Happy Holidays

     Well the second Academic Quarter is now finished and my Christmas break is winding down – back to school on Monday.  I feel like it hasn’t even really been a vacation because I’ve been so swamped.  The holiday season tends to be stressful enough but the last week of school before Christmas this year was possibly one of the most stressful weeks of my entire career.  I had my 12th graders turn in research papers, my 6th graders turn in projects and a test, and my 12th graders had final exams.  So I had to have all of those items graded and finished before the 23rd of December.  So within 2.5 days I had read & graded 70, 5-page papers, 55 tests, 55 projects, and 70 final exams.  I think that I got about 5 hours of sleep.  Thankfully it was all finished by when it needed to be and I completely collapsed on the 23rd and slept all day.   I almost had a nervous breakdown because the Scantron machine broke and I had to grade all of my 12th graders final exams by hand.  Yay!  Thankfully I had 55 willing 6th graders to help me.  Otherwise I’d still be grading it all. 

     In a totally foolish move, I’ve deceided that working 2.5 jobs doesn’t keep me busy enough and that I should go back to school.  In 5 semesters I’ll have my second Master’s Degree and my administrative certificate.  Maybe that will make me more marketable.  Goodness knows I’ve had no luck finding good teaching jobs – maybe I can find a good Department Head or Instructional Coach job.  The pace of my current job is not sustainable in the long term and I don’t want to start hating my career – which is pretty much the only thing that I’m good at.  


2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

One Quarter Down….

     Well it’s now been almost a full Quarter of the school year.  I’ve been avoiding posting anything here for fear of being too negative.  The school year started as they all do – so stressful that speaking is barely possible.  Then it sort of calmed down as I got into a flow.  But I’m exponentially more exhausted this year than I have ever been in the past.  Who would have thought that having 50 minutes less of planning time, teaching a 3rd subject, and not having any help would be so exhausting?  I’ve really had some ups and downs this year.  One day I’m super proud of my 12th graders and pulling my hair out over my 6th graders, and then other days it’s vice versa.  Today I was just disgusted with them both.  I know that teachers are supposed to be these saintly, patient people – but the longer I teach, the less patience I have with what I like to call – Baby Stuff.  When a child tells me that they don’t want to write their notes because, “My finger hurts”, or someone screaming in my face that I am unfair because giving chewing gum demerits is “petty” it just gets my goat.  I was by no means a perfect child.  I got yelled at by my mother, I bombed the occassional test, got a couple of dress code infractions, and got in trouble for insulting a school fundraiser.  Sure – kids will be kids.  But I do NOT understand what has happened to kids having a respect for adults.  I would have NEVER raised my voice at an adult.  EVER.  And I knew that if I was so stupid as to do so – I would be feeling the back of my mother’s hand when I got home that night.  I don’t understand why parents allow their children to be so disrespectful – not just to teachers – but to THEM.  I’ve seen children straight up TELL their parent what will be happening, what they will be doing, and how they will be doing it – and the parent saying, “Ok”.  I had to work for things.  I had to get on the honor roll before I got the new expensive jeans that I wanted.  I had to raise my math grade before I got the new toy, etc. that I was begging for.  I didn’t get to bargain with my mom.  If I broke the rules I was punished – my mom didn’t tell me how the rule was unfair so therefore I’m allowed to break it.  What will happen when these parents teach their children to drive?  “Well I think the rule about not turning left on red is stupid, so go on ahead and do so if you feel like it.  If you get caught feel free to yell at the cop that pulls you over and refuse to pay the ticket”.  Say hello to losing your lisence.

Ugh.  I’m overworked and stressed as Hell.  I haven’t gotten home before 8 in 3 weeks.  I pack 2 meals to take to work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays.  So I can eat dinner at 4 pm before I leave my first job to get to my second.  I’m really trying my best to juggle it all – but this year I just feel like a totally shitty teacher.  I have no time to accurately plan my lessons, no time to get papers graded & returned with any valuable feedback in a timely fashion, no time to contact parents, no time to get paperwork done, and basically no time to ever do anything.  The only time that I used to guaranteed to work on those things & get them all done was on Friday afternoons after the kids had a half day, but that time has been taken from me too now.  I don’t want to be a shitty teacher.  I’m actually a pretty awesome teacher – but I’m being denied the things that I need to make my teaching be awesome again.  There’s no functional printers, there’s no planning time, there’s no parental support, there’s no money for supplies to do differentiated instruction, there’s just not enough of anything.

