter. It seems so final now.  Kinda scary especially since I haven’t gotten any acceptance letters to grad school yet.

 

 

March 17th

It was only Monday yesterday but it felt like a Friday. I so need to be out of teaching high school forever. Rebel Without a Cause really gets on my nerves in Media Class and when I wrote her up yesterday she got suspended – obviously she doesn’t listen to lots of people since she would’ve had to have had lots of minors or majors for them to accumulate into a suspension.

Then the whole Spanish Two class was being annoying. And it was a quiz day. I told them that if they talk they are done with their quiz. Of course I caught Cheerleader talking and took her quiz away.  She freaked and wanted to go to the office. I hoped she’d calm down but she never did and by the time she went she took Pain with her too. I emailed the principal to let her know about the quiz incident. They always complain on quiz days. I’m sure the principal will care less since she knows I’m gone – the superintendent even wrote about it in the school paper that I’m leaving. I’m so gone already.

At least Spanish Two got set up on their state standard projects on culture yesterday and I don’t care how much they complain.  I gave them lots of time to finish the assignments and I just want them far away from me. And Media class will start their individual projects too. I just don’t do well as a traditional teacher and all these state standards make the students not sit well. They are used to working collaborately on pointless projects, in my opinion.

The teacher I share a room with was sitting at the computer during my Media class and she was amazed how rude they were. She’s had some of those kids before and they don’t not pay attention to her like that. She later said she was just annoyed by them but maybe it’s really me.  I’m not structured enough – they don’t feel the consequences or care about the minors and major referrals and warnings.  But that’s why I hate teaching High School. I’m creative and spontaneous but it’s all about discipline and classroom management not about the topic or really learning. I want to teach adults and college where they are really expected to study and then we can discuss topics like we did at my liberal arts college. For now, I’ll just let them do their individual projects and hang out and survive till the end of May.

Years later I had the chance to observe a high school age group of homeschoolers in a weekly class. I was delighted to see them discussing the novels just like I had at my Quaker college. I knew I had never seen that in a public high school where, even in my days, we had to be persuaded by grade points to talk and even then it was not enthusiastic discussions.  I’ve even met homeschoolers who grew up when it was less popular, and one woman said she wished she had gone to school to discuss the things she was learning. I told her it’s too apathetic in the public schools but as her kids grow, they could form a group later. I’m inspired to meet teens that do love to learn, if it hasn’t been beaten out of them from years of traditional schooling.

 

March 19th

God, grant me the patience to work with teenagers. Most of the day was fine but the last class of the day was iffy. Complaining kids. Acting out people. It feels like a battlefield against me. Isn’t one war in Iraq enough?  I’ll just pray for patience and go from there!  And I guess I have to stop caring – if they lie and cheat and all have the same answers on their worksheets, that is their problem. Otherwise not much happened yesterday.

March 21st

Teaching at high school is so annoying. In the morning the teacher I share a room with told me they have a Spanish teacher opening at the town next door and said it’d be better because I wouldn’t have to work with psycho principal. So she told me how the principal is trying to control prom by telling them how to plan every detail.

Later when I was talking with the music teacher about the play of Annie and our rehearsal schedule I worried that the principal would squash our plan for auditions. She already wouldn’t let us have the play when we wanted and screwed us with ineligibility rules for the state play competition. The principal is annoying but the kids are worse. She’s made them into monsters by letting them go complain to her all the time. I just need to ignore them and their complaining comments.

Two students were complaining that they don’t know any Spanish.  Then the sweet kid in my class complained too but, later in private, admitted that he does understand the book they are reading. And kids tell me every day that they understood someone they heard or they were using Spanish on the Internet.  They just freak because they can’t be perfect and can’t understand every word. They don’t like to try – they want an A handed to them. Maybe kids in drama class were right – Future Lawyer is spoiled in this school –special treatment from teachers. He is the principal’s pet. Whatever – it’s their life and if they want to complain about it that’s their problem. Even in the teacher’s lounge I heard them say that the students complain and don’t do their assignments in other classes too.

March 22nd

Yesterday I prayed before Spanish class and it was better. Just in time, the principal came and sat in there. Annoying but whatever, I’ll be gone soon.

March 23

I visited a teacher that is on the email list of second language teachers. We talked about TPRS and the kids falling asleep on our stories. I guess I’m not the only one who feels like she is just learning how to do this awesome method.  Even just having the students read the novels they are learning Spanish. Later I watched a tape that her students videotaped and their Spanish was amazing. We walked to the park and our kids ran all over but we got to talk about controlling, annoying principals. I guess that’s their nature.

I actually now feel really good about my TPRS storytelling skills. Practice helped. For me, it really helped to start giving classes to homeschoolers who were enthusiastic to learn Spanish – unlike most public school kids who feel like they have to be there.

March 25th

 I was talking to the teacher I share a room with about faith and God and it was a really interesting conversation. But the principal interrupted our conversation by walking in to tell me I can’t require everyone to go on the trip I’m planning (some kid must have complained – who are these weird monsters she’s created that they complain about fieldtrips???). She also wants to go over my evaluation – Yipes.

Media class was chaos – getting everyone settled into their semester projects. I don’t think it’ll be like last year where the annoying kids left the room every day. Now the annoying kids are going to be in the room watching movies. I’ll just try not to concern myself with their talking.

Spanish Three was fun – we filmed a scene from the book we’re reading in class where the girl rides in a taxi with a slime ball. Jason played the driver as they read cue cards. I also played the other taxi driver that saves her by picking her up and driving away, a non-speaking part.  I think it’s a pretty good scene. I let the students direct as much as possible. Jason was great – his Spanish is awesome. He always got things and remembered the vocabulary.  He makes me feel like I can teach Spanish. He remembers all this from Spanish 3 of last year (this year’s class is all girls and that’s why we asked him to act in the movie during his study hall).

Then came Spanish 2. I caught Cheerleader red handed – or with a red pen, copying all of Pain’s paper.  I wasn’t even collecting the assignment today. I took her and Pain’s paper and gave them a new one to work with for the day. Cheerleader said she wasn’t copying and that she had her own assignment but she left it in her locker. I said I’d think about taking her major referral away once I saw that original assignment. I gave her a pass to her locker, but of course, she went to talk to the principal. I asked the teacher I share a room with about it and she said she’d still give the major. Who cares if she had one in her locker – she made a poor choice to copy. And it’s been happening all year – she took Future Lawyer’s paper to copy, I caught her talking during a quiz. Well, of course, the principal wanted to talk about it but then ran off to a meeting instead. If she caves into Cheerleader I’ll just say it’s her school and if she wants no consequences that’s her deal. But I’m tired of it so if the principal tells me not to give her a major (and there was no grade consequence because I wasn’t grading it yet) I’ll just give her a zero on the quiz I caught her talking on the other day.  According to other teachers she lies all the time and according to the kids she cheats all the time and talks her way out of the in-school suspension room.  I guess she’s found her way to lie and cheat her way through life. It’s her life.

 

 

March 26th

Not much happened yesterday but I had to deal with the cheating thing. The Principal said it was fine if I give a major but they both have to get one and Pain’s mom will call. Whatever. Being a loud parent doesn’t mean your kid is perfect. Cheerleader and Pain came to talk with me and gave a new story but I said it still looked like copying and it was the third time for Cheerleader but she didn’t like hearing that. I told her it’s her life and if she wants to take responsibility or not it is her deal but it looked like cheating and if she was in the wrong time at the wrong situation they still get a major. The media class went to the Senior Citizen Center.  They will fulfill one of the state’s standards in community service there.

March 27th

School was fine but Rebel Without a Cause and kids were walking all over the room during Media Class.  It got on my nerves.

