Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preventing Extinction

This is the blog where I stretched my writing wings like a pupa crawling out of a chrysalis and maturing into a butterfly. I'm a science teacher, you know. Just an update so this blog does not become extinct.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sour Grape?

Let's get this pity party rolling. Why do I complain all the time? It's my nature. I cannot change my spots, as the leopard said while devouring the rabbit that he so tenderly carried across the river in his mouth.

How dare we teachers complain about our jobs! We knew what we were getting into when we got into it. NO. An old dog such as myself never knew how quickly the handbasket days would overtake us. When I started, we did not serve breakfast and dinner to the kids. That was a little joke my cronies and I had: "Heh, heh. Before you know it, they'll expect us to feed them breakfast!" Yeah. What a difference a few years makes.

What makes teaching stressful? Take a gander at these. I'll try to link a couple of specific stories.

We don't dare have a beverage in the classroom, though we are talking every hour, and unable to stroll down the hall to the drinking fountain. If a beverage is in the classroom, it is fair game for a prank, or revenge.

We don't know if to follow the rules as instructed, or break them as need be. If a student asks to use the bathroom, do you grant permission? Every time? Pick and choose who gets the privilege? Oh, oh. FAVORITISM! What if the student really has to go, and you say 'No' ? Perhaps that student is bluffing, and will hold it until the bell. Perhaps that student is ornery, and takes out a soda bottle and urinates in your classroom. And THEN tells the administration that you TOLD him to do it. What then? Oh, and WE can't leave the classroom to go to the bathroom. Even between classes, because we must stand in the hall for supervision. Better learn to hold it until your plan time or your lunch time, whichever comes first. And don't count on waiting until after school, because you never know when something will come up, and you will be needed to supervise students.

We don't dare leave on our cell phones. In fact, we're not even supposed to use our cell phones at school, even though we are adults. And we don't dare leave them in plain sight. They are fair game, you know. The students may have at it. There's no such thing as personal property in a classroom, silly! If it's in sight, the student may grab it. Heaven forbid you've stashed some topless photos on your phone. That's fair game, too. The students can put those photos into cyberspace, by cracky! It's the American way.

Imagine doing your job with 30 people watching your every move. Underwear up your butt? You'd better get used to it. Even if you step out into the hall to rassle it out of your buttcrack, you'll be on camera for all those in the office to see.

You must not question a student's answer. They might say you are ridiculing them. If Johnny says the sky is green, you dare not respond with, "Class...does anyone else think the sky is green?" Because Johnny might jump up and yell, "Are you calling me stupid? My dad will be up here and he'll get you fired!"

You cannot touch the students. Not even an itty-bitty kindergartener with a hand on his shoulder if he's crying. You most certainly cannot hug him. Nor can you tap a high-schooler on the shoulder to get his attention. Hands off, in case something is misunderstood.

You must prepare your lessons a week ahead, but be ready to change them if a sudden assembly is called.

A student may swear at you, or write X-rated notes, or scribble profanity on the desk or bathroom wall, but you must not ever, ever show a reward movie at the end of the year that is rated anything more than PG.

If students are fighting each other, you are expected to physically restrain them. Touching is allowed for putting yourself between two or more brawny lads slugging it out. But if a student strikes you, you must not defend yourself or show anger.

Parents and students are entitled to call you at home. You must be careful in telling them that they may schedule an appointment with you during your plan time at school, because they might accuse you of being rude and refusing to talk to them.

You are a small-town celebrity. If students or parents see you in a store or restaurant, they will come up to you to chat or complain. You are not really allowed to have a personal life. You must be on your pedestal at all times. It is not fitting for you to relax in a local bar. Even though you are 21, and on your own time. That's a bad example for the kids. And don't dare to buy alcohol in a convenience store or The Devil's Playground, either, because that means you are an alcoholic.

There is a network of spies that will get on the phone tree and tell others what you bought at the store, the fast-food restaurant, what movies you rented, why you were at the doctor's office, what type of prescriptions you picked up, how many beers you drank at the county fair, and how many cigarettes you smoke in your car.

Teaching is not a cloak that you shed at 3:00 p.m. and don the next morning at 8:00 a.m. That cloak is stitched to your skin. It can not be removed, except for bathing in a windowless room. Sometimes, the cloak twists and twists until it chokes.

