What a crazy week!
It started of rather auspiciously with an attack on the writing front from me on my Scion characters. Using an exercise from Kress I began to describe my three main characters from the perspective and biases of their counterparts. That is Hen describing Rain, Rain describing Ink and Ink describing Hen. Though I have not yet made it through all of the trio, I did learn some things about them, their weaknesses, needs and fears. As stated before, I hope this will prove a turning point in my own attitude toward my story—if that’s the direction I choose to jump.
As school, however, things began to turn rather “convoluted,” for lack of a better term. On Monday, in the midst of 1st period Senior English, British Literature, the phone interrupted Macbeth’s three witches cooking up their cauldron full of “…toil and trouble…” It was Mr. L. wanting to know if I would rather my seniors came to him 3rd period or could I just send them over to his class room?
“You know, for your department meeting?”
Department meeting? I thought numbly as ice water of memory failure completely stole my voice. Was that today? As soon as the period ended, sure enough, Mrs. S. came in to mind my second period class. What the hell! Must my kids keep getting short shrift with these interruptions? I threw a hasty outline of my lesson on the board, sent my TA out to tape a crude sign on the door directing 3rd period’s denizens to Mr. L’s room and then took off for my meeting with Admin.
At the meeting I was told that next year due to budget cuts they were cutting a section of seniors and I would be teaching all of them.
“How many juniors are presently enrolled?” I asked.
“XXX” came the reply.
“But…that’s XX more than seniors this year” I pointed out. “And you’re cutting a section? You realize that means all four of my senior sections will have more than 35 students in them? Adding the two sections of sophomore’s I teach that’ll be more than 180 students. Just how am I supposed to maintain that many students, their essays, assignments and research projects, not to mention Senior Portfolio requirements, still cover the same amount of material and number of standards? I can’t physically get through that much paperwork…”
Blah-blah-blah…the conversation deteriorates from there. I knew I was going to end up making the best of it, but such illogic is hard to swallow. You, gentle reader, need not hear the rest of the exchange as Governor Brown’s tax proposal, squeezing blood from a turnip, and the quality of education was discussed. Suffice to know, I was disgusted. Shit, they should have just let me know via email what I was teaching the next year and I could have stayed with my classes and got something useful done.
And I had so much to do. I reviewed it all in my head as I returned to my class an hour and a half later. It was Monday. I had only one full day after today with my charges…Tuesday. I hoped to make the best of it. It was not to be. 20 minutes into my lesson for Sophomore Honors the phone rings again.
“Mr. P. would you escort your students to the cafeteria? The hearing van is here for their annual hearing check.”
“Can you give me ten minutes?”
“Okay, but don’t wait too long; the line will only grow longer.”
“Cheers” click. The line was long and I lost another part of my day FOR-FRACKING-EVER!
Next came Wednesday Early Release, a district mandated waste of time for collaboration between teachers, staff and department meetings, and an opportunity for students to miss school. Why we couldn’t have had our big Monday meeting during this time is a cosmic mystery that will never be solved. Did I mention loosing a quarter of my seniors to Occupational Olympics? No? Well, Frackin’-A, I did.
Thursday was an Minimum Day as it was Parent-Teacher Conferences. This would consist of two sessions 13:00 to 15:00 and 18:00 to 20:00. Between sessions as Student Council advisor I would be responsible, along with my co-advisors, to prepare and sell tri-tip sandwiches between 16:00 and 18:00. After tri-tip clean up, the hour commute home, debrief with my wife and pep-talk (she’s trying to quit smoking and I am at her command) and my “daily,” it was 23:00—a long day consider I started it at 04:00.
Today is also an Early Release day and after five hours of sleep I have to amit I need it. Once upon a time P/T Conferences lasted two days with teachers available for two hours in the afternoon of each day. After a few complaints by parents who were at work during the regularly scheduled visiting hours of 13:00 to 15:00…duh! Who thinks this shit up and couldn’t think that was coming?!…it was decided to combine both sessions, but keep the two day early release schedule as teachers like me had been nearly driven crazy by a 12 hour work day plus drive time. I dunno, it doesn’t make much sense to me either; what I do know is that my kids are missing more school even though it seems they are asked to do more. On Thursday I had 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th. Today I’ll have 1st again (how and where all my other classes get an extra hour is as mysterious to me as the Easter Island heads), 3rd, 6th, and 8th.
WTF!? Are we in the business of teaching or not? Cut the interruptions and given me uninterrupted classes. Stop overloading my classroom—Jez, I only have 33 desks in my room! Remove from the educational equation all the politics and politicians who decide everything “for the people” but have never taught so much as the a-b-c’s. It takes X amount of time to educate X amount of children and consequently X amount of money. If that isn’t in the cards then let’s forego the whole bloody soap opera and put our young people to work in the fields, factories and on the road beds or our nation and at least give them a work ethic. Better odds at life than we’re giving them now!
This afternoon, I’m off to see The Hunger Games. I’m sure there’s some irony in there somewhere. I’m just too tired to see it at the moment.