Pain is starting to have a real attitude.  She yells out “why are we doing this” when we review Mexico history and culture. I could agree with her – the stupid social studies standard I have to teach according to the local board and state standards takes away from actual Spanish language learning.  I don’t like to take out Spanish time to teach Mexico history but that’s the way it is.  And Pain really hated a movie I started showing today.  I’ve shown it every year since I was a student teacher and finally this year I got it edited off of TV so I don’t have to turn the TV around and fast forward through some of the scenes.

March 28th

I don’t know why I’m so anti military but I am. Not only because it’s violent but I just think they prey on poor kids and they don’t get smarter in the military. Tons of citizens that follow commands and use violence as a thing to solve everything.  And it feels like I’m part of a system  – their parents didn’t go to college, they don’t do well in school, so they go to the military and kill people and keep our need for war going. I know some people do use it to do something for themselves but most don’t.  Even my sister in law doesn’t want to go to college anymore – just wants to be in the navy for a few more years. I guess I’m just upset that I had to listen to some recruiters during lunch today.  I just feel like they are luring the kids into war and death because our public schools have failed them.

Anyways, I was complaining to the teacher I share a room with about the principal’s new move to micro manage the musical by 1) not letting me do it in March so we’d be over by now and wouldn’t hit problems with kids being ineligible for after school activities because their grades are poor, 2) now we will hit ineligibility and 3) now she wants the cast list, probably to double check ineligibility. As I was talking she oddly dashed out of the room and immediately came back because the principal was right outside the door (dealing with something in the hall). I told the teacher I share a room with I talked the most so I’ll take the heat.  I don’t think the principal paid attention and if so we’re human, we can complain.  We didn’t do it to her face like the kids do to us.  When people feel powerless they complain. And it would be nice to just do our jobs and have more support for us instead of her listening to all the kids. Interestingly in the lounge all the teachers knew that Cheerleader cheats and lies. I’m glad I was the one that cracked down, at least once.

The first musical rehearsal for Annie went well but we need to practice.

March 31st

Yesterday  work was traumatic. The principal went over my evaluation and it was fine. Of course she noticed when some kids goofed off but it didn’t bother me. She even seemed sincerely interested in what I’m doing next year. She didn’t seem to notice about yesterday’s incident.  But later I got in trouble by a troubled youth.

It was quizzing day again in Media class. I said no talking or I’ll rip their quizzes. Jessica took her quiz to do in the special education room but then she returned. She started talking with Mindy and Mindy was still taking the quiz. So I ripped Mindy’s up (she was already mad that she failed first grading quarter of my class since she turned in nothing (at Drivers Ed one night she admitted to that she doesn’t do anything, so why is she mad about her grade?) Even earlier in the test I warned her not to talk when she asked, “Are you teaching next year?”

After I ripped up her paper, Jessica started arguing that that was unfair to rip her quiz. I said, “Now you’re talking during the quiz. And I could write you up with a major or give you a zero.” But she kept yelling about how unfair it was blah, blah, blah.  So I called the in-school suspension room to send her there and get her out of the class but they had a sub and Jessica refused to go. Then I called the special education teacher and she came down but let Jessica sit there and yell and argue. Finally she did leave but kicked and damaged a chair. I just wanted her to leave and stop yelling. I felt so powerless and wanted to cry. I thought of taking the other kids in the class out of the room. She’s a spiteful demented child. Her mother, the teacher’s aide, is nice. What happened to her?

So the special education teacher and the school counselor came in later to talk about the major she now earned. And later when Spanish Two was having their last party – they are so rude and I told them no more parties because of that, the Principal came in because Jessica was trying to say another student kick and broke the chair. So I got busted for having food in my room. No wonder everyone quits teaching – there are so many out of control kids. And even the ones the Principal calls good, the Spanish Two kids who make up her posse, are rude and controlling and pains.

After school at least Annie was looking better but some kids are already dropping out. I just want to survive till June. Maybe I’ll just let them cheat or whatever. Who gives a hoot? And what about all the good kids who were in the room hearing this argument? Is it as traumatic to them? Do they feel now they don’t have to respect the teachers either?  I don’t want my son to go to public school. No way.  If I felt trapped and depressed today with that girl shouting, the kids must have felt it too. I don’t want my son to be in a classroom with wild kids like that. Or worse, he might learn to be like that.

April 1st

I stayed here in a difficult job that got worse by a psycho principal all to do applications for grad school because I wanted something to work for. But now I think it could all be a waste. I’ve gotten two rejections from grad school. I didn’t realize it was so competitive. Maybe I should be like other teachers and the psycho principal and work for higher degrees in education while I teach.  Maybe I should apply for the neighboring town’s Spanish teacher job. But I’m burnt out of teaching. Maybe I missed my chance for grad school but I don’t want to be this poor.  If I don’t get into the other two schools I’ll do law school at night. And maybe it’s a sign I’m supposed to be my own boss – run a daycare and make wedding videos.

I’m depressed.  What does God want for me?  Seems like I was wrong about grad school.  I shouldn’t give up yet – I have two more schools to hear from but one never wanted an interview. Maybe I’m really not meant for film biz or teaching. I’m just confused and don’t know what I want. It’d be nice to just travel and homeschool my son and be a hippy. I’ll just pray and hope my life has some meaning – that I’ll eventually find the right path. Maybe I’m meant to be a lawyer and do paperwork and fight. I actually like doing paperwork.

I just want to cry but I feel so plugged up. I don’t cry big releasing tears anymore. So I’m just  full of anger, sadness, fear but it’s piled so high. I want it out. I don’t think I’ve cried since this past summer. I just want to run off and walk all the time and meditate. I guess I wasn’t made for any career. I really am a free spirit. Maybe I should join some religious group and just pray for a year. I’ll wait and see and pray and hope for the best for me and my family. 

Yesterday was nice talking and riding in the car with the other teachers to visit another high school in another district.  This was the new principal’s idea of a workshop – to visit and “learn” from another school. The teachers there were nice but it was pretty much a waste of time. The Spanish teacher was a grammar teacher and the kids behaved well but I’m so tired of teaching. I’m a lost soul when it comes to work and career. 

After work I took a long walk around town in the warm air with my son. I felt like George in Seinfeld thinking of all the things he likes to do when he lost a job, again. Then that episode came on TV. Life is so weird. I love drama and writing. Maybe I should do day care and weddings and write and write and write and work on being a published writer. God help me!

April 2nd

Yesterday morning was nice and relaxing which I needed since it was my worst parent teacher conference day, ever. In the morning I took a nice walk with my son to the post office. Since his stroller was wet we held hands and walked the whole time and we talked about what we were seeing. We also walked through Church and I said a quick prayer in the prayer chapel to ask God to show me a path. It looks like I’m being told loud and clear to get out of teaching. At home I did dishes and got ready for work.

I went into work in the afternoon since it was parent teacher conferences. The first parents didn’t arrive until two so at least I had two hours to get stuff done. Well first Pain’s mom came and Pain’s been a rebel raiser all semester plus she just had in-school suspension for letting Cheerleader copy her paper so I told her mom to keep her away from Cheerleader.

The mother asked, “Did they know ahead of time?” 

Wow, I didn’t know you had to warn kids not to cheat. I thought it was obvious. I told her they were told to write their own papers.

Then she said her kid in college couldn’t understand the Spanish level one book we’re reading nor could the computer translate it. I just said it was in simple Spanish and her college student must have a grammar professor. But she asked if all we’re doing is reading since she implied they didn’t’ seem to understand or learn from it. I said we’ll be doing exercises from the slang book and watching videos too.

