Tag Archives: high school

The “Tripod” of the Public Education System

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week 🙂 Thank a teacher who supported you!

Now on to a less happy topic…

There’s this lovely “tripod” that’s supposed to be a thing in the teaching field: the students, the parents, and the teachers/administration. I remember sitting in grad school, listening to this tripod explanation, and thinking Yup, I got it, that makes sense, if we all just work together, we’ll have the perfect system!

I was teaching 7th grade English at the time, in Aiea, Hawaii, and I was struggling. The added stress of my masters program, my Teach For America responsibilities, and the craziness of uprooting from Texas was definitely weighing on me. I kept thinking Well, my end of the tripod is steady, for sure. I figured my kids’ third of the creation was probably sturdy as well. So I mostly blamed parents. Why don’t they check grades online? Why don’t they check their kids’ backpacks, planners, folders? Why don’t they show up to meetings or buy their kids supplies or make their kids read at night? Why aren’t they like MY parents, or like ME? It’s easy to blame.

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But as the years went on, and I moved back to Texas, I realized a much bigger problem: WHY is the teacher end of the tripod combined with admin? Shouldn’t they be on their own, a fourth leg? There’s a disconnect between educators and their bosses–a gap that’s growing and growing. To casually throw a backslash in between teachers and admin is ridiculous. Teachers/admin. As if we’re the same, as if we have the same job, make the same salary, deal with the same daily ups and downs…HA!

I’ve tried hopelessly to get to the bottom of why this disconnect exists and how it started. The only conclusion that really makes sense is lack of respect. We don’t feel trusted by our principals or assistant principals or curriculum specialists or whoever we’re “reporting to” on any given day…and I don’t think they feel trusted by us either. Respect, open communication, team building…all of those buzzwords that are major duhs in well-run companies are merely pipe dreams in the public education system.

We are told that it’s our fault if kids fail–by people who, five years ago, were (shockingly) teachers themselves, dealing with failure rates themselves. It’s kind of insane.

We ask for behavior help, classroom resources, parent or community relationship assistance–until eventually we stop asking. Because that’s usually what people do after so long of asking and not receiving–they stop asking entirely.

We fill out all the required busy work and attend all the unhelpful, mandatory trainings and simultaneously sew our lips together.

I’m only in my fourth year of teaching and I’m guilty of this. I start off the year strong, passionate. I begin fizzling and fading fast. So much time and effort…for what seems like nothing most of the time. I care about my students as if they are my own flesh and blood–I pour my heart into this job–and the “tripod” still topples. Every year.

Admin seem to blame teachers, teachers blame parents and admin, students blame no one because usually they don’t even see the real problem…

I think it’s pretty clear that this “tripod” is wobbly on EVERY end. There’s no 100% strong, healthy leg of the public education system. It’s not one group’s fault. I don’t even think one group is a little more to blame than another. Everyone knows we have a flawed system. Large strides are needed–from everyone.

But I do think that the first step in solving this massive nationwide issue is to close that disconnect between teachers and admin, so that maybe we CAN one day be teachers/admin.

I mean, if we can’t receive the support that we deserve from our superiors…how are we supposed to function effectively in the trickle-down of disrespect?

Basketball Games and Soapboxes

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As a teacher, we really, REALLY have to rely on the “little moments”…

You know.

Those few and far between flashes of RESPECT or kindness or awesomeness or just general hilarity that pop out of students unexpectedly. They’re rare, trust me…but they make the job worth every second of after-hours grading, tutoring, professional development, etc. etc.

No-More-Free-Pencils

I went to some of my boys’ basketball games last week and let me tell you…I didn’t understand a goddamn thing. What are all those fouls? Why are there so many different point opportunities? Does everyone HAVE to be silent during free throws? Anyway. The point is, I was there. In my teacher outfit, sitting alone like a lonely loner. With my lunchbox. Clapping when everyone else clapped. FREAKING OUT when my kid’s nose started bleeding and literally holding myself back so that I wouldn’t hand him a tissue and embarrass him. It was terrible…I was starving and bored and I just wanted to go home and they lost…badddd. But, but, but–it was all worth it when ONE of the boys said, “Thanks for coming, Miss” before he left, head hanging. And it was worth it when his mom came up and shook my hand and told me she’d heard I published a novel! I went home smiling, excited to teach the next day.

It’s strange…to hear and see so many negative things from students/fellow teachers/admin/parents every day but to still love the job so much after a simple THANK YOU makes your day…isn’t that crazy?!

Then there are times like today. Today I got up on a soapbox of no return. I wrote a student a referral for a comment he made to a female student that was definitely sexual harassment… I was so disappointed and angry. I said, “You know, you should really show some self-respect. You can’t respect others until you respect yourself.” And it was just so preachy and chilly and pretentiously thrown out of my mouth like a million little daggers and I hated it right after it came out. I meant it…but I knew he didn’t understand it, and I hated that. He’ll understand it one day…he might not remember me saying it, but hopefully he’ll understand it.

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I’m not sure what this blog is really about. Teaching, obviously. Loving/hating the job but ultimately love blinding out the hate. Perhaps most importantly, the Ryan Gosling teacher love memes that have been floating around the internet for years. Take from it what you will. But definitely treasure those little moments–hold onto the good memories, try to let go of the others.

