I Give Up


This is how I feel after today.

Teacher Appreciation Week

When I got to work this morning there were students at the teacher mailboxes, putting business card-sized notes that said something like “We appreciate the ROLL you play in our learning,” and signed ” Student Government.” I love a bad pun, especially when it refers to the tootsie ROLL stapled to the note.

Also inside my mailbox was a letter from the incomparably sexy Chancellor Joel Klein.
I know he probably sent the same letter to all the teachers. I know he signed it “Sincerely,” and not “Hugs and Kisses.”
Still, it felt personal somehow. That quote at the top: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams). That was to ME! That was personally directed to me!
Let’s face it: it was a nervous love note to me from the chancellor. He digs me. Now, I’m married, but I’m still flattered. I hear you, Joely baby. Next time, send a simple card. No need to kill so many trees trying to cover your tracks.

Spring Break

July is still unassailed, but August is already under attack. With the sacredness of summer threatened, the days off during the school year become ever more precious.  Tonight may be the first night of Passover for the chosen people, but for me it is the eve of the first day of spring break. Ten days of freedom. A trial run for the big game.

I have vacation plans.  I have a book.

I am ready. 

Che’s Advice

I guess what Che said to me yesterday about controlling my class really made more of an impact on me than I thought. While I didn’t bust out the smacking yardstick or the non-stop yelling, I did crack down more on people popping out of their seats (threatening them with 5 points off their next test proved rather effective) during group work.

I also re-organized the groups. Previously, I’d tried to vary the abilities within a group, but what ended up happening was that the slackers not only slacked, but also annoyed the hell out of the workhorses. This time I grouped workers with workers, slackers with slackers. Astonishingly, everyone actually worked. Perhaps the slackers were shy to not hand in any work at all, wheras when they’re in a group with real students they can hide behind the other kids’ work.

Whatever the case, today was much better, and tomorrow we get to see the sequel to Nueba Yol.

Civilization and its disoncontents

Ah, Monday.
Ah, Monday after a self-imposed four-day weekend that included the “spring forward” part of daylight savings time.
Perhaps I’ve gone a bit off my game, having been a normal person for four days.
Perhaps it’s my weariness. Whatever the cause, my second period class was typically rowdy today. They had independent work to do, and only a handful completed it. Not surprising given that the rest of them could not keep their pieholes closed for more than a minute without feeling starved for air.

Nevertheless, most people handed in at least part of the assignment, and I don’t really mind if they talk a bit as long as they are doing their work. I chalked the mostly-incomplete assignments up to perhaps overassigning work. That, and that second period often ends a few minutes early so that we can hear some very important announcements over the loudspeaker.

Once the announcements started today, people put away their books, handed in their work (such as it was), and stood in line to leave. They never listen to the announcements, in part I’m sure because they don’t understand English. During this end-of-the-period downtime, one of my quieter students – I’ll call him “Che” – who always looks beset upon when the class gets rowdy, approached me and asked why I didn’t yell more.

I dislike yelling, I told him, though I do it occasionally.

I know he has a point, but I just don’t see it happening. I do think part of what makes it hard is that they come from countries where teachers are allowed to smack them if they get out of line. Even when I do yell at them, it doesn’t quite have the same impact. The only time I’m able to get them to really pipe down is during a test, when I take away their papers and give them a zero if they talk.


An update

You know that chemically-treated paper that has replaced carbon copies in brave-old 21st century bureaucracies? It seems the assistant principal in charge of the budget at my school is unfamiliar with how it works: pressure from above creates duplicates of what you've written on the underlying, special paper. It seems too that he had something to say about the UFT Lobby Day I went to last week. The day I had to fill out one of those chemically-treated forms in triplicate in order to attend. I got my (yellow) copy back this morning, and faint but still legible in the upper left-hand corner I read his angst-filled missive:

"We pay teachers to rally? Will many more follow? This is insane."

And then he signed his name.

I can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure he was writing to the principal, as she signed off on it. I am fairly certain it was not intended for me to read. (Or was it…)

Happy Humpday

In the interest of balanced coverage, I need to give props to my day
today. Granted, I am worn-out to the point of feeling wobbly from
yesterday’s Albany trip. Nevertheless I am delighted to report that:

1. My supervisor observed me teaching Drinky McDrinkerson’s class
today. We had a don Quijote-based lesson and everyone was really
engaged and participated.
2. My class that can do no wrong did no wrong.
3. Punchy McPuncherson and Fighty Fightstein’s class showed a
surprisingly great deal of interest in pronouns, which was our subject
4. A very naughty student (whom I like a lot) in my sixth period class
was touched almost to the point of tears when I told him that he
hasn’t done anything that would warrant my sending him to the dean; he
said it’s the nicest thing a teacher has said to him since fifth
5. My last period class worked non-stop in silence on their assignment.