I’ve tried everything to try to keep my stress under control.  I’ve become exceedingly depressed at what I consider to be lack-luster job performance.  I’ve grown exceedingly depressed that I still have to work a second job because I got a really crappy raise last year.  I’ve tried working out every morning (but its nearly impossible for me to get up at 4 am more than 2 or 3 days a week to do this before work), I’ve tried meditation, I’ve tried calling my mother, crying to friends, etc.  But the stress just keeps building.  I’m working harder than I ever have in my entire career – and yet feel like i’m failing miserably.  I just want to do what’s best for my students, but the current economic situation and the schedule situation make that impossible.  So in the meantime – I guess everyone has to suffer.

What I really need is a vacation.  Thank goodness I booked my Spring Break trip this past weekend.  Despite not really being able to afford it – I need a break from this city, my job, my life (well I mean my job has become my life in the past 2 months – so I guess I just need a break from my job).  So New York City here I come!  (In like 5 months!)  In the meantime – I’m going to keep playing the lottery, wishing for my days of being an award-winning teacher back, and crying to my boyfriend daily.  Maybe someday soon I won’t be so exhausted that I pass out on him & bore the heck out of him by falling asleep at 7 pm.  The morale in my building is so low it’s horrible.  There’s like a black cloud over the building.  I don’t want to let it affect the kids – I try so hard not to – but when you feel like crap all the time it has to show at least once in a while.  I’m going to the doctor for my yearly physical in about 4 weeks.  I plan to ask for the maximum dosage of the anti-depressants that I was on while I was in college & my house burned down.  Sadly – I’m serious.  Because when the impossible is expected of you everyday – sometimes it leads to drastic measures.  (Side effects may include muscle tremors, constipation, headaches, loss of sex drive, and vomiting)  But at least you don’t mind that you can’t poor or sleep.  My happy place used to laying in bed on Saturday for like 3 hours in the afternoon listening to my beach waves noise machine – now I spend those hours doing paperwork.   Only 16 more days until Veteran’s Day, 25 until Thanksgiving, and 45 until Christmas.  But hey, who’s counting?

Awesome things that students say:

In response to the question, “What does the word peace mean?”  “Peace is when there is only a calm, spiritual feeling in the air.  It basically means there is only good juju in the room.”

In response to the question, “Who is your role model?”  “God is my role model because he never makes mistakes and knows what’s up”

In response to the question, “What are you doing that’s making so much noise?”  “Your mom.”

In refrence to going to the washroom while we are on lockdown, “Why can’t I go?  I have a bathroom problem.  Can I just show my note to whoever is being the problem out there?”

While being handed a homework assignment, “What’s this crap.  This is bullshit.”  “And these are profanity demerits.”

Most hilarious thing ever this month – catching a kid lying and forging with another teacher – and then watching him run from us crying, sliding down the wall like he was in a Lifetime Movie, and crying on the floor – while we just stood there looking foolishly at each other.  Maybe you had to be there to realize that it was hilarious to see a tough little boy run into a corner & throw himself down on the ground freaking out about what really was not that big of a deal in the first place.  First stop, detention – next stop Lifetime movie….

Ah the dreaded upcoming school year….

     Well there are only 7 more class days of summer school left.  Thank goodness.  I wish I had more than one week off inbetween summer school and the first day that staff members are required to report for duty on August 8th.  Of course all of my lofty goals for planning my 12th graders’ curriculum and having time to myself this summer haven’t even come close to happening.  Instead, I’ve been wasting 25 hours a week on this project of our CEO’s.  Whatever – I’ll do anything for an extra buck.  Speaking of extra bucks, normally I get all excited at this time of the year because once I go back to school I get my first check of the school year & get to see at least a little bit of a raise.  Due to the income tax raise & the miniscule ‘raise’ I was offered this year – I’ll be making the exact same amount for another full year.  Yay – I guess I can’t quit my second job.  Hopefully this year I won’t have to work a 3rd job again – because that really did make me homicidal.

     Things that I’m worried about for the upcoming school year:

  1. Does my school have a dean or a principal yet?  Last I heard – the answer was totally up in the air on both issues.  Without leadership – the whole ship sinks.
  2. Time/Schedule – if my preliminary schedule is correct (which I can only assume it is) I will be teaching 7, 45-minute class periods and have a 20 MINUTE BREAK – with a 30 MINUTE lunch.  20 minutes is no where close to what I need.  I have already quit all of my after-school clubs, etc because I will have a nervous breakdown by Christmas if this is truly my schedule. 
  3. Classroom dilemnas – I got told a week ago that I would have to switch classrooms.  AWESOME – because I totally hot-glue-gunned all of my stuff to the walls last year to keep everything fro perpetually falling off after I was told I wouldn’t have to move.  YAY!!!!  I’m going to have to call some ex-students and have them come in and help me.  This will be my 5th classroom is 10 years.  At least I’ll be across the hall from my BFF.
  4. Teaching a whole new curriculum to 12th graders – that I haven’t even remotely had time to begin getting together.  My goal was to write all of my unit plans & have my stuff together by August so I could use my planning time (all 20 minutes of it) effectively.

