Thursday, February 21, 2008

So, dear, how was your day?

You know, most of the time when I tell people I teach 9th-graders, I get that Oh, my God" look that should really be reserved for people who are in the trenches in some far-away sandy country. Some people even suck air through their teeth.
And I always say, "Oh, it's not so bad. They're just kids. You just have to not take their behavior personally."

Of course, when some little sociopath throws your car keys in the trash, it's kind of hard to defend them. Or not take it personally.

Yes, that's right. My fault, I admit, for leaving them within reach. And you know what? the kids all knew I was looking for them. Some were even helping me look. Among them was at least one kid who knew where they were, or maybe s/he threw them in on the way out.

My afternoon classes are interesting; a interesting potpourri of kids with academic, emotional, legal and psychiatric issues. Several students are not allowed to leave class for any reason without an escort and the rest have to go to the bathroom one right after another after sucking down their lunch-time Red Bulls. So, in the middle of class I've taken to just taking the entire class to the bathroom, like in kindergarten. I count them before we go, before we leave the bathroom area, and after we get back.

And it was right after this that I set my keys down on a table instead of putting them back in the locked filing cabinet where I keep my things, and poof! there they're weren't.

Once class had ended, and I sent them home, I got to thinking about how hard it would be to explain a large ring of keys, including car keys, to your parents. I got the idea of looking in the trash, and there they were: near the bottom under paperwads in the pencil shavings. I picked them up, and shook them off and went to my message appointment.

All the way there, I was listening to Amy Winehouse, just kind of shaking my head in amazement and then mumbling to myself, "m****erf***er" at the kind of kid that cannot conceive of how their behavior affects others.

And people ask me why I run.

Oh, and guess what, I am now officially Marathon Maniac #831!

As if it needed to be "official."



  1. most people would have accused the kids of stealing the keys.. the old, nobody is leaving until the keys are returned trick... hehe.. never paint yourself into a corner, ay?.. the kid who hid the keys will no doubt feel badly about it, probably at least for a day or two.. there's no figuring out teenage brains

  2. When I teach high school, I go dressed as a marine: Flak jacket, body armor, neck protection (keeps me from being shanked in the neck from behind) and kevlar helmet.

    Leaving keys out only tempts the "enemy" errr, I mean students to use your own keys as a weapon against you.

    Awesome job on the 50k, very inspiring!

  3. Yeah, I've learned never to get into power struggles, Kurt. Nobody ever wins and I just look rediculous all red-faced and puffy. Besides, a bunch of these kids are gang members, and believe it or not, it's all about honor and saving face with them.

  4. Hey Misty: I might do the Grasslands marathon too. It would great to meet you and Baboo. What have you heard about the trail - hilly? rough? muddy?

    Teachers all need a $100,000 pay raise for putting up with kids.

  5. Oh so glad you found the keys. I'm sure the culprit was Ida Know, she always does stuff at my teenage house.
    There's no telling why they get the ideas they do. I was on the mom telephone tree from hell last night because someone in my youngest sons circle of friends was involved in squirting mustard all over someone's house and riding around in some newly-minted driver's car all night long. Thankfully my angel wasn't involved (this time).

  6. Your daily life explains how you're able to slog through a 50k, which might be easy by comparison. Way to go on both fronts.

  7. Wow, I don't know how you do it. I can barely, handle my 8th and 11th graders at home - when they don't have the group mentality thing going. At least there are no gang's at my kids mid-school, don't know about Pius though.

    Congratulations on your new shirt!!!

  8. I would just let it be known somehow that you found your keys, that the hiding place wasn't very good, and that whomever did it should watch their back and will probably regret what he/she did when they are 50 because what goes around, comes around,and that you got to drive home that night...


    Marathon Maniacs! Sweet!...I may just have to join, altho most of my marathoning/Ultras are behind me the guy with the cat on his head. Why a cat on his head I wonder?

  9. My stepdad was also my HS Chemistry teacher. He had a Meterstick. It was his weapon of choice. Once, I remember seeing the red, welted numbers in a particulary wise kid's back. Those were the days (late 70's)...

  10. I try to avoid power struggles and never, ever show them that they've gotten to me.
    I told them that I found the keys and I said that the next time they complain about some crappy rule and all the restrictions and how nobody ever trusts teenagers, to remember that it's things like this that bring them about. They're ruining their own good time and by making people not want to trust them, including me. I also said, "Oh, and whoever did this, well, you suck. Now everyone take out a piece of paper so we can learn some math stuff."

  11. So when do you hear about your application to the other district?

  12. I taught 8th and 9th graders for six years so I feel your pain. Like you I learned within about five minutes that confrontation is pointless. (Not that I always kept my cool...but I tried.) I also learned that the WORST thing you can do is give them a story, "And then she FREAKED out and started screaming at all of us and said...It was SO awesome!" because then you paint a big target on your back. I think the most I'd usually do was, "Ha ha. Let me check."

    Walk out door look towards school sign.

    "No. Hmm. That's odd. What school is this again?"

    "Blah blah junior high."

    "OH! For a minute I thought I was at the grade school! Okay. My bad! Hey I have an idea, let's play junior high today!" said in jest, big smile, biting back "you little mother ------s"

    And Bones, don't be so sure...gangs are everywhere.

