Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Flawed? FLAWED?!?

Was I saying that I have some flaws? And God said, HA!

Here's what I had planned to give up/do for Lent: give up shouting. I seriously need help with my temper and saying things without thinking and generally being harsher than I ought to be. So, today was Ash Wednesday, right? The first day of Lent. The first of 40, not counting Sundays, because Sunday is Jesus' day and it's sort of a Lenten Time-Out. I supposed I could count how many hours I made it without falling flat on my face. But I get ahead of myself...

I slept very poorly last night-- probably because of the Coca-Cola I had with dinner because I'm STUPID. I heard what I assume was the "paper boy"'s car stereo very, very early at an incredible volume. So, I woke up in an even grumpier mood than normal. I made it through my zero period chemistry class and toddled on downstairs to teach physics. Even though I had eaten I started to feel sick to my stomach and figured it was the antibiotic I'm taking for bronchitis. Well, I started to feel worse and worse and in addition to being sleepy, all I wanted to do was lay my head on the cool, black lab bench...

I managed to make it through my two physics classes and had my fifth period class finish/correct their assignment from yesterday. I was sitting at my desk, propped up on my arm, grading their papers as they came up and helping with specific questions. Looking and feeling like death all the while.

Next came lunch and then our academy meeting, which was mercifully short and our AP was in a good mood, but I was pissy for no reason whatsoever. I decided to take a short nap on a fellow teacher's couch. She's an English teacher and somehow hid it from the old principal. It's nice and comfy for reading books, but I guess it's not professional. Reminds me of the East Lansing city ordinance that you couldn't have indoor furniture outdoors. As in: no couches on porches or lawns in a college town? How is that possible?

I digress. I got back to my room in time for my last class of the day. They're a bit of a handful on a good day, partially because it's one of my largest classes. Also, by that point in the day I'm usually exhausted and really wanted to just. be. alone. I decided to also let them complete the assignment from yesterday since about five minutes before the bell yesterday they came on the speaker and said "at the ring of the bell, students gather your belongings and exit the building." And then they rang the bell and then the fire alarm. The whole time we're wondering what the heck is going on. Is it a fire, drill, another riot?!? Turned out to be nothing other than the usual disorganization. Or that it was the last day of the month and there hadn't been a fire drill yet. So much for teaching the entire period. Anyway...

Today my students were in rare form and I didn't have the energy to fight them. Most of them were working while chatting or helping each other. I didn't really mind that as long as they didn't get too out of hand. I did have an issue with the kids who were completely goofing off and not even pretending to work. I can't tell you how many times I asked a student to get out some paper and something to write with. Students came up to me asking for help and one or two actually got help. I did tell the student who slept through the entire period yesterday to go away since he wasn't listening when I was explaining. He proceeded to tell me that he didn't understand and that's why he was sleeping. I find that sleeping through a lecture I don't understand helps me with comprehension. Argh.

And then a group of students were just passing papers back and forth, obviously copying. I told them to do their own work and quit copying. Two girls asked me if they could do three problems and copy the rest. Haha. Granted there were FIVE problems. I'm going to change my name to Simon Legree. They just wouldn't be quiet or focus so I chose the girl closest to me and told her to move to the seat in front of my desk. She started to bitch and I said, hush and just go. She got up... and sat back down. I told her to move again. She got up, walked a few feet... and sat back down. I told her again and she started shouting that she needed to get her book. And then she had to get her papers. And then she had to walk around. Fifteen minutes later she was still not in the seat I told her to sit in. She was sitting in the correct row, but the last seat so she was as far away from me as possible. I told her to just move. She got onto this whole, I didn't much do anything. Oh, actually, she said, I didn't much do nothing. Or something, so she said. I said just be quiet and sit in the seat.

She continued to argue and I continued to repeat that she needed to sit in the seat. Half the class was laughing along with her like she was this big hero. So of course I couldn't just give in. I got up and yelled you can sit there or you can get out. This is where I started foaming at the mouth and shrieking. GET OUT!!! Forget my Amityville Horror voice, this was bat-shit insane teacher with purple face. And she just kept sitting there arguing with me. I don't know about you, but if a rabid dog is coming towards me, I run. She seemed completely unfazed. I mean, she wasn't even impressed with my volume or the cartoon-like color of my face. She just kept repeating that she wasn't doing anything and why did she have to leave like a broken record.

The teacher next door came by after she realized it was ME shouting like that. We're all a little immune to students yelling for no reason, but teachers yelling is cause for at least interest, right? Get a chair and some popcorn, right? But I guess people realize I'm actually a little crazy and they need to make sure I don't do anything.... ;) Seriously, she's this sturdy black woman about my age, with much more of a physical and mental presence as far as the kids are concerned and still this kid would not leave. She finally walked about three feet out of the door and stood there. She said she didn't know where her AP's office was. I told her. The she told the other teacher she didn't know even though I had JUST TOLD HER.

I was shaking with anger and frustration. Some of the kids started to laugh again and if I hadn't lost it before, I did then. I saw kids look at me with FEAR. I started screaming. I told them if the girl had just sat in the seat for 20 minutes nothing would have happened but instead she had escalated it to a level three offense. I told them that they're in high school and they need to be more mature. Some of them are even parents, for pete's sake. One girl who always assumes I'm picking on her started shrieking about how I was "calling her out" because she's a parent. Um, sweetie, you just called yourself out. I assured her that she was not the only one. She continued to shriek and I invited her to go visit our AP.

I continued to lecture and at one point I was talking out loud trying to say calm down, you're an adult, you have a life and a job and you're better than this. One of the kids says, "I have a life and a job." And I said...

Yeah, and you're going to be working for four dollars an hour for the rest of your life.

Did you hear the needle scratch across the record and everyone gasp? I did. And it came out of my mouth.

