Monthly Archives: August 2013

Another teacher complaining about her job

I am a teacher.  Most of my friends are also teachers.  And yes, we complain about our jobs.  This doesn’t mean we don’t like our jobs.  Personally, I love my job.  I get to work with amazing people and teacher amazing kiddos everyday.  Just like any other profession, though, teaching has its ups and downs.  Plus, it has unique ups and downs from other professions.  Most people don’t understand those downs.  In my opinion, after listening to others talk about the teaching profession, they view teachers as spoiled adults who still get a summer vacation.  What do I have to complain about when I only work 10 months out of the year (I only get paid for those 10 months too)?

Let me paint a picture for you.

Imagine a 7:00 to 3:00 work day.  Sounds pretty good, right?  You get in at 7:00am.  You have 20 minutes to prepare for the day – and your day consists of 4 meetings, each a different topic and each 90 minutes long.  They can’t just be 90 minutes of you talking, though.  There has to be activities and group work and practice work.  You knew you wouldn’t have time to set that up this morning, so you worked for hours over the weekend preparing your meetings.

But now you’re at work and ready to go.  You need to finish making copies and set up for the day.  Except one of your clients has a question for you and it needs to be answered now.  Which only leaves you with a precious few minutes to get settled in.

The day starts and the first of your meetings begin.  There are 40 people in the room when the room was really build for 30, but you make due.  One top of it, a quarter of your clients completely forgot what you told them yesterday and another quarter aren’t prepared for what you planned on doing today.  But you improvise and make due.

Plus, not all of your clients are going to sit quietly and behave.  Some of them are going to interrupt you while you’re talking.  Some are going to sleep through your lecture and then ask you what they are supposed to be doing.  Some of them are just going to sit there, arms folded across their chest because they really don’t want to be there.  And part of your job is to make sure each and every one of them buy the very important product you are selling.  So not only do you have to sell your product, you have to monitor their behavior and correct it as your go.

You’re only half a day behind your plan by the end of the meeting and you’re pretty sure most of them are going to buy.  Five minutes until your next group arrives which gives you just enough time to switch everything out.  Except, you’re expected to greet each client at the door.  Never mind, you’ll figure it out.

Two meetings down and it’s lunch time.  You look forward to a nice long, relaxing lunch.  In reality, you have 20 minutes to shovel some food down your throat before your next meeting.

Finally you’ve reached the end of your day.  Your four meetings are over with.  But you really need to make sure your clients buy your product, so you had them fill out some information and answer some questions.  Now you have to go through them.  All 150 of them.  And to top it all off, a few of your clients have no idea what you were talking about today and want your help after the meetings are over.  Maybe you’ll make it out of the office by 3:30pm.

Teachers don’t have a normal 7-3 work day.  Many of my colleagues show up between 6 and 6:30 every morning and leave between 3:30 and 4:30 in the evening (I’ve personally been at school for over 12 hours trying to set up labs).  Most grade papers at home and work during the weekends planning or modifying lessons and activities and grading more papers.

I’ve mentioned that your clients have to buy what you are selling.  It’s important.  And it’s also how you get evaluated.  You are considered good at your job if 80% of your clients buy your product.  Here’s the catch – you can’t pick your clients.  And you can’t get rid of those clients you KNOW are never going to buy the product.  You are stuck with them.  Just be better and make them buy.

Sound like something you can do?  I urge you to go watch a teacher in action.  It’s not easy.  I have 35-40 students per class.  Some come from great backgrounds where education is important.  Some come from not so great backgrounds and don’t want to live like that, so education is important.  More come from backgrounds where the value of education is not seen, so they really don’t care.  They are at school because they have to be at school.  They have no aspirations of going to college.  Which is perfectly fine.  Not everyone should go to college.  But those kids aren’t there to learn.  They are never going to buy my product.  If those kids don’t buy what I’m selling, I’m seen as an ineffective teacher.

I think that’s what makes teaching hard.  Behavior problems can be dealt with.  Subjects can be learned.  Strategies can be modified and taught and experimented with.  In the end though, I’m basically being graded on how well the people I manage do their job.  And if they don’t want to do their job, I can’t fire them and I get punished (some times financially) for their lackluster and unwillingness to do their job.

