Posted by: dreamboynow | December 8, 2012

Sometimes you just need a good cry. I’m fortunate to have a husband who knows me well enough to let me have that for a while…and then once I’ve gotten most of it out of my system takes me out for ice cream and makes me watch some comedies on television with him.

I wallowed in self pity for a while last night. Relived some painful memories. Questioned some choices I had made. Doubted my self-worth. The last two days sparked it all.

I love my job and I’m very thankful for it, but it isn’t without its challenges still. I’m very isolated most of the day from any other adults when I already have a hard time being social and making friends or even casual acquaintances. On top of that I’m still teaching regular government to some pretty tough kids to teach. Some are totally unmotivated, disrespectful, and all around royal assholes. (just being honest) I had one bad parent/team meeting after school where the parents took absolutely no accountability for their daughter’s utter lack of effort (at life…and school IMO) and tried to throw me under the bus in front of my colleagues. They were unhappy with my attempts to help their daughter…attempts that were only started because like an idiot I picked up the phone and called them to tell them how bad her grades were. Because I tried to help, they knew my name and knew someone they could blame. I hadn’t done enough. I guess you had to be there but for me it was an impossible situation and left me embarrassed (for no good reason I now recognize), demoralized, and royally pissed off.

Then Friday comes and compounded with Thursday’s chain of events I had had enough. Two students in my third period continued to speak to me like I’m some kind of asshole and I snapped. I lost my temper…which I haven’t done in years. I stood up to them but I demeaned myself in my eyes. Maybe that’s they only kind of communication they understand but I want to be better than that. I think they got my point (I’m not going to let them speak to me like I’m “some kind of punk anymore” as I put it.) I wrote them up and added a note for the admin that I was really at my breaking point with those two.

Had Thursday not gone the way it had, I would have handled things differently Friday, but que sera sera I suppose.  So last night I came home and let all the pent up rage, doubt, and sadness out.  I know I have so much to be thankful for and there are so many people with much harder situations to face.  But like I said, sometimes I think you have to let yourself feel what you feel.  At least until the ice cream arrives.

Posted by: dreamboynow | November 2, 2012

Streams…

of consciousness…

I had written a longer blog

but then technology happened.

It’s been a long week.  Today started having angry thoughts about those affluent teens – the oblivious.  Maybe I’m just tired.   I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in the last few days and I’ve started tutoring two hours twice a week.  It’s rewarding in ways teaching can’t ever be.  I find myself enjoying it.  Unexpected. Surprise. A delight in the long, long day.

I need to meditate.  How do I become the vision of myself I see in my mind?

I mentor a boy named Joe.  He is just 14 years old. Just got braces and he’s very happy about it.  Had several teeth pulled.  Rotted or knocked out.  I worry for him.  I hope things are turning around for him.  I want to be of some help.  So I give a half hour here and there to do what I can.

I need to drift for a while…his voice is dreamy…

Posted by: dreamboynow | November 8, 2011

Thanks

Not another angry blog…. Though I could. Today I’m thankful for my spouse and two dogs who always make me laugh and remind me what life is really about.

Posted by: dreamboynow | September 17, 2011

Unpretty Teens

Today I finished watching another episode of Glee from last season.  It was the one called “Born this way.”  Admittedly I have a love/hate relationship with the show.  Trevor had to drag me into the living room to watch it at first.  There are times when I don’t get it and fast forward through a lot of the songs, but what I really appreciated about this particular episode (and the show in general) is how it showcases what teenage life is like for gay and lesbian teens.  It warms my heart to see how far the gay and lesbian community has come in such a short time.  I was in high school just a little over 10 years ago and I remember feeling so scared and ashamed 24 hours of the day.  To think that today’s teens have shows like this amazes me.  I remember dreaming as a teen for a day when I could see shows like this with characters like me who were accepted as they are.  I will admit that I couldn’t help thinking about this as I watched that episode and I got a little choked up at the end when they sang “Born This Way.”  I think about my students when I watch this show and listen to this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVTrgz09qas.  Thanks to the hard work by so many gays and lesbians maybe life isn’t quite as difficult for my gay/lesbian/confused students.  maybe even I made a difference.

Today they weren’t sad tears.

