Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Score: Acid-Dropping-Weasels: 6 Teachers in Trenches: 1

It was the quote that was probably responsible for all the writing to follow. It was the beginning of school, probably seven or so years ago, and our roll books had switched over in batches of 2 to 5 students a day, every day, for six weeks. This is not an understatement--papers collected in the first week might as well have been thrown in the trash--it's not like a student's grades go with them, according to our computer system, and it took us a while to figure out how to retrieve them... it was chaos. In the middle of this chaos, we were being told during a staff meeting that our grades were not legitimate--many teachers had only entered one or two items by the time progress reports were being printed, and, although my gradebook was covered, I still couldn't help bursting out, "Well, if the damned kids would stop ping-ponging through our roll books like acid-dropping-weasels through a maze, we might get some goddamned work done."

The administration was floored, stopped dead, and the staff applauded. That quote has followed me--for better or worse, for creative or flaky, for fat and funny or big and dumb, for my entire professional career. That phrase alone has made me want to write, because frankly I have enjoyed the infamy of being the person to say it, and I have wanted more--but even more, that phrase has become indicative of all the chaos that can evolve in a high school like mine from wierdness in the admin levels to downright absurdities for the teachers in the trenches.

Now, the best thing to happen is that my esteemed colleague who is now the vice principal has developed a very fun delivery dvd for our rules and regulations--an example of creative pedagogy at it's finest, this puppy has saved me from an extremely boring and exhausting day of blah-blah-blahing the repetetive and the inane into the ears of the indifferent, and instead, has been a rather refreshing moment of kids at play. That's the one good thing.

Would you like a play by play of some of the the worst things to happen in the last two weeks?

1. I broke up what was going to be a fight on Friday between one unwilling and one willing participant--the willing participant threatened me. He was back in my classroom this morning.

2. I've had no fewer than 8 kids transfer in and out of every class but one.

3. I have 36 kids in my AP class (the one nobody's transferred out of)--this class is usually around 25 kids because they generate about twice as much paperwork as any other class.

4. I've had two kids going blind in two different classes without large print materials or any sort of game plan as to how their disability is going to be addressed in the long term. We're starting the game plan for one of them. The other got transferred out of my class for no apparent reason.

5. A, well, sort of colleague that I unapologetically refer to as Satan because no one could be both that clueless and that sycophantically manipulative at the same time has been reported by several of her classes as saying "How many of you have green cards?" For the uninitiated, this is the equivalent of walking into a bar and saying "How many of you are having sex with real people, and how many of you are going home to appliances?"

6. The teacher across the way who taught Freshman last year watched the six new sophomores streaming into my classroom this morning and told me later "There goes your combined GPA--those are the kids who need mugshots and PO numbers next to their names in the gradebook. Yeah--all six of them... who did you piss off?"

For the record people? The Acid-Dropping Weasels are winning.


Roxie said...

Does it help to remind yourself that occasionally, one of those acid-dropping weasles grows up to be a human being? I really do understand the cultures that send the young males out into the woods with a bag of salt and a knife and tell them to stay away for a year. Too bad we can't slap your wicked six into boot camp and teach them the facts of life. Some of your stories just wring my withers, dear heart. You are a truely heroic woman!!

Starfish said...

I give you some sincere credit in perservering through all of that. I always wanted to be a teacher (math, for the record) but I know I would not be able to keep my mouth shut about things like that. But like Roxie said, these weasels do grow up and it's important that someone at least try to teach them something useful.

Lore said...

Satan has been on a roll in the last two and a half weeks. The green card thing was just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Satan needs to go. And seriously, who DID you piss off to get the felons so early in the game? All the good vibes and felony free thoughts I can muster are headed in your direction! Hopefully they make it to your room through the throngs of acid dropping weasels that meander around our campus. :)