You can be fired for no reason at all if you are not tenured. Which usually means 5 years of teaching in that district. Say a new coach is hired, and his wife just happens to teach what you teach. Better say, "Buh bye" and get your royal wave ready. I've seen that happen twice in other districts where I've taught.

Oh, and let's not forget that sometimes, your job hinges on what adolescents write down on a test given over three days in the springtime. Tests that must not be counted as a grade for the students. Yeah. Those motivated little boogers are sure to do their very best, don't you think?

Now I have typed my fingers to the bone. I'm not really finished, but I will end it on that note. The sour note of standardized, ungraded tests telling how well I do my job.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not ANOTHER Child Left Behind!

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has a bee in her bonnet. Her bowels are in an uproar. Her panties are in a wad. She's having a cow. She has a bug up her butt. Her cage has been rattled.

Today was duty day. Which child left behind. Oh, and those of you who think we have it so easy, what with our cushy hours, and our summer vacations...when was the last time YOU had to stay at work after closing time, for free, not knowing when you would get to leave? When I used to coach, I had to wait from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. one night for a kid to get a ride. That means the kid called home, talked to the parent, and the parent must have finished watching a TV show or something, because he didn't show up for another hour. Teachers are not allowed to abandon kids. Only the parents can do that.

People, take care of your own darn kids! The public schools are the cheapest daycare around. Imagine if you had to pay $5 per minute for being late to pick up your little darling. Hey! It happens. At another school, some teachers got up and walked out of faculty meetings at the stroke of 5:00, because they could not afford the late fee at the town's only daycare center. I'm not griping about them. It is a bit much to have meetings that last past 5:00 p.m. And they did not leave their kids with people who wondered if anybody would EVER pick them up.

But let's get back to that bee. We have duty teams. No one on the team is allowed to leave until the last student is gone. So we had 3 teachers waiting with one student. The student claimed that she was supposed to be picked up. The buses were long gone. We had no administrator, no counselor. Just us and the secretary. The kid called home. The kid called the cell phone. The kid called Grandma. The kid stated that younger siblings were picked up at another building, but that she was left. Upon further questioning, such as, "Do you know their work number?", the kid huffed, "They don't work!" Then she went on to say, "The last time this happened, they called the police. They didn't even check with the school to see where I was." Oh, and when asked where she lived, she named a neighboring town, which, DUH, is not our district. Another colleague hung around with us, and offered to drive the kid home. can't do that without permission. One of the duty team called around. The secretary called around. We clarified the policy. You can't take a student home and leave the student if nobody else is home. Even if they ride the bus home and stay alone every day. Or ride the bus to the end of the route and then walk home to the empty house.

Something is fishy here. We were not mad at the kid. The kid can't drive. The kid does what the parents say. Sometimes, you question whether a kid this age has just decided not to ride the bus that day. But how can parents pick up some of the kids, and leave another? We only had to wait for an hour today. Other years, I've had to wait from 2:56 to 5:10. Alone. That was a kid who got kicked off the bus, and his parents worked. So I got punished. After the fact, I was told, "In a case like that, bring the kid down to the office, and an administrator will wait." That's a good plan. Unless the administrator is absent that day.

So...after more questioning about who might be able to pick up the kid, and where they might be besides home, and calling information for a phone number of a business in still another town...a relative came and picked up the kid. And started yelling out the window that they did NOT say they were picking the kid up.

No wonder kids get snatched off the street every day. The thing that irks me is: "The last time this happened..." It was not a simple miscommunication. It is a recurring problem. Some people need a good hotlining. But I'm not opening that can of worms.

I really shouldn't complain. This is part of my job. This, and other duties as needed. I should be glad I am there to keep your children safe. Because it's my job. My neverending job.

The school year is almost over, you know.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Even Karma Steven

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's reign as Even Steven continues. This morning, I received 6 chairs from the colleague who wanted me to deliver a chair to Basementia. She also included 6 desks. I'm rakin' it in, now that I'm going to be a real teacher again. At Basementia this afternoon, I gave away all my Communication Arts posters and reproducible books. I receiveth, and I giveth away, by cracky!

