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.


Applitrack sucks!

     So, in another weak attempt to find a new job, I’ve spent the past 4 hours applying for teaching jobs online.  YAY!!!  I finished a whole 2 applications.  Every year, around Christmas time, I start the same boring process.  I pull up a map of Chicago & its suburbs on googlemaps.  Then I start in the upper left-hand corner of the map, apply to every district in that town (both middle and high schools), cross it out, and move on to the next one.  Every application takes about 2 hours if you have to start from scratch.  If you can import the application from another similar district, it takes only about a half an hour per application.  The thing that gets me the most isn’t the pointless and endless clicking/entering information/boring entering & re-entering of your references names.  It’s not even the ENDLESSLY boring essay questions (that I doubt that anyone reads), but its the fact that when you finish & hit submit – you have NO IDEA what is happening to your information.  You get this generic ‘Thanks for applying to our district’ form email.  But that’s it.  There’s no confirmation, no list of dates that decisions will have been made by, NOTHING.  So you have no idea what black hole your meticulously filled-out work has fallen into. 

     The professional world has gotten so UNPROFESSIONAL that I can’t believe it.  I mean as a teacher candidate (or any corporate job-applicant for that matter), you are expected to call off of work to come interview, you are expected to figure out the awkward situation of asking your boss for references, you are expected to SEND A THANK YOU NOTE to people who have the courtesy to interview you on THEIR OWN TIME, yet what professional courtesies do you get as an applicant?  Do you even get a 2-sentence email that says, “We’re sorry but the position has been filled”, or “We have gone with someone with more/less experience”.  I mean it’s better to RESPOND somehow than to ignore someone’s very existence.  As a matter of fact, all of the big ‘how to get a job’ companies talk about how important it is for applicants to send thank you notes, well I’ve spent at least $250 in postage on such notes over the past 10 years, so I think a little reciprocation would be the professional thing to do?  I mean check out this site that tells you how important it is: 


     People seem to think it’s easy to get jobs as a teacher.  Not to brag, but I’m really a top candidate.  I have experience at various grade levels, a great performance history, awesome references, and am a super hard worker/award nominated teacher.  Just to show how far that gets you – in the 10 years of my career – I have had exactly 5 interviewsEvery year, I put in about 95 applications to different middle and high school districts.  So out of those 5 interviews, thankfully I have gotten 2 jobs.  But if you don’t even get the interview, how can you get more experienced with the interview process?  Every teacher that I’ve talked to in Illinois has a similar story.  If you can’t get the interview, how can you get the job?  Who is getting the interviews?  I believe that the answer is simply who you know.  If you network and know people in the district/went to school in the district it gives you a distinct advantage.  I know this because at my own school, I have put in good words for people & have watched their applications go to the top of the list of 900+ applications.  So since I have a small family/set of peope that I know – does it matter how awesome of a teacher that I am?  I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter at all.  I’ve seen who gets hired and who teaches in some of the most amazing districts in Illinois.  And a lot of people that I know/have worked with/myself are way better teachers – but we get stuck where we are unable to advance our careers or move out of the expensive city-limits because of who we DON’T know.  It’s frustrating.  And with the current attacks on teachers in the media/government, jobs are being cut everywhere.  In Detroit, they’re firing all of the best/most experienced teachers, hiring a bunch of doe-eyed first years, and putting them in classrooms with 60 kids.  Watch the story here:  http://youtu.be/EARW3xblguY

     While I do appreciate my job, I do know that my school has issues that I don’t know if I feel like dealing with for much longer.  I’d like to be doing my job to the best of my ability and be able to focus on only that while I’m at work – not the things that are going on behind the scenes that make me sad.  But if I can’t get an interview, then I can’t get a job.  However, every year it seems like I get a little more interest in my resume.  Of the 5 interviews I’ve had in the past 10 years, 3 of them have been within the past 4 years.  Maybe things are finally picking up.  I’d better get out my thankyou letters.