Archive for February, 2015

Lame Duck

Well, I did it.  I pulled the plug.  I took my retirement papers downtown, got them notarized and everything.  It’s official.  I am a lame duck teacher.

I’m contemplating now how I’m going to use my lame-duckness.  I am immune. It’s like getting teacher of the year, only better.  I’m burnt out, but if I re-ignite and burst into flames at school, well, I have 7 million sick days because being sick is too much work.  If my primary and secondary measures are not up to par, you can’t put me on an improvement plan.   Friends, I’m out of the running for the ‘merit pay’.  Are my missing work packets incorrectly stapled? Sorry, my bad.  Am I sending too many kids to the office? Writing too many referrals so I look incompetent? Don’t care. No more carrots and sticks for me.  I’m a lame duck.

So what do I do with this awesome power?  Become that teacher with the laminated lesson plans and the worksheet packets? Mouth off at meetings? Commit professional suicide because I’m leaving anyway?

Probably not.  I’ll keep on keeping on. I am a professional.  I will stay professional.  I may be a lame duck, but my ducklings still need me, so, like Dorie, I’ll just keep swimming.


It’s our circus

Facebook shared with us what purports to be a Polish proverb:  Not my circus.  Not my monkeys.

I’m trying to take it to heart, but I’m torn.  I’m trying to be silent in the endless meetings and professional development.  I sat in the last one and practiced writing not my circus, not my monkeys in my best cursive. Boxed it in.  Bubble letters.  I felt like a student again, except I wasn’t trying out my name and his name.  I was trying to not to hear anything.

Yet I have my circus and my monkeys. I have my classroom, my circus, filled with my monkeys.  What goes right is on me.  What goes wrong is on me.  I have the utter idiocy going on in the Indiana Statehouse: schools that accept vouchers not having to take the same ridiculous standardized tests as public schools.  Governor not understanding that if you double the amount of questions on a test, and make them harder, it stands to reason that the test will take longer.  I write letters and e-mails, I share information, and I get really depressed.

Our education system is not broken.  Not yet.  They’re sure trying.  Almost 12 hours of testing this spring.  Teachers spending hours filling out forms and collecting data to prove they’re teaching instead of teaching.

Some of what goes on at school, yes, not my circus, not my monkeys.  But educating our children? The monkeys are running our circus.  It’s time to take it back.  #IStandwithRitz


I understand that for most people, Monday is the worst day of the week and Friday is the best.  Personally, I hate Tuesdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They start early with a faculty meeting or a committee meeting or some such meeting. Then duty…supervising kids as they come in.  Then team meeting.  Twice a week, team meeting.  Basically two solid hours of pointless, pointless meetings–then about one half hour to run copies, prepare props, grade papers, call parents,read emails,  try to talk to counselor about depressed kid, un-jam the copier, prepare required extra copies of the work with the correct cover sheet for that evening, and oops, kids in three minutes…do I have time to go to the bathroom?  Then it’s kids all day. Walk them to lunch, eat lunch while organizing a new stack of papers, pick up a new group from lunch, pick up the next group from lunch, change everything out between classes because it’s a different grade level and whoa, day’s over.  Organize, straighten, paper clip, call parents, log misbehavior…and it’s an hour after school is out and did I ever have time to use the restroom?

Ah, but Wednesday.  Wednesday we invite kids to come in an hour early for help.  We get to help kids.  It’s so awesome, so rare. I get to help kids!  It used to be any morning, but now we have meetings, so it’s Wednesday.  Duty, then PLC, but when you’re your own PLC partner, it’s not that onerous.  And then there’s time.  Time to plan!  Time to think.  Time to breathe and use the restroom and do all the other things I have to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but the extra minutes make all the difference in the day.  And then, after I walk them to lunch, I get a good lunch. We make lunch for each other on Wednesdays.  I never know what it’ll be, but it’s so good. Hot, home-made food, soup or pulled pork.  Salad and chips.  Home-made desserts.  I live for Wednesdays.  I think we all do.  I feel more like a person on Wednesdays.  Less like a data machine. More like a teacher.

Remember when every day was Wednesday? When it was a surprise to get a paycheck because the job was so satisfying, like a hot meal with a home-made dessert?  When there was time for the kids? Remember?

I live for Wednesday.

Whack a mole

Teaching middle school = playing whack a mole

Eighth grade is actually beginner level:  They’ve been with me for three years and it’s a slow game.  “Bonjour!  Scarlet, passez les livres, s’il vous plaît. Take your hands out of her hair, Egbert. Ouvrez les livres …”  Not too bad. They pop up one at a time and stay down for a while.

Seventh grade gets a little more exciting.  “Yesterday, we…sit down, Lancelot. Stop coloring on Clarence’s arm, Celestine, Okay, so let’s look at number seven.  Yes, Penelope, we did have homework….”  The moles pop up in bunches and are more persistent.

Sixth grade is expert level. “Bonjo…what is it, Caltrops? Okay, give him back his pencil.  Yes, I mean it.  So get a pencil from the pencil cup. So, Bon…Luigi, sit in your chair..Melisande, help Luigi back into his chair.  Alors, Bonjour, take out…Why are you standing at my elbow, Cardamon?  Oh, I see, you got your jacket caught in your braces.  Ladies and gentlemen, stop laughing, it could happen to anyone.  Get a nurse pass, Cardamon.  No, I won’t give you scissors so you can blindly cut your jacket out of your teeth.  Go on.  Yes you have to go.  So, where were we? We don’t hit.  Okay, we don’t act like we’re hitting.  I don’t care if he hit you first.” Pop pop pop poppity poppity poppity…A virtuoso on the drums would have a hard time whacking all the moles.

All the moles are whacked, a second’s silence and there’s a PA announcement about a cancelled practice.  35 hands waving frantically: Can I use the phone?

Whack a mole.  A game you can’t win.  Besides, the only prize is that you get to do it again tomorrow.

(and if you didn’t notice, all the names and many genders have been changed, but all this really happened today)

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