I'm surprised no one stepped into to my room and revoked my teaching certificate on the spot. I will get over losing my temper and I will talk with my students about their behavior and dealing with adults who have things they want, for example, bat-shit insane chemistry teacher who can fail you and keep your from graduating. Even if she's 100% in the wrong. But I can't take back that really hateful thing I said. I'm not even sure who said it since I was busy filling out a discipline referral and I just spat it out. I'm really afraid it was one of my good kids who was just trying to break the ice and I don't even know who to apologize to personally.

I also brought up the tests they took that I haven't passed back since not everyone has made them up yet. A few kids in the class passed. The majority of the class got ZEROES. And I had given them 32 points worth on the board that they only had to copy and they still couldn't do it. Argh!

But back to the things I said... I started to apologize for being hateful and someone came on the speaker and gave some asinine announcements. I hate that. The second period of the day is longer in order to accomodate the daily announcements, so why have random additional announcements right before the end of the day. It takes away our authority to end and dismiss our own classes. The kids see it as time to pack up and mill around. I just threw my hands up and kept filling out forms and the kids slunk out of the room.

I am going to hell. The teacher from next door stopped by to see if I was okay and I talked with her and vented a little. She thought the one girl was maybe on drugs because she was so unresponsive. I said she was always kind of like that, but who knows. I am a complete and total idiot when it comes to drugs. I can usually tell if something is wrong, but not what.

I then called Ryan at work and cried. He was very reassuring. I said I was so ashamed of my behavior and losing my cool. I said, I don't yell at him like that and he pointed out that he doesn't bait me like that. And I pointed out that if he had ever treated me like the kids do daily I would have walked away (and vice versa--we have a good relationship not because we're calm and wonderful people, but because we just decided we CAN'T be that couple that says hateful things all the time). Unfortunately, I'm stuck with these kids and I have money on one or both of the girls I kicked out and wrote up today back in class tomorrow. These kids have NO consequences for their behavior. The worst girl's AP is really soft on discipline. I may have to delete this post for putting this out there, but the kids call him "Paw-Paw" and "Daddy." Need I say more? I turned in the form to his box and emailed him, copying the principal. I said, I expected her to not be in my class tomorrow regardless of whether this was her first offense and if she showed up, I would send her to his office until she had a release form. Not that this would change anything, but at least the principal would know what was going on. I'm so freaking tired of this.

I was thinking about what I want to do when I get fired. Although, they probably wouldn't fire me. They might try to make my life miserbale... OR since this is education, they would make me an administrator who isn't allowed to deal with kids. AND I would make more money. Really, I would like to just teach a science class and not babysit illiterates who can't do simple math and who don't see any need to learn anything. Not even enough to just pass the test. Forget low-achievers, they're non-acheivers.

We went to church for ashes and prayer and I sobbed through nearly the entire service. I felt so terrible. I was embarrassed, but I couldn't control it. By the time I left, I had ashes on my forehead and snot dripping off my face. I wish I was exaggerating. I saw myself in the mirror and gagged. I cleaned up and talked with a few friends and then we went home and fetched some non-meat supper. Beans and tortillas, but not too festive.

I guess I chose the correct thing to give up for Lent. I DESPERATELY need to work on this. Sigh. I need to go to sleep. I can update my resume tomorrow.


Kelli in the Mirror said...

Oh, this brings back memories I wish I didn't have. I have had several days like that. My kids used to sit in class and ask for paper to write the AP a letter to complain about me, which he would entertain and read and then commiserate with them.
And don't you wish that the screaming had some effect? I wouldn't apologize for it a bit, ever, if I thought that it might actually have done some good, or shamed them, or just made them shut the hell up. Sadly, no.
I stopped class one day and wrote a breakdown of all the bills they would one day be expected to pay and told them they would never be able to live any kind of decent life at their current rate, and their cousin's gas station was a crappy place to hang their dreams on.
Holy cow I hated teaching. I admire you for sticking with it.
Sorry honey. I hope today is better.

Loni said...

My prayers are with you, sweetie. :) It takes a really strong & brave person like yourself to try to teach teenagers.

k said...

Well, I've known you since you were still a puppy so I can say with a great deal of authority and experience that you are a sweet, tender-hearted young lady. The fact that you feel so badly about screaming at the little beasts is proof of that, too. If you were really as terrible a person as you feel like you are right now, you wouldn't care in the slightest that they had been the well deserved targets of your wrath.

And I learned a long time ago that, when I prayed for patience, what I got was a lot of opportunities to learn it. So just think of yesterday as 40 days worth of opportunity--and it's all downhill from there. :-) Love to you and prayers for a better day.

Julie said...

I can't even imagine dealing with what you have to deal with. I deal with intelligent adults on a daily basis who drive me crazy; dealing with teenagers who live to push my buttons would probably send me over the deep-end. I'm sorry. I'm sure they will not fire you, who is going to work in that kind of environment? But I hope that one day soon you get a cushy job in a cushy upper-middle class school without juvenile delinquents.

dmd said...

I've had days with that...and always with the Chemistry classes. I am convinced that something happens to them when they turn 16 that makes them insane. And I have said things like that too. No pink slip so far. This morning, a kid wouldn't take his hairnet off. After asking nicely for the 3rd time, I said "fine. You probably should get used to wearing one since McDonalds requires it". I forgot that I have a really good kid in my class who actually works for McD's. Thankfully, he thought it was funny. He has a good sense of humor since he know that HE won't be working there forever.

Ann Marie said...

here's a *hug*

Grant-Will-Rant said...

I'm in awe of your self-control. I'm sure I would've been chasing that little moster around the classroom with a stapler. Now you can look forward to some grand reward for surviving that horrible experience. May God bless you with a box of Godiva chocolates! (After Lent??)