Thursday, February 5, 2009

Budget Cuts

I think everyone is discussing this topic now.  This topic is even more pressing at the private school level.  We already know we're losing a number of our students next year and that means a huge freak out about the money situation.  I think I've already mentioned staff cuts are being bandied about, which is fine and understandable--you lose students and it makes sense to lose teachers.


I have an issue with the possibilities with this "staff reduction."  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, our small staff is riddled with laziness and incompetence.  And I have a pretty good idea these wont be the people who are reduced.  And, that fact makes me mad.  To know there's an English teacher who merely has his students read in class while he hands them notes he printed off line.  Or the history teacher who boasts that he has never written a lesson plan.  The teacher who never seems to be in his classroom and tells students they are ignorant shits.  And good people who try every day--their jobs are the ones in danger.  

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


There is one particularly abrasive teacher that I didn't have to deal with much last semester but seem to run into at every turn this semester.  She is rude, she is harsh, she is a complainer, and she is a know-it-all.  A lot of things I can't stand in a person.  

But, the capper really was this.  

Last week at lunch someone had brought in some macaroni and cheese for people to eat if they chose.  FREE OPTIONAL FOOD.  And do you know what this woman did?  She bitched the ENTIRE lunch period about how the cheese was inferior and she wouldn't ever eat that stuff.  Why would he bring in something like this with CHEAP cheese?  Just on and on and on.  And I just kept thinking that no one is FORCING her to eat it and no on is even ASKING her to eat it and the poor guy was just trying to be NICE.  And yet she yammered on and on.

What is wrong with people? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I wish I was teaching speech again this year after listening to Barack Obama's inaugural address.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Budget Cuts

The "reality" of the situation, as our school says, is the economy is bad.  Yes, we get it.  But, at  a meeting last week, budget cuts were discussed including cutting/freezing teacher's salaries (of course, this was not said in so many words, instead hinted at and suggested in a 30 minute speech about our "reality").

I work in a private school that barely pays its teachers above the poverty line.  Cuts would put us below.  Freeze would keep us teetering on the edge.  Each year we're supposed to move up in pay by some measly little sum.  In the end, 20 years in private school is equitable to half of what you could be making in public school in 1/2 that time.

But, I am lucky enough to be married and we are lucky enough to make a decent living between the two of us.


I don't know if I can feel comfortable staying knowing that one of the first moves they think about for budget cuts is to think about cutting back an already dismal salary.  I love my school and some of the people I work with.  I love that I have a say in what I teach and the curriculum and so many things.  But, I know a lot of people who aren't coming back next year simply because of money.  I promised myself two years, but... I can't help but think when you already pay pennies, teacher's salaries are the absolute LAST thing you should mess with.

Maybe I'm wrong in this economy.  Maybe I should just be happy to have a job.  But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This post contains swearing... A lot of swearing

While I am sitting here reading all these rational posts about helping students, about reading in the classroom, about education in a research driven way--smart, intelligent, worthy, and important pieces of information and reflection, all I can think about in terms of education is what I wish I could say to my students.  And by "say" I mean "scream" and by "wish" I mean "say in my head"

They're draining me.  They're de-motivating me.  They're getting the best of me.  They're irritating me.  They're sucking the very life at me.  And honestly?  I just want to tell them to shut the fuck up.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009


At my school, I have begun to notice a pattern.  Where it stems from, if it's symptomatic of private school, if it's a unique situation--I don't know.  All I know is this: the men on our staff are expected to do less and are not held to as high of standards as the female staff.

The men have less preps.
The men don't show up at meetings--and no one says a thing.
The men are called "forgetful" or "disorganized" while women who display this behavior are treated poorly--even if their personal circumstances cause those issues--personal circumstances that no one can control such as the sudden death of a family member.

At first I thought I was being oversensitive.  Then I thought it was merely coaches.  Then I realized that it is all the guys.  One male English teacher has ONE prep, the other TWO.  The rest of the female staff have THREE.  I just can't help but there's some sort of inherent gender issue there.  Either the men are too "forgetful" to handle it, or they are treated that way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Monday we went back.  First hour and I snapped.  The two week break did nothing to ease my frustration at their lack of effort, their lack of respect, and most of all their inability to SHUT UP once in a while.  I may have forgotten about it for two weeks, but those first ten minutes brought it all rushing back so fast I could feel my head snap back.