Saying the word video made her really drill me about some movie about chocolate where they are eating dinner and then a girl starts to rip her clothes off (and the TV version cuts to a commercial before she gets to her bust showing) and she asked why I showed it. I said it was edited from TV and it was about the Mexican revolution and culture. She said that things on TV aren’t’ appropriate for all the kids. I was like whatever, it was shown, and we don’t agree. Her daughter just fights everything, she didn’t mind any of the videos we watched in Drama Class when we weren’t in a power struggle.  Then ironically the mother said, “If there’s any problems, just call.”  I was like, “Yeah, right. Big help after you just argued with me.” 

Then Ralph’s mom, who is super sweet, said he says he doesn’t know Spanish and I said he does and is just scared. I think they all are scared and the Principal has held people like Future Lawyer’s hand his whole school career. I told her to have him read the Spanish One novel to her and she’ll see that he does understand it. She also asked about the CD incident and I told her and she was nice about it. I told her that Ralph, Future Lawyer and the sweet kid were sitting at the other teacher’s desk and later the teacher said her music CD was broken. So I told them they each had to pitch in a few dollars to replace it.  They said it was fine and now she asked about it and said she had the CD so she’d have Ralph burn a copy.

She asked about his attitude.  I said he’s ok but sometimes he gets rebellious especially around the “new kid”.  She left and a new woman walked in saying her son was the “new kid.” I felt bad about that but explained he likes to play around and be rebellious and be funny. I found out he competes with horses nationally.  These teens can be so interesting as people but pains as students. So after those three parent conferences in a row I wanted to cry. I vented on the Internet listserv of second language teachers and later got great responses from teachers and students who love the Spanish One novels and know they teach whole language. So I am right in my teaching choices but I can’t wait to be out!

April 3rd

I only had one day with the students this week and they were on my nerves. I even prayed for serenity. I’ll just have to let it roll right off my back because it is spring and it’ll just get worse. They are just teens. They are supposed to whine and complain.  Maybe I’ll just read with them today so there won’t be any room for complaining.  Of course there was a test first and I warned them not to talk. One guy was whispering something to Pain after he put his paper away in the assignment tray so I said “Pain!  Bring your paper.” 

I didn’t give her a zero just took the grade from where she was. Everyone rolled his or her eyes. I don’t understand what part of no talking during a test they don’t understand. She went to the office at the end of the hour. In a way I want to fight about it. I’m still mad at her mom so that felt powerful after she made me feel powerless. But it was a coincidence that it was Pain who was talking. Or was it?  It’s a horrible class and we’ve been in battle since day one. Maybe I should just let anything go and not care and give up. But then we wouldn’t do anything because they don’t even want to learn the Spanish.  I’ll just keep plugging along and, in May, assign lots of video projects. 

I felt better at church when I talked to a teacher who works at the next town over and asked about teaching there. She said some of the classes were big and that the Spanish teacher left because she doesn’t like teaching. She said teaching has changed and I said how I hate all the arguing with students. I guess it was another clue to get out quickly.

There is a job announcement for a teacher at a charter school but I don’t think they are much different. I should go to the big city and get a job where I can speak Spanish. Or just wait about these grad schools – I still have half a chance.

After school I had Annie rehearsal – kids are dropping out like flies but we’ll tread on – with fewer cast if we have to.

April 5th

Yesterday at school was normal. At lunch in the lounge, I felt dumb for asking the science teacher to cut me a piece of cake but he was smarter and just passed it to me to cut. I guess I shouldn’t be harsh on myself because the teachers don’t roll their terrible eyes and gnash their terrible teeth at everything I do like the students do. No wonder I feel out of the loop and abused – the kids are so critical and harsh.

Of course Spanish Two rolled their eyes and Future Lawyer wanted to be hand held during his quiz and was mad and didn’t understand it when I took his quiz when I caught Jewell talking to him. He’s such an annoyance!

I don’t want to teach anymore but for safety I’ll apply at the new charter school. Maybe it’s better at a charter school. Or maybe I’ll just buy an RV and travel and write about running away and spirituality.

Reading this now makes me see how I don’t deal well with student’s needs. That just how he learned – he needed a lot of attention and he was smart and knew how to ask for it. But for me, I just felt overwhelmed with his needs plus all the other twenty or more kids in a room.

April 9th

Today of course I’m running super late and that freak of a principal of ours has to be in the parking lot!  More time docked off I’m sure.

Yesterday I was worried I was in trouble, again, when she wanted to talk with me but it was about giving four girls a major referral for goofing off at the Senior Citizens Center – where this community involvement thing is going badly.  There was no interacting yesterday. I hate being made to do things and then have no real way to implement – like having to walk the whole class there and the time is bad since we have to go just as the Senior Citizen Center is closing up. But it’s a small town so there’s no other choice for how to do the community involvement for the state standard. Public Education is all about that. The politicians make you do things that there’s no way to implement. Ugh!

And I’m feeling like Miss Hannigan from the play Annie– sick of little girls and all their complaining about their few lines and having small parts. I’ll have to tell them that cliché about there aren’t any small parts, just small actors. 

I can’t wait to be out of public education. I still don’t know where I’m going. There’s a black hole around our mail – no information from schools, no checks to pay us money for odd jobs my husband already finished and is waiting for the payment. Luckily Mom western unionized money so we can get to my best friend’s wedding (and hopefully return too – nah, who cares about that). 

I spent a few days in a big East Coast city at my best friend’s wedding where I met one of her husband’s friends who was getting a master’s in the same thing I wanted to study.  He told me about his cool weekend only program so I was excited to apply (since I was  only receiving rejection letters from the other schools).  As luck would have it, the deadline for applying wasn’t until May 1st.

April 16th

I was ready to walk out of work yesterday. First they stole $300 from me for taking one personal day. When I told the office secretary, she saw the mistake but also reimbursed me of the .30 personal time the principal deducted back on 9/11 because I went to the memorial service. Now I’m really pissed at the principal for trying to take my money away in the first place. I don’t think I can deal with bosses anymore. I need to run a daycare, make videos, type medical records, anything from home.

Spanish Three were all pissy because we couldn’t find footage from their video project which later I did find hidden away on the hours of footage we’ve filmed this year on the school video camera.

Then came the class from hell – Media Class. Rebel Without a Cause was pure anger and said her mother said it was B.S. that I gave her a major referral for putting gum in my soda the other day. She started yelling, saying I couldn’t prove it was her.  All of this took place at the Senior Citizen’s Center, for the whole world to see.

Jessica started arguing about the way to walk home from the Senior Citizen’s Center because her shoes were getting muddy. Then everyone was griping and moaning when I told them to write thirty questions for their documentary interview project with the seniors at the Senior Citizen’s Center. They all complained about all the work they have blah, blah, blah.  I almost told them to F off.

I know the catchphrase about kids only learn when they know how much you care, but all I could think is “I hate you and you and you, and I hate this job”. 

Remind myself never to teach in public school again. I did get some support when I told the nice teacher, who is new to this district, how frustrated I am on my way to use the bathroom in her classroom. She said she could understand because she knows who is in that class.

Even the Special Education teacher is on my nerves –always asking me stuff as I’m teaching another class just because Jessica “can’t function in my class.”  I should tell her to only talk to me during my prep and after school but I felt so rushed and stressed yesterday that anytime she appeared was too much.

Spanish Two started off by crowding me with their needs. The sweet kid even asked why I was so crabby. It got better once they started watching the movie and their (boring) video projects of one of the Spanish novels they have been reading. The video projects of the books they made didn’t turn out as good as I expected. They’re good at being creative in short videos, not long ones like this assignment.

Then at Annie rehearsal only a handful of orphans showed up and “Miss Hannigan” was  in a bad mood.  But we’ll keep plugging on. I’ll keep going and give more individual projects to keep the kids far from me.