We’ve seen too often recently that teachers are cheating – answering questions for kids on tests, changing answers, falsifying scores.  That’s what happens when you tie someone’s lively hood to student test scores. Teacher paychecks can be dependent on student test scores – students that they can’t choose and can’t get rid of if the student just don’t see the value in taking the test (We currently see this with AIMS science in AZ.  Students know they don’t have to pass the test to graduate, so they don’t try.  Luckily, AIMS doesn’t yet count toward teacher evaluations.  I somethings see this in my own class as well when students “don’t need this class to graduate.”  They see no value so they just don’t try, often resulting in low Ds and Fs for the course.  Those do count towards my evaluation).

If you know of another industry that evaluates their employees like that, please let me know.

Let it be known that I do not condone teachers cheating.  Nor am I defending it.  I just think non-teachers need to understand why it is happening and need to see that teaching isn’t an easy job.  And any one who thinks it is, I dare you to step into any primary or secondary classroom across the nation and give it a try.  Half of teachers quit during their first five years.  Could you do it?

That One Job in Beijing

I shouldn’t have taken the job.  I released this now.  It was crystal clean in my mind as I crouched 50 feet up, perched against the ceiling like Spiderman.  If Spiderman was a middle-aged balding man, well past his prime.  I’d felt it when they came to me with the job.  And I would have said no if anyone else has asked.  But Zek had asked.  Zek, my apprentice, my protégé, hell, practically my son.  Zek had come to me and begged.

“Please, man, we can’t do this without you.  You’re the only one with the skill to pull this off.  Just this last job then we’ll leave you alone to your retirement in peace.”

So I’d come out of retirement.  To help pull a job only I could pull.  Which was true, if I was 20 years younger and 40 pounds lighter.  Fuck, I should have said no.  I should have turned them away, told them to find someone else.  But I knew the truth: there was no one else who could help them.

I could have trained them on the use of the technique, but it would have been too late by then. The window would have closed and the job gone.  And Zek, the young man had explained, needed this job.  He’d gotten into something bad, Goddamn it.  The kid was gifted in the craft but stupid in matters of business.  Besides, teaching the technique wasn’t easy and if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t sure Zek was ready for it.  I’d teach the young man when he was ready, of course, but now wasn’t that time.

So I’d taken the job, against my best judgment, and now I wasn’t sure I could finish it.  There was a reason I’d gone into retirement ten years ago; muscles were weaker and not as flexible, joints were stiffer.  I could feel my age every morning when I got out of bed.

Fuck, bed sounded nice.  I was too old for this crap.

Beneath me, an Imp continued on its stroll.  Not everyone called them that, of course.  Officially, they were called Sopterans.  They came to Earth before I was born, leveled a couple of cities, and took over the neighborhood.  Generally, after the sacking and raiding of prominent cities, and according to the history books I’d read in grade school, the Sopterans were peaceful.  They gave humans technology and longevity.  They had colonies on the moon, Mars, Titan, and a few of Jupiter and Saturn’s other moons where humans and Sopterans worked side-by-side.

Almost side-by-side, anyway.  The Sopterans kept the best things for themselves, naturally.

But that wasn’t why I called them Imps.  I called them Imps because they reminded me of Imperial soldiers from the ancient Star Wars movies that my grandfather loved so much.  We’d spent hours watching those films when I was a boy.  And the Sopterans, they dressed just like the Imperial Stormtroopers did in those old movies.

So I went into the business, calling the Sopterans Imps and thought of myself as some Han Solo hero working against the man.

But that was a long time ago.  And here I was, perched 50 feet above the floor, a floor that would burn me to a crisp if I didn’t step exactly where the Imp stepped, snagging some Imp trinket so that my adoptive son didn’t end up buried up to his ears in fire ant infested territories.

The things I’d do for love.

I shook my head, clearing it of nostalgia and worry and focused on the task at hand.  I moved my gaze back to the Imp, not really watching the Imp, but focusing on his path.  I burned it into my memory, tracing it over and over again in my mind’s eye.  Each step had to be precise; each placement of the toe and heel exact.  The Imp’s had some way to sense it, some extra sense that allowed them to walk the path without fear.  It’s how they kept humans from entering places they didn’t want humans to enter.

