Monday, October 03, 2005

"You look like you need a hug..."


Those were the exact words that came spilling out of the mouth of one of the more senior science teachers. I was just in the process of locking up my classroom door for my lunch period. And of course I found myself in a very awkward and prolonged embrace in the hallway with a very kind West Indian middle aged woman. Since the year began, I have been told that I:

  • Look like crap
  • Should visit a psychiatrist to medicate my way through the year
  • That I never smile anymore, when last year I always had a smile on my face
  • Told to take deep breaths and just "imagine" that I'm not really here (huh?)
  • Should yell at my students
  • Should not yell at my students
  • Quit
  • Hang in there
  • That there is hope for my classes
  • That there is little hope for my classes
  • That my students gave their teachers last year hell...why should I expect anything different?
Indeed, all of the advice is well intention and meant with sincerity. The more empathetic teachers recognize that I have some of the most difficult students with the most profound behavioral and learning disabilities. The less than empathetic teachers simply sneer at me as my students create chaos in the classroom, hallways, auditorium, and during fire drills (and gosh, those fire drills sure are fun as 900 students and teachers watch as your class spirals out of control). Of course, some of my students are good kids with a natural desire to learn and overcome their challenges. And the students that are causing headaches are in many cases afflicted with comorbid disabilities and are not receiving adequate support (or even their damn medication). At least three need to be in an alternative school setting. However, that means a lot of paperwork. And when the paperwork and documentation is not done, the problem is simply passed along until someone decides to pick up the ball and do something.

So to end an already crap day with PD on top, I rushed into Manhattan to attend a rescheduled graduate class at LastPlace University. When I entered the hallway at the university I knew that something was definitely wrong. Namely, there were no other Fellows standing around the classroom door loudly bemoaning their frustrations? Being the dumb ass that I am, I turned on the light to the classroom, sat down, and attempted to eat some horrific assembly of an eight dollar sandwich. Soon another classmate walked in, and we both looked at each other with quiet resignation. The class must have been canceled, and we never got the message. A phone call to another classmate confirmed that an e-mail and phone call had been made notifying the class of the cancellation sometime around noon. Noon!

Given that LastPlace University only has my land line, that the wireless internet connection in my classroom is not functioning (if it ever did), me and the other guy were the only idiots in attendance. Grrrrr.

That said, I must say that I am a strong supporter of religious holidays and think that we should poke around the good book and find some more. St. James Day, Walk on Water Day, and Jeremiah Was A Good Prophet Day are all worthy contenders.

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