Second year – second semester – as a first time mother


January 11th

Yesterday I had to drop by the school to meet about standards and other things that need to be done while I’m on maternity leave.  The sub told me how to teach my class and I was offended and hurt. I think it wasn’t her place at all to tell me how to teach because we have different theories and methods. But she said, “Especially now with your baby, to save time you should teach by the book and it really helps with standards.”  But her understanding of standards is different from mine. Plus, she’s not even a mother. And she chose these books when she used to work here and I don’t get them or like them. She said Spanish One was lost, some of them, but I was trying different methods for those who didn’t get it the first time. And she said, “They don’t know what a pronoun is” so I was like, don’t tell me how to teach because I was taught French in high school by her method of teaching grammar specifically and never how to communicate which hurt when I went to live in France as an exchange student. And she even criticized me giving answers before the quizzes in World Cultures class but the teacher the year before did and I was just doing review. She seemed to try to say “I’m a better teacher and do things my way” even though in the next breath she said she hates teaching and is gonna work at something else instead.  It hit a nerve I still have because of Tornado and the way she’d tell me how to teach just like this maternity sub, but when I tried Tornado’s ways I’d always fail and this year has been better because I can do my way and it goes much better. At least when I met with some staff about standards they said “next year” so I doubt they’ll fire me and at least this sub won’t take my job. But I don’t like the idea of her undermining my methods to the school staff or students.

Otherwise the students and staff cooed over my baby boy.

January 29th

This is practice week. Next week I have to go back to work.  Yipes. I’ll miss my baby all day!  But worse- the sub called and said the Media class is hyper and has lots of Special Ed students. Oh no!  I’ll just have to go with the flow and it might not be the class I imagined. I’ll do more hands on creative except they have the reading standard to do in that class.

I hated that – they always seemed to use “elective classes” as dumping grounds for the kids with behavior problems and for the special education students who may or may not benefit from that particular class.  (I’m not against special education, just that the special part doesn’t always work out, and sometimes schools aren’t helping in the needs that some of the students have, sometimes they just baby-sit.)  Seemed like kids didn’t have a clue why they were in school and they just needed to fill the day’s time with something and the school felt the same and shoved them anywhere. No wonder there is little motivation. And all my great ideas for teaching a class I really loved would soon be dashed by a hard to please crowd

 January 29th, later that day

I want to cry. The sub upset me again.  This time she practically told me I’m a bad teacher. The thing I liked most about the job is ruined – being the only teacher and not having any of this comparison caca. Now all the students are going to be obnoxious because she’s told them how bad they are in Spanish. She said that some students said they don’t want to take Spanish anymore because they haven’t learned anything. I can’t believe she told me that. Was it just to be mean?  Well it worked. I’m hurt. I’m back to hating teaching because I must suck. Students don’t learn, other teachers are nasty. But what can I do?  I need the money. I’ve tried everything else and trying to live off my dreams of making movies has created a financial nightmare.  I’d love to live off of my writing and making movies but that hasn’t happened yet. I have to write more. Maybe that’s how I’ll survive – by writing lots to balance – just like I did before when I wrote on my screenplay every day before going to my teaching job.

I’m mad at the sub for making me not care anymore. But maybe in a year or two the students won’t remember her nonsense. I’m also upset because I don’t want to be away from my son for all those hours. I’ll miss him. But we only have $50 in the bank so what can we do? I’m sure he’ll be fine, just not me. 

January 31st

I feel better now. I don’t care what the sub says. The students have no choice – I’m their teacher, not her. And I’ll just explain about different teaching styles and that I like emphasizing communication, not grammar. And I don’t think I’m that bad a teacher because I let them experience the culture and fun parts – the stuff I never learned in high school French class, like music videos, pop culture, customs, etc.  That’s why I studied languages – not for the grammar.  I got an email from my friend and she re-iteretated my thoughts and said I’m a fine teacher. I’ll be fine. I’m not a victim but a victor.

February 6th

Yesterday was a lot easier going back to work than I expected. I did feel like crying but I held back the tears, thinking of my son. And then I got so busy that it wasn’t that bad. And I got home and held the baby and barely let him go!  He even had some huge smiles for me. 