But I, I figured it out.  That was my talent, my technique as the kids called it.  The Imp left the room, continuing his rounds in the rest of the collection.  I climbed down from my perch, every joint aching with the effort, my muscles straining.  Carefully, ever so carefully, I stepped down on to the floor, matching my footfalls exactly to where the Imp has stepped.  Any deviation would kill me.

My calves were killing me after being perched against the ceiling for so long.  I wavered, almost tripped.  Arms waving, I fought back, pulling my center of mass back toward the correct path.   A step, almost outside the path.  I could feel the heat of the tiles, but I stepped true.

Almost there.  Another five steps then I would complete this crazy mission and be back in the mountains of Colorado, my feet up on my coffee table, a fire in my stone fireplace, my favorite cat in my lab and my dog on the carpet basking in the warmth.  Four more steps.  Three.  Two.

I lifted the glass case.  There were no alarms here.  Imps didn’t steal from each other.  It just wasn’t done.  But they learned quickly that humans did.  Thus the deadly floors.  But for some reason they never installed alarms.

I grabbed the device, some laser gun thing that would probably fetch a tidy sum on the black market.  I tucked it a pouch I’d had made especially for these types of jobs and turned.  And froze.  There were footfalls in the other room, coming my way.

Shit.  Twenty years ago, hell ten years ago, I would have ran for it.  I could have retraced my steps exactly from memory and been up the wall before the Imp was anywhere near the room.  But now… Shit.  I was too old, too slow, and my memory was not what it used to be.  I needed to retrace my steps slowly, wasn’t quite as sure as I would have been as a young man.

The footsteps were nearer now.

I had two options: risk it and run for it or hide and pray to – well fuck, I wasn’t sure who to pray to because I didn’t believe in anything other than myself.  Guess that really left only one option.

I darted from the case and sprinted, and calling it sprinting was being very generous, across the floor.  The side of my left foot stepped over the invisible line.  Shooting pain laced up my leg, but I forced myself to ignore it for the moment.  To be caught was certain death.  The Imps did not take kindly to their things being stolen by humans.

I leapt at the wall, the leap hardly taking me three feet off the ground.  But the material of my gloves, designed from studying gecko feet, allowed me to hold against the surface and I started to climb.  It was difficult, the burn on my left foot melted the fabric into my flesh and it wouldn’t hold.  Plus the pain.  Jesus Christ, the pain almost made me black out.  But if I blacked out, they would find me.  And if they found me, they would certainly kill me.  And if they killed me, well, Zek would have a plot next mine shortly.

Fuck, the things I did for love.  When this was over, I would have a serious fucking talk with that kid about picking his jobs better.

The strange flashlights, more blue and indigo than white, swept into the room in front of the Imp.  I was almost at the ceiling.  If I could wedge myself between the ceiling and the wall, Spiderman-like again, I had a chance.  The stupid Imps never had understood the concept of the old square buildings.  Everything new they built was round, no corners to hide in.  It’s like they didn’t think corners existed.

Made it just as the Imp’s head came into view, the weird light of the room gleaming off the white helmet and black eye slits.

We noticed at the same time.  I hadn’t put the glass case back.  Shit.  Fuck.  Damn.  If I’d put it back, they might not have noticed anything was missing for at least a few hours.  More than enough time for me to sneak back out and be on my way home.

Shit. Fuck. Damn.  I was too old for this crap.  That was a rookie mistake.  I would have boxed Zek’s ears if the kid did something that stupid.

The Imps make this noise.  Oh, they speak English well enough.  Really, they could learn any language and speak it pretty well.  I once met an Imp would spoke 14 different Earth languages (the Imp’s phrase, not mine) plus a dozen or more galactic languages as well.  But their own language was… I’m never sure how to describe it.  Some mix of a dog’s bark, a jet engine, and the sound a quick little fart makes.  And then there was this noise they made.  Not painful, exactly, but damn odd.  Crunching and clacking and licking all rolled into one.

I knew I was boned if I didn’t move fast.  Corners or no, they would find me soon enough.  The vent I used to get in their warehouse was at my eye level.  I just needed to readjust my hand.  Flip my body so it faced the wall.  Shit, needed to do something about that foot.  It slipped and I lost a little purchase, sliding down an inch or two, but my hands were at the vent and it was – correction, it was not easy pulling my ass into the vent.

