Everyone has their issues with their job. Many feel as though their boss is unfair, their manager is sleeping with the girl who got the promotion over them. Others think they are over worked and under paid.
Have you ever had to look another human being in the eyes and assure them that if a gunman were to walk into the room, they would have to go through you before they got to them? Have you ever had police rip open your locked door looking for the hostage that they said was somewhere on the premises? Have you spent seventy hours working in a single week both at work and at home to ensure paperwork would be done by the time administrators told you it should be only to be paid the equivalent of seven dollars and eighty-nine cents? Have you ever had someone blame you for their inability to do what they want because they did not meet your expectations?
More importantly, have you seen the look on someone’s face when something they have struggled with for several years finally makes sense to them? Have you ever had someone tell you that because of you, they were finally able to move away from a label (“nearly there”) that has followed them around since they were seven years old? Have you ever had thirty-five people listening to every word you had to say?
Lying. Mistaken identity. Maneuverability. Theft. Larson. Homicide prevention. Suicide prevention. Disrespect. Manipulation. Interrogation.
And to think, most of that happens before ten o'clock in the morning in the life of a teacher.
The alarm goes off at 5 and it takes until 6:45 for me to work up the courage to face yet another day of insufferable know-it-all teenagers. While in the shower I realize this will never calm the nerves enough to actually start the day off on the right foot. I drink my protein shake and spike the tea with a Lift-Off wishing it was something a bit stronger but, hey, who doesn’t.
I get in my car and it takes another 5 minutes to work up the nerve to actually back out of the driveway. The perfect excuse? “I have to let the car warm up!”
As I lie to myself, I make a mental note to think of a new excuse when spring officially gets here and the car doesn’t need to warm up as much as I do.
Thank whatever superior being might exist that I have first period prep. As I walk up to the school, trembling from all of the caffeine I’ve ingested just to get motivated, most of the heathens are already moving along to class (not mine, thank Superior Being X!) or to get temporary IDs. (You know how hard it is to put it on when school starts, put it in your backpack when school is over, and repeat the process the next day.)
All I need to do is make it from the front door to my mailbox without being accosted…. Damn!!! With only feet left to go, they close the door leading outside and 25 students are corralled in a space small enough to make Mini-Me claustrophobic. “Excuse me. Pardon Me. Can I get by please?” Five feet from my mailbox. Ten feet from the nurse’s exit.
“RRRRRRAAAAAWWWWWW!!! Fear me! I am infallible teenager! You must not pass!” It would be easier to pass over a wooden bridge dangling inches above an active volcano.
“Where’s your ID?” And now the security guards are in on the joke.
“Right here next my classroom key!” because the polo shirt and slacks in a sea of DGK and sagging skinny jeans wasn’t enough of a clue that I am not a student.
Zig, zag, dodge, dive, weave, weave, “DUCK!” and a military roll into the classroom. SALVATION. Leave the lights off, hide in the corner. “Did anyone see me? No? Score one more point for Superior Being X. Maybe…just maybe there is a….” door slam. “Damn.”
Crazy lady from two doors down saw me. Now what? A long conversation about how her going against her entire department, not to mention any sort of ethics code we are supposed to follow, means everyone else is out to get her and she is the only person with any ability to do the job she continually screws up. Oh, and she needs to permanently borrow every black dry erase marker I have…without my permission of course. She casually takes them while yelling at me since, having the knowledge that writing a referral does nothing other than make you look like an idiot, makes me the “sainted teacher who undermines the entire discipline process.” (And somehow I’m the bitch?)
An hour and a half of silence to plan the day, the week, catch up on grading, debate jumping out of the third floor window. Yes, SALVATION! Go through late work, most of which has no name on it. Tear off the squiggly things on the side of the page so if I have to take them home, my dog won’t try to eat them and choke again. Listen to angry adult music (Oh Daniel Powder, how did I live without you for so long?). Breathe, breathe, breathe, caffeinate, repeat. “Oh Superior Being X, thank you for this blessed day! It got off to a rough start but it’s getting so much better….”
“RRRRRRAAAAAWWWWWW!!! Fear me! I am infallible teenager!”
“Dude, just get your ID on! It’s not that hard! If you had it on in your last class, why can’t you just leave it on walking three doors down?” The fact that it takes more effort to be defiant than it does to just go with the flow is completely lost on fourteen year olds.
“I lost it!” (See previous statement about the backpack process.)
“My lanyard broke!” (“So stop trying to choke each other with them.”)