Posted by: dreamboynow | September 13, 2011

My journey

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m thinking about going back to school.  I learned a lot from the last go round.  Hopefully wouldn’t make the same mistakes.  An opportunity to stretch a different muscle perhaps.

As much as I think I’m great at teaching, I’m not sure I was meant to do this for the rest of my life.

Maybe I’m just fickle.  I don’t know.

I would never walk away from a paying job in this recession.  I’m just thinking about my options and my future.  And of course, my overall happiness.

In my heart of hearts I know I sort of fell into teaching.  It was something I seemed good at and it was a guaranteed job — the biggest draw to me at the time.  I spent so much of my twenties not knowing where my next meal was going to come from.  Having to worry about my lights getting shut off.  Just knowing that I would definitely have a job when I was done was the biggest concern for me at the time.

In fact, most of my family and friends tried to talk me out of it — for multiple reasons.  Sometimes I look back and I wish I had taken their advice.  I’m not saying that I necessarily regret the choices I’ve made because I know I’ve done a lot of good and teaching has provided me with so many amazing opportunities.

But if I were to be 100% honest I couldn’t say that I got into teaching for the pure joy of teaching.

Does anyone really have the job of their dreams? Does anyone ever feel greater satisfaction than I currently feel?  Am I being a selfish American?  So many people never have the luxury of deciding their occupations in this world.

I have so much to be thankful for in this life.  An amazing family, spouse, and friends.  A job at all in this economy.  But sometimes I can’t help wondering about what might be

Posted by: dreamboynow | September 12, 2011

Guess what? We’re all busy.

WARNING: This post is not a fun read.  I mostly bitch.  I apologize in advance.

It frustrates me.  No, it’s insulting, when you ask questions – because don’t they always say it’s better to ask??? – and you get a smart ass comment in reply.  It’s especially insulting when it’s a supervisor who does it.  And if you took the time to reply to the emails you received, then you won’t get an “annoying” second request for information a week later.  Guess what?  We’re all busy.  And we’re all supposed to be professionals.  Act like it.

Just another day at my new job.  This new job has been bittersweet.  I can’t believe that I sometimes feel just as frustrated here as I was at my old school.  The one upside has been that the source of my frustration hasn’t been the students.  Once again, however, I find it’s the adults who make me crazy.

The “game” these teacher’s force you to play is exhausting.  I miss the comraderie at my old school SOOOO much.  There we HAD to work together and support each other.  To do otherwise was suicide.  Your fellow teachers were your life line.  Your support.  Your rock.  Here, they gossip and spend a inordinate amount of time defending their egos.  Maybe it’s only my department — which is beyond dysfunctional it seems.  My department head doesn’t remember a thing you ask.  Never follows through.  And he has 10x the authority that my old (and AMAZING) department head has at my old school.

My neighbor, who was once so helpful, did much to cause me stress last week, by filling my head with insecurities.  She told me not to ask the old teacher of my subject questions b/c she would tell my Assistant Principal that I didn’t know what I was doing.  And of course when I did anyway, Mrs. P – the old teacher (see last post) – made me feel just that way.

I won’t lie, this course, AP Macro, has been a real challenge.  Unfortunately, I believe I made it harder than it had to be, but that’s because I included some Microecon in the last unit.  I really started to feel as though I bit off more than I could chew.  Feelings of inadequacy gripped me all last week and I just felt dumb for taking on this challenge.

Stepping back — and after spending the entire weekend getting caught up and planning for the week ahead — allowed me to do some more practical reflection.  I realize that I was hired for this position primarily b/c I have demonstrated an incredible work ethic — not my towering intellect necessarily.  I take on challenges and work to succeed.  I like to think that this is what my principal saw in me and still sees in me.

I’ve decided to leave my neighbor alone — as much as I can.  While she can be helpful, as I found out last week, she is caught up BIG time in this game of egos.  She – if not the entire department – has a us against them attitude and I can’t work in that kind of environment.  I don’t need it and I won’t invite it into my work environment if I can help it.

