Posts Tagged 'teaching'

Back by Popular Demand

For all my friends who have wondered if I had fallen off the face of the earth, this will hopefully prove that I haven’t. I apologize to all for my prolonged absence; over Spring Break, I was asked to fill a new position for the District. I was not happy about the assignment nor the location, and was loath to leave the best gig I have ever had as a teacher, but the Superintendent was in a personnel bind, I was the most logical choice to fill this immediate need, and I felt that I owed the Sup’t a favor, so I agreed to go.

I can’t go into any detail, but the job was everything I feared it would be. It is physically, emotionally, and psychologically draining. I am all but incommunicado on the job and, as much as I miss being in touch with the world, I would not now want a phone or a computer in my classroom for all the Blue Bell in Brenham. When I get home, I can barely function enough to check my e-mail and keep the kids from descending completely into anarchy.

The past nine weeks have made me completely re-think teaching as a career. I have decided at this point that unless I am offered my dream teaching job (HS History or Government), I will not teach next year. I am beginning to explore other career fields, but don’t really know where to start. Perhaps you can help. I have a Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism (ABJ) from The University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication–consistently ranked in the top 5 J-schools in the country and home to the George Foster Peabody awards for outstanding achievements in broadcasting. Alton Brown, Deborah Norville, Lewis Grizzard, Judy Woodruff and Charlayne Hunter-Gault are notable fellow alumni.

My passions are research and history. I am fascinated with politics, and belong to a political family both by birth and by marriage, but will never run for office myself as I am not willing to subject my family, friends, and garbage man to the levels of scrutiny that are inherent in the effort to join in today’s political process. I had to do some “nose in the dusty books” research last week highlighting and tabbing text in preparation for a showdown with a parent (including reading a Supreme Court decision–12 pages of gobbledygook just to say that by the time the case reached the Supremes, the point was moot) and loved every minute of it.

You already know what my dream teaching job is, but I really don’t know what I would do if I didn’t teach. I wish I had listened to my dad when he wanted me to go pre-law in college, but that is water under the bridge now. To my friend, Judge Cindy, who wants me to go back and enter law school, I apologize but I have to concentrate on getting my kids into college now, not me. I love sports, and applied for an ass’t SID (Sports Information Director) job I would have loved to have, but realized that I am not really qualified for it. I am great at editing and enjoy it immensely, but again, my bane is lack of experience other than grading Jr. High writing projects and editing the Master’s Theses of others (they all looked good when I finished!)

This much I know. I am sick unto death of No Child Left Behind (which I ardently supported until I became a teacher and spent more time filling squares than teaching), and the attitude of certain parents that their delinquents belong in the same classroom with children who actually have an interest in learning. The right to a safe learning environment should be weighted toward those who want to learn rather than those who want to live a Lord of the Flies anarchy.

I am also sick of the powers that be in the Ivory Towers of America’s Colleges of Education and State Boards of Education who have the misguided notion that all children are college material. Believe me, there are many kids who would rather be shot than set foot on a college campus. There are also others that no amount of training will ever prepare for college, even if the poor shmuck has Mr. Chips, Mr. Holland, AND Our Miss Brooks as personal tutors! I will even publicly state the HERESY (gasp!) that I believe the most lucrative and stable careers in the US’s near future are NOT professional positions requiring a college degree, but rather skilled labor requiring tech school. Remember Moonstruck? The college professor walked to his efficiency apartment, while the plumber drove a Cadillac Fleetwood to his three-story brownstone that took up 1/4 a city block in NYC. That, my friends, is our future–like it or not.

Germany has it right–everyone gets the same education until after 8th grade. The kids are then tested, the results of which determine the rest of the kids life. Those test results determine the jugen ‘s secondary education, and there are three possibilities: the college prep track, the trade school track, and the “thank you for graduating” track. Our education system will never be reformed or redeemed until the powers that be realize that not everyone is cut out for (or even interested in) college. Our current community college system can be a transition for those who realize too late that they did want to go to college after all.

