Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dirty Talk Needed

I used to teach in a tough school, a really tough one. The school was one of the first one closed when the city started doing that to bad schools years ago. We taught with locked doors and avoided certain stairwells between classes. Kids were often found with weapons and more than one fire was started during a fire drill. (Our kids liked the real thing.)

In spite of it all, I loved that school. I loved the kids and I loved the teachers I worked with. I only left because of its distance from my house. Having two babies, I needed to be close to home, available for emergencies. I also did not have time to travel.

Packemin HS was a country club in comparison. I felt that the first minute I stepped in to interview with the principal. I thought, surely I had found the perfect place and was thrilled to be hired on the spot.

Unfortunately, my happiness did not last long. The teachers were not as friendly as the ones I had worked with in my previous school and although no one was mean, I just felt out of place. And then the reason for my unhappiness hit me--NO ONE TALKED DIRTY! I'm not talking about sexual harassment or pornography dirty, I'm talking about innocent flirtations, sentences with double meanings and a few off color jokes. In the few years I stopped working to be a full time mom, things changed. Political correctness was the new thing and everyone worried about saying the wrong thing and being brought up on charges.

It took me a long time, but I found my crew, the group as warped and sick as I am. I found the group I can have my dirty conversations with and not worry about anything. I finally found myself at home at Packemin.


Pogue said...

"That's what she said."

Rachel Grynberg said...

First, I know in my blog, generally, I am saying nothing new. Sometimes I just need to say it for me, but I know how incredible comprehensive and wise you have been.

Second, I understand this feeling completely. I wandered around Tilden like this for a long time. Brooklyn Comprehensive conversations were "very real" --my crew, anyway, cut to the chase and could be dirty in a good way. No one at Tilden quite spoke that way, though I found people who were incredibly caring and intelligent. They had been so whipped by the various "new ideas" that had come and gone that they were a lot more guarded. I did find people who could be real, though there was a certain fear that pervaded the place. It was the strangest thing, in the first months, to walk around and not feel like I could speak. I felt like I had dropped into another time zone. At my new job, people are real, but I'm scared now, more like the folks at Tilden. I find comfort, a little bit, in being guarded and I wish I could keep my mouth shut all the time. Of course, I've already had my burts of honesty. I wish I could take them back.

Rachel Grynberg said...

I meant incredibly comprehensive. My eyes really suck these days.

Anonymous said...

I think when a school is tough, the staff grows stronger and comes together because they really need both the support and a good sense of humor to help get them through the day.

When a school is good, teachers are more apt to stay in cliques and do tend to kiss ass so they get even better assignments.


ChiTown Girl said...

That's hilarious! I'd fit right in to your tight, little circle ;-)

Kim Hughey said...

You continue to crack me up. I think it is true that when you work in a tough environment the teachers have to stick together and support each other. When you come to work everyday and know you are among friends, you can face just about any challenge.

However, when things are hostile amongst the staff, even dream schools can begin to feel like a prison to you.

I miss my crew that I hung out with from my old school. We'd all been together so long and faced so many challenges with the students. We had each others' back so to speak. Hopefully, I will find that at my new school. I know it takes time so I am willing to be patient.

Abstract Randomizer said...

As usual, you've put your finger on something important.
A student teacher asked me once what my biggest asset was in the classroom and I said "a sense of humor" without even thinking about it. After thinking about it, I'd add "especially when nobody else seems to have one."
My favorite school was a place of laughter and camaraderie and a genuine affection among the people who worked there. The principal was a gifted leader who knew you can't push a rope and the people you work with are people you have to live with, year after year, so why not enjoy their company?

mathman42 said...

Here's a joke for you, math teacher lady.

When does one plus one equal three ?

When you can wait nine months for the result.