I need half a tank of gas. That is 20 gallons for my behemoth. I notice that gas prices have gone up again. I know, who woulda thunk that would happen, huh? On the way home, I told the #1 son, my permanent shotgun rider, "I need some gas before the tank gets too low, but I hate to pay $3.00 a gallon. I swear it went up since we passed this morning." When the boy picked up the mail at the end of the gravel road, he read the envelopes, "...Your Doctor's Office..." Hmm...they never send me anything. My mom called them today to schedule a blood-drawing in anticipation of my appointment next Monday. I wondered if that had anything to do with it. Which was stupid, of course, because everyone knows a doctor's office doesn't do anything that quickly. After I pulled into the garage, and while #1 was taunting the dogs, and #2 was unlocking the Mansion, I opened it, still sitting in the car. Sweet Gummi Mary!!! It was a refund check for $60 !!! I suppose I will stop for gas tomorrow.

The next instance is not so much an illustration of Even-Steven-ness, as it is of Karma Lite. Last week, the entire faculty was supposed to talk to this guy about something. OK, maybe I can be a little more specific. The guy was a rep who had something to do with that ducky AFLAC thingy. I know this, because there was an announcement later that day that included the secretary squawking the AFLAC acronym accidentally, which caused my class to quack with glee. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Which is quite easy, actually, seeing as how I'm so slow.

I knew we were all supposed to sign away our right to duckfeed, or some such thing. Every year, we have to sign a form, even if we don't partake of the ducky goodness. I've tried before to do it at the first building, when I had time to burn over there. And the reps there would look down their noses at me, shuffle some papers, and declare, "You are supposed to do it at the OTHER building." Well, excuuuse me. So sorry to take time away from your eating of the donuts and reading of the Wall Street Journal. This time, I knew I would have to do this at Basementia, and that the email memo had told us to 'make sure you see the AFLAC rep sometime this afternoon'. I had it covered. I hiked up from Lower Basementia on the last 15 minutes of my plan time, around 12:50. There sat Mr. Ducky, with a colleague across from him, writing on a form. There were two other types of colleagues sitting at a table that made an 'L' with the Duckmeister. I did not know if they sat here every day at this time, or if there were waiting in line. I walked over by Mr. Ducky, and asked, "What do I need to do?" By which I meant, did I need to sit down after the other two, and wait my turn, or would he slide my form over for me to review, thus killing two ducks with one stone. Because that's how they usually do it, people. All the other times before. There is no privacy among teaching comrades. We are all up in each other's business day after tedious day.

Nobody said a word. I can't blame the one reviewing her form. I wasn't exactly addressing her. But the Duckmeister or the Sitters could have spoken up. Even a "Wait your turn, b*tch, we were first!" would have sufficed. But noooo! I was a nonentity. So I took myself back to Lower Basementia, figuring I would go 7th hour, during my small class, and I would just take them along with me on an impromptu field trip, to get a drink and wait in the hall for me. It's not like we're talking a platoon here. I have two students left in that class. That way, nobody would be inconvenienced by having to watch my class while I AFLACed. I also knew that Mr. Ducky was supposed to be there until 3:00, and by cracky, to 3:00 he would be! I had tried to do him a favor. But he wasn't accepting favors, apparently. At 1:15, there came an announcement. "Any teacher who has not met with the AFLAC rep should do so now." I called the office on the panic button intercom thingy. "I've just started class. Is it OK if I go during 7th hour? I can take my class along, and nobody will have to cover for me." Which was just the kind of thing they like to hear, so big brownie point for me!

Heh, heh. I went upstairs around 2:20. The Duckmeister said, "Oh, you're my last one." Heh, heh. I'm sure he recognized me from 12:50. To add insult to injury, I didn't want anything he was selling. He had ruded himself into an hour wait, what with ignoring me earlier.

Ain't that gal Karma a b*tch?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Impending Vacation

Eight days left. I told you the school year was almost over...way back in September. I have a knack for these things. I am somewhat psychic, you know.

Now I have to plan a vacation. A real vacation, not an overnight trip to the casino, which we WILL be taking, by cracky, because it's my Mother's Day present, and because I have two free nights there. We're only going for one night, as far as I know, unless my aunt can swing an overnight trip with me during the summer. For the REAL vacation, we're leaning toward the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Heh, heh. And you thought it wasn't possible for me to become hillbillier.

Yep, a diggin' we will go in a 37-acre field of diamond-bearing soil, plowed periodically when weather allows. OK. I got that off their official website. But that gives you an idea of the fun we'll be having. Dirt-diggin', by cracky! Can't beat that with a stick, so don't even try. Get that stick away from me, you psycho!