    I've been very fortunate in that I've rarely had things stolen, and I regularly leave my iPod and cellphone on my desk, but when I taught the same thing you used to (it was called Learning Assisted Math) I wouldn't so much as leave a stick of gum out.

    I'm so sad that you don't have a positive teaching experience, overall, because it is SO obvious that you ARE a good teacher. You know how to engage the kids without eliciting anger and frustration. You have an awesome sense of humor. But I totally "get" where you are because I had do that for three years...and let me say, why in the HELL do kids who are struggling SO much with algebraic concepts "need" algebra? I also taught business and consumer math. Now THAT they need! They need to know how to budget, balance a checkbook, invest (we played the Stock Market Game with low achieving students and they did awesome), secure a loan, manage debt responsibly, shop for bargains, measure things, weigh things. There were definitely algebraic concepts in there, but it was applied and they never thought they were taking algebra.

    Now I teach IT classes to juniors and seniors and because my kids want to be here, work is a real joy! They aren't perfect, I still have a lot of special ed kids (aspbergers, low achievers, low reading, low math) but they are so excited about learning every little thing that they just eat it up like...well kinda like I used to eat at a buffet!

    I'll be joining you as a maniac this year! It's one of my goals! Congratulations 831!

  13. Bones is actually pretty dead-on, his kids are in a school that is not public and so is free to expel anyone who does not follow rules or disrupts the educational process. Not so my school.
    Oddly enough, I actually have started to enjoy my job again since January. I've taught all sorts of levels of kids, and I actually seem to get along best with these guys that I've had since January. I know it's crazy sounding, but there it is.
    The reason they "have" to learn Algebra is that our district pushes college readiness, and concept that seemed like a good idea way back when the demographics were much different. As a result, there is no vocational training programs to speak of. It's a shame because many kids (like me) are not ready or willing to go to college at the age of 18, but they sure could use some way to make a decent living.
    I've decided that most of my poor experience as a teacher has been due to the climate of the school where I've been for 6 years, and I'm requesting a transfer back to the school where I started, where I was pretty happy. But I may continue working with these kinds of kids, because, well, it seems to be the most satisfying.

  14. Misty, you are doing a great job. Your heart is in it. Keep it up!

  15. Ah, I see...although some of my former "studs" who went to private school had a lot of pretty problematic classmates who had been expelled from public school. My bro and sis went to a private school and had to dodge drug and porn dealers on the way to chapel...not kidding. They put up a front, and because the school administration was sure all the kids were from good, Christian homes, they didn't notice (turned a blind eye??). It was interesting. My parents put them back in public school after two years of "a superior education." In fact last year one of my "frequently baked" darlings came to me from a private school. (My kids are bused in for half day classes in a skills center.)

    I hear you. Our entire STATE is saying that all students must pass college level math. ALL. We have 20% who go on to college, of them 50% drop out. So a bunch of college edumacated educrats sitting in their ivory towers decided to force a bunch of kids to drop out of school! Yay! I see our droput rates going up and, at least in my husband's school, the downtown administration (who sets nary a foot on campus) sends others to tell the teachers to "straighten up" because obviously THEY aren't meeting the needs of the kids.

    No. You aren't. WE are trying. We are meeting them where they are and coaxing them forward, but we are only one leg of a three-legged stool here, kids! If the other two legs aren't doing their job, the stool topples. So YOU are saying "they must go to college" and we are seeing that a) most of the jobs of tomorrow are skilled and require ongoing training, but NOT degrees, and b) many kids who struggle already are disenchanted with school so they SURE don't see the need to do more...but maybe if c) you allowed them to learn practical things ALONGSIDE the skills they need to survive and then found out what their passion is then c) THEY GET INVOLVED IN SCHOOL and d) THEY GO ON FOR MORE POST-SECONDARY TRAINING!


    What a concept! You mean that if we make school exciting, relevant, and yes...I am going to use the F word...FUN then kids might engage and they might LEARN something and they might SUCCEED.

    You mean maybe...just MAYBE the people who hang out with them 180 days a year, get to know them, and see what their ACTUAL (not perceived) needs are might have a bit o' a clue about what will help them succeed...maybe a teensy bit more than someone in a state capital 350 miles away?

    Say it ain't so!

    Heck, I see my kids more than their parents do, at this point (I have them 2.5-3 hours a day). I can tell you who is having girl problems (which in geek class, is something else because most don't even have the luck to HAVE girl problems). I can tell you what almost all of them did last night (stayed up and played WOW), who is struggling with a class at their home school, who is having problems with his parents, who is dealing with drug issues, and what the goals and dreams of almost all of them are.

    I can also tell you that in my 14 years of teaching I have seen a number of kids who thought there was NO WAY they would go to college (pay to sit in class MORE???) but after taking CTE (career tech ed) classes that were their passion, they were signing up for their first semester of community college before they graduated. If you allow THEM to find their bliss and choose their own way, they WILL figure out what works best for them.

    But what do they know about themselves? They're just dumb kids.

    (Oh don't get me started...LOL! I love my kids, but I hate that starting next year half of them won't be able to take my class because they have another math requirement and another english requirement, but no one asked any of THEM what THEY require to define their own success.)


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