Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting Schooled: Teachers are hungry, kind of like the wolf

I've spent most of the break sleeping and grading midterm essays.  Students are emailing me, wondering what their grades are, and I'm scribbling poorly spelled comments on each paper as fast as I can.  I think I need a break from this break.  And in the meantime, enjoy the following:

Getting Schooled: Teachers are hungry, kind of like the wolf:

Monday, December 21, 2015

The winter break version of the blog!

I decided that today was a day where I could just share old posts, so you can be disgusted with my laziness and I can get over this head cold that a student gave me (thanks Connor!  Can't wait to see what your grade is on the midterm now!)

You can read my more coherent ramblings here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Doing my duty(s)

More CISD memories to warm your hearts with disgust this holiday season...

I was given extra duties today. 

Teacher duties are extra responsibilities a teacher gets to make sure that procedures at the school run smoothly.  An example of teacher duties would be monitoring the cafeteria during lunch to make sure kids don’t cut in line, throw food or get out of control.  The teacher makes sure that students eat and don’t act like animals; actually, so students don’t act like unpleasant animals.  

Duties generally are no big deal.  Last year I had cafeteria duty before school, which was fine.  When the students entered the school, they had to come into the cafeteria and wait there until the bell rang.  Teachers kept an eye on the kids, chatting with them, redirecting them or allowing them to go to the bathroom one at a time. Our main job was to keep students from wandering in the halls prior to the start of class.  This way, teachers still have time to get prepared for their classes without having to oversee students until the official start time.

This year, I have metal detector duty, which means I have to check the students’ bags as they come in through one of the metal detector entrances.  All bags have to be checked to make sure students aren’t bringing in weapons, drugs or alcohol.  If you think this is stupid, my answer is that you are naïve.  We confiscate a LOT of knives, blades, and alcohol.  I suppose some of these students are so dedicated to their illegal behaviors that they feel it’s necessary to share them with the rest of the student body.

My other duty is hallway duty, which is essentially the same as cafeteria duty.  I stop students who are going down the hall and tell them to go back or go somewhere else.  I can let them go down the hall if they have a pass, but most don't have one.  Either the teacher forgot to give out a pass, or the student is trying to do something that shouldn't be done.  Most students are generally outraged about being stopped, (realistically or not) and combative, because the monitoring teacher can’t allow him/her in the hall.

My big problem with hallway duty is that I’m supposed to have a partner, Ms. Loomis.  Ms. Loomis NEVER shows up.  Well, to be fair, she was present the first week of school.  The second week Ms. Loomis was more than half an hour late each day.  The third week she quit showing up.  An entire semester has passed, and I haven’t seen her at all.

One morning I ran late and didn’t get to my duty post on time.  I received a nasty email from the administration, reminding me that I’m expected to be “at [my] post on Thursdays to fulfill [my] duty schedule.”  I talked to our vice principal of operations and pointed out that I was always there; this was a one-time incident, and that two people are supposed to be monitoring the hallway.  He promised he’d look into it.  I’ve still not seen Ms. Loomis in the morning, and that was three weeks ago.  I HAVE seen her going in and out of the teacher’s lounge.

Now I have extra duties, probably due to the number of resignations that are pouring in.  The email said that I’m needed to help monitor the main entrance on Wednesdays, due to the fact that it’s a “high traffic area.”  In addition, failure to “perform my duties could result in a negative evaluation.”  Not “could you please help us out,” but “you are REQUIRED to be here early for extra unpaid duty or else you’re in trouble.” I like the directive followed by a threat.  It’s motivating. 

What’s interesting is that Low High has three “entrances” that are technically “main entrances.”  The email didn’t specify which entrance.  Plus, it was addressed to Ms. Marlane. 

I didn’t show up this morning for extra duty.  I have a very good reason, though.  I was lost – in every sense of the word. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Teens, trials and tribulations - oh my!

The funny thing about teaching teenagers is how completely naïve they are.  Most teens like to think that they’re street-smart and world-wise, but it’s just not true.  Even teens who come from a rough background still are kids, and act like kids. 

I always knew that when I went into teaching, I couldn’t teach kids younger than 13.  Little kids don’t understand sarcasm, and you can’t reason with them either.  Teens can usually try to talk at an adult level though they may not always succeed.

But until I started teaching, I had no idea how incredibly impressionable students were, and how easily they can be manipulated. 

Case in point: teens believe EVERYTHING they read on the Internet.  Too many students have tried to tell me earnestly that 9-11 was an inside job, and that the moon landings were faked.  When I ask where they got the information, they confidently say, “it’s all over the Internet.”  “All over” to them means “a site I stumbled across, and I didn’t have enough common sense to judge objectively what I was reading.”