Goddamn that little bastard.  I was definitely having a talk with Zek when we returned to my cabin.  And maybe I should really think about losing a few extra pounds.

My backpack lay where I left it in the vent.  Sweeting, panting, I pushed it in front of me and crawled back through the tunnel to the maintenance shaft I’d entered through only thirty minutes ago, hoping like hell that the Imps hadn’t called out the Sniffers yet.

Only people in the business called them Sniffers.  Everyone else called them Trackers.  They were giant jackal-looking creatures only, they weren’t jackals.  Their joints were backwards, their noses too big, their eyes too big, their ears too big.  Genetically modified specifically to hunt humans.  And once they were on your scent, you were damned.  Very little could remove them from your trail.

Luckily, there was something that could fool them.  And I never left home without it.

I shoved the backpack through the opening and squirmed my way through.  I ripped the zipper down with one hand and unbuckled my special pouch with the other.  In went the pouch, followed quickly by the gloves and one booty.  The other, well, I’d deal with the other later.  For now, I pulled a small canister out of the bag and sprayed the contents on my damaged foot.  The foam cooled, formed, and solidified all in under ten seconds.  It also, yep, the painkillers were kicking in.  I could walk on it almost normally.  I exchanged the canister for a ball cap, a ratty plan red shirt (the Imps had trouble seeing red), and an old pair of jeans that easily slide over the skintight black burglar outfit I wore.  Old tennis shoes completed the outfit, making me look like any other tourist.  Last, I pulled out a large spray bottle and doused myself and my bag with the contents.

The Sniffers wouldn’t find me.

I opened the door a crack and glanced into the dim hallway.  No Imps or other personnel.  The door shut softly behind me.  I walked as calmly and normally as possible, but my foot still hurt despite the painkillers and I knew if someone spotted me now, I wasn’t sure I could talk my way out of it.

But no one came into the maintenance hallway.

I stopped at the end of hall and listened at the door.  Controlled panic on the other side.  Messages to stay calm rang out in a dozen languages.

I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then pulled the door back just enough for me to peak out.  People where being lead toward the exit.  All bags were being searched by Sniffers.


But no Imps where by my door and this was the only way out.  I closed the door again, doused the contents of my bag and myself with the liquid in my spray bottle once more for good measure and squeezed out of the maintenance hall and into the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Just another tourist come to visit the Sopteran Government mansion on Earth.  I walked with the crowd toward the Imps with their Sniffers, trying to keep my breathing under control.  Sweat dribbled down the back of my balding head and pooled at the collar of my shirt.  I didn’t dare wipe it off.

I’d been in worse situations, of course.  Twelve years ago, or was it thirteen?, I’d almost been caught by the Imps.  There was a daring chase through Paris, always Paris.  Back alleys and kitchens and hiding in the dark parks.  I was a younger man back then.  There was no way I was running through the streets of Beijing at my age.

My turn.  The Imps, polite as ever, asked/demanded that I open my bag.  One Sniffer, uglier up close than I remembered, stuck its bobble-head-sized nose into the backpack and took a long wiff.  A second ran its snout up and down my body, taking huge gulps of my scent.

I didn’t tense.  I swear on my mother’s grave that I didn’t tense.  The Sniffer in my bag lifted its ugly head and turned to the next guest.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” one of the Imp handlers said in its almost metallic English.  I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.  To think, in my younger days, I would have made small talk with the Imp.  Fuck, I used to be a ballsy idiot.

Down the steps and down the block.  The painkillers were wearing off and every step lit a tiny fire over my arch.  But I did not run.  I did not look over my shoulder.

Three blocks straight and four blocks to the right and I was limping pretty badly.

A car pulled up next to me, a kid with bright blue hair was driving and a girl with a shaved head and hologram tattoos was in the passenger seat.  The back door opened as the car back to a stop.  I hoped in and they pulled away from the curb.

“Fuck,” a young man with cybernetic eyes breathed.  He leaned back in the seat.  “Fuck.  I thought you were humped.”  Lingo from an older age.  I smiled as I pulled the sneakers from my wounded foot.  I really enjoyed the hell out of all that retro crap.

“Shit,” the girl exclaimed.  “What the fuck happened?”

“I’m old,” I replied, suddenly tired.  “Not as nimble as I used to be.  It’ll be fine once a doc looks at it.”