Oh well – yet another overworked, underpaid teacher.  See here for the argument that Congress should worry less about class size and more about teacher time to truly improve the education of America:  http://www.nettally.com/palmk/TeacherHours.html

     So after listening to kids in Chicago gripe about how “its too hot in here to work” and whining and crying about how “its torture to keep us in this hot little room”  during our most recent heatwave – apparently CPS has been getting a lot of angry phone calls from parents bitching a blue streak about how hot thier children are & how dangerous it is.  They’re claiming that school starts too soon in August for un-airconditioned schools, etc.  (One parent talked to me for 25 minutes yesterday about all the angry phone calls she planned on making about the issue).  I told her to please call, as mobs of angry parents are the only thing that will change the situation, as mobs of angry teachers complaining about fair working conditions are merely called selfish.  Today – I saw this awesome update from our brillant new fearless leader telling us all not to worry – that he bought us 1,500 fans.


Thank goodness!  CPS actually has like a million classrooms so I’d like to see how those fans get divided up.  If any of them even end up in classrooms and not conference rooms or offices or administrators.  I brought my own A/C unit for summer school and it barely helps (as it isn’t really meant for a room that is as big as the room that I’m currently teaching in).  I have it ghetto rigged up with 2 fans in front of it blowing the cold air out of it as fast as possible.  It keeps you from passing out if you stand in front of it for a minute or so.  Truthfully though, aside from this week – with its’ record-breaking heat, summer school hasn’t been THAT hot.  I’m grateful because being in a room with 30 sweaty adolescents can wear on even those of us with no sense of smell.








Hilarious things that kids do/say:  This child decided she needed to respond to the title of our quiz:

   I may sound bitter – but I love my job.  And it’d be awesome if the economy got better – so that if I stopped loving it I could find something else to do with my Master’s degree from a top university.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue laughing hysterically at the  funny and weird things kids do.  (Including but not limited to being a 12-year old boy who comes to class with a huge hole in the crotch of his pants and refers to it as ‘the snake den’).

If you have some money (which neither I nor my school district does)  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider donating to my donorschoose project.  I’m only $358 away from a way to help my students.  I’d buy them everything that we need myself – but I’ve already spent $500 on students that I haven’t even met yet for next year. 


Someone out there – other than my mom – must be willing to donate a few bucks!  I’ll love you forever and thank you publically.

Yet MORE reasons teaching summer school sucks….

So – not to brag, but when it comes to King Arthur, I’m sort of an authority. I’ve always loved King Arthur, Robin Hood, and any other ‘legend’ type of story. So when I found out that I needed to teach different types of literary genres at some point during summer school, I started looking for worksheets on the topic that would be easy to print and go over together in class. (Keep in mind it’s a 5th grade lesson & they are 7th graders) Lo and behold – I found this awesome website: http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/genre/genre-worksheets/

So while browsing through said awesome website – I see one that has an example about Robin Hood – score! Everyone loves Robin Hood! Print, copy, assign as a question on their Summer School Midterm. Well I just finished grading their midterms and the overwhelming majority of students got the question wrong. What’s hilarious is that they all put the same wrong answer: The Story of Robin Hood is a Non-Fiction Autobiography.


Which brings me to really get to thinking – which version is the real one, that according to my students – actually wrote down the tales of himself and his Merry Men?

Is it:

A. Kevin Costner in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’

B. Animated Fox in Walt Disney Film

C. Errol Flynn in good ole black & white

D. Did they think it was ‘robbin’intha’hood’ & was some random dude in their neighborhood?

My personal favorite point – The actual correct answer (fiction, legend) was on the study guide that they were allowed to use on the test – IN BOLD PRINT. But hey – that’s cool. Breaking news – Robin Hood is real and wrote down his story himself. Then he hired Kevin Costner to play him. I always knew Allan Rickman was old, but geez he was casted by Robin himself in the year 1250 AD. He looks good for his age. And I have to laugh about this because if I don’t laugh it makes me want to cry – or cut out my heart – WITH A SPOON!!!!

I must be the best teacher ever. They also all thought that the example about human clones teleporting through space was Historical Fiction. But we won’t get into how sad I am that our culture has somehow forgotten how to teleport or how to build the technology to do so. Beam me up before I get too delerious….