April 17th

Work was much better yesterday. Rebel Without a Cause wasn’t ranting and raving about being falsely accused of spitting gum in my soda but another teacher said four students said she bragged to them about doing it.  She said she should’ve been suspended for that. I just hope I don’t get a disease since I didn’t notice the gum until I had drank some. 

The history teacher in the lounge was funny. I said how I almost told the class to F off and he reminded me that I’ve resigned so I should have. Then in Media Class Jessica started mouthing off and I told the special education teacher that she’s not allowed back in the class at all. So she’ll stay in the special education room. How do kids like Rebel Without a Cause and Jessica survive in this world?  Will they hold a job someday?  Will they raise families?  Will they go to college?

Spanish Two were all pissy because I gave them handouts to answer cultural questions about celebrating Easter and Passover in Spanish speaking countries. Pain was saying, “Why are we doing this?”

I said, “You study other cultures in foreign language classes and it is Easter time”. 

She doesn’t like anything we do but she’s always been an annoying snotty student.  I realized I don’t care if the kids or parents complain – we’re continuing with reading the books individually.  I don’t want any contact with the kids.  I don’t like teaching in the front of the room because they’re a bad bunch.  At least reading is one of the best ways to learn a second language so no matter how much they complain, they’re actually learning more than in most classrooms. 

In true Karma, years later I would have another son, with anger problems.  I still wonder what will become of him and I don’t think public school is the best way to deal with his needs since his anger and struggles with social clues need more individual assistance than most schools could provide. I hope Jessica did find her way in the world now as a young adult.

April 18th

We had a quiz in Spanish Two the other day and I caught Hope cheating. It was obvious – she was looking up answers in her notebook as I said the vocabulary words. I looked at her and she looked at me and knew she was caught. So I took her quiz and told her she failed it and that she’d get a major referral.

She admitted to doing it but begged me not to give her the major referral. I told her that is the consequences of cheating and it’s the same for all students.  I was worried all day about how I’d be tortured, again, for catching a student cheating.

So, after school at relaxing yoga class, her mother came up to me and my stomach tightened.  I was so surprised when her mother said that Hope had called her and told her the truth – that she had been cheating. The mother said she understood whatever consequences the school gave her. 

What?  No “my child is perfect and never would have done this?”  No “she said she didn’t do it, it was an accident because she forgot to shower or something”? 

I couldn’t believe it. They accepted the truth and the consequences. I’ve never seen that before.  So, when I saw Hope in the in-school suspension room, I went up to her and said,

“In my four years of teaching you are the first student who actually admitted that you cheated, told your parents, and accepted the consequences. I admire that you told the truth and faced the consequences. That shows you are a person with integrity.”  I saw tears in her eyes.  I know I’ll never forget her or her family.

 

April 19th

I forgot to write yesterday. Everything actually went smoothly. We went through most of Annie after school – it’s looking better.  We’ll have something to show in a few weeks.

April 20th

Yesterday we had a workshop day. The superintendent announced that I was going on to bigger and better things (I hope so – I’ve started the application to the Saturday only grad school program and if I don’t get in this year, maybe next year).  But he also said they hired a new Spanish teacher with lots of experience and she’s fluent.  For some reason it threatens me. Brings out my insecurities that she is better or that the principal thinks so. It also seems so concrete – I resigned and now there’s no turning back. The old is coming off – no more security blanket – I feel blind and confused and don’t know where I’m going but I also trust God and know that when I leap the net will appear. I hate teaching high school. I don’t’ feel good at it and the kids don’t like me. I left early because daycare called –my son had 103 fever and was miserable.

April 22nd

I am about to burst with how frustrated I am at work.  I think I’ll write a letter to the principal with copies to the superintendent and the teacher’s union. Teaching is so hard and you rarely feel a day of success but she makes sure you never feel success. Yesterday I wrote an email asking for the new Spanish teacher’s number so I could tell her what resources we have. The principal said she couldn’t give me her number but could pass along information. But I just got a bright idea – I can write an email in Spanish and tell her to call me and then have the principal forward that – ha!  She’s such a control freak and I think it undermines our job. All the kids feel they can get their way by running to her all the time and now they are hell in the classroom.

 But the worst thing is the way this school dumps state standards and messed up kids into your classes. I never got an okay on the community interaction standard and no guidance. Well it’s a total failure.  The Senior Citizen’s Center doesn’t want us back. The kids wrote how well they did and helped out last time with the sub but the Senior Citizens say they asked them to wash dishes and the students said no and that someone asked an eighty-four year old woman if she’d get a piercing. They told the elders they were there to waste time.

I had the student’s journal about it. They were mad –feeling like they’re supposed to clean the senior citizen’s messes, like doing their dishes. There is such a split between the generations but I also have too many unruly problem kids in the class. And they are the ones that are supposed to go out into the community? Rebel Without a Cause, Jessica, Mindy, and other kids with anger problems or who dress like punks and Goths? The good kids are all quiet and shy and get walked over by the punk ones.

Another “big” failure in the long line of failures of teaching. Well we were the guinea pig group and I should just shrug and say I tried my best (and shouldn’t have had the sub go there). But I just feel like the principal thinks it’s all me and the next teacher will be perfect.

 Other jobs are better – you feel success finishing a project, finishing a video, editing and you get paid more. Forget summers off. I need sanity now.  One more month – I’ll survive somehow – maybe I’ll get sick a lot

The principal also said in her email that she wants to have a meeting with her to have my kids volunteer one hour a week in the elementary wing of the building. She’s so into control!  I’m sick of it.  It’s over. She also emphasized she wants me to “teach” and not to have them out volunteering in the community.  She also wrote that the “dress code” be enforced because Rebel Without a Cause dressed like a punk clown one day.  How is that’s my fault?!  That’s who she is – a teen.  Plus, I have her after lunch, why couldn’t the teachers before me be held responsible for her dress – why didn’t they tell her to change or wipe off the clown make up?  Now I have to be a fashion police too?  I hate small towns!

 

REASONS I DID NOT BECOME A TEACHER

 

To be a police officer.

To be the enemy.

To be henpecked by administration.

To clean the floor off small scraps of notebook paper sheddings.

To teach “please” and “thank you” since the kids never say it.

For the students to just stay at their same jobs and not go on to better careers and lives.

To be told “this is stupid”.

To be fashion police.

To have to monitor student’s every move and action, and to be the one held responsible, not them.

To argue with parents about their “perfect” children.

To teach reading and have to suffer hearing second graders decipher Dr. Suess words and sounds.

To teach classes out of my field.

 

April 24th

I had planned to brew and vent about the principal all day long but I told the teacher I share a room with and put a copy of the email from the principal in my pocket and soon got rid of it because I wasn’t mad anymore. Maybe because she agreed with me and said they tried to dump the state standard of community interaction on her too. Or because I asked the superintendent about the new teacher and he didn’t make her sound perfect, just normal. But it felt good to just let it go.

And yesterday went smoothly with the students. The wacko kid in Media Class even said he loved me when his extra credit points brought him up to an A. I just laughed. Maybe that’s the key – give them all As. Plus, Rebel Without a Cause wasn’t there.

It seems bad whenever I try to enforce some stupid rule from the principal. I should just not care like the rest of the staff. I hate working under this fear of getting in trouble all the time. Yesterday I left early and dropped my dog at the music teacher’s house. I surprised the Annie cast with her. They said, “Sandy!” They liked petting her but she’s a bit wild for the part. She looked cute when Annie sang “Tomorrow” to her. But I hid her outside on the steps when I saw the moody janitor lady appearing.