At school I felt like a sub – so out of it but I got through. All the classes seem fine. Media class was fine for me probably because I know what I’m doing and it was hard for a sub.  Spanish Two liked learning grammar but when I asked them to write about themselves they couldn’t use Spanish at all. (That’s what the research says – if you teach grammar the students can’t actually use the second language in a communicative, i.e., normal way)

I’m super happy because one of the books I ordered uses the awesome TPR storytelling method so I’m going to do it.  I’ll convince them that it works and as their teacher it’s my responsibility to teach the way that works best. When I was talking to the sub she asked about the baby. That made me feel better about her and I realized her comments were because she’s a tell it like it is kind of person. I left at four in the afternoon and did work at home so I could be with my baby!

MARCH 31st

Writing during my Technical Writing class – as they do their work on the computers:

I need to journal. I’m coming up against prudes at work. I guess you’re never free at work, especially if you work in a high school. And even if you want to challenge minds, the kids don’t want to be challenged, they just want to socialize. And all that happens is you end up challenged by the parents.

Here I was thinking how I finally like and care about a job. I should’ve known it’d come crashing down. I even have to hold back tears right now. I’m so  sensitive and such a free spirit. I’ll never like the confines of society or the BS of work. I wish I was independently wealthy but I know that takes a lot of work and hours too. 

This is what happened. First a student from last semester’s World Cultures class said how she hated all the movies in that class. That brought about the feeling that you can never please students – even with movies. But more the frustration that it was supposed to be a class of cultural sensitivity and that didn’t happen at all. I guess you really can’t change anyone.

But I also found out what happened with the German movie with the awful title – Nasty Girl. I guess the old woman sub turned it off probably afraid of the title and because the girl starts going out with her teacher. But that’s not the point of the movie. The point is she digs up the town’s history of the Holocaust and how the town won’t let her find the truth of what they did during the war to help kill non-Aryans. The sub, like in the movie, blocked the kids from watching it and learning some truths.  So frustrating these backwards people!

So what are teachers supposed to teach? Especially in a class called World Cultures?  I guess I should just do the boring book stuff. Forget about challenging minds. Maybe that’s why I wished I went to a cool thought provoking school like my best friend did in high school – a private school with a stand. Not wimpy public schools, which are so bland because they teach to the middle. And that’s why I loved college – could take a stand on things and challenge us. Not that I don’t respect other’s beliefs. But I don’t like living in fear especially if the rules are by discriminating, prejudice people.

Anyways, then in media class I decided to do a skit I found from my UCLA directing class to go over what a shot list is.  I decided the scene would be easier than the longer movie script I had. The skit was from an after school special so I didn’t think it’d be offensive. It dealt with STDS but didn’t directly mention them in this scene – just alluded to them in one line.

Well this morning the principal came in and said that a woman who works in this building whose child is in my class (it’s always the other teachers that cause problems like the teacher in California who always complained about my Spanish Three class). I guess I can never be creative. Anyways this teacher now is mad about the reading. I showed it to the principal and explained it was an after school special but she seemed okay about it and didn’t even read it and gave it back to me. So I re-read it and figured how I could edit is to it doesn’t say “hell” and cuts off before he starts talking about STDs (which we didn’t read yesterday but was on the bottom of the page where the scene continued).

So now at beginning of Technical Writing class I asked the teacher about it. She was more interested in the grant she’s writing, that is due today but she did say she felt the language and subject were not appropriate for high school. I tried to say it went along with the camera shot list when she asked what the purpose was for reading the scene.

I asked, “When do they take health class?”
She retorted,”That isn’t your class.”

End of discussion.

I guess we’re never allowed to cross-reference. Heaven forbid we talk about issues that cause life or death. Or make learning interesting like when I was in college and all my classes touched on the same topics – that was my best semester. No wonder we’re such a dumb nation. Just eat what’s fed to us.

I guess I feel mad and humiliated by and at her. I made a mistake. Over stepping some toes. But it’s their kids, so whatever. I can be a numb uncaring teacher again. Live paycheck to paycheck. Hurts too much to care about things anyways.