“I left it in my locker!” (“You still have five minutes left in passing period. Go get it!”)
“The plastic thingy is broken!” (“Punch a hole in the ID.”)
“It’s in my pocket!” (“And then you wonder why the plastic sleeve gets broken?”)
“My dog tried to run away so I had to use my lanyard as a leash and then it did run off with it but by the time I finally found him, he had already eaten all of it; plastic, metal, everything! You don’t understand Ms.!! IT ATE ALL OF IT!!” (“Damn you Superior Being X!”)
The bell rings signaling time for me to do the closest thing to suicidal one can get without actually doing it: shutting oneself in with 35+ teenagers for an hour and a half. Superior Being X, give me strength.
“RRRRRRAAAAAWWWWWW!!! Fear me! I am infallible teenager!”
“Don’t stand on the desk!”
“Val, quit grabbing Adrian’s pectoral muscle!”
“Britt! Don’t stab Isaac with a pen!”
“Manual! Why are you taking your pants off? I don’t care if you have shorts on underneath or not!”
“Guys shut up!”
“Yeah shut up!”
“You’re the one talking asshole!”
“You’re the asshole! Asshole!”
“ONE!” Ask any teacher you’d like and I guarantee they will tell you that silence does, in fact, have a sound.
“Alright, you all have a bell ringer you should be working on. You have had one every day since August. I shouldn’t have to remind you to come in and silent-“
“Goooooooood Morning!!! Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance!” This is why the pledge should be banned from schools. Three minutes of arguing and fighting to get them silent gone in a matter of seconds! DAMN YOU BEING X!!
“GOOOOOOOOOO HIGH SCHOOL!” By the time the announcements end, the teacher has a migraine and the students haven’t paid attention to a word that was said.
“You guys suck!”
“Can’t you just shut up?”
“Yeah! Come on guys! She’s getting pissed!”
“Yeah! Her eye is twitching!”
“One!” Finally, only two students are talking: the sound of silence.
“So, let’s try to get through the four chapters. We’re doing dialogue journals and I’ll let you work with a-“
“What’s a dialogue journal?”
“Can we work with a partner?”
“Can we listen to our iPods?”
“Why do we need to do this?”
“What page are we on?
“How many chapters do we have to read?”
“Shut up ass hole!”
“You’re an asshole, slut!”
“One!” Two students talking; good enough.
“I’ll assign partners. You will read four chapters. Take notes in your dialogue journals. It is due at the end of the period.”
Before the books are even handed out students are writing in their dialogue journals. It would be fun to grade these tonight. They were such hard workers.
Lunch bell. SALVATION! “Thank y-“
“Ms.! Are you going to be in your room for lunch?”
“Can we stay in here?”
“Can I leave my stuff in here?”
“Yeah, sure. I was only going to sweep anyway.”
“Why do you have to sweep your own floor?”
“Isn’t that why we have custodians?”
“Well, yeah but they’re short staffed so they can only make it to the rooms once every week and a half or so. Considering the fact that you guys trash the floors once every couple of hours, we have to help them with the sweeping.”
“Meh, it could be worse.”
“Ms. Can I check out your Nook?” She’s a trustworthy student.
“We’re gonna hack your Twitter!”
“Just don’t get me in trouble!”
“So how’s your boyfriend Mr. Jameson?”
“We are not now nor have we ever been in a relationship! He’s a billion years old!”
“That’s never stopped a guy before!”
“You guys would be soooooooo cute together!”
“Yeah, if he wasn’t forty years older than me!”
“Do you really like this music?” Now they’re making fun of Gaelic Storm? Really?
“Yeah, they’re a great band.”
“It’s so weird!” Yes, because it’s not hip-hop.
“Give it a chance, you might like it.”
“Here’s your Nook back Ms! Look at what we wrote!”
On my twitter I see, “Hacked by Rayanna and Sarah. The best teacher in the world’s favorite students!” It’s small and probably insignificant in the grad scheme of things but my hope is slowly being restored in the youth of America.
Bell- two more classes. The hard part is over!
“You were right Ms.! That band actually is pretty good.”
“Glad you like it, Sarah!” OFFICIAL BREAKTHROUGH!
“What’s going on Cap’n?” He gives me a high five as he walks in.
“What’s up, Zay?”
“Yo Ms! That test we took last week was pretty easy! That was the first time I’ve taken one of those stupid tests and actually knew what they were talking about!”