I imagine we will also stop in Branson. It is on the way, you know. I don't really want to go to Silver Dollar City, what with only one of us enjoying the rides, and it costing several pretty pennies. But the go-kart tracks are like crack for hillbillies, and the little guy likes miniature golf, and I enjoy the Dixie we'll see what develops. Thank the Gummi Mary, I have been saving money out of the new, despised cash budget each week to provide for such a moneysucker. I'm ready to get this vacation over with, so I can get down to the real business of the summer: doing absolutely nothing.

Yes, I have such lofty dreams. I have put in an Amazon order that is due to ship May 21. We get out of school on the 23rd, but I will still have to attend graduation on the 25th. My books and movies should make a timely arrival for the Summer of DoNothing. I shall set the Poolio hours, the housekeeping hours, the meal hours...and the rest will be MY TIME. I haven't broken the news to the boys yet. They are not so fond of schedules. They plan to shoot off rockets, and teach themselves guitar.

HH will be working. And bitter.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Poolio Dog Gift Manure

The boys just went swimming in the buttwater soup. Poolio is open for business! They declared it cold, and hard to see through, but that is the nature of buttwater soup.

Two of the dogs went to the vet today. Tank got his booster shot, and Grizzly had a yeast infection of his right ear, which had caused it to swell up into a big lumpy thingy, which was probably due to the medicine they gave him a couple weeks ago for the worms he didn't have, but that the third dog, Ann, had. Oh, and this visit was $277.09. Better to be a vet than a doctor, methinks. Not many people sue the vet for malpractice. They offered to surgically remedy Grizzly's ear problem, for $230. No, I think HH would rather lop it off with a hatchet and cauterize the stump with a hot glue gun. It's not that we don't like our pets. We have them sterilized, you know, and get them shots, and treat them for infections...but ain't nobody doin' cosmetic surgery on 'em. There's plenty more dogs at the pound.

I will not be getting any cards or gifts for Mother's Day. I have requested a gambling trip, so that will happen when it happens. It is what it is. I don't need any figurines to sit around gathering dust. I don't need any cards with hastily-scribbled names. I figure my boys love me. They haven't tried to kill me in my sleep.

HH volunteered to send #1 son down to the neighbor's house with a pitchfork. I was not sure where this little scheme was headed, since HH spouts out some fairly outlandish plots without blinking an eye. Like the time he was going to mine copper in our back yard. Or sell the rocks and soil off our third 10 acres. This time, he said it was to gather some horse manure. First of all, I don't think we own a pitchfork, unless it is one of HH's Devil accessories. Secondly, I'm not sure the neighbors would just give away horse manure, once they found out we wanted some, because then they could get the idea to sell it instead of give it away. You know, like "Nobody will buy the horse if they can get the poop for free" or something. Thirdly, I don't remember ever, ever asking for horse manure. Then HH said that we could till it into the ground and plant a garden. Yeah. That would last about 5 minutes, with the deer and rabbits and birds eating their fill, and the dogs digging it up, and the cats taking a crap there whenever they pleased. I don't think so.

I did get a Mother's Day dinner of all-you-can-eat catfish tonight, and a trip to The Devil's Playground. I hope that catfish wasn't fed the poison Chinese pet food. The Devil's Playground excursion was really so HH could buy two bags of dogfood, a bag of catfood, and a 4-wheeler battery. That's because he didn't spend enough money at the vet, and on Poolio chemicals.

It's kind of expensive to live this high on the hog.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gone Packin'

And...we're back. Oh, I wasn't gone. New Blogger was gone. Magnificent New Blogger, which everybody was strong-armed into switching to, and promised that New Blogger would not be unavailable. I wish New Alex was gone. You know, that creepy Son of Sam on ER. Oh, that's right. New Alex IS gone. Sam banished him to a residential home for burning up the old man upstairs after dropping a match into a glass of spilled wine. Darn those young'uns, always spilling the wine! And burning up old men. I wish Sam had sent him to treatment at a facility for Kids With A Stick Up The A$$ Who Can't Act Themselves Out Of A Wet Paper Bag. That Sam! She could have just sent him to live with his dad, except that Dad was in prison quite a while, and though the other inmates might have welcomed Wooden New Alex with OH SO OPEN arms, the Department of Corrections probably frowns on that sort of thing, what with the place already being overcrowded, although I'm sure somebody would have offered to share a bunk with young Wooden New Alex. Oh, and even after Dad got out of jail, that little plan would not have worked because, well, Sam SHOT her Wooden Boy Daddy, and killed him dead, dead, dead. And I watched.

