Diapers and Dragons

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear So and So: An Emotional Rant (Or Four)

Pants With Names posts every now and then with her very amusing versions of her friend Kat's postcard posts. You know, the "Dear So and So" type of thing. Today, I think I need to do it too. Because I am in a MOOD. One that even Ghirardelli dark chocolate with raspberry filling cannot fix.

I KNOW.

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Dear Electronic Grading System,

WTF do you mean, it's Progress Report time??? I'm not ready! I'm not prepared! I'm still scrambling to get everything done AND figure out how to balance Work and Home Life right now, and it's still in the early stages. Plus I had to take that day off to stay home with The Widget, and it's taking me twice as long to catch up as it would have to just be here.

Your little asterisks of Grades Have Not Been Entered mock me!

Yours in frantic desperation,
Ms. Buried-Up-To-My-Neck-In-Paperwork TeacherMommy

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Dear Current Students,

No, M&Ms are not suitable replacements for Godiva. Also, it's Cherry COKE. Cherry Pepsi is an abomination.

Grumpily,
Your Favorite English Teacher

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Dear You Know Who,

I know. It's AMAZING that moving to that town didn't fix all your problems. Such a shock! I never would have guessed.

I really need to work on my bitterness.

Trying To Forgive,
One of the People You Left Behind

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Dear Media, World, and People I Love,

I know there are problems with the system. I'm not saying it can't improve. And I love that there are options for people, like private schools and charters and homeschooling. But here's the reality check: they're not all perfect either. Or even always better. And every time you lump all of us educators together under the category of "lazy" or "useless" or "outdated" or "unnecessary", you injure a group of people who, in a far greater majority than you give them credit for, have chosen a career that is full of stress and challenge and (increasingly) very little thanks--and do a damn good job.

You want to measure my efficacy? You want some stats? Today alone I actively taught five classes (three different courses), graded eight sets of quizzes, rewrote two quizzes, prepped questions and activities for a novel, answered over twenty emails, entered grades into the grading system, wrote a wiki rubric for the district benchmark "test", checked in three classes' worth of vocabulary assignments, and helped several individual students who had issues or questions outside of class.

That was in five hours. And I'm still behind.

That doesn't even include the unmeasurable aspects: getting students excited about literature, making them laugh, working with other teachers to develop ideas and activities and curriculum. How are you going to gather statistics on the number of students I impact in the ways that don't show up on standardized tests?

And I'm not even the best or hardest working teacher I know, not by a long shot. AND THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.

And here's the other thing: we take everyone. That's EVERYONE. Regardless of ethnicity or religion or gender or financial status or, especially, disability. We don't get to pick and choose like almost every private and charter school does. We take everyone, and we care about them, and we do our damnedest under increasingly difficult circumstances.

And then we get shit on from every direction. Including our own administration, our politicians, the media, and (God help me) even our own friends and family.

I told my students' parents on Sneak Peek night that I teach because I love doing it and I love working with these kids. It's true. But for the first time in my entire career, even when I was so close to burn-out that I could taste it (twice), I realized this week that if I miraculously won the lottery with that ticket I never buy, I wouldn't keep teaching.

Stop saying "Oh, but I didn't mean YOU." Yes, you did. Because I'm in this along with all the others.

It's been a hard week.

Sincerely,
Your Emotionally Raw TeacherMommy

8 bits of love:

PantsWithNames said...

You needed to write those. They say Dear So and So is better than therapy. And I think teachers are woefully undervalued and underpaid. You would never get me doing that job, far far too much hard work.

Big hugs xxx

GingerB said...

I've only taught in higher ed systems, and I can only imagine the horrors you face. I'm glad you vented - you deserve to. Indeed, teachers are undervalued and underpaid.

Katie said...

I like to hear a good rant.
That was a great one.

Draft Queen said...

I love YOU and your undervalued-ness. My kids have had many teachers who were FANTASTIC and went above and beyond and unfortunately, my daughter has had a few that weren't suited to her needs (which are MANY) and one effing pedophile who shouldn't have been there ever.

But that sure doesn't mean all Middle School Music teachers are pedophiles. It means that one d-bag was.

I hate when people lump the good ones with the bad ones and assume everyone is bad. It's sucky.

Lauren said...

Love, love...

Jessi said...

Hope you feel better and I definitely agree with the last one. Thanks for all you do for your kids.

Heidi said...

*hugs*

Having had a pretty awful homeschooling experience (I love my mother to PIECES but we were just NOT a good learning set!) and some public school teachers that I still remember with fond feelings for how kind they were to an awkward, depressed child/preteen/teenager, I will always be grateful for the remarkable work that many teachers do.

We've had this conversation but you know...homeschool is no more perfect a solution than public school is, and homeschool is frequently for the privileged - those who can *afford* (even in making sacrifices) to stay home with their children. It isn't for everyone, just as public/private school isn't for everyone, and anyone who says otherwise needs to educate themselves a little more!

I love YOU to pieces too, hon!

mom said...

So what more can I say? You are a great teacher, and I know a number of them, and the people who make generalizations are the ones at fault here. I hope this last week was more encouraging. And I would love to hear (in private) how the one who left is doing and what issues the move has not solved for her. I'm praying!

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