10 Year Reunion

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I just watched 10 Years, the movie with a crazy number of famous people about a 10 year high school reunion. It was OK, not fantastic, but it did have one lasting effect: I can’t stop thinking about what my 10 year high school reunion will be like. And I mean, can’t stop. I figure if I write this blog, get all my wacky thoughts out of my head and onto a Word doc, I’ll be free (until 2016, which, sadly, is coming up very, very soon).

I’m going to list the main plots of the movie and then talk about my fears/hopes/predictions for my own looming reunion. I guess you should know that I went to Jack C. Hays High School in good ol’ Kyle, TX. We’ve made national news a couple times for using the Confederate flag much like other people use the Bible or peace signs and painting “nigger” on a teacher’s door. Classy, I know. Please note that when I say “we,” I obviously mean the entire school, past and present students and staff, because we are all guilty, in some form or fashion. I myself, for example, went to school with so many Republicans that I thought I was one, until college hit me like a bag of Taaka bottles. I dated someone once who dipped. I owned overalls and thought that men who drove cars instead of trucks were pussies. Must I go on?

You should also know that in high school, I was editor-in-chief of the newspaper, historian of Student Council, I didn’t know how to dress, I have no idea what was going on with my hair, and I had a small but solid group of friends who all had similar stories. My only real boyfriend was senior year…and he was a sophomore. Oh, and I had severe scoliosis; high school really wasn’t my time to shine. So there you have it. Now you’re ready to read on.

A)     Exes

I already covered this, really. There will be no awkward small talk with a former lover for me, yay! Although I can’t wait to watch this happen between other people.

B)      Looking/Acting Completely Different Now

I do look pretty different, in that I am now somewhat attractive, whereas in high school I think I just looked odd. My body grew too slow in all the wrong places and too fast in all the other. I was the opposite of sexy. So that might be kind of fun, especially considering that most people look worse 10 years after graduation. I plan on being very high and mighty as the leader of the very small percentage of graduates who will not be pregnant or overweight at the reunion. Suck on that, blonde beauty queen bitches (OK, some of you were nice and cool, I admit. I still hope you’re all fat).

But I really want to see something more significant—someone who completely and utterly changed their lifestyle, walks into the room, and no one knows who they are because they’re THAT shockingly different.

C)      Anyone Famous?

I don’t think so. The closest is probably this one kid who’s trying to make it on Broadway right now. We’ve all been waiting for him to come out of the closet since high school.

D)     Pictures

In the movie, there were pictures of their class hanging all over. I don’t remember having many photos in the yearbook, but maybe I’ll submit some winners (StuCo sleepovers, Newspaper meetings, that time I tried to make a documentary), to make sure us “losers” are represented just as much as the prom king and queen.

E)      Embarrassment

Will we get drunk? Will anyone cause a huge scene, get into a fight, have sex in the bathroom, throw up on the dance floor? Where will this event even be held? You better believe I’ll be tipsy, but I won’t embarrass myself. I have to stay sober enough to remember (and capture on my iPhone) all of the sloppy happenings of the night.

F)      Romance

Although I have no exes to rekindle flames with, I do have to wonder…will I still be single in 2016? I told my best friend that she’ll probably meet, aka re-meet, her husband at our reunion. That’d be crazy, right? Yes, there are a few people we have in mind. But they’re probably like the rest of our high school: married, kids, horrible jobs. I’m exaggerating. Our graduating class was about 650—I’d say 75% are married (some already divorced and remarried). So of that remaining 25%, take out the women, gays, unemployed, tools, and rednecks…you get 5%. Of that 5%, probably half won’t come because they’re too busy making a lot of money, travelling the world, or saving babies. That leaves us with 2.5% but let’s not forget, my friends are the cool ones who went to college, didn’t knock anybody up, and now live normal, adult lives. Therefore, at least 1% of that 2.5% consists of friends who I see more as brothers. That leaves us with a whopping 9.75 men that could be potential interests the night of our reunion. Let’s chop off that 0.75 because I don’t like the sound of a three-fourths man. Let’s subtract another two because they’ll be too pretentious, ugly, or both to handle. So seven potential people who I could get handsy with by the punch bowl or make out with in the parking lot. Or, ya’ know, exchange numbers and go on an actual date with later in the week. Seven sounds like WAY too high of a number, what am I forgetting to subtract?

I’m really looking forward to our 10 year reunion, especially after seeing that movie. My best friend doesn’t want to go at all and doesn’t understand why I’ll be dragging her to it no matter what. I’m just so damn nostalgic. I’m dying to see how everyone’s doing, what everyone looks like, who has adorable baby pictures in their wallet and who still hasn’t fixed their awful eyebrows/teeth/halitosis. Who is just downright happy and who is just downright miserable? Who lights up the room? Who looks so freakin’ fantastic you can’t stop staring? Who comes way overdressed/underdressed? Who cries? Who will I not remember for the life of me? Who will not remember me for the life of them? Who will surprise me?

Can’t wait. 2016, you better be kind to me.