“Sure man, where’s a hospital?” the driver asked.  I almost snacked him.  Zek got there first.

“You stupid or something?  Can’t do it here.  Once we’re back in Greater California.  We know a guy in Colorado.”  The kid did know his shit, even if he didn’t know what jobs to take.

“But seriously.  When I saw the Sniffers, I thought you were humped.  How the fuck did you get away from them?”

“Kid,” I ask as I leaned back in the seat, “I haven’t taught you everything yet.  Listen, did I ever tell you about this one job in Paris?”


Lessons learned by tubing down the Salt River

I’ve lived in AZ most of my life and there is one thing I have never done: tubing down the Salt River.  I’ve had several opportunities to go, but something has always come up.  Well, not this time.  Saturday, I braved the elements and floated down a river.  Here’s what it taught me.

1) Sunscreen – everywhere and often

We call it the valley of the sun for a reason.  Even though it was a beautiful day out – not too hot, not rainy – there was lots of sun and very little shade while floating in the middle of a river.  This makes sunscreen very important.  And since the trip is generally 3-4 hours long, applying often is equally important.  But the type of sunscreen is important as well.  We used the lotion kind, but it didn’t work as well as I thought it would.  Next time, I’m going with the spray on kind.

2) Water – drink it

I know the importance of staying hydrated.  But it’s hard to remember to drink enough water when you’re relaxing in tube.  We weren’t working or hiking.  We were floating down a lazy river, kicking our feet in the river, throwing marshmallows at each other, occasionally jumping in and swimming around.  It wasn’t even overly hot this weekend as it had just rained the day before.  Between me and my boyfriend, we did end up drinking most of the water we brought with us, which is good.  We just waited until the last half of the trip, which isn’t so good.  Next time, 1 bottle per hour.

3) Beer – drink it in moderation

It’s a four hour trip from the start point to the end point on the river.  And there are no clocks.  Or cell phone (because I don’t want to drop mine in the water). Or watches (because my boyfriend didn’t want his to get wet).  And there is a lot of beer.  It’s very easy to drink a lot in a short period of time.  And you’re sitting inn a tube, floating down a river.  The fact that you’re not walking around means you don’t feel the effects of the beer.  I watched more than a few people stumble down the beach when we stopped for a bit to let a few members of our group go cliff diving.  And, of course, there is the very real possibility that you could drown if you drink too much on the river.  So be smart.  Leave the hard stuff at home, alternate between water and beer, and limit the amount you bring with you.

4) Shoes are a must

The bottom of the Salt River is rocky.  There are lots and lots of river rock.  And it cuts the heck out of your feet.  I should know because I lost one of my shoes while trying to save the coolers (one of which had our car keys in it!) from floating down the river without us!  The rest of the trip involved me trying my best to not walk on the river bottom.  But once we were out of the river, I kind of didn’t have a choice – my left foot hates me a little for that.  Next time, I’m buying water shoes that fit correctly.

5) Relax and enjoy

I have many ways that I relax.  I play video games, I read books, I go hiking.  Tubing down a river as part of a non-stop floating party isn’t the first thing that would pop into my mind if you asked me how I was going to relax this weekend.  Four hours is a long time to lay back on a tube and drink beer and watch people throw marshmallows at each other (I never did get a real answer about why people do that).  I had fun.  And I was relaxed.  And I did enjoy myself.  It was fun to talk with friends and hang out with my boy and not have to do anything for a few hours.  But next time, I think I’ll bail out at the 2nd point instead of going all the way down.  Or not.  We’ll see.

Of paths not traveled

I recently went to a friend’s birthday party.  She’s a friend from when I used to be a zookeeper (I haven’t been a zookeeper for more than 2 years now).  I don’t talk to her often, but I still enjoy hanging out when I can.  At this party were other people that I used to hang out with quite a bit when we worked together.  And then I quit.  And now I hardly see them at all.

It also got me thinking about how my life would be different had a stayed at that job.  I might have never met one of my best friends, whom I met in grad school.  I might have never met my boyfriend.  I might never have gone to some of the places I’ve been or experienced the things I have experienced since quitting that job.  On the other hand, maybe I missed out on other opportunities.  Maybe I would have made different friends, found a different boyfriend, gone to different places.  And now I’ll never know.

