Anyhoo, teaching isn’t always easy. I know there are those who will point out that I get three months off every summer (it’s actually two unless I stay involved with my department’s meetings and decision making, then it’s quite a bit less). They might also point out the time off for Winter Break (we’re not supposed to call it Christmas Break, which still bugs me), but they don’t know how much of that time I spend grading papers or planning lessons.
And keep in mind that I spend eight hours a day around teenagers. I should get a huge pay raise and a merit badge just for that.
But I will admit there are advantages –all of which offset the crappy pay. And then there are days like today.
I was attempting to begin my class when I was interrupted by a courier coming into my room, unannounced, to deliver a message for a student from the main office.
Now, this interruption in itself bothers me because it happens quite frequently and in my mind, anything that takes away from what teachers are attempting to do in the classroