Friday, September 11, 2009

Magic Kingdom

I know this goes against what almost every teacher I know would say, but I was ready for the end of summer and ready to go back to work, even looking forward to it. There is something to be said for being able to walk away whenever you want that makes the return desirable. The "Teflon" coating I got for my 55th birthday also helps. I can pretty much say and do whatever I think is best and know that there are no repercussion that can stick. I don't like it when Mr. AP is in one of his ranting moods but, I have learned to do what kids have done to teachers for years, I turn a deaf ear.

I love the first couple of days of school when last term's students run up to me and throw their arms around me in a big hug. The hugs come from the 40's and 50's as well as the 90's. (I know Chaz, I have to be careful--again a benefit of my non stick status.) One of my former students was upset because he ended up with a teacher he had a horrible experience with a few years ago. I was able to help him get the class changed. He told me that he wanted to package me up and take me to college with him. I've got my "floor" tutoring program worked out because the geometry students from last year are already struggling with trig.

I'm terrified of the beginning of the school year. I used to know every name by the end of the first day. Now, the week is ending and I only know about 80% of them. I feel guilty. The Asian names are so similar that it is hard for a dumb Caucasian like me to get them all right. I have two students with similar names sitting one behind the other. One has the initials SJ and the other JS. Both agreed to let me use these letters for a while. They saw I needed a crutch. I worry about my classes. I worry if the kids will like me, listen to me and be able to learn from me. I worry about screwing up and doing some irreparable damage to their education. I hate assigning seats and don't so. I worry about them playing around instead of working. I like kids to be comfortable and sitting with friends as long as they are working, not chatting is important to this comfort. I worry that this policy is not educationally sound because almost no one else does it. No one should have to sit in the back every semester because their last name begins with a Z. I stress so much about the first day one would think I was a new teacher instead of a 30+ year veteran.

Maybe it is this fear combined with the love that makes the return to school magical, like the thrill of riding a roller coaster or jumping out of a plane (something I plan to do this year.) I don't have to travel to Orlando to visit Disney World. I have it right here at Packemin HS. I love my summer adventures but the magic kingdom here keeps drawing me back. My family tells me I will probably die with a piece of chalk in my hand. They are probably right.


Anonymous said...

You always have this wonderful attitude towards teaching that should be bottled and sold. You would make a fortune!!

So what about "The Plan"??


teachin' said...

I hope in 30 years, I'm still as enthusiastic and thoughtful and nervous as you are. THAT'S how teaching should be.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong and there is no teflon coating. At any time you can be removed and sent to the rubber room. No matter how false or how flimsy the accusations are. And there is no requirement for you to know the accusations - for an extended period of time as you linger in anguish. It is safe to say that you can, instead, retire and take a 40% cut in pay. The fact that you might eventually be found innocent of any false charges does not mean your life would not become hell. The charges stick well enough to carry you to the rubber room. Coating schmoating.

At the same time you can be assigned terrible classes (perhaps five diffferent ones you have not taught) with awful students and receive awful observations. This would be a slower way to drive you out. At the same time you could retire and take a 40% cut in pay. Coating schmoating.

Let me mention that I am a fan of your site and find myself nodding along to 99% of what you write. I have seen false misconduct and incomptency charges happen to the most competent, self-assured, and experienced teachers in our system.

Pissed Off said...

You are right. My teflon coating is that I can walk at a moments notice and I will--the minute the job stops being fun. If the games were to begin, I will leave before anythign happens. I am tier I teacher.

Believe me, I know everything you say is absolutely true. I just don't care enough to worry about them.