Regardless of how I feel about the staff — which at this point the best I can say is that I feel indifferent — I am amazed daily by my students.  I have piqued the interest of several of my students to collaborate with me on an ESD project.  I’m having a meeting after school on Thursday.  I can tell that they are interested in the places that I have been and enjoy my stories when I have time to tell them.  They are also very patient with me when I don’t know an answer to a question — something that used to terrify me.  I think they respect you more when you say you’re not sure but will get back to them with an answer.  (And I always do.)

Another big, big stressor lately has been financial issues.  If you’re not a teacher, please, please work to increase the pay of teachers.  Unless you know a teacher, you’re not likely to honestly have a clue about the hours of work we put into our jobs.  The early dismissal on Mondays does NOTHING for getting me caught up.  The pay cut I took to move here compounded with their crazy “pay you master’s pay stipend at the end of the year” payroll scheme here is killing me. I seriously thought about getting another job, but I have NO FREE TIME for a second job.  Another big difference here is that teachers can get paid for tutoring after school, but it’s heavily regulated.  Teachers are paid via title I funds.  (This blew my mind when I first heard it — esp when I think about the HOURS of FREE tutoring I was REQUIRED to provide at my old school.)  But I don’t have any free time to tutor at the moment.  I’m already at school until late in the evening as it is.

But it’s not all bad.  I still get great satisfaction from the actual teaching I do.  I also enjoy the fact that I can always step outside and sit by the pool to decompress from the stress.

Posted by: dreamboynow | August 27, 2011

Who would you invite to dinner?

I asked my 9th and 12th graders to write about which famous person they would invite to dinner and why. Their responses were wildly varied. Some were expected while some surprised.  Some horrified me. Here’s a snapshot:

Ninth Graders:

  • Lil Boosie
  • Beyonce
  • Michael Jackson
  • MLK
  • Oprah
  • Val Kilmer (??)
  • Lewis Puller (a marine!)
  • Tim Curry (of Rocky Horror fame!!)
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Mozart
  • Beethoven
  • Kurt Cobain
  • and one kid wrote about his elaborate plan to invite Bill Gates and then hold him hostage for ransom.  I may have to call that kid’s parents…
Seniors:
  • MLK
  • Kurt Cobain (again!)
  • Selena
  • Tyler Perry
  • Tim Burton
  • Patrick Swayze (!!)
  • Kim Kardashian (ugh)
Posted by: dreamboynow | August 27, 2011

