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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A redemptive epiphany

Okay-- see, the thing is, I've got a meeting with my boss tomorrow. Now the last time I had one of these, it threw me into a week long depression. I was told that our demographic completely changed, and yet our falling test scores were still all my fault. I was told that I needed to change the way that I taught for the simple goal of improving the way our kids put pencils on paper. I was told that all of the problems in my classroom were caused by me, and I had to be a better facilitator to make them go away.

I gave up. I had one too many days of saying, "Yes. This IS all my fault. If I were a better person, gave better directions, had curriculum more tailored to the test, I WOULDN'T hate my job quite so much." So, given that I already sucked as a person and an educator, I said fuck it, and started referring kids like there was no tomorrow and teaching the old-fashioned way that probably doesn't really work because the test scores were falling and it was all my goddamned fucking fault.

I gave them questions, made them sit down, shut up, read the fucking book (or, once they did the first two, i read it to them) and we ANSWERED THE FUCKING QUESTIONS. I referred anybody who got in my way. I'm still referring anybody who gets in my way. I don't even care if the referrals go through, as long as the little fuckers are THE HELL OUT OF MY ROOM when they're not in the mood to sit down and shut up. I mean screw it-- I suck as a teacher and I can't do my job anyway, right?

After a week of me being in a bitchy-assed mood, an odd thing happened today. They started asking questions. They started agreeing that, yes, Tom Buchanan was a class-A prick-asshole-fuckhead, and yes, Daisy Buchanan was a douchebag-bitch-twunt, and that Gatsby got a raw deal and the end of this book is REALLY fucked up.

In short?

They got it.

Oddly enough, all they had to do to get it was to sit down and shut the fuck up.

This leads me to a rather redemptive epiphany.

I don't suck as a teacher. It's not all my fault. And you know what? It really IS the student's responsibility to walk into my classroom and learn. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. I've always believed that it all came down to the literature--the literature would shine through, no matter how badly I bollixed the delivery.

Seems I was right.

8 comments:

Mardel said...

I used to want to be a teacher. Right now I work in an afterschool program where we focus on reading and homework. Just watching what the teachers have to go through in the last 10 years, (at least) has really decided me on NEVER going back to school for my credentials. It all seems to be such bullshit. Now, it's filtering down to the afterschool program - at least at my school. Where we've always focused on homework and reading (always important), and then some freetime for play (always important also) NOW our principal wants us to do more curriculum. We are not teachers. We don't have the training or credentials. We don't get paid teacher wages. We're supposed to TEACH now? And when do we focus on the homework now? We're supposed to teach them the Timestables, hell, WHEN? We're supposed to use flashcards with common words. WHEN? They (the students) have a hard enough time getting their regular homework done. Their expected to attend for three hours afterschool everyday. When are they supposed to get any down time, or recreation to keep them from being chubbos? But we're supposed to also promote body movement and eating right.

It's all so crazy right now. We're all spread too thin, and the head honchos and general public expect way too much out of the teachers and now it's trickling down to programs like ours. GEEZ.

We need to be able to focus on helping the kids understand their homework, get in the habit of doing it and promoting reading. We should be able to allow playtime to help with their muscles and social skills. The teachers need to be able to actually teach instead of dealing with all the other things they (you) have to deal with. Instead of all the stupid rephrasing of basic programs which big companies re-work every so often just to make more money off the school systems......

I think I just ranted on your blog - sorry. A nerve was hit. :)

I appreciate all teachers, even the hell-a-cranky teachers. I understand now why the hell they're cranky.

Louiz said...

Amy, when I was at school, it was much more "sit down, shut up, and pay attention. If you fail it's your fault", but when my brother was at school (he's 10 years younger than me) the onus of learning was less on him and more on his teachers. I've noticed from younger people than him that the balance seems to be continueing to swing towards the onus on the teacher to force learning into the kids heads and less on the kids actually learning. Whether this is a global thing I don't know, but personally I find it distasteful. It really does put the blame for the failure of conceited prima donnas and spoiled brats onto the teacher, but doesn't seem to give the teacher any way of enforcing the one thing that might help them to learn - paying attention.


Your epiphany seems to demonstrate this and I'm impressed that it only took a week for them to start asking questions etc!

Chris said...

*hug*

I have to wonder if what you're experiencing it part of the whole shift to being a complete lack of personal responsibility culture...

You will not be surprised that I have a song reference! "Everyone's Fault" by the Auto Body Experience (sadly, no youtube video, but you can hear a preview at cdbaby):

I failed a test the other day
I got an F when I should have got an A:
The teacher failed to motivate me
My parents didn't raise me right
The other students brought up the grading curve, and the
Networks broadcast the best shows on study nights

chorus: It's everyone's fault but my own [x4]

I blame my folks for bad genetics
When things go wrong in what I do
No failure is my fault
When there's someone left to sue
(There's always someone -- who's left to sue)

Eve said the serpent made her sin
The democrats are targets of republicans:
A guilty man may blame another
Perhaps because his character's not strong
He'll accuse his family, or movies and TV,
But that isn't me - I never do anything wrong

[chorus]

Words and music by Scott Yoho ©2005 Auto Order Music (BMI)

KnitTech said...

Sweetie, you know you can lead a horse to water; but you can't make him drink. If they don't want to listen (AKA sit down and shut the fuck up) you can't force them. But I'm glad you figured it out.

Roxie said...

So the referrals send the troublemakers to the office so the boss can deal with them, right? I love it! I'm a firm believer in passing the shit back up the line. You won't give me the authority to deal with this? OK, YOU deal with it.

You ARE a good teacher! The literature DOES shine through and oh how I wish I could sit in on your classes.

Hmm. . . could I pay you to give me a syllabus and let me take the tests? Then I can get the education without having to throttle some fuckheaded teen who won't shut up.

Julie said...

So glad you're feeling better about your job, because you're damn good at it. Hugs for that last sucky meeting. (You know that scene in Hancock where he shoves that one guy's head up that other guy's... I'm thinking your principal and vice principal need that done.) The literature does shine through. Especially when taught by someone who loves it as much as you do. Passing the troublemakers off to the office is good too - as you say, at least it gets them out of the classroom.

I'm convinced that one of the major problems with public school right now is, they make too many excuses for the kids, rather than forcing them to be responsible. There's always some excuse. It's no wonder these little ticks have entitlement issues - the system teaches it to them!

...and Daisy Buchanan WAS a twat weasel.

DecRaink said...

*Applauds* WOOHOO!!!!! you go Amy.

Laurel said...

Oh, Amy!!!! I feel your pain!!! I hope things keep improving and I definitely applaud you for throwing all of the troublemakers back to the administration to deal with. Wouldn't it be awesome to force an administrator to teach in your place for a week?!? Heck, probably even just a day would do it! Then they'd get down off of their smug high horses and quit blaming it all on you, I suspect! I'm sending positive thoughts your way . . . and refusing to believe you when you keep saying that you are a bad teacher! =)