April 24th

Yesterday work went ok. Rebel Without a Cause was back in class and being loud. I’m trying hard not to write people up with major or minor referrals. I’m trying not to care. My friend on the listservs wrote me an email and said it’s all BS anyways. So true. After school we did a run through of the whole play – it was exciting, looking really good and we had almost everybody there.

 April 26th

Why do I have a ton of ideas in the shower but then go blank when it’s time to write? I guess I’ll write about my ideas.  I thought of topics for a paper report for Media class now that they can’t physically volunteer anymore. They could research on similar topics that have social service themes– rural elders, city elders, social workers who work with them, their nursing home needs, alcoholism in elders, suicide rate of elders, their music, their movies, what retirement is like, roles of men and women, ham radio (because one of the Senior Citizen’s was into it), tango, morality of their time vs. morality of our time, decay of respecting authority, being a teacher then vs. now, history of crossword puzzles. Wow, I have lots of ideas.  I’ll make them just research, cite it and write it in their own words. But I won’t do it on video because that’ll be a scheduling nightmare, since we only have one video camera (luckily, after years of none). Already most of them have been waiting until the last minute to do their final projects and some have only made movies under five minutes.  Their grades will reflect it. But they get lots of extra credit when they act in someone else’s movie.

April 19th

I had a dream that I lived in the White House. That my dad had became president by some fluke. There was a Christmas/New Year’s party going on. It was beautiful and nice to be in there. I also thought of becoming a politician myself.

How ironic after I cracked at school yesterday– so tired of arguing with everyone. I’m used to arguing with the kids and their teens – that’s their duties as teens. But yesterday I was shocked and mad to have to argue with a parent. Why can’t people teach morals at home? No wonder some kids are so difficult. They are not taught respect at home. And the parents support their every move and don’t support the teachers. 

Every day I’m reminded how hard teaching is. I can understand Pain’s mother being upset about a movie with some perceived sexual content because that crossed the line of her morals but she’s clueless as to the other PG-13 movies that her daughter watches and likes (she’s said her favorite movies are “Love and Basketball”, “Grease”, and “Austin Powers”, like those aren’t PG-13).

Then there was yesterday. About a month ago Future Lawyer, Ralph, and the Sweet Kid we’re given a pass to go to the library.  But they went on the teacher I share a room with’s computer instead and then the teacher found a CD broken. I know it was an accident and, no, I can’t pin point that they did it, but they weren’t supposed to be there so I thought it wasn’t much to ask if they each would pay $5 so we could just replace her CD.  Ralph said he didn’t do it and he’d never pay. I talked to his mom at the parent conference and she said she had the CD and would burn a copy. That’s fine with me – just replace the music. 

When Ralph kept protesting I thought his mom would support me. I even said I’d take $5 from his field trip money. (We tried to go on a field trip.  I collected the money but then found out all the tickets were sold out for the event.  The money I had collected went to tickets and the bus so there was some extra at the end.)

So I saw Ralph’s mother yesterday and told her what’s going on. She had the same argument as Ralph. That he didn’t do it and that they were supposed to be there (I told her again how they had no business to be on that computer and I remember writing them a pass to the library).  She said I shouldn’t take it out of his re-imbursement from the field trip and that Ralph thinks no one should leave their CDs out (I can understand but that’s blaming the victim – no wonder there are so many criminals that blame the victims – people like her are raising them).  We went round and round and it felt like I was arguing with Ralph. I was so frustrated.  Just teach your brat some responsibility. But no, it’s all the teachers fault.  No one teaches kids right from wrong.

I went into the bathroom and cried a little and then thought, “Forget it. It’s her problem if she raises a brat and he is failing and tries to weasel his mom about failing though he only spaces out during class.”

I felt better when I wrote a check to myself and figured I’d take the extra money from the field trip and buy the damn CD myself. I think the only hope in the world are parents like Hope’s – she was the only student who ever took responsibility for her action.

I also realized I better just drop the whole thing after the nice secretary said people get weird around money. One time a parent threatened to kill her over a dollar. At least I didn’t get a death threat.  And I understand, I’ve been mad about the personal time money deduction the principal was trying to take from the half hour I went off grounds for the September 11th memorial. And it was my lunch!  Teachers never get free time or a break.  They have to stay stuck in school like the kids.  One kid said, “All they have to do is add bars to the windows and this will truly be a prison.” I agree.

April 30th

I’m so mad and miserable. My stepdaughter tried to run away, supposedly to school yesterday. She wasn’t listening. She made me late to work. She called me “fucker”.

Then at school Rebel Without a Cause insulted me the same way when I wouldn’t rush over to help her on the editing computer. I feel abused at home and at work. The New Kid has been creeping me out. He stands behind me at my desk angrily asking about his grade and saying he gave me some assignment that I lost so that’s why his grade is low. He seems like an angry stalker. And the principal just thinks all the “academic” kids are so cute.

I wrote the New Kid and Ralph up with minor referrals for getting up and engaging in horseplay. Ralph got mad again. Then he got his mom involved.  The mother gave me an evil eye as she walked past me with the principal to talk in a room far from the lounge where I was standing after school.

The principal was nice about it when she came to talk to me, but she pissed me off because she said she knew about Ralph’s building resentment about me for weeks, ever since the CD thing.  She told me what I should have done. Well why didn’t she come and tell me in the first place? I had no idea until I talked to his mother the other day – I thought we were all in agreement at the parent teacher conference.  I just feel so alone and battling all by myself.  I don’t even want the nice kids to talk to me.  I feel so incompetent. I can’t do anything right with teaching. The kids keep hating me, dropping out of class, getting angry. There are so many angry, troubled kids – I just feel like I’m doing something wrong. I don’t know how to survive anymore.

May 1st

It’s weird how I worry so much about everything except the real thing that’s bothering me. I’m so worried about Pain sicking her mother on me again because I showed “El Norte” and she was going on and on about the scenes saying Mexicans use the F word. She had already had her worksheet taken away for talking. So, again, she was acting up when her grade was at stake. She had no protests last semester in Drama when we watched “Mr. Deeds” (PG13) or “Scooby Doo” (PG like El Norte), or when the school showed “Austin Powers Three” and “Blue Crush”.  I’m so sick of this class’ manipulation. They’re the type you can’t teach to – just like Spanish Three that first year in California. One big battle after another. In Spanish Two the principal’s posse will run and talk to her about every little thing I try to do.  Some of the other kids are noticing and getting mad.  Well I’ll show one of the Disney films next time and let them complain about no subtitles and not understanding. I hate all the complaining and teaching is being in a sea of complainers.  I’ll take an office job anywhere!  But I’ve had enough. My only option is to work for myself. If I open a daycare I get to be with my son and not feel guilty about studying all day on Saturdays.

May 2nd,

I ran some errands – got the car serviced, made some appointments with a shrink for me so I could get out of my last class – Spanish Two.  I got to school and my class was gone. One student said no one showed up. I found them in the library and the principal said she brought them there and I need to check in with the library. Her look was of total disgust with me.  I talked to the always-smug secretary and she said she thought I would call if I was late so she hadn’t called for a sub.  Another mix up. Lunch was relaxing and then we had a good Annie rehearsal  – we need the extra rehearsals at lunch to be ready.

Media Class were actually angels. They watched a movie quietly. So when the principal came in we could talk. She said three parents had called about the movie and the F word in it (in subtitles I should add) and asked why I’m showing it.  I told her “El Norte” shows the immigrant experience.  (At this time the movie was hard to get, out of distribution, and I knew my best friend saw it when we were in high school, in a big cosmopolitan area where the F word was no big deal. Now it’s available, edited for classrooms.)