I will soon be gone. Gone from Basementia. Next year I have a new assignment, which is really my old assignment, from when I first started working at this place. But that is neither here nor there tonight, because it is only used as emphasis for what I am going to complain about next. Thank the Gummi Mary that people piss me off. I never run out of material.

Yesterday, I was a bit peeved. Seems two people asked me to cart some stuff over to Basementia. I have always been used as a mule between buildings. That doesn't mean I like it. I do it because it is the polite thing to do when people shove paperwork in your face and 'ask', "Canyoutakethistotheotherbuildingformethanks" and run out the door faster than doorstops disappear in not-Basementia. It wasn't such a problem when it was only paper, and I had my plan time to travel. The worst part of it was remembering to take it out of my bag and deliver it to the right person. Sometimes I had to take lunch money, before we went to the card system. Hey! I know these teacher kids. I would not want my own child to go without lunch, so I took them the money.

Every now and then, someone would try to take advantage. "Take this work to ISS. I didn't have time to get it in yesterday. And take this book, he doesn't have a book, he will need a book." That's where I had to draw the line. I would take a book ONE time. That was it. I have my own stuff to carry. I am not the one being punished. Take a zero, kid, or write reports out of the encyclopedia. I am not here to make your days in ISS easier. Why must teachers bend over backwards to get all the supplies to kids who broke the rules?

Earlier this week, someone sent down a bag of books. I didn't know it was books, but it was heavy enough to be books or a laptop. It had a note saying, 'My Supervisor wants you to take this bag to Teacher 2 at the other building.' Hmm...I sent my son to ask Supervisor if that was true. Yes. So I did it. As a favor to Supervisor. Yesterday, Teacher 2 waltzed past me while I was doing duty in the hallway, deposited the black bag in my room, and said, "You'resupposedtotakethisbacknow." Knowing how hefty it was, and still with all my own stuff to carry, and only 4 minutes to get from this doorway, drive across town, find a parking spot, and get to my classroom in Lower Basementia, I sent a note to Teacher 2 after the dust had cleared from the speedy exit. 'Are the books needed right now? We have that district-wide meeting here after school, and they can be picked up then.' Nope, I was told. "Supervisor needs those books today to score a test." So I carted them over. But I was running late, surprise, surprise, and left them in the car until I could send my personal pack mule, #1 son, to bring them in. Ahem. After some questioning, I discovered that Supervisor was not even at school, but at a meeting from 8:00 to 4:00. Teacher 2 had better not pee on my leg again any time soon.

Oh, and the second thing I was supposed to deliver at the same time was a set of completed tests. I can't blame the receiver on this one, and they were not heavy, but it was just something extra to deal with in the midst of driving, parking, remembering which lesson I would be teaching for this class, the fourth of my six preps, and getting the tests sent upstairs. The little messenger came back and said, "Well, I left them with the sub." DUH! I rushed those things over for a teacher who was not even there. Though it was not her fault that her presence was requested elsewhere at the last minute. That's just the way things go in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's life. Try to do people favors, and it bites her in her ample butt. So Mrs. Hillbilly Mom declared, "I am DONE with it! I am not hauling anything else back and forth for these people. Seven years of it is more than enough. I have 9 days left of this job, and I am not carting things across town any more!"

I told a couple of cronies, and figured that word would get around. This morning, a not-Basementia teacher stopped by my room between classes. She said, "Can you take a chair to the other building for me?" I laughed out loud. Now that was a good one! A chair! Bwahaha! She must have heard of my chagrin at the Pony Express sign that had apparently been taped to my back for the last seven years. What a good joke. "Of course I'll take a chair to the other building for you! Ha, ha! I'll strap it on my back!"

She looked at me with her head tilted, like Tank the Beagle looks at #1 son when he farts. And then I understood. SHE ACTUALLY EXPECTED ME TO CARRY A FREAKIN' CHAIR TO THE OTHER BUILDING!!! And I had said that I would do it! How do I get myself into these situations? It was such a perfect Karma Moment that I was more amused than pissed off. So I took the chair to Basementia. But I made some adjustments to my technique. I did not carry the chair. One of her students carried it to my LSUV. It was for her son for field day. When #1 son went out with the keys to bring in Dead Lappy for the tech guy to take a look at (he ROCKS!), I sent Sonny with him to carry in his own chair.

It was the least I could do.