Reflections on a First Semester Teaching

It’s the end of 2011.  Fall semester?  Check.  One more to go.  So how are you first-year teacher folks hanging in there?  Saved the world yet?  Had your Stand and Deliver moments?  Are you madly in love with all of your students/parents/colleagues and this nobel profession that we call teaching?
Alright.  Fine.  I’ll pull myself together, curb the hysterical laughter on my end, and stop giving you shit.  You’ve probably had enough to deal with this semester.  Yay, outdated textbooks!  Yay, behavior issues!  Yay, classroom management!
Right.  Ok.  I’m done.  Wait…no I’m not…
Yay, curriculum writing!  Yay, standards and benchmarks!  Yay, in-house politics!
Ok.  Now I’m done.
Yay, Budget cuts!
It’s just that I’ve got so much to work with.  I believe a referred to the shit-show that is the first year of teaching in a previous blog post.  Go back and read it again, if you’d like.  I think you’ll find it makes much more sense having now lived it for a few months.  I know for a fact that some of you are feeling the burn.  I’ve gotten your emails.
Dear Teach,
Thoughts on how to get a 5th grade musical performance of “Man in the Mirror” to suddenly relate to the standards for Spanish? I got assigned a musical performance next month which is a long story involving a “winter festival,” a pto meeting, a concussion, and a culminating performance from the “specials” team that includes all of art, music, pe, spanish, and library.
Naturally.  Because Michael Jackson, winter festivals, Spanish, and the library-media department all go hand-in-hand.
Dear Teach,
Teach me how to be a teacher.  In one minute or less.  Go. 
Sarcasm.  Nice! You’re well on your way.
But the doozy of the emails came from a regular reader who’s getting his booty kicked.  Understandably, considering the zoo he works in.  What I love about this guy, though, (besides the fact that he’s still sticking it out contrary to all logical reasoning) is that, in the spirit our our fine monkey ancestors, whenever the shit show flings poo at him, he turns around and throws it my way. 
I happily collect teaching poo.
And now, because I’ve probably either grossed out or offended those of you who have even bothered reading this far, I’ll just shut my own piehole and leave you with:
Reflections on the First Semester of Teaching
A 15 year Military Vet
There’s no rhyme or reason.  It’s not about me or my writing.  It’s just a sincere list of “Huh. Didn’t realize that was in the job description” moments.
But there is one added bonus.  I gave the list to Face and told her to do with it what she would.  And she had her way with it.  In her disarmingly bizarre and confusing manner.
So peruse the list, watch the vid, and crack open a beer.  Or Chamomile tea.  Whatever tickles your tootsies.  Oh, and be forewarned.  Face’s version involves pinot noir, frustrating floating numbers, mumbling and at least one awkward though unintentional close up of her chest.  Sorry about that.   I never really know what I’m going to get with her.  (Though I have learned, for future reference, that the correct answer to “Hey, is a vodka or two while filming ok?” would be “No.”)

Regardless, perhaps you’ll recognize similar “didn’t expect that” moments.  Perhaps you won’t.  But at least you can laugh at the shared insanity of our job, and be glad that you have the huevos enough to stick with a profession that not everyone can stomach.  Thanks for that.  

We need more folks like you.
Here’s to a great second semester, and a kickin’ new year.
Reflections on the First Semester of Teaching
A 15 year Military Vet

1.  A student told me her mother made her pass on the message that I had the “kindest, most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.” The mother in question dresses fifteen years too young for herself, and changes men like some women change batteries in their….oh, nevermind.

2.  A female student told her mother that she liked girls and her mother told her not to come home – to an 8th grader.

3.  A teacher started a catty rumor about my relationships with students because I had students coming to my room during lunch to get extra help.  I must have some “strange” reason for offering them help.

4.  I was given an illegal copy of a test to give to students.  The students pointed out to me that it says quite clearly DO NOT MAKE COPIES OF THIS TEST on the sides. It was one of the few things that came out clearly in the copies.

5.  I had rumors started that I am a homosexual. This was from the kids, but a teacher asked me about it. I like to wear purple, have good grooming, and my wife can attest to the fact that I am not, in fact, a homosexual.
6.  I work with  a paunchy, balding, self important English teacher, with ONE enlistment in the Army telling kids he is a black belt, sleeps one hour a night, and writes 80 page papers for a Masters class he and I both take at the same time. Oh, and he has fake seizures. Great.
7.  My school had to hold a fundraiser to buy janitorial supplies.
8.  I was emailed by a parent to tell me that I did not have the right to assign a 1000 word research paper to her daughter, because a) it wasn’t fair, and b) she did not have internet access. In an EMAIL.
9.  I figured out a gang is operating in my grade and being ignored by the school.
10.  I am trying to maintain some semblance of classroom management with over 30 kids in each class, a high special education population, a coteacher for the special education population who doesn’t show up, three principals, two college professors and a whole school of colleagues telling me what to do.

I could leave, go back to the medical laboratory, and make about the same amount of money. But I believe that science education needs people who have some actual science experience.
In short, this job sucks enough, would you kindly mind taking your boot off my nuts?

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2 Responses to Reflections on a First Semester Teaching

  1. LibraLabRat says:

    To be fair, my writing style can be a bit…..Hunter S. Thompson-esque. Also, the original list was closer to twenty items, and even then, that was me censoring myself. Some of the more messed up and weird items did not make either list.(I wish Papi Chulo had made the cut, though, Sra.)

  2. Teach says:

    Fair enough. Always a judgement call to try and make the magic #10. Let's just plug it in here:#11. Being referred to as “Papi Chulo” by a couple of bilingual girls….who were super embarrassed when they found out I knew what it meant.

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