To be or not to be… out that is…

In one week I start teaching at a new school. I am going  back to working in public school.

Every year teachers are frantic setting up bulletin boards, prepping lessons, and worrying about whether or not they will get the crazy students this year all in one class.

 

But not me.

 

I am distraught over what to tell my students about my wife.

In Louisiana it is legal to fire someone for being gay. Especially if they work with impressionable youth. My school is progressive, they have a gay straight alliance. And the GSA even has a bulletin board on a main hallway in school. But, that is not the same as an adult teaching children it gets better.

 

I could ask my principal what she wants me to say, but last time I asked that, I was fired.

 

I could just do my usual and use words like ‘they’ when they students ask about my husband, and simply not correct them. But, when I do that I feel like I am doing the young gay kids in my class an injustice. I am standing there telling them they should have to hide who they are because it might make someone uncomfortable. Which is not right.

I could correct them when they ask about my husband. But, if I do that do I use the word partner or wife? I use the term wife because we are married, and I personally feel partner is a second class separate but equal term. But, in god’s country, people may not take kindly to me using the word wife. Because didn’t you know that using the word wife means you are shoving your ‘lifestyle’ in everyone’s faces?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just go to work?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to worry that a moral lynch mob was going to come after my job simply because I am married?

Maybe If I were butch, the kids would assume I was gay and not ask me about my husband?

I wish I didn’t work with kids sometimes, but honestly, I am a fantastic teacher. Why should the kids miss out on a great teacher, and why should I have to change careers because a preacher can’t be bothered to read his bible?

Or maybe one day, it won’t matter that I’m gay.

 

 

Maybe one day I will convince a school to do an it gets better video?

What your teacher is really thinking.

There comes a time in every teachers life when they wake up and go I can’t take this shit anymore. Ok, Ok, this moment happens all the damn time.

You see your teachers have to put up with a lot and get very  little in return. Hey, I am not asking for much. It would be nice for kindness though. While I do appreciate the fact that teenagers are not always capable of seeing past their own noses, at times it is hard not to take it personally.

I thought you might enjoy a few of my insights into what your teachers are really thinking:

1. When a student gets really upset over a test grade and blames the teacher.

– this one is one of my favorite moments. I am almost always thinking, oh good, you did not do the work in my class, you don’t listen to a word I say, but please tell me more about how it is my fault you don’t understand. I did not realize I was supposed to do all your studying for you.

2. When a student complains that the lesson we are learning is stupid.

– Wow, you are so smart you know all there is to know about life and can already see that I am just making shit up to teach you for no apparent reason. Or maybe just maybe you need to know this. Perhaps.

3. The ever favorite, the teacher hates me.

– Who are you again? Or I’m sorry I was so busy teaching 100 + students, raising my family, completing grad school, and living my life I can’t remember what was said during class last hour. But, you are right I probably have nothing better to do than sit around and plot your doom.

4. When am I going to use this?

– Oh you mean when are you going to need to use math? Oh you don’t need to know math, hell congress can’t even balance a budget and they seem to have really good job security, great health benefits and a giant ass salary. You are right math is totally unnecessary in life. We should just throw out the books and watch MTV.

5. Complaints about the dress code

– These are my favorite. I do love hearing how the fact that you can’t wear flip flops is the end of the world. My two old thinks the same thing. Yep, I just compared your maturity to a two old.

How much longer will I survive doing this?

Why would anyone become a teacher?

This is my fifth year teaching and I have begun wondering this more and more each day. There was a point when I loved teaching. I felt so content in my job and my life it was overwhelming. Then overnight education in my state began to change, and once change begins there is no going back.

Teachers in many states are having benefits taken away. If education is getting worse in this country, and you cut pay and benefits, will the good teachers stay? With the smart and talented youth go into teaching? Would you go into a field if pay was going down and benefits were being cut? Who will be left to teach?

Teaching is a thankless job. Maybe a few times a year a parent or student tells you thank you for all that you do. Some years, no one does. You turn on the tv and people are trashing teachers for standing up for themselves and their jobs. If you are sick and miss a day you are punishing the students. If you have to go to a doctor appointment, which are only open during school hours, you are punishing the students by missing work. During the school year, there is an expectation that you stop existing in your life and only exist for your students. You are no longer allowed to be human, you must be robo teacher.

Parents have switched the blame for failure from the kids to the teachers. No matter how amazing of an educator you are, not every single student will get 100% every day. But, expect to be punished if they don’t. In some schools your pay will be cut, in others the parents will yell and degrade you in front of a room full of people, and if you a lucky the students will be nasty to you and storm out to text their parents to come back and yell at you again. One school I worked for I was only allowed a certain percent of failures. If I had more I had to just change the grades, even if I had students who did not do a single assignment the entire semester. Of course, it is the teacher’s fault they refused to do any work.