Then I got honest with her. I said, “It’s one big power struggle and I feel my hands are tied behind my back. I can’t do anything without the students getting upset and going to talk to you.”

Of course she got defensive. I said, “It’s not you personally, it’s their way of making a power struggle. They like to complain about everything.”

 She said, “Don’t give into them.”

What does that mean?  She’s the one giving into them and listening to them and empowering them.

She said she’s always told them they have to do what I say even if she doesn’t agree with it. See that’s the problem! Don’t ever tell the kids you don’t agree – that undermines the teacher. I think she’s part – a big part – of the problem.

I told her that I honestly don’t care about that class anymore,  that I feel like “screw them” and I just try to keep them away from me. But I tried to brainstorm a solution with her. We decided we’d ditch the movie and do the book and she said she’d talk to some students and come to the class and help them work in groups. After she left I snuck out on the little deck and snuck a cry. I felt like such a loser -can’t do anything right at work. Luckily the movie was funny and made me laugh.

So Spanish Two class came in and I told them to get the books. Lots of kids were angry, even one of Pain’s buddies (at least they were once buddies). They knew we weren’t finishing the movie because kids had complained to the principal.

One girl said, “It’s stupid how people run to the principal all the time and they miss class to do her errands because they are her pets.”

So I decided that we’ll make real use of the principal and use her as a witness to a class discussion since it seems like the whole class feels held hostage to a few students who run to the principal and try to get me in trouble all the time. So I put the table in a circle and we waited but the principal was late with some suspensions (and got defensive again when I asked when she was coming down – I said I didn’t know suspensions took so long. She’s such a control freak by trying to do too much. Should just stick to principal stuff like suspensions and not promise to come down to my room since I already know I’m her last priority.) 

So, I started the discussion anyway and she came in and listened near the end, and hopefully saw we didn’t need her nor her “help” which is really hurting the situation. I laid the ground rules – use I statements and hold the talking stick (a fly swatter). I started by telling the truth – I said they were my 2nd to worse class but my first was in California and I was so frustrated back then that I wrote a screenplay about a teacher who kills her students. I said I feel frustrated and unable to do anything now because they make everything a power struggle. I said I just want to find a way to get through the last month without the struggle.

I was really surprised how mature and honest they were. They said the books have too much vocabulary they don’t know and need vocab lists, they don’t like the dividing of the class, they want to do conversations and essays. But they also said there are negative people that bring every one down, that they don’t like how people run to the principal and try to get me in trouble. I was honest and said I was leaving, I have nothing to lose, the power struggle just makes me say “F” it and give them individual projects. Hope said she hadn’t realized I was feeling that way from them and that she was sorry for being disrespectful and will not be from now on. I almost cried then. Hope amazes me how responsible she is. Others said we’ll all try to be respectful.

I asked Pain for her opinion but she said she just didn’t care about the class and there was no hope. Oh well, can’t do anything about her attitude but since she has an A she could go work in the library everyday so no one else will be brought down anymore. In general it went well and I felt so good just to bring it under my control and my problem solving – not the principal because she’s a control freak and that’s not working. I told them I learned this from going to a Quaker college where we’d have discussions and consensus. I love the Quakers.  They really got their shit together.  And it’s so much more effective to discuss and have input than have some judgment/punishment by one person – I’m a teacher not a judge.

Afterwards, Future Lawyer said he liked the discussion, thanked me and said we should keep the tables in the circle. And Susan and I talked awhile which we’d never done before – mostly about exchange programs and her being shy. It was kinda magical that all my hate and anger went away and I liked all of them. Even Pain because there’s a solution for her too. So there is hope. It might all fall apart but mostly I hope they learn, just like my California students did, that there are positive ways to deal with struggles and pressure and to look at the positive of people. For once I feel like a good role model.

 

May 6th

I ate too much yesterday. All the Mexican salsa and chips. Enough 5 de mayo!  Spanish class liked the ice cream one student brought in and only reading one chapter. Future Lawyer said they like that pace. To me it’s doing nothing but I guess that’s the way they like it.

After school Annie is looking good with costumes and the best set this school has ever had but some of our lead actors still don’t know their lines. Oh well, they are the ones up there.

 One of my film students finished editing his movie and I helped make the titles. That’s exciting.

I got home and made Mexican food then balanced my checkbooks and paid off more bills. Looks like with the check for doing the play will help pay off the credit card bills. I think the cost of living at grad school will still be about the same especially with rent or a mortgage. I guess that’s life. It’ll be easier without big bills and interest looming over my head. 

 

May 7th

 

Pete and Ned of World Cultures class returned from the computer lab since the supervisor there told me they weren’t doing their work.  I told them that they have to do the research in class from now on.  We can all go to the library together tomorrow but after that they are not allowed any more passes.  I said that the principal said I was not to give out any more passes because they have abused them too much and she heard things about the video they made goofing off by the candy machines.

 

Ned didn’t say anything but Pete said he was mad at the principal and wanted to put a car bomb in her car.  He said he knows how to make them. 

 

I said, “Maybe you should talk to her about how you are feeling.”

 

He said “I’ll talk to her with a bomb”

 

Then he said, “I hate this school.  I want to bomb the school.”

 

He asked if he could go get some water and I said he wasn’t allowed any more passes.  He asked if he could go on my computer to look up how to make bombs.  I told him to stop talking like that and I’ll tell the principal to talk to him about why his passes were taken away.

 

I told the principal since I don’t know this kid very well, it’s the first class I’ve ever had with him. I don’t know how serious he is about the bombs or if he was just venting.

A teacher was threatened a few months earlier by a kid with mental issues threatening to kill her and nothing was done about it. But when I told the principal about the threat to her, she sent the school police officer right away to talk to me and the other students who had overheard him. She suspended him for as long as possible. It seemed very self-centered – she didn’t care about the threat to a teacher, only to herself.

May 8th

Spanish 2 started back at their old behaviors yesterday but luckily we’ll do new stuff next week and will just survive (of course some “pets” went off to help the principal with something.)

One thing I couldn’t stand about this rural school is how little the administration respected education. It was bad enough losing time to pep rallies and lip syncs at least you can put those as schools spirit builders, but this principal pulled kids out of class to pass out school pictures, pass out papers, whatever. Her message to the kids was – class doesn’t count, only me. She was so self-centered!

May 10th

School went okay. Spanish Two are back to being jerks especially Ralph who lives to say snide comments (he did last year too). But now that I know his mother can’t control him or never taught him responsibility I understand. He wanted a pass to go talk to a coach and I said he needed to work on preparing his Spanish conversation. He said he knew sports, I said, “But you don’t know the sports vocabulary in Spanish.”

He said, “Because I wasn’t taught it.”

So I said for that rude remark he doesn’t need a pass to go talk to the coach during my class. Funny how he never listens and everyone else got As and Bs on the test but he outright failed.

Future Lawyer got frustrated during his conversation presentation and said, “I don’t know Spanish” That’s why I hate teaching Spanish – they think they don’t know any because it’s a foreign language. It’s accumulative – you learn more the more you hear, read, and say. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned trying to just talk in other languages.

Anyways we performed Annie and they were awesome – flawless. The only problems were with the lights freezing off and some of the sound cues. I was proud of them and relieved to have a perfect performance. Made the music teacher and I look good and the principal was there. Yeah. The parents liked it and one kid said her parents loved it.  So I do feel success – in theater of course, not the classroom.