Of course, I can’t change any of that now.  And I’m completely okay with that.  It was the best decision I could have made at the time and I don’t for a moment regret the choice I made.

I do miss spending time with my old friends.  Our different lives and different schedules mean that there isn’t much time to get together.  It was much easier when I saw them every day.  But that is really the only thing about that job that I miss.  I knew at the birthday party that I was missing out on spending time with them.  I wasn’t as close to them as I used to be.  I wasn’t up on current events in their lives, I wasn’t privy to the inside jokes.

But that path is behind me, the door closed.  I continue on my current path, happy with a decision I made 2 and a half years ago when I was feeling down and out.  I’m happy with the path I did take.  I’m happy with my new career even though it wasn’t the career I had envisioned for myself when I was 5 or 6 and had decided that I would be a zookeeper.  I never thought I would be a teacher, but it’s quite possibly the best decision I could have made for myself.

I hope my friends understand.

A funny thing happened at the Mimi’s Cafe

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went to have dinner at Mimi’s Cafe, a New Orleans themed diner, near his house.  The hostess sat us in a booth off in the corner where we could chat without worries.  On the way to the booth, it happened.

Let me paint the scene for you a little.  I was wearing my Captain America shirt.  It’s blue with the Captain’s shield right in the center.  I’m sure you’ve seen it before.  I think I got it at some name brand store when the first Captain America movie came out.  We’re walking to our seats when an older (late 50’s maybe) man stands up, ready to leave.  He takes a look at my shirt.

Him:”Wearing your boyfriend’s shirt?”

Me: :/ “…No”

Him: “Haha” *shrug*

Shrug.  As if to say, “Oh, well, you understand, little lady.  See, that’s a comic shirt you’re wearing.  I’m sure you’re not aware of that and it was only natural for me to assume that it was your boyfriend’s.  But don’t be offended.  After all, you’re a girl.  It was an honest mistake.”

My reaction when we finally sat at our table: “What the f@#$?  Seriously, dude.  I know who the f@#$ Captain America is.  I actually knew who he was before the movie came out as well.  F@#$ you, dude!”  My boyfriend had to calm me down.

But that seems to be a trend in society today.  Girls, for some odd and strange reason, can’t be geeks.  If we like video games, it’s because our boyfriends or brothers got us into them.  If we like comics, we’re not real comic fans because we don’t read obscure titles from indy authors.  If we like anything within the geek culture, it’s not good enough.  Girls are posers and fakes.  Unless we prove it.

As if being a girl in this society isn’t hard enough.  Now I have to prove to you that I’m a geek.

It’s as if we’ve stumbled into some secret boy society and they aren’t comfortable with girls in their club yet.  So they say things and do things so that girls will get out of their club.  How’s that working for you, boys?  I would imagine not so well.

Because girl geeks are true geeks.  We’re passionate about the same stuff you’re passionate about.  We’re knowledgable in the lore that we care about.  And we’re part of the club.  We’re not going anywhere.  If anything, our numbers are growing as more girls become comfortable with their geekdom.  As girls grow into women and those women have girls of their own, our ranks swell.  We proudly say:

“I loved Firefly before Serenity came out!”

“I have beaten ever Legend of Zelda game that has come out (in the US)!”

“I’m a level 55 Gunslinger and I kick Sith ass!”

“I highlighted Harry Potter in order to map out the plot!”

“I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek: TNG!”

“I went to SDCC!”

“I read comics and manga and sci fi and fantasy!”

“I watch Arrow!”

“I knew who the f@#$ Captain America was before the movie!”

So all I really wanted to say, is gentlemen, please stop assuming that the t-shirt is our boyfriend’s.  We’re geeks too.  And we’re super proud of it!

3 down, 177 to go

The first week of school is over and done with.  Pre-tests are scored (mostly), seating charts are made (and griped about), lab safety has been taught (I hope!).  The first week is always rough.  It’s full of learning 150 new names, figuring out 150 new personalities, and letting 150 new kids know that you’re the boss (don’t mess with me or I’ll hold you after class!).  It’s teaching rules and procedures and routines that these kids are going to have to follow (and you’re going to have to enforce) for the rest of the semester.