Schools are falling apart in many places all over the country. I would come to work with rat feces on my desk every day. There would be an inch of dirt on my pants at the end of the day. I had to duct tape holes in my windows because they were never going to get fixed and I had to keep bees from coming in the classroom. When I asked the health inspector what they could about the rats, he said there was nothing anyone could do. Would you send your kid to this school? Would you expect your kid to be successful there? Who would you blame?

The worst part about becoming a teacher is having to send your child to school. I know what goes on behind closed doors. I know too much. I have never seen children come to harm at school, unless they were in a fight, but far too often have seen little education happening. I spend far too many waking moments trying to find someplace to move to that has excellent education, but surprise surprise the best education in the county is in the the wealthiest cities. Money talks.

 

*None of the stories apply to my current school, which is very well maintained, no rats, and I have never had a student fail, literally*

Oh no he didn’t….

I had a wicked terrible work week this week. And was beginning to lose hope in all of humanity when the most perfect teen moment happened in my study hall last hour Friday. I am often asked how I could teach high school, when it was so awful the first time around? The answer is simple. The first time I lived the drama. Now, it is like watching a reality tv show on mtv, priceless entertainment.

 

All names have been changed to protect people’s awesomeness.

I have my study hall sitting all spread out and silent due to their desire to talk, talk, talk, and talk louder. One can only listen to conversations starting with “Oh my god Becky did you see what she was wearing?” so many times, before one has had enough.

Image the two most popular girls  in school, Sally and Betty, sitting in the farthest row from me directly behind each other. One row over and seat back is Johnny.

Sally turns to Betty, ” Mike’s mom is at school.” Betty turns to Johnny, “Mike’s mom is at school.” They both look forward. Johnny replies “Am I supposed to care?” In complete synchronization they turn their heads with a quickness roll their eyes with exact timing and then whip their heads back forward at the exact same moment. He then says, “Was there something I was supposed to get there?” They do not even move. He begins to apologize and makes an excuse to get up and go closer to them and whisper in Betty’s ear. She ignores him.

I say, “Johnny they are already mad at you just leave them alone.” The class laughs.

It could not have been a more perfect teen movie moment if they had planned it.

And some days it is the little things that make you smile and get you through until the next day.

Reach out and grab your destiny.

Over the past week of watching delayed olympics already knowing who won, I find myself wondering if I am really living up to my potential.

Why could I not have been an amazing olympic athlete?

Because my destiny was to teach the youth of america. Gasp. No. I want a new destiny.

 

What would be a good destiny to chose? I know normally one does not get to choose their own destiny, but I am really tight with god and he is totally cool with it.

 

There is only one real choice for the best destiny of all time. To be able to literally become characters in my favorite books and jump from book to book, living multiple amazing lives through the words of the writers throughout history.

Naturally.

There are so many books to choose from  where shall I start??

 

I’m thinking Green Eggs and Ham. A true classic.

Some things you wish you could un-hear

Things Teachers hear, but wish oh so badly we never had:

“All male teachers flirt with the female students, you just only do it to a certain point, so they know it is just for fun”- a male teacher

“She dropped out of school because her dad got her pregnant”- a student

“I need to tell you that in your 3rd hour kids have been giving each other hand jobs under the lab tables when you have subs” -a student

“all public school teachers are bad teachers”- a teacher

“I am going to shut down your school and if for someone reason you save it, I will try to shut you down again next year” – superintendent

“I heard there was a gun at your school today?” “I didn’t know that” “Oh yeah it was on the news” “Oh yeah, they don’t even tell us anymore” -my dad and me

“You know she got suspended for sending naked texts to all the boys at school”- a student

“He only hit her because he was angry” – a mom about her son and his girlfriend

I hope you studied part III

I have been taking you on a magical journey through high school exams. Part One and Part Two.

Giving exams can be quite different from taking them. One of the most frustrating parts of exams is the students who chose not to do the review for the exams. I know I am a great teacher, but you really want me to believe you learned an entire years worth of math so well that you do not need to do any review problems? You flatterer you. Those students are always the first ones finished. I cringe when they set their test down and the front page is covered in mistakes.

Students like that make you understand why someone would want to drink at work. I never would, but I know the feeling of students making you want to drink. There are even t-shirts that say, if you taught highschool you would drink too. Speaking of drinks, I wonder how I can sneak booze into my mother in-laws for memorial day? Should I just flask it? Or go with the Smirnoff in a water bottle? It would be so much easier if drinking wasn’t against their religion. I am just trying to be like jesus and feed the people wine.

As the kids all slowly finish their test, there is always that one still going. They make eye contact and then quickly look away. Knowing I am waiting for them to finish and them alone. It is an intense moment. I try not to look at them, so they will not feel any pressure. Believe it or not I want them to do well on the test. I know you thought I was in teaching for the money, so one day I could go on house hunters international.

Who are these people buying million dollar vacation homes and how do I become friends with them? I have yet to break into this elite group. And watching them on tv is killing me. Must be nice 25 year old couple buying a home in the bahamas because you just want to get away from your stressful life. Must be nice.