The girl who played Annie gave us directors some flowers called “impatience” for our patience. I glanced at the card and almost cried because the kids signed it and wrote sweet things. Annie thanked me on stage and said it was my last production at that school and wished me good luck in California.  A lot of them wrote they were bummed to not have me for Spanish or the next plays. Then one even wrote that the play was a success mostly because of me. Ego boost. The cast party was fun. Annie’s mom had it decorated with streamers and balloons and lots of food. I talked with her husband.  I told him I had his son, the Bob Marley Fan, as a student two years ago and he said, “I’m sorry”.  Cool!  A parent that really knows their child. If only more parents were like that – Bob Marley Fan was a smart aleck. And their daughter Annie is so great to work with because her mother pushes and helps her. We watched the Disney version of Annie and laughed at how some of our students would’ve looked ridiculous with the staging they used in the film. Then Annie invented a cute awards ceremony and we all voted for most likely such as “most likely to fall off their orphan cot”, “forget a prop”, etc. The giving out of awards was funny.  The kids loved it.

I won “most likely to over act” and I gave an over dramatic speech. Annie said she voted for me from the time I sang “Tomorrow” to my dog. They also gave me and the music teacher awards for “best director”. I said I’d put it up next to my Academy Award some day. I really enjoyed getting the awards even though they were jokes.  All the awards I’ve ever gotten in my life were for theater.  Hmm, maybe a clue to my real career.

Annie’s mother said she liked our “NYC” better than the one in the movie because of all the cute costumes and action the kids did walking in the background. She also liked our “Hard Knock Life” and “Easy Street” – had to be simple or the boy playing Rooster never would’ve done it. So I feel I made the right decisions and am glad I could be creative.

 May 15th

Yesterday work was fine. Spanish Two even had fun with the vocabulary game.  Maybe we can survive.  Besides with all the senior class activities going on next week I will barely see the Spanish Two class until the last week of school.  Finally, being a class advisor pays off.

May 16th

We’ll barely do anything today with all the school events which is a nice break from yesterday.  World Cultures students freaked out on me. First one student because her poster was done all wrong and I never got a paper from her so she’s failing. She just likes to wander and go to the art room. Then another girl showed me her famous anger because she’s failing for not actually being in class. Then later I was pissed the three guys left the room without a pass and went in the next-door room snooping around while the teacher had hall duty.

So evil principal calls me and I told her I gave them a minor. She said “keep them busy” Forget her!  Even when they have an assignment they wander and do nothing. She irks me so much. Can’t do anything right. And if I crack down on the kids then they’ll give me grief. They know they’re not supposed to leave on a pass but they don’t care. If the principal is such a control freak then let her control the hallways.

The one student who actually is my fan came to visit with me at lunch and she said they don’t do anything in the yearbook teacher’s class so I’m not the only teacher with a laid back class, or a class that goofs off. Besides I’ve always hated World Cultures class and at least this year was better than the last two since I made it all projects and very laid back. My motto is- I don’t care, I’m outta here!

Then Spanish Two students all wanted their grades and were pains.  Cheerleader was all upset and snippy because she never turned in her assignments. I said I’d think about having her re-do it. Why should I give her a break when she’s such a pain? Whatever. I’ll just turn the other cheek.

By the way, an obnoxious non-listening student from three years ago is in the newspaper – charged with DWI.  I’m so out of teaching! 

May 18th

I finally got some sleep.  School was easy because they had the award ceremony and then the softball game. I played trivia pursuit with my one and only fan and her friends. 

I noticed that teachers never leavet school.  The jocks run the sports teams and hang out with the jocks. The music teacher teaches music and attracts musicians to their room. And me, I was into drama so the drama kids and some “outcasts” actually liked me and would hang out in my room before homeroom or for days like this where, “my crowd thought watching a school game of softball was torture.

May 20th

School went smoothly yesterday. Relaxing because it’s almost over?  Who knows? All I know is this should be my last day with Spanish Two until next week. I took Spanish Three to the local diner for lunch. The principal never emailed or said anything about my fieldtrip proposal to the big city to talk with Spanish speakers. So I took the mater into my own hands and just used their fundraising money from the cancelled cruise to eat lunch instead. We even had conversations in Spanish as we ate. We had to take it back to the room and eat the rest. Then the principal called and asked if we’re going on the field trip. I said I hadn’t heard from her. She said she was waiting for permission slips.  Ugh!  That made me mad. The queen of emails couldn’t email me asking for the permission slips? And I didn’t want to hand out permission slips until it was approved since they made that clear about trips – approval first! Oh well. We already spent the money and it was raining and I would’ve had to figure something out with babysitting for my son after hours if we had gone on the trip.  So it wasn’t meant to be. We did one cultural field trip last year. That’s enough.

May 22nd

Yesterday was frustrating with Media Class. All the good kids with no majors or minors were gone for their reward party and so in-school suspension room was closed to help give the party.  So I had a room full of rebels – since all the good kids were at the party.

But I feel badly because for the first time I yelled at someone. It’s a very argumentative girl.  She did her usual “why do we have to do this” and started arguing. I told her to be quiet so everyone could read their assignment and then come up and ask me if there are any questions.

Later she started talking and arguing again and I said, “Don’t end up in jail like your grandmother”

I feel baldy about that. She’s in the in-school suspension room today from another incident in someone else’s class. I’m gone on the Senior trip as the class advisor today but I want to apologize.  I want to tell her that she is smart and has so much potential but she chooses to squander it all away. I feel baldy for yelling out about her grandmother – maybe she said told me that in confidence a few weeks ago.

When the principal showed up at Spanish Two last hour I thought it was about that but it was to talk about a senior whose failing. He’s a kid that’s special education and kinda mentally retarded so I don’t know what my role is with his grades. I didn’t know he was a senior and the special education teacher never had an Individual Education Plan meeting with me about him. So if the principal witch gets mad about it I’ll say I was never informed.

The yearbooks came out yesterday and they had a picture of the principal from high school.  She looks exactly the same but no braces and her mother even called her a nerd in the write up about her. And she went out with her husband since high school. My fan said she even told her class last year that he has been her only lover.  (kinda inappropriate I think, but whatever). This woman has had a very sheltered life.

For World Cultures I was making a list of people who work in this school who have traveled to other countries so my students can interview them.  I realized how many haven’t. What a sheltered school!  I wanted my students to interview them and now they have few choices, or role models. 

After school I came home, made dinner, and my husband never showed up so the babysitter came over and babysat. I went to the scholarship thing and helped a little and left. I still don’t feel like I do anything as a class advisor but now that they are seniors I’m enjoying time away from my classes.

May 23rd

TGIF!  Only one more and I’m done as a public school teacher. Yeah!  The kids were horrible to the sub on Weds as I had a relaxing time “supervising” the Seniors at a riverside resort. I read New Yorker magazine, walked around, swung on a porch swing, looking at the river, and dipping my toes in. Yesterday the kids were tolerable. That girl who I insulted about her grandmother’s jail time seemed fine so I didn’t apologize – which I still should do.

I had a nightmare the other night of the principal coming to observe my class this late in the year and the dream is coming true. She called asking what we’re doing in my classes and she’s coming today. At least I have warning.

I accused my stepdaughter of stealing my wallet money but I really think it was someone in the study hall of the other teacher in the room, which she never showed up for. That makes me mad; at least it was only $13. Why doesn’t she get in trouble for never showing up to class? Oh, I know. Because she has tenure.  Whereas I stepped out when the office needed me for something and asked me to come down the other day and the principal sent me an evil email about that.  So frustrating. And now I’ve been robbed.

A few days later, more money was missing. Then I found it in my step-daughter’s room. It wasn’t the class, it was her.  That made me feel better about the kids at school and my step-daughter, well, we had a talk.

