Diapers and Dragons

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh, I Have a Blog? Righto, Maybe I Should Post Something Then.

How's the school year starting off, TM? you ask. Since it's been a week now and nary a peep about that from me.

I know, I know. I make this big declaration about taking my blog back and then silence. Blame bad habits. Blame exhaustion. Blame the start of the year and the fact that I'm actually getting off my ass and being a much more active and interactive teacher.

I came into this new school year with some higher expectations for myself. The last two school years have been full of chaos and distraction for me: first with all the depression and wading my way out of despair, then with all the divorce and whatnot. Even last year, when I was in a much better place emotionally, I was so distracted by the divorce proceedings and mediation meetings and finances and then the world of dating and then, lo and behold, falling in love...Yeah. The academic side of things kind of went to the wayside a bit.

Not that I was an abysmal teacher. Just not as good as I know I can be.

I did connect to my students much better during those years, though. I think it's because I became much more Real in the classroom as well as in my personal life. I stopped hiding behind my wall of reserve and started connecting with my students in a down-to-earth way, flaws and all. I have always had students with whom I have connected strongly, but never so many and so wide-spread as in the last two years. As a result, my students tend to be more interested and alert in class, and they've also increasingly seen me as a safe harbor, counselor, and mentor rather than "just" an English teacher.

It's time to put both pieces together: the academic and the personal. So I have high expectations for myself this year, and I'm spending far less time sitting at the computer.

So how's it going so far? It isn't so much the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly as it is the Exciting, the Frustrating, and the Infuriating.

My students are awesome. I truly enjoy the mix I have this year, and I'm Excited to meet and interact with them each day. I am teaching the new twelfth grade curriculum, which I helped design, and it is NOT tied to the ACT/MME (Michigan Merit Exam) or other conventional standardized tests, and I'm ever so Excited to work with such a different class. The literature is pretty damn awesome, too.

However, the same curriculum presents some challenges, since we have limited funds available to do things like, oh, buy more books. So we each have a class set--or rather, are supposed to, since I currently have only twenty-three copies--of the textbook. The students can't take it home. There are only class sets of a number of other books for the class as well. There's a large technology component to the course, but with the budget cuts we have extremely limited access to either computers or the Media Center. I'm also the only teacher in the building who is familiar with the course curriculum AND the literature. Therefore, I am the woman to whom all the other twelfth grade teachers come with their questions and freak-outs. This is all very Frustrating.

And then there are the couple of people with whom I must work in this new course who, well, are very negative. One in particular is a teacher whom I struggle to respect. She seems to have an excuse for every bit of real work she has to do, not to mention complaints about everything that is new. Which is basically the whole damn course. Most Infuriating of all, she uses her mommyhood as her default excuse. She "can't" handle all this new stuff because she has "mommy brain." She isn't familiar with any contemporary (or ancient, apparently) world lit because all she reads these days is baby books and child-rearing books and, apparently, the Shopaholic chick lit books.

It's a bullshit excuse. There are exactly two people in our rather large department who don't have children. Most of us have YOUNG children. Our department head has one toddler and is due with her second in December. DramaBoy is all of one year younger than this teacher's oldest child. Yeah, she has three young children. She also works part-time and has for years. If she really wanted to play Let's Compare Lives, I'd trump her. I have two young biological children, three stepchildren (one of whom lives at home with us full-time, so there's three in the home), I work full time as does MTL, and I also have the stress of constant negotiation (peaceful, but still) with an Ex. Also, I am the only English teacher in this building with three different preps instead of two. The two she teaches in her part-time day? I teach both of them. PLUS another.

Does that mean I win? No. It just means that like every other person here, my life is busy and complicated and stressful. I just want to yell at her to Suck It Up, just like everyone else.

But I can't. I need to be able to work with her and the other teachers and keep things calm and moving in the right direction.

I've been biting my tongue a lot. As of yesterday's lunch, literally. Ow.

Life's a bit crazy.

In other words, business as usual.

I should go eat my lunch now, in the few minutes remaining. It's been lovely to chat. I promise, I'll be back soon.

Maybe, if certain people keep pissing me off, sooner than you think. Just sayin'.

3 bits of love:

Heidi said...

"I'm also the only teacher in the building who is familiar with the course curriculum AND the literature."

**is not coughing. not at all.** ;)

Teacher Mommy said...

To be fair, this is mainly due to their unfamiliarity with the NEW curriculum--whereas I helped design it. It is a little frustrating working with a couple of them who AREN'T familiar with the literature either, though. Sigh.

Betty Herbert said...

How infuriating! Still, at least you get that feeling of sumgness that you're waaaay better than her!

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