I’m not a huge fan of the beginning of the year.  It’s the most difficult time of the year for me because these don’t really know me.  Sure, maybe their brother or sister or cousin or bff had me last year, but each group of kids is different and needs to be interacted with in a different way.  I can’t joke with them like I want to yet.  They don’t get my humor yet.  They don’t know that I hate it when they talk when I’m talking and that I will rip heads off for it.  So I have to rip a few heads off the first few days of class. (Side note, I have to do it again after the first few weeks of class because these crafty kids just keep testing you!)

I’m also really bad at names.  I have to practice in my spare time because I’m horrible at pronouncing people’s names.  And some of these kids have names that are really difficult for me to pronounce!  I am fully against letting women who have been pumped full of drugs name their children.  “I shall call her Ashley.  Only I’m going to spell it Aetilie.  That won’t completely piss off my kid when they get into school.”  (Not a real name, but I’ve seen stuff like it).

But now it’s the weekend again.  I have sleep in, hang out, and lesson plan so that I can get back to kiddos and rules and lectures and activities and labs on Monday.

And so it starts…

I’m continuously sadden by the hypocrisy that I see in the education field.  Certain areas do not have state or national assessments so they are not always given the full attention they should be given.  It’s sad that politics sometimes out way the needs and wants of the students.

Back to school

School’s back in session in Arizona.  For people with kids, that means back to school shopping, scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs, and going to parent night and spot meetings.  For kids, it means seeing friends you haven’t seen all summer, wondering how hard you classes are going to be this year, guessing who’s still dating whom, and finding out if your new teachers are cool or hard.  For teacher’s, it’s a slightly different set of worries, problems, and even relief.

Yes, I have a summer vacation.  And yes, I  enjoyed my summer vacation.  It’s the perk of my job.  Some people get to travel.  Some people get expense accounts.  Teacher get summer breaks.  But there are also negatives to having 2 1/2 months off.  I’m completely out of my daily routine.  I just spent 2 1/2 months sleeping in, reading, swimming and hanging out with friends (I’m aware that this does not sound like that much of a negative).  I’m out of sorts.  Ever taken a week away from work and it takes you a few days to get back in the swing of things?  It’s like that.  Except I don’t have a few days to get back in the swing of things.  Students are back in the class on Wednesday at my school and I have to be completely ready to greet them with a smile and a plan.

Well, they’re screwed.

To get teachers back into their grove, most schools have back to school teacher days two to three days before students began wondering the halls.  Teacher days sound nice.  In reality, it’s two to three days of none stop meetings where the administration talk about the vision of the school (hasn’t change since last year), the discipline policies (haven’t changed since last year), the various new (not really) services that are offered to staff and students to help students achieve better scores on AIMS and other standard tests.  It’s computer training (where the computers don’t work) and BBP training (same video as last year) and making sure everyone has their schedules and knows when all the other meetings throughout the year are.  Then it’s department time, making sure you’re aligned with other teachers who teach the same subject in your department, getting the department goals from the department head, and discussing (arguing) over the merits of a point based grade or a weighted grade.  This leaves me exactly 2 hours during Freshman orientation (cause I don’t teach Freshman) and 3 hours before students fill the too many desks of my classroom to prepare my room, make copies, tweak any first day things I need to tweak, fix my pre- and post- tests, making sure I have the correct pre- and post- tests, and going over my rooster to ensure that all the students have met the prerequisites for the class.


For some teachers, there’s also a bit of anxiety involved in first day shenanigans.  Will the kids behave?  Will I have any huge behavior problems?  Will my lessons work and be effective?  Will I meet my goal?  Will I have enough time to cover all of the material that I need to cover in a semester?

But it’s not all worries and problems.  I am very relieved to be back at work.  For one thing, I get a paycheck again (that’s right I have summer’s off and don’t get paid for them.  Most public school teachers are only paid for 184-190 days).  Seeing some money coming in makes me happy.  Of course I’m not teaching for the money.  No one teaches for the money.  I’m teaching because I truly enjoy the profession.  I enjoy the kids (yes, even the pains in the you-know-what), I enjoy my subjects, and I enjoy spreading science knowledge to the next group (really, I do).

So here’s to the 2013-2014 school year.  It’ll be difficult (I’m re-writing two classes…again).  It’ll be fun (new labs always make me happy).  It’ll be long days and longer nights of planning and writing and grading.

Bring it!

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