 May 24th

I was so mad at the principal that I wanted to cry yesterday. I thought I was needed at the graduation rehearsal and I would miss Spanish Two again. The secretary told me to talk to the principal about getting a sub. So during Media Class (who were still crazy even though I said I wouldn’t give minors just rewards since it’s always the same kids who are still bad). The principal said she didn’t have any subs and the other two Senior advisors would be there and all I have to do is sit there on stage and help with gowns and caps. I was so mad – thanks for making me feel more useless.  So Spanish Two was annoying and whining as usual and it just made me madder.

And for some reason when the principal came running through my room to stop a carload of water balloons. I was so mad at her. She told the staff she would stop the water balloons (a yearly tradition by the Seniors on their last day of school) but instead she couldn’t so she gave up and changed the rules to fit her “I’m in control thing”.

She yelled at them not to throw it at the building and to use only buckets full, not carloads full of the water balloons. So they all ran around and she smiled like she’s the good guy that she wants to be.  It made me furious. She tries to control everything and it ruins other teachers control in their classroom and pretty much makes us miserable.  Not just me, at least two other teachers feel the same. I feel like writing a letter and smash her like she’s been doing to me all year – give it to her, the superintendent, the board, and the newspaper. But she was told before to butt out and she didn’t.  Months ago a group of teachers told her to lighten up.  Anyways four more days and then the witch is gone from my life.  I really can’t deal with any more bosses.  I can’t stand teenagers – even worse bosses! 

On a good note, the film festival for the Media Class and my community education class on film making was a success. I was mad that no one from the school came (and the principal expects me to waste my Saturday night and pay for a babysitter at the graduation ceremony when I’ve been invited to a family event). It was kinda nice to have the student filmmakers and their families. They laughed a lot and seemed to like the documentaries and the diversity of the films.  There was a tie voting for best film and I broke it by voting for the 10 year old’s since the other guy wasn’t there. They thanked me for their plaques saying “winner of best film”. 

Then we cleaned up. We missed some tortilla chips that fell on the floor and that infuriated  the nighttime janitor which angered me about this school. I’m sick of working my creative butt off and the administration never says anything positive about the creative endeavors.  Instead I always get in trouble for stupid stuff like chips falling on the ground!

May 24th

I was late but arrived in time to just sit there at graduation.  Luckily it was only about an hour and made me forget about everything. It was nice to hug some kids goodbye. I whispered to the coolest kid, “Now you don’t have to deal with the bullshit”.  She laughed.

May 26th

I found only three invitations to the senior’s Open Houses (the popularity test for teachers – how many invitations you get). I only went to one of the parties because one was too early in the morning, another was fifteen miles away, but I walked to one Senior’s house just a few blocks away – lured by home made tamales and real food. It was weird – mostly family there but they were nice and she said, “This is my teacher.” The food was awesome. It felt nice sitting around, talking with a Mexican family again.  One of the few in this area.  I also learned how the principal drove the senior class crazy with her trying to control prom and graduation and changing all the previous rules. She also tries to be so perfect but, according to the seniors at this open house, she messed up on a lot of details lately. That made me feel good. I’m so petty.

I also found out that she’s allergic to perfume so I’m gonna wear a lot this week.

May 28th

Yesterday school went smoothly.  Media Class were angels – watching a Spielberg movie and being quiet so they can “curse” today.  The punishments of major and minors weren’ working so I went for working towards rewards instead, since the same kids kept getting the infractions, but now they could work together.

I told them that if they were good they could get pizza one day, and curse another. They don’t care about the pizza but they have been angels just to be able to break the school rule and use bad words in my classroom today. I had no idea it was such a motivator when I thought of it – I guess since they always get in trouble for cursing, I figure I’d just let them do it one day.

The principal still hasn’t showed up in my World Cultures class for my evaluation. I only have one lesson left just for when she shows up – it’s like break glass in case of principal. 

Just now as I was writing my husband gave me the mail. There was a package from the college I heard about at the wedding. I thought it was another application since I got two from them. I opened it and it said “Congratulations”.  I can’t believe it. I finally got into a grad school!  I’m so happy. It came at the last moment!  I was getting really worried! Now I will have more choices and opportunities to teach at the university level, open my own video business, you name it. And no more whistling in the wind.

May 29th

Yesterday I was in cloud nine!  I told everyone at work that I got into grad school And it was nice to know I was free – I’m really leaving.

I found out the math teacher was sacked and that made me mad, especially at the principal. She only wants photocopies of herself and doesn’t see a great teacher when they’re in front of her face – especially since she used to teach math and she wants someone just like her.  I even caught a glimpse of the new Spanish teacher and she looks like a Latina photocopy version of the principal – dress, hair, make up – all the same.

In Media class the kids loved that they could curse and sounded like they had Tourette syndrome with all the repetition of bad words. I laughed. But after a few minutes they realized that it wasn’t fun now that it was allowed. Yet when a student came in delivering something from the main office, he was so surprised when they said “How the @&*#* are you?”

In Spanish Two, same old rudeness and snootiness. But I snapped at one girl whose been snarly all semester, thanks to her friend, Pain who was the Chupacabra (goat sucker) – sucking all the life out of the class.

A student was hanging out and he has been trying to sneak into my class lately so I wanted to send him back to class and couldn’t figure out what his pass was actually for.

I said, “I’ll call the principal.”

Pain’s friend said, “You can’t call her for that.”

I said, “You guys can go to her for everything.  So I can too.”

Another student yelled out “Amen”

There is such a division between the suck ups versus the kids that want the principal as far away from them as possible. Two students asked what I really think of the principal and I said I won’t say much but I do think she’s a control freak.

May 30th

Today is a day of lasts. I should be jumping for joy but it’s also scary. Change is scary. Goodbyes are sad.  I won’t miss most of the students but I think I will miss some. Anyways, yesterday school was tolerable. I’m glad that the New Kid won’t be there today and, that despite doing a little extra credit, he only has a C though he tried to complain about that. He never turned in anything and talked the whole class. Same with Ralph, he’ll have to stay with his B+. It feels like when I began my teaching career in California – kids trying to steam roll over you for a perfect grade – not earn it or work for it but talk their way into it.

I finished editing the roast film clip for the superintendent who is retiring. I hope they’ll like it tonight. I wish I could go but I better stay around and greet the crew and actors of the video I’ve been hired to make here this summer.

May 31st

At school the kids were wild because it was the last day.

In World Cultures I gave one girl in the class a major referral because she ran out of the room, forged a pass, and had been acting wild all week.  They made her stay in the in-school suspension room the rest of the day.  Oh how mad she became – thinking nothing would happen on the last day.

Then in Media Class I was worried because the make up artist from the video production I’m working on wasn’t there but then she appeared a little late.  The kids loved that she made scars, bite marks, and fight marks on their arms and faces. They were really interested in her work and had lots of questions.

Jessica, who threw the chair a while ago, came down and said, “Why didn’t we have this before and why didn’t you call me down to get a scar?” 

I said, “You were kicked out of class” and I made her leave.

Spanish Two were grade grubbing, trying to do extra credit. I don’t care – if they all have As.  They are less ornery when they have good grades anyways. In general they all got what they deserved for the work they did or didn’t do, test scores and homework grades don’t lie. It was a crazy day though and I was overwhelmed.

 

The superintendent loved the roast video I made and his wife pointed out how creative I was.  That made me feel like I was making the right decision – leaving teaching to pursue more filmmaking.

His retirement overshadowed my leaving which was fine yet I was surprised that no one really said goodbye to me, at all. I had never worked somewhere for three years. That was so new to me and now they seemed to have not seen me at all.

The grade grubbing and being nicer to the teacher if you have a great grade is a proven science. When professors are evaluated, they get higher marks if the student has a higher grade.  I just wished grading wasn’t in the equation at all.  No wonder I ended up an advocate for homeschooling, freedom schools, anything that wasn’t the traditional school system.

 

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
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