First Week

This is for MissTeacha! Thoughts about my first week at the new school in no particular order.
  • My buddy – assigned to every new teacher at my school – is also my department head.  He has smoked a LOT of pot since the 70s.  He is also the union rep at my school.   He is not overly concerned about his department or how I’m doing.  I guess he thinks I’m fairly self-sufficient.  It doesn’t help that our rooms are as far away apart as possible.  Luckily a nice teacher next door to me has done an amazing job of answering all of my questions and showing me around.  Helping new teachers comes naturally to her and she has made a huge difference this week.  Every question or concern that I would normally shoot straight to my principal at my old school MUST go through my department head first here.  It adds to the sense that I’m a small, small fish in a huge pond here.  (student body of around 2000.)
  • Ms. P – the teacher I replaced.  I met her at the district-wide SS inservice last week.  She “sincerely” offered to help me with anything should I have any questions.  So, having read MANY Macro syllabi over the last week, asked if she had a particular DVD that was one nearly EVERY syllabus I read.  Her response – “Oh, I never use videos in class.  Never need to.”  Great.  That’s helpful.  The next thing she says to me is this.  “Oh, when the kids come in on the first week, they will probably complain and say we wanted Ms. P.  and throw a tantrum. When they do, tell them I said to stop being an ASS.  And be sure to say ASS. That’s how I would talk to them.”  Need I tell you how that made me fell?  I decided at that point that Ms. P and I probably wouldn’t be collaborating much this semester.  I then overheard her bragging about how she threw a kids cellphone across the field out back. : /  Did I mention they promoted this woman to be a trainer for NEW teachers?  Yeah…  Oh, and her position at my school is saved for her.  She can come back at the end of 2 years…just sayin…
  • Class sizes are small.  28 has been my largest so far and that was in AP.  Some leveling has happened and will be finished by the end of next week at the latest.
  • It’s strange to see kids not wearing a uniform.  I see them abusing it – mostly females – and it makes me wish we had them again.  Their shorts are crazy short here.  I know it’s hot in Florida but I don’t want to see your lady parts.  I lectured my homeroom (10th graders – not freshmen finally!) about not abusing it.  The look of horror on their faces when I told them about our old uniform policy at MCS was classic.  Hopefully I reached a few of them.
  • My AP kids…A world of difference.  For one, they are not underclassmen.  I have to adjust my teaching style for an older, more mature audience.  Give me a week or two and I’ll be ok.  Secondly, they are self-motivated.  In Memphis, I had to beg, threaten, etc to get my students to read.  Here, it feels like I’m on another planet.  Case in point: I had to pass out textbooks this week.  Before I started, I told them their hw (to read and take notes for a quiz tomorrow).  Immediately they ALL (all 28) opened their books and started reading AND taking notes.  To those who don’t teach in MCS, this probably sounds trivial.  To those who do, you know how amazing this is.  These kids are in an entirely different league.  I wish kids back home could witness this kind of work ethic so they could see who they are competing with.
  • Feedback from my AP class has been mixed.  I heard a rumor from my neighbor that some AP kids were complaining that my class was going kinda slow.  To be fair, I’ve had shortened classes every day so far and couldn’t get to much content in the first place.  Secondly, my pace isn’t due to a lack of notes prepared to be given.  It’s b/c most of the kids write so dang slow – even as seniors.  When I asked my 8th period about this yesterday, I was surprised by their reactions.  They shouted “NO! Don’t go faster! We think this is the perfect pace!”  Oh well.  Goes to show you that you can’t make everyone happy.  Either way I’m going to pick up the pace considerably on Monday.  Having just one semester to cover an entire course is a new experience for me.
  • That brings me to my schedule.  I’m teaching 2 Honors US govt, 1 honors Econ, and 2 AP Macro and 1 Standard Govt.  Govt is mostly freshmen.  My govt honors classes are sweethearts excited to learn.  The ideal teaching environment to be honest.  My Honor Econ (seniors) are antsy – have senior-itis.  I only teach one section of Econ all year so I’m following the lessons of my neighbor so it’s going to be a fairly easy class.  I would prefer more rigor but we will see.  Teaching seniors is tricky.  They have their preconceived notions about how teachers teach at their school and aren’t motivated enough to work too hard.  They are an interesting mix of personalities.  I had one girl share with the class during a get to know you activity that she is asexual!  (No lie.)  It’s a different world than when I was in high school.
  • Standard Govt will have its challenges.  I’ve already tried to call three parents. (I only “tried” b/c not one phone number in the system worked, was correct, or in service.  *sigh*) Some of the boys have already checked out of school mentally which is sad.  I waste a lot of time and energy trying to motivate those few while the others roll their eyes.  I’m making an active effort this year not to focus on those few trouble makers.  It’s not fair to the rest and I won’t let them monopolize my time or energy which has been pattern over the last few years at MCS.
Ok, that’s enough writing for now!  I hope MissTeacha enjoys this.  : )
Posted by: dreamboynow | November 16, 2010

Burnt

I wish I knew for sure that this is what I’m meant to do. I feel so burnt out lately. I’m tired of the crap that happens everyday and feeling like my hands are tied. It’s hard to walk in there and feel so uncomfortable all day. It’s all getting to me. I want to be a better teacher than I was today.

Nothing takes the past away like the future. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Posted by: dreamboynow | November 4, 2010

Mental Health Day

I’m thinking I’m needing a mental health day soon. Luckily my birthday isn’t far away and I’ll get just that.  I know for a fact that I’m not the only teacher in desperate need.  I could go on for days about the insanity that is taking place at my school but I find it mostly pointless to dwell on here because frankly I don’t have the energy to fight the system here.  No one listens to what I or any of my teacher friends recommend so I’m not trying anymore.  I’ll save my energy for developing my own educational program – which looks more and more attractive by the day.

How do I know I need a mental health day? I’m snapping at everyone which isn’t good.  Students and family alike.  I’m feeling overwhelmed by so much at work and I bottle a lot of it up because I don’t talk to anyone about it.  I don’t talk out of lack of people to talk to. Rather it’s because I think that by talking about it I’ll only get more upset about it.  Is it better to leave it at work so to say?

