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.


Cazzie!!! said...

About the kid saying the sky is green and all...I would say, "Well, I believe that you believe the sky is green"...that'll bugger em , LOL.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Well, buggering the little buggers is kind of frowned upon. Even if I go about it legally like you suggest, the little bugger will declare that he did NOT say the sky is green, and again ask me if I think he's stupid.

Those little buggers change their tune more frequently than my guitar that I don't know how to play.