Anyway, what should I do once I get back to the big city this summer? My possibilities are endless, but I also need a dose of realism. What can I do; what should I pursue; how do I pursue it? I’m open to any legal, moral, and non-fattening ideas that may be out there.

PS–thanks, o Benevolent and Protective Wingleader for your gentle yet non-nagging reminders (yes, plural) to return to blogging.  It felt good to get back in the saddle again.

One day here; the next day, gone.

I started a new assignment today–another campus had an immediate need for a certified teacher, and I was the person in the district best able to fill it. I really only got about 4 hours notice of the switch; having received the news at lunchtime on the Friday before last week’s Spring Break. I barely got time to get a briefing from my new principal and figure out how to arrange the furniture in my room before the end of the day.

Spring break was completely consumed with flooring. I spent the time laying a laminate floor in my kitchen. Note: if you ever want to lay laminate, YOU MUST LET IT SIT IN THE BOXES IN YOUR HOUSE FOR 48-96 HOURS BEFORE STARTING YOUR PROJECT!!!!!! The”good people” at Lowe’s just happened to mention that as an aside as I was loading my car last Monday morning–great. That nixed Monday and Tuesday for working. What was supposed to be five sanely-paced days turned into two frenetic ones scrambling to get the floor laid before Thursday night! Then came everyone being off for Good Friday–and everyone wanted to play, including the cattle–who decided that this was the time to play “hide and seek” on the neighbors’ property. So there is still finishing work to do and God knows when it will be done. I feel like the Little Red Hen here–“if it is to be, it is up to me.” If I ever blog about wanting to replace flooring, remind me what a pain it is to do it! My knees are just beginning to recover, and I wore pads on them the whole time!

My little pity party I had going this morning was shattered, though, by learning through office chatter of the unexpected death of a colleague from my old campus during Spring Break. She was just a couple of years older than I–her youngest child was the same age as my middle one. She began working on my old campus this year as an aide, but I had gotten to know what a great lady she was because of what a great kid her son is. In a small rural town with multi-generational poverty, her son is a beacon of hope–smart, athletic, respectful, resourceful, fun loving but industrious–in short, a walking testament to good upbringing. I pray that he can keep his focus during this unimaginably horrific time. I so hope he can continue to honor his mother by fulfilling the promise he has shown so far. It is way too easy in this day and age to “fall into the crab bucket” of spiraling standards, especially when you’re still a teenager and you lose your anchor.

This is the second time this school year (and the third time in 15 months) that I have mourned the loss of the parent of an outstanding student–two due to illness (this one sudden, the other chronic) and the other in a tragic accident. In each case I have known the parent to be loving, caring, and giving 110% to raise an enriched child in an impoverished corner of the world. None of them were wealthy, only one of them was considered “a pillar of the community,” but all three were heroes in my book.

What’s even scarier is how my friend died. Right now, they believe it was meningitis. We’re still waiting for confirmation. I last saw her two weeks ago tomorrow. As always, she greeted me and goodbyed me with a big hug. Those hugs have meant so much to me. Some time ago, when some subversive elements were trying to brand me as a “racist” among members of her ethnic community, my friend made it a point to give me a huge hug in front of everyone every chance she got. She publicly stood by me when it would have been so easy to be silent. I owe her so much, and now she’s gone. The last time I saw her, she was right as rain, and now she’s gone. I’m still in shock.

Yes, I know how virulent and contagious meningitis is. I have communicated with the school nurse. The incubation period is 10-14 days. I have not felt ill at all since I had a flu relapse a month ago, so I hope that means I am not ill. I also know that it is possible for someone who is not ill to be a carrier. That means I will watch my family very closely the next two weeks. At least my daughter got the meningococcal vaccine. If it was bacterial meningitis, she’s protected. My sons and husband, I will watch very carefully.

My friend, you are sorely missed. Rest with the angels, and we’ll keep your memory alive down here.


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