Then as I started to write this, the principal called and said she and the superintendent read it and figure it’s best not to use and other parents might call.  Okay. She was nice about it. I don’t think it’s an issue anymore but how did she get a copy?  Obviously the teacher gave it to her since she returned the one I handed to her.  And I hate that. Talk to me first. Whenever people go “higher up” they’re just being snotty and making me feel worse. And worse can happen. Start with me. If I was really ornery and being uncooperative, then she could go to the bosses. But I already edited even before talking to her. End of story.

I hate that humiliated powerless feeling of doing something wrong and being racked through the coals. We all make mistakes and it seems like mine are always big especially when I try to have fun or be creative.

I won’t be a victim.  I made a blunder. So what? I changed it, time to move on. I won’t be a zombie in this job. Yes, I’ll be careful and I will ignore the complaints of the students because they complain no matter what and my goal is to just cram information down their throats. I feel better now. I don’t feel like crying anymore. I’d rather take risks and make waves and problems instead of being quiet and miserable. I’m from the East Coast. I’ve never been quiet. And if I challenge people, so what? I’m not saying I’m gonna purposefully do controversial things but I won’t cry over my stepping on toes especially over easily solved stuff.

I refuse to be a victim any longer. I refuse to be shamed into a corner. I think I’ll change my screenplay about a teacher killing students into a book instead and really ask why good teachers leave.  Are we too scared as a nation to have real challenges? Isn’t stepping on toes necessary in the creative discovery of real education?

April 1st

A student died yesterday – a sweet student.  He wasn’t wearing a seat belt and the kids say the kid who drove the car is known to be a wild driver.  I’m so sad. I’ve never lost a student before and he was such a nice kid. He wasn’t even my student but he’d talk to me when I had lunchtime hallway duty.  Why do the good kids have to go?  I know it’s mean to say but I could think of a few that I wouldn’t miss. But it’s horrible for any of the kids to lose their life so soon.  Some of the religious kids are saying he’s in a better place.  Others are just crying and upset.

April 10th

I’m sick of these teenage shits. Anyways I’ve had enough, especially of my Spanish Two class and especially Brett who has always had a bad attitude. I think I’ll really crack down on him and just send him to the in-school suspension room since he doesn’t seem to want to try Spanish anyways.

Today they were monsters. I gave a zero to one student who mimicked breastfeeding, in a gross way, when I said the mom fed her daughter in the Spanish story.  Then I think Brett answered the jeopardy game by saying to me “tienes globos grandes” (you have big balloons, meaning breasts).  And I didn’t get it until later and I was pissed. I’m also mad at my body for being so big but even if I were thin the boy is to blame because he harassed just because I’m a breast feeding woman and they’re little teenage boy shits. So I won’t take it and I won’t be a victim! 

April 12th

Yesterday was a difficult day. It was good in one sense. I told Brett that I’d kick him out of class if he bursts out that he’s giving up again and I talked to the woman in charge of the in-school suspension room about it and later she told him to shape up too. So I feel more in control. And maybe things were meant to happen the way they did. I was feeling very bitter towards people and just wanted to hide in my shell. 

Then I went to the funeral.  I only glimpsed at the boy and it was hard to see – all that make up on his face but still his smile. I still wish he were alive. And seeing his mom broke me up because now I have a son and I don’t want to lose him. And he was so sweet – I didn’t even have him as a student yet he made a mix CD for me of songs I could use in World Cultures like Steve Martin’s King Tut. His neighbor talked about how he loved people and how kind he was. It reminded me to give people more of a chance. I guess things happen for a reason and I wish God hadn’t taken him but I’ll consider him one of the best angels now.

The other thing that seemed to put everything into place was when his mother walked by everyone hugged her but I was kinda back in a corner and felt bad that I didn’t get to hug but I was too cowardly to go up to her. But Brett “happened” to be in front of me and missed when she walked by too. Yet he went right up to her and hugged her and lingered a minute saying he was sorry for her loss. That made me forget his obnoxious moments and see what a courageous young man he is instead. I left soon since I missed my baby.  I’m glad I got to pay my last respects to a great boy.

April 20th

We’re think of moving to a big city but I like my job, finally. We’ll see. The principal and superintendent are retiring in the next few years anyways.  Only ten more days till the end of the school year then summer!

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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