“Great to hear, Jonathan!” Yes, yes there is a God!
“I guess you really are a pretty good teacher!”
“I’m glad you approve!”
I can’t help but chuckle. You have to love those backhanded compliments. They’ve always been three of the best-behaved kids in the class but Jonathan and his friends are even better behaved than usual today. I love my fifth period.
“Ms. How many tattoos do you have?” Being A.D.D. myself, I think I’m allowed to say they are so freaking random at times.
“Where are they?”
“My legs mostly. I have one on my foot and then the one on my arm.”
“You forgot one! The one of a lawnmower right here!” He points to his pelvis.
The class cracks up. Maybe it’s because I like this class. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just hit point of no return and don’t want to fight anymore but I even chuckle. There’s something in the delivery of the joke that says, “I’m an immature ninth grade boy who doesn’t know a thing about tact. I mean no disrespect but this is the only way I know how to joke around.”
“Mr. Jameson prefers it that way!” The class chuckles again.
“Alright, alright, get back to work.” What am I supposed to do? Write a referral for the every kid in the lass who laughs at an inappropriate joke? I think not.
“Javi! Have a seat! Why are you walking around in the first place?”
“I was asking her for chips!”
“You shouldn’t be eating in class anyway!”
“Fine! God, whatever!” God, funny you should mention him/her/it.
“In the line, ‘From what I know of desire I hold with those who favor fire,’ what does fire represent?”
“The end of the world?”
“How the world will end!”
“The opposite of heaven!”
“Let’s try this again. What does fire rhyme with?”
“So there is obviously a connection, right? So, what does fire represent?”
“The end of the world!”
Final bell of the day! I can’t help but scream louder than the kids on their way out the door, “Thank you Go-“
“Students and staff pardon the interruption. Colleagues, this is a reminder that we have a mandatory staff meeting today after school at 2:45. We’d like to get an early start so if you could start making your way over to lecture hall it would be greatly appreciated.”
“Hey rookie! Smile, it’s only your first year.”
“Hey Jack.” My mentor teacher. The one all of the students and half of the staff swear I’m sleeping with.
“Yeah, just a really, really, long day. How are you?”
“Bought a new pair of shoes.”
“So, fighting with your wife again?”
“Ready to listen to a bunch of idiots drone on about nothing for an hour and fifteen minutes?”
He puts him arm around me. “I promise you it gets better, kid.”
While I’m also thinking, “Thank God there are no students here to see this,” I also can’t help but ask, “Why in the hell did I just get the chills?” Son of a-
“Why are we taking away their cell phones? If someone steals them, then we’re responsible!” The principal yells from the back of the room.
I lean over to Jack, “What does this have to do with testing?”
“Everything,” he shrugs and smirks.
“Fine, fine, fine! You all decide what you want to do! The committee just spent two months trying to figure things out but we can always change them, I guess.”
“Just let them put them in their backpacks and put the backpacks against the wall!”
“Why do they even need to bring backpacks in the first place?”
“They just will. They always bring their backpacks!”
“How will we know if they put them in their backpack?”
“Just trust that they will do the right thing!”
“If that’s the argument, then how will we know they don’t have a cell phone when they say they don’t so they don’t have to give it to us to put in the bag with all of the other ones?”
“You believe in God, right?” Jack and I are still having our side conversation while the giant think tank that is the administration and half of the staff continues to argue about electronics.
“How?” It wasn’t sarcasm. It was an honest, sincere question.
“Think about it, the person who invented the concept of the staff meeting where 98% of the people are all smoking crack had to be the antichrist. If there’s an antichrist, there has to be a Christ; hence the anti-christ”
“But how do we know teaching isn’t just the Universe's way of punishing people for sins from a past life?”
“You don’t. But how do you explain the days where it all goes really well? You have to have two forces to have an opposing force. Come on, English teacher!”
Another comment that should have been sarcastic but wasn’t. In three sentences, he solidified my feelings about this higher being business. Now, to deal with the opposing force for the next hour and five minutes.
“You having second thoughts about teaching, rookie?”
“No. I’m having second thoughts about my southern Baptist upbringing. The kids I can handle. It’s religion that’s pissing me off here lately!”
“You are more random than the kids some days. You know that right?”
“Look around you. When it comes to mentalities, can you really tell who the adults and the teenagers are?”
“Touché, rookie! Touché!”
8:10 PM PT: A sincere, heart felt thank you to the Community Spotlight and the Teachers Louge for republishing!