The Veil Has Been Lifted

The department I work in is loud. Most of the people that staff this department have been allotted a space to work in room 666 of the building. I don’t know how anyone manages to get work done in that room filled with teacher’s desks, students, and educators. I use a satellite office that is a few hallways removed from all of the chaos that is in room 341. There are only 5 of us that occupy that space and it’s a slice of heaven in the otherwise hellish building. I have been forced to utilize space in 666 for a few days because the school decided that the satellite office should be used for testing – a practice that I despise in its current state. I only needed one day back in that space to be reminded why I decided to remove myself from it at the beginning of this school year.

One cannot help but listen to the incessant ramblings of those gathered around the common area where food is exchanged along with stories and, often times, unsolicited advice. There was a discussion happening that caught my ear yesterday. It centered on a topic that I like to gain another’s perspective on. The insights from outsiders (and by outsiders, I mean people not in my head – mainly me) is something I really contemplate when I leave these conversations. What intrigues me most are the opinions of seasoned vets. These people have been teaching since I was in high school. Hell, some of them were my teachers. Anytime one of them says something that deals with the current state of their classrooms and the students that make up their rosters my ears perk up. They always go back to the year that the downfall in the caliber of student came. It’s talked about like a day of reckoning. Interestingly, they always say that 2005 was the first year they began to notice this change. This is the year after I graduated from high school.

The shift in the shared characteristics within the student pool has caused many of us to question what is happening with kids. What’s going on at home? What are they thinking? How will things turn out for them in the future? And then, there’s my ultimate question, how can I continue this job when I no longer enjoy the act of imparting knowledge?

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You often hear older people make comments about how things were better years ago, and I always ask myself if I have just fallen into the pattern of comparison and diminishing. Do I have that distorted “old-foggie” syndrome that I once thought was inherent to anyone who was old (like over 50 years-old old)? To check myself and my world view, I talk to students to gauge whether or not I have aged out. There is still a connection I can make with quite a few of them. I have asked if they notice that their peers are disconnected. I even talk about specific behaviors – like mindless web browsing to find answers. I have been assured many times over that it’s not just an observation I have made with no merit. They have noticed it too. Sometimes when I make an observation about a behavior or an attitude I am bewildered by, the other students give me a stare as if they are in a trance, and then there’s that spark in their eye. They think about it and can point to friend that does the same thing or they admit to carrying themselves in the same manner I have called attention to.

Continue reading The Veil Has Been Lifted

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The perils of being stuck in high school

That dreaded blaring alarm rings, a hand reaches out to grab the cell phone that’s emitting the treacherous sound. Heavy sleepy eyes peak at the time as if the person who set it the night before cannot recall the hour it was meant to go off. Maybe there was snooze time allotted, and that button is pushed, or maybe the thought of rising and getting the shit over with permeates the mind. Legs swing over the side of the bed, feet hit the floor, and a tired body lurches towards the bathroom.

Teeth are bushed, bladder is released, perhaps a shower is needed as one was not taken the night before. Next comes coffee and getting dressed. Can’t forget to do something to that hair if you’ve got it. All of the things required for the day are picked up and out the front door the feet walk with necessities in tow. Transportation gets us to the doors of the place once hated with a deep passion – school.

Walking through the hallways, familiar faces are noted, and eye contact is made but no one speaks – not even a wave. Lifeless bodies are sprawled on the floor of the hallways as students try and catch a few more zzz’s before the first period of the day begins. Others runs to each other to talk about a scandalous outfit, or something they did the night before. Yucky pimple faced couples are pushing their bodies together and kissing with hand holding ensues. A few sit with notebooks out, they are copying the assignment from another kid because they were too busy to try and do the work themselves. They couldn’t tear their eyes off the TV and they had to binge watch a few more episodes of that show they are obsessed with at the moment. Hop scotch is the game that has to be played by the walking feet with necessities in tow. No one excuses themselves as the violently push past the adult walking through the halls.

Walking quickly, the destination for phase one of the day is reached – the classroom. There are always at least three kids that made it there before you; fucking show off’s. They don’t part their lips, and they never offer to hold anything even though there is a struggle going on with the traitorous keys, capped coffee cup, and arm full of bags containing papers. The door is finally opened, and everyone goes to their seat. They don’t bother readying themselves for learning because it’s 7:30 AM and they have to check in to see what’s happening on the internet. Who is posting to their story, what’s trending, how long until the class is over (yes, before it even starts).