Why teaching summer school sucks

Where I work – summer school isn’t some optional enrichment thing for kids that are bored or looking to learn – its basically a 6-week long detention. You get assigned summer school if you’ve received 3 or more F’s in a single subject on your yearly report cards, have too many absences or tardies, or fail the 8th grade required research paper project. Since our school has 5 campuses, all of the summer school classes are at one particular campus. Therefore, I have kids from 3 different schools in each one of my summer school classes. On the one hand, its nice because I don’t have to deal with only the same old kids – I get to meet some new ones. On the other hand, since some of them don’t really know me they don’t take me seriously. So summer school lasts from 8:30-11:30. During that time I have 2, 90-minute Humanities classes (they combine History/English so as to only pay one teacher and only have one summer school class). From 8:30-10:00 I teach the class of 6th graders, and from 10-11:30, the 7th graders. I was actually really dreading the 6th grade class, since I taught most of those little cherubs all year long. Oddly enough, the kids that I know are basically behaving perfectly. The 6th grade class is a dream. They’re all really sad and embarassed that they have to go to summer school – they’re terrified because they’ll repeat 6th grade if they fail my class – and are getting the work done without much complaint.


Ok so now that that’s out of the way – their behavior is a nightmare. Instead of realizing that if they don’t pass – they repeat – They are using every excuse in the book to not work, be disrespectful, get in trouble, and be stupid. Within the past week I have kicked at least 15 students out at one point or another for things as banal as talking during a quiz (they never ever shup up – ever – test or not), throwing things, fighting, name-calling, talking back, saying the student-teacher has a “a nice fat apple bottom ass”, telling me my class is a “bogus-ass slaveship”, threatening me, or my personal favorite – insulting my hair. Like I really care about the opinion of a 15-year old 7th grader who needs quite a bit more conditioner herself.

Think back to when you were in school. There’s always that ONE or TWO kids in a class that is a total asshole. They’re defiant, rude, distracting, irritating, etc. Imagine 32 kids like that in the same room at the same time. They almost don’t know what the Hell to do with themselves. They aren’t used to having to compete with bigger assholes than themselves – so they’re really flying their brightest colors during summer school. Wow.

Thankfully, I’m not a parent. I don’t think I could come home and deal with seeing a child for a few hours after dealing with that hour and half of torture from those kids. They haven’t made me cry yet – mostly because I know that most of them will fail my class and repeat the 7th grade – and I don’t teach 7th grade so I won’t have to deal with their attitudes next year.

It makes me SO ANGRY how old some of these children are too. How are you 15 years old and still in the 6th or 7th grade? You are supposed to be a sophmore in high school when you’re 15 years old. I was finished with driver’s ed and driving my mom’s van on a permit for the majority of my sophomore year.

I feel that kids that are held back even ONCE are mostly a result of poor parenting. How can your child FAIL A GRADE unless you did nothing to help them all year long? WHY are you not sitting there checking his/her homework? Why are you not PUNISHING THE HELL OUT OF THEM when they get into trouble? Why are you being their friend? UGH! I think that if you/your child suck that you should be REQUIRED BY LAW to attend parenting/conduct workshops WITH YOUR CHILD. But no – instead we allow parents to be crappy, blame the schools, hold them back, send them to summer school – and let them all hang out together in the same room – taking turns picking on & threatening each other & their teachers – and learning new teachniques on how to be an asshole.

Your child should not have perfectly manicured nails and designer jeans if they don’t do their homework. Your kid should not get their hair done in $200 microbraids if they got suspended from school, your kid should not have an xbox if they are disrespectful to you, your kid should not have a cellular phone that YOU pay for – period – unless they drive a car. When your kid screws up – and you do nothing about it – ALL of your child’s future screw ups are your fault as a parent. When did parents become such wimps? If my teacher called my mother at work and told her “Your daughter told me that my classroom is like a slave ship and that she hates me” – my mother would have taken away any possibility of me enjoying my life until I had apologized – then punished me a little more – so I never did it again. She certainly wouldn’t have asked the teacher, “So what did you do that made him so mad at you?” I just don’t understand what has happened to parenting. Many people now treat their pets like children and their children like accessories. Gwyneth Paltrow named her child APPLE and her DOG JAKE for goodness sakes.

There’s a reason that South Korea and China are kicking our asses academically. They treat their teachers like respected professionals – not enemies that are merely babysitters – and their children like CHILDREN.

You get what you pay for America. And we’re going to be paying for these lax attitudes in about 20 years when our kids can’t read, spell, be responsible, live on their own, hold down jobs, or be respectful. And we’ll see how awesome it is when bratty, entitled, illeterate people are the ones responsible for caring for us while we’re in our nursing homes. Better get used to sitting/laying in your poop now – because we haven’t taught this generation how to care for themselves well – not to mention others.