By the way, if you think 9-11 was an inside job or that the moon landing was faked, just shut up.  No one listens to you anyway, except teenagers, and they’ll grow out of it.

Teenagers are also unaware of how easily adults can manipulate them.  The fact is that they’re still kids, so just like a friendly stranger with some candy, an adult can get a teen to listen to them and like them by giving them what they want, albeit briefly.  Thus, teens love the teacher who doesn’t make them turn in homework, or who lets them use their cell phones or watch movies in class.  Students will say that teacher is “cool” and “really chill.”  Teachers who try to be friends with the kids will be welcomed initially until some of the wiser students realize it’s weird for an adult to want to hang around with you or seek your approval.

Clichés are also something that teens don’t question.  They believe those general platitudes and spout them frequently as though it passes for original thought.  “Hatred is wrong!” they’ll declare fervently.  “I HATE country music!”  They’ll internalize anything you see on a motivational poster – “If you believe it, you can achieve it!”  This is what will pass for original thought in their next persuasive essay, along with clichés that would make most adults roll their eyes.

Teens feel everything so deeply, even a short conversation about a movie can end in bloodshed.  So I thought it would be fun to read some of the things that students have said to me in all seriousness.

“Taylor Swift sucks, cause, you know, she just thinks she’s so great.” 

“People who hate One Direction are just haters.”

“I don’t know why we have to take a different language class because we all speak English.”

“I don’t care what other people think about me, cause I’m just myself, you know?  Not like those other losers.  I’m not lame like them.”

“I’m like, so NOT religious, but I go to church and stuff.”

“Ms. Marlowe, why do girls talk about dumb stuff?  Why don’t they talk about stuff people care about, like games or sports and stuff?”

“When I grow up I’m gonna be a rich doctor and take care of my mom… I’m not doing this classwork, it’s lame.”

“Women need to be with a man they can respect, so I’d NEVER let a girl tell me what to do.”

“Knowledge is power, right Miss?  Nah, I don’t know the answer.”

“You shouldn’t let other people’s negativity bring you down.  They’re just jealous b#####s.”

"The Illuminati is totally real Miss, and you're naive if you don't think so.  FOR REALS."  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG - Can't skip story time, not ever!

I’m always looking for a good story.

I’ve decided my weakness I need to address for IWSG this month is the fact that I always want to hear, or read, or tell, a story.  I come from a family of storytellers.  Notice I didn’t say I came from a family of WRITERS – that’s altogether different.

In my family, if you can’t tell a good story that entertains your listeners, then get out of the way for the person who can.  If it’s funny, or horrifying, or baffling, that’s even better.  The story gets extra points if the teller is poking fun at him or herself during it.  Because if you can’t laugh at yourself, or get other people to do so, how are you entertaining your listeners?

Having to tell a story has turned into a stumbling block for blogging.  My blog posts tend to be longer than they probably should be, and I don’t talk about things like word counts, drafts, submitting to agents, or the day to day of writing life, because I think that’s boring.  I don’t want to read about it, so I don’t write about it. What I like about IWSG is the “we’re all in this together” mentality, but it’s nearly impossible for me to break out of my entertainment mindset and act like a regular blogger.

For example, today I went to the periodontist’s office to get my regular three-month gum scraping and scolding.  (Yes, I floss regularly, so mind your own business.)  I did what I always do when I go to the doctor, hairstylist, bank, or even when a plumber or repair person comes to my house.  I asked, “What’s the weirdest patient/customer/incident you’ve experienced lately?”  She told me about a recent patient whose plaque problem was so bad that his gums were actually flopping loose from the bone. 

I genuinely want to know about weird experiences, so I can collect them and use them later.  This way, the next time I’m at a swank cocktail party, I can say, “You know what my exterminator told me he found when he was spraying a house?  An entire family of dead raccoons spread all over an attic like they were being posed by a killer!”  You’re sure to get everyone’s attention with that tidbit, and maybe even a personal escort to your car.

Since I teach, and tend to be a chatty person, I collect horrifying stories like nerdy people collect stamps (however they do that.)  If the story didn’t happen to me, and most of them have, it's happened to my friend, family or neighbors.  What could be better to have than an arsenal of stories to amuse and horrify your audience?  Isn’t that what comedians do? 

Thus, I feel the need to tell stories, and I often think regular blog readers don’t know what to make of it.  So all I can say is that I’m trying, in my own small way, to adjust.  Or maybe I’m trying to make readers adjust to me.  Either way, I don’t know how well it’s working, and that makes me a bit concerned.  I don’t want to stress out about it, because who wants to read about that?

I bet they DO want to read about the time my principal locked me out of my classroom because he decided to use the room as a massage center for him and other staff members.  More on that later, and it’s TOTALLY true. 

Fine, I’m heading to my car.