Continue reading The perils of being stuck in high school

How did I end up here?

DISCLAIMER – This not for the faint of heart, the ones that can’t take cursing, or those who teach and love every moment of it. It is not for the judgmental or self-righteous. If any of the aforementioned describes you, I have forewarned you. Turn back now and don’t read a single word after this period.

I fucking hate teaching. The entire experience is not painful; but the end of each and every school day leaves me feeling this way. I think “why am I doing this again”? It is 100% a form of torture. I wish I could tell you this was all in the name of a bigger picture or greater purpose. That it was like self-immolating in the name of molding the young minds of Americans that will one day run this crazy ass county and really make America great again. But the truth is NONE OF THAT WOULD BE TRUTH.  What’s actually happening is I am a grown-up who has chosen to be permanently stuck in high school. The irony in all of this is that high school was my least favorite part of my entire education experience. Hell, it was my least favorite part of my entire life thus far. It is a sadistic joke I have played on myself.

You may be thinking, then why don’t you just stop. The answer – I have a family that depends on my income and I am usually not a risk taker. Calculated moves are more…me. I aim for the sure-fire thing most times. This lands me in these positions that I never intended for myself. I have googled and read so many blogs and message boards and articles about what a career switch from teaching has to offer. The crazy thing is, they all talk about shit related to teaching! What the hell? I want all the way out. My goal is not to go from full on flogging to subjecting myself to a few paper cuts a day. I want NO more; nothing what so-ever to do with this anymore.

So, after some back and forth over the course of five years – yes, I know, that’s a lot of time to spend contemplating something when you are miserable – I have decided to not go with the sure-fire safety blanket/ security net/ promised venture. I asked myself what I want out of this lifetime and how I’d like to spend my days. The answer came to me like the scene out of that one movie – the one where they guy has this idea to build up a baseball team and stadium and there’s that voice echoing “if you build it, they will come”… It was an obvious choice, but one that I dismissed a dozen or so times because I thought, there’s no way out. You spent money on a master’s degree just to use it for six years and walk away? That degree cost you money. But this job will cost my sanity.

I want to do something that allows me to express my creativity in some way other than putting together what I think will be an exciting and engaging lesson plan just to have someone else’s united sperm and egg shit all over it. I mean, kids these days – am I right or am I right? I want to talk to the world and NOT hear it talk back. Who cares about what you think – when someone writes I can ignore it, but when someone speaks my ears don’t go deaf. I want to enjoy my time. I want independence and a semblance of freedom. I will be a writer. Fuck…I finally landed on an idea I am pretty sure I can execute – but where in the hell do I start.

I start here. Right here, with the words I place on this page. Without much calculation and with complete and utter disregard for a filter. No need to be politically correct. Who gives a shit about syntax and grammar. This is free form free flowing uninhibited thought. This what my heart is compelling me to do. This is what feels natural and right. If you don’t like it you can follow Beyoncé’s directions at Coachella (how does spell check know where to put accent marks on Bey’s name…) – “suck on my balls, pause”. I am not neat. I am a sarcastic ass. I get annoyed easily. How and why did they ever let me teach? I am eccentric, I am unorthodox, I am raw talent. But I am me and I make shit happen…when I want to.

Okay, I have effectively talked my shit. Now, I have to be an adult and tell you and me (but mostly me) the sad truth about this idea to stop teaching and start doing.

I can’t quit this shitty self-demeaning job just yet.

Here’s the plan until I can walk away. I will chronical my unbelievable days at that hell hole of a spot on the Earth that I have to sadly call a job. I will not tell you where it is or write the actual names of the other Homo sapiens I encounter. I will be unapologetically honest about my feelings and mostly honest about the things that I endure as I am making this transition into something better than babysitting with a daily plan and a ton of work to do at home and not get paid for it. I will talk about these insensitive and backwards ass kids I have to stand in front of day after day while they play a metaphorical tug of war with their anxiety ridden minds about grades and the impulsive need to play games on their phones and check in on social media.

I will give you all the shitty nitty gritty (#bars – that was my inner Dr. Seuss, shot out Theodore Geisel) details without care because I am over this teaching “profession”. This is the start. Welcome.