Monday, February 27, 2006

Hey, my first Meme!

nobodyknows over at The Reflective Teacher tagged me. Thanks. I feel like a real blogger now.

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

* Clerk at 7-Eleven the year after getting my English degree
* Poured wine at a winery in the Santa Barbara foothills
* Apartment manager
* Assistant Lifeguard at Camp Pilgrim Pines

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:

* The Princess Bride
* The Philadelphia Story
* My Dog Skip
* It’s a Wonderful Life

Four Places I’ve Lived:

* Hampton, New Hampshire
* Goleta, California
* Nishinomiya, Japan
* Santa Barbara, California

Four TV Shows (which I like…)

* China Beach (will this ever come back in reruns?)
* Deadwood
* Queer as Folk
* Law and Order, SVU

Four Places I’ve Vacationed:

* Montreal, Canada
* Naxos, Greece
* Koh Samui, Thailand
* Hong Kong (before it went back to China)

Four Places I Plan to Visit:

* Washington, D.C.
* Giverny, France
* Edinburgh, Scotland
*Auckland, New Zealand

Four Favorite Foods:

* Chicken Penne Pasta from The Palace Café
* Gorgonzola Gnocchi from Trader’s Joe’s
* Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
* Thanksgiving Turkey with all the trimmings

Four Blogs I read daily, or places I visit online:
(this is a problem, because I can’t access blogs at work)

* Education Wonks
* (I’ve lost 34 pounds so far!)
* (love to play Tangleword)

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:

* On a beach in Cabo San Lucas
* On a beach in Maui
* On a beach in Thailand
* At the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas

Four Bloggers Tagged:
(Let’s see if anyone is reading this)

Graycie from Today’s Homework
Mamacita from weeklyscheiss
Pigs from A Pig’s Tales
Ms. Cornelius from A Shrewdness of Apes

Doing the dance of joy,

and singing the Doxology.

It might be sacrilegious, but it's what I've been doing since last Friday.

See, that horrible situation I was in with the parent? You know, with the psychotic kid?

Well, something happened, and they withdrew him from school on Friday.

We don't really know what happened. All I know now is that the child will hopefully get the help he needs, and I personally will not have to deal with his crazy mother or his "educational therapist."

The last conversation I had with her, the therapist, had to do with my student's missing work. I sent an email to her last Monday, a holiday mind you, stating that I needed to check the student's work, and that I hadn't received his response to literature essay that had been due 5 weeks earlier. I had given him three extra weeks, but still, nothing.

I got a call from her Tuesday morning:
"Hello Ms. Teacher, I was just calling to make sure psychotic student has completed all his work."
"Oh, hello ridiculous excuse for a tutor. Didn't you receive my email yesterday?"

"Yes, but I think he's finished everything."
"Okay, but I'll need to see it so I can enter it in my grade book. Did he finish that essay?"
"What essay is that?"

You get the picture. I needn't go on.

Because as much as I feel for the boy, I can't even come up with words to express my happiness and relief for not having to deal with his other adults anymore.

Now if I can just get caught up on grading.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

On being noble

I'm not. Noble that is. I am a teacher because it's what I do best. I don't tune pianos or fix broken teeth or help people get loans for a new house, because those are not the things I do best.
Reading EdWonk's post about an ad for NYC teacher recruitment got me thinking. Whenever I tell folk I'm a junior high school teacher, they tend to look at me with a bit of awe. Sometimes they pat me on the back, and tell me how much we need good teachers. Sometimes they tell me how they could "never do it" and don't know how I can. Some make remarks about how difficult it must be and how I must have so much patience. I have one friend who keeps telling me I should teach at the local community college, because all my knowledge is being wasted on the thirteen-year-olds.

Running through all of this is the thread that what I do is somehow in-between real work and volunteerism. This idea that I'm sacrificing somehow.

I hate that.

I really hate that. I know, most people think they're giving me a compliment, but what's going on underneath is that idea that teachers are a special breed. One that gets its satisfaction not from money or wealth, but from doing good deeds in the world. By thinking of teaching as a "calling" rather than a profession, we are more put into the ranks of nuns and missionaries, rather than highly trained professionals. Isn't there a vow of poverty that most people "called" to the church take? I didn't take any such vow.

I love my job. I'm good at it. But my job is not to impart knowledge. My job is to help my students think. To help them learn. To engage them in higher order thinking skills.

This part will sound corny, so bear with me. My job is one I believe in (even with the stupid NCLB, politicians who have a voucher agenda, and parents who treat me like a servant). I like my job. I don't question the ethics of what I'm doing. I'm never bored. I worked hard to get where I am. I'm still paying off students loans that were more than my first year's paycheck (and I went to a state university). I laugh almost every day. I get to be the center of attention much of the time.

All good things. Everyone should have a job they like as much as I do.

But. Just because I like my job, and it engages me, does that mean I have to give up the financial rewards other professionals earn in other careers?

Where does it say that one doesn't have to make as much money if one has a job one believes in?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

How to deal with this

So sorry for my absence. I've been overloaded with responsibilities the last two weeks, and I've not had the energy once home to write about it.

They got it wrong. February is the cruelest month.

I have a psychotic student. I'm not exaggerating, the boy is on enough pills (including anti-pyschotics) to stock a small pharmacy.

Still, I could deal with him and his staple chewing if his mother and his "educational therapist" didn't expect me to answer their every demand. They are taking up 2-3 hours of my time a week, with their phone calls, emails, meetings and what they are requiring me to do for this student. Who, by the way, isn't even classified Special Ed... he has a very limited 504 plan, which I follow... no wait, which I go far above in my accommodations for this troubled kid.

It's mostly this, plus a rotten cold that had me in bed by 8:30 most nights, what's kept me from writing these past few weeks. I have asked that he be removed from my class, something I've only done once before in my nine years, simply because I can't deal with the adults involved. For a full week now, mom has decided to "think about " it. And he's still in my class, and his "educational therapist" keeps calling me with questions like "could you read his vocabulary words to me over the phone? He doesn't have his textbook."

I cringe when I see the red light blinking on my classroom phone, I cower when I open my school email account.

This isn't right.