I feel overwhelmed because I’ve assigned some difficult assignments and frankly my students are doing very poorly on them.  Part of the problem is that I assumed they had more skills than they do.  I obviously had higher expectations of them and I let them know this week.  I returned their papers to them and gave them incompletes.  They plagiarized like it was common practice. Run-on sentences were common and so were fragments.  My AP students were writing in a conversational tone.  Most didn’t even have a thesis statement – let alone thesis paragraph.

And it’s not only happening in my AP and honors classes.  My standard and even honors debate class are disappointing me.  I had over twenty students sign up for honors debate and I can’t get them to turn in one article a week (from a periodical of their choice).  And asking them to debate…it’s painful.  Many of them do not put forth any effort.  I swear teaching seniors is pointless at my school. They are all convinced that they are finished with school already.  To hear them talk you would think I’m the only teacher at school who gives homework or requires studying.  I passed out progress reports to my standard classes.  Most were failing because they don’t turn in many assignments.  Thankfully it caught most of their attention (and their parent’s as well) and I’m starting to see missed assignments show up.  But why should I even offer this opportunity to them? I know many teachers at a lot of other school systems would never think to give students a second chance at a test or missed homework assignment.  I had a parent corner me at my door as the first bell was ringing this morning to tell me, very confrontationally, that her son wasn’t going to be doing “any of this staying after school business” because she had to work.  I looked at her and said, “well, he didn’t take advantage of his first free opportunity to do his work and learn the material in class.  Now he needs to come to tutoring which I offer ONLY after school.”

So to summarize my situation right now, I feel like the least liked teacher at school.  I’m also seeing the good in all this. Other teachers tell me it’s a good sign because it means I’m not short-changing the students – which I can understand and agree with.  And maybe I could stand to assign a little less work every now and then.  Frankly it bites me in the ass in the end because I feel lately like I’m fighting a never ending pile of papers to grade.  However, the constant barrage of phone calls, emails, and random drop-ins from parents is trying my nerves.  I feel parents should know better and they have the tools at their disposal to know how their child is doing. It shouldn’t take a single progress report in a nine weeks span to light a fire under their asses.  Ask your child what they are doing, learning, and quiz them.  And if that sounds like more than you can handle, don’t have one.

In other news, my bill with my german hospital has been paid at last! What a nightmare it has been to get this fixed.  What I have learned from this experience is the following: Don’t accept no from your primary insurance. Even if they say they won’t pay upfront, mine did in the end. I only got reimbursed for what I had to pay directly while still in Germany.  If the foreign hospital decides to send you another, larger bill later, DON”T PAY IT.  Your primary insurance will do it.  But not before you get a letter threatening you with legal action from the foreign hospital.  Tell your primary insurance about that letter and they will suddenly create a special department that will TRANSLATE your bills.  Then you’ll get paid a whole lot more than you needed, but have enough to pay the bills for now.  If you’re an honest person you will call your insurance company to tell them you were over-paid, which hurts a lot but is preferable to prison time for committing fraud (I decided).

Two other issues are on my mind lately as well.  As you can probably tell from my blog, I’ve been thinking about new ways to use my talents and have even considered starting up my own business.  There are days when I think this is a great idea and I dive ahead and then there are days when I get really afraid of what could happen if I let myself down.  I doubt myself.  Not helping this fear has been a recent discovery I made online about a chance to have all of my student loans forgiven if I teach public school for ten years.  : (  I’ve already taught for 4.  You see where I’m going with this?  If I quit teaching now, I’ll have to pay back my loans on my own which will take me approximately 30 years.  I know staying in a job only for the money is a terrible thing but so is being homeless.

Also, if I teach in a title I school for five consecutive years I can get $5k forgiven too.  I’ve already put in 4 here. If  I leave this school then I run the risk of not teaching at a title I school somewhere else and I miss out on the $5k.

My rational side says I should put these things aside in my mind and focus on the present. I don’t know what will happen this summer or next year.  Cross that bridge when you get there. Get through this year before you worry about the next.  And most days that side wins.  But then there are days like today….

 

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