As the students all leave for the year I often wonder what I will do without them all summer. Who will fill me in on the latest boy band songs? What will I do without someone telling me how awesome it is to get a driver’s license? And of course what will I do without the daily reminder that every other teacher lets their class go to lunch early?

I always leave my students with this advice- be good and if you can’t be good be safe.

I hope you studied part two

Yesterday I began a wonderful story of the most amazing time in a students life exams.

Each moment during an exam passes so slowly I could swear it stopped. Or maybe it was just the people father time employs playing a cruel cruel joke on me. Damn you father time, control your employees.

2 hours left alone with my thoughts. Scary.

I often think of Sookie in true blood and hope no one can hear my thoughts. Which makes no sense, as I share my thoughts freely with all of you.

In Louisiana seniors get out of school a few weeks earlier than the rest of the high school. I cannot remember if I got out early as a senior. Is this common place in every state? Why would senior year be shorter than other years? I guess they learned all they needed to know.

I used to row crew in college. There was a girl on my team, lets call her Roxanne. Every time we would go to the gym and workout on the ergs (the rowing machines) it was beyond like a porno. People are known to moan when they workout, but this was beyond moaning. It was full out Samantha sex and the city moaning. Maybe we should have said something to her. Can you imagine if her boyfriend had heard her workout then they had sex and she was quiet. Talk about awkward.

I wonder what goes through peoples mind that think everyone should have a right to bully someone. Do they realize that means someone could bully their kid? I don’t think they realize what the kids do on the internet to each other today. Then again sometimes it is those parents doing the bullying.

I bet those parents wouldn’t be so uptight if they had not had to wear those short shorts for so long.

Oh good now 30 minutes have passed.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you studied

Semester Exams are upon us. Students fear them, teachers dread them, and parents sit at home and pray. The whole exam process is intense right up until the exam. Once the exam has begun there is nothing left to do except hope you have studied enough.

As a teacher an exam means sitting in silence for two hours and staring to make sure no one has wandering eyes. As you glance about the room it is quite the amusing sight. There is always the student who has to look around the room, but is careful that they are never looking at someone else. The student who is holding back the tears, as they realize they do not know how to answer a single question. The student who falls asleep in the middle of the test. The student who finishes early and tries to flirt across the room with the popular girl in the corner.

It can be quite boring with nothing to do for hours each day. Thus my mind wanders. I thought I would share with you where my mind wandered today.

First, I noticed a student had hot pink tie dyed socks. And I thought I really love socks. I used to where knee-high rainbow socks with the toes every day. Socks are just so great. You can slide across the wood floor on them. They keep your feet from getting dirty. I should really start wearing socks again.

I am so uncomfortable. I wish I could sit with my knees up, but that is unprofessional. Sure the kids are sitting like that, but you are the adult. Act like a lady damn it. I went to a conference and this old woman asked me why young people sit with their legs up and not proper, and how she always yelled at her students for it. I shrugged and said it is a generational thing. I value comfort over what I am ‘supposed’ to do. You value what you are ‘supposed’ to do over comfort. She did not buy it.

Maybe she could explain to why men used to not only wear short shorts, but it was normal. OMG. Just the pictures of it have given me nightmares. Weren’t they afraid they would fall out? Why was this ever acceptable?

Then, Papa don’t preach came into my head. Not the Madonna one, but Kelly Osbourne. Gosh I miss the Osbourne’s on MTV. SHARON!!!

And I looked up at the clock and noticed ten minutes had past. Dear God.

 

To Be Continued…

Life lessons you learn chaperoning high school dances

One of the perks of teaching high school is chaperoning the school dances. I know you are thinking how awesome is that! What could be better than going to a dance in high school? Chaperoning one that’s what. I liken it to going to a dance with none of your friends, where you are not allowed to dance, and must make sure no one does anything “dirty.” Good Times.

image from herrimanstakedance.blogspot.com

If I had not become a teacher there are so many things about life I would not understand. Here are the things I have learned from dances.

1. Going on a date in front of all your friends will always be awkward.

2. No matter how perfect you look when you walk in the door, your hair will never last through the night. Unless of course you have popular girl hair.

3. If you wouldn’t want your mother to watch whatever you are about to do in a public space in front of all of your friends, then for heaven sakes do not do it.

4. It is far less awkward to tell someone to stop dirty dancing then it to stand there and watch them dirty dance.

5. The nerdy guys in life end up with the prettiest wives. Do not let the school dance fool you.

6. Always dance. Do not worry what others will think. Always dance.

7. You do not have to follow the crowd to fit in.

8. Always look for the pregnant teacher chaperoning as a reminder of what not to do after the dance, during the dance, and before the dance.

9. Don’t dance with someone else’s date. People will not forget that.

10. It is not 1950 people. The music, the dancing, the dating has all changed. Tale a deep breath and jump in.