So, as the girls discussed their schedules in voices that were just as loud as mine trying to explain directions, I lost it and said so.  I said if I heard one more word about their schedule I would lose it even further.  I said the break didn't rejuvenate me--it irritated me even more that they couldn't follow simple instructions.  I said that we were going to focus on following simple directions since that was a skill they showed me they had yet to master.  

Then we had a snow day yesterday, which honestly wasn't much of a help as I was planning on yesterday to get some things done.  

Last night I had a dream that I was one of those kick ass teachers.  They're tough, they're structured to a T, but they are respected and the students learn.  Then, I woke up and realized I am just a moody teacher who loses her cool and can't seem to translate that into a teachable moment.  And I'm not sure I'll ever cross that bridge kick ass.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Well, break is basically over as today will be spent planning the upcoming week.  Luckily I can do that in my pajamas in front of the TV though.

And, let me put it plainly, I don't want to go back.  I have no desire to return.  I have no grand plans for second semester.  I could happily stay in this house for who knows how much longer and not get the teaching itch.

Over break, I couldn't stand to think about it except in fleeting moments of "I don't wanna."  I couldn't read any of the many teaching blogs I usually read about education.  I didn't want to hear about it, think about it, deal with it.  

If I skimmed an edu blog, people discussed that they went in to school over break or read articles or prepared.  And, honestly, I couldn't understand how they could do it.  I needed a clean break.  I needed not to think about it or deal with it.  And yet these people spent their break preparing themselves for the days to come, while I pretended like the inevitable did not exist.

I have to admit this made me question myself.  I have a friend who spends at least 8 hours planning every Sunday, who routinely stays at school until dinnertime, who's lunch is full of lunch detentions, and who basically gives 95% of her life to teaching.  I always thought she was an anomaly--the stereotypical spinster teacher.

But, I'm beginning to think I am.  Maybe I am one of those bad teachers who doesn't care enough or put in enough work.  Does it reflect in my teaching that I make time for my family, for my friends, for my TV viewing?  Does it make me less dedicated to spend my two weeks ignoring what was to come and dreading the next five months of only 5 days off total?

I know I've heard it before, but I've never believed it, to be a good teacher do I have to give my whole life to the pursuit?  I never thought so.  But in the light of everyone else, I have to wonder... And if I am not giving enough, what's going to happen?  Because I am not sure I can give any more.  And if that does my students a disservice, should I really be here?  And if the answer is no, then where should I be?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I have only graded about 1 1/2 of the 5 classes of finals I have, but the very first one I set out to grade gave me this little gem:

"Huck Finn is not a racist book because Mark Twain was African-American."


A fellow English teacher said one of her students proclaimed on the final that Mark Twain wrote Catcher in the Rye.


I suggested we fix the Wikipedia Entry for Mark Twain because it's obviously missing some info.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reflecting on Semester #1

I started this blog because I figured my first semester at a "real" school would prompt me to need release.

Now, as the semester winds to a close (including a lovely snow day today that keeps me out of reviewing for the final with one of my classes) I look back at the sparse amount of posting I've done on here.

The snow day allowed me to think about this, consider this phenomenon. I am a girl who seeks reflection and writing has always been my method of choice. I've always very much lived "inside my head." Thinking, reflecting, considering.

What I learned this year is teaching is not conducive to this lifestyle I was once used to.

First, reflection means I would have to come to terms with all the failure of this semester. Not just come to terms with it, but come to terms with it while I'm also pushing forward trying to keep going. Come to terms with it while trying to keep on top of paperwork and while dealing with meetings and extra curriculars--while dealing with teenage attitudes and faculty drama.

Even though it is my second year of teaching, it becomes increasingly, glaringly obvious that my job last year was cake. This year is a struggle--and while I have a great support group who are going through the same thing and help ease the frustration--to put reflection on top of it WHILE I'm doing it, just isn't feasible for me.

I'll regroup over Christmas break, reflect on Semester 1 and what worked and what didn't and hope that I can apply some lessons I've learned to second semester so that I CAN reflect WHILE I teach.