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Monday, March 21, 2011

"Wouldn't it be great if your 'stache could smell like watermelons?"

Generally I hate Mondays. Today was no different. It's the second day of spring and in the middle of reading  to my 5th graders I looked up and snarled, "IT'S SNOWING!" The poor kid in front of me looked like he feared for his life. I think I had a little Linda Blair crazy eye going on. I was planning to start Robert Frost today but I do believe the imagery of walking in the woods would have been lost on the 6th graders. "Two roads diverged in a wood...and I forgot to bring a shovel."

So I know this happened a number of weeks ago but I've been busy and am just getting around to commenting on the teacher in Pennsylvania who was let go for ranting about her students in her blog. Now many of you have been reading my blog since it's inception a few years ago. I get thousands of visitors from around the world and so far have only managed to piss off a select few. However, I have a bit of advice for Natalie Munroe (of course I do hehehe).

Every teacher in the known universe is frustrated with their job in one way or another. We're frustrated with the changes in society, the shifts in education, and the lack of priorities demonstrated by many of our students and their families. However, that's never an excuse to vent publicly and refer to your students as "lazy whiners".

Here's a tip: if your job makes you that miserable, it's time for a career change. Or better yet, change the way you teach and find a way to push these kids out of their educational rut. Did you ever think that part of the problem might be you and the way you present your class? Now, before everyone gets all nutty, I don't know this woman from Adam. The only snapshot I have of her and her personality is from her blog and her highly publicized firing. In fact I was so disgusted with her that I didn't even bother to read the rest of her blog. Hell, she might very well profess to love her job more than she loves her lousy haircut or crummy fashion sense (like how I worked that in? ZING!). However, if you are that negative about your students, it's time to rethink your position in education.

If it turns out that teaching is truly your passion and you simply can't make heads or tails of your kids' behavior, here's another tip: DON'T BROADCAST IT ON YOUR BLOG! If you have issues with your current job, tell your mom. Talk to your therapist. Vent to your cat. They won't tattle on you!

Or better yet, talk to your supervisor, your lead teacher, or your principal. Make suggestions, ask for help from your colleagues, shake things up and turn the kids on their ear.

Look, I love being able to share my every thought with all of you but it's time the world realized that what they perceive as the relative anonymity of the internet isn't some sort of magical invisibility shield. There is always someone out there in the world who can connect you to your virtual self, your online personality. Right now there is some computer nerd in a giant server room registering my IP address every time this blog entry auto saves on Blogger. Chances are there's also some white collar criminal sitting in his crappy one room apartment doing the same thing. All it takes is one person to point the finger and your anonymity is shattered, your job on the line.

I love teaching and I love sharing my stories with you all. I've shared the laughs, the triumphs, the frustrations, and the anger, but I have to say, I would never pull the kind of stunt this woman pulled. I hope for her sake that someone out there is willing to overlook this major faux pas and give her a job in the future. Then again, knowing our nation's priorities, someone has already called asking for the rights to her story so they can make it into a Lifetime movie. Damn my misplaced sense of responsibility towards my job....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"I gotta go count my balloons..."

So sorry I have been MIA lately. Finishing the special edition of my asylums book has essentially taken over my life. And if I wasn't fit for commitment to one of those places before, I sure as hell am now. However, you'll all be happy to know that I have not been neglecting my memoirs. Ok, maybe I have been. But that doesn't mean I won't get them done! I did, after all, give up procrastinating for Lent. Although, I did move that to my To Do list for tomorrow....

Anyway, for the first time in my life yesterday I put down a book and refused to finish it. Now, I rarely (never) do that. I always finish a book, even if it's slow going and doesn't seem to have much to say because, hey, I'm an author and I wouldn't want anyone chucking my book in the bin before they've read my tear jerker of an epilogue! However, "Mr. Instability" by Tom Elsa is, in a word, unreadable. I bought the book off of Amazon thinking it would be a humorous account of a man who has had more job changes than I have (an impressive feat all its own). However, the moment I cracked this messterpiece I was immediately turned off by the lousy grammar, terrible spelling, and generally crappy writing. He professes in the opening pages that at his first job the trailer he had to work in was "hot as Haiti's". Come on, really? And while he freely admits he never did well in school and "sucks and grammar", I found that to be no excuse for poor writing. Mr. Elsa, as a fellow self-published author I urge, please don't ever EVER put pen to paper ever again. Or if you do, call me first. I'll edit it for you so that those of us with a higher than 3rd grade education can actually enjoy what you have to say.

Other than that the school year is winding down. Book Fair is next week which of course I'm excited about (no one's surprised about that) then two weeks of standardized testing in which I get to watch my 5th graders turn into pickled vegetables right before my eyes! I expect lots of whining, perhaps a few tears, and a LOT of crankiness. However, it's spring and we've moved on to writing in our English class which of course makes me quite happy.

What would make me even happier is the disappearance of Justin Bieber, followed by the eventual discovery of his shorn locks in a dumpster outside of Brooklyn. I finally had to outlaw all things Justin Bieber in my class after a cat fight erupted in the 6th grade on the day of the young star's birthday. Three of the 6th grade girls came to class wearing star shaped PostIt notes that read "Future Mrs. Bieber" on them. Yes, I threw up a little. So the thing they call Bieber is no longer allowed in my room. Those who utter his name are automatically scorned. That in mind, one of the 6th grade girls made a CD for the classroom. She brought it in and asked if I could play it while they were writing. She then apologized, saying that she made the CD before I outlawed Bieber Fever in my room so there were indeed two Justin Bieber "songs" (I use the term loosely) on the CD but we could just skip those. Damn right we could skip those. I pop the CD in and wait for it to start up, given that we use the DVD player and TV to play music as I don't have CD player. We make it through a portion of the first track when we hear this pop, followed by a fizz, followed by what appears to be, upon further inspection, the sudden and untimely death of the TV.

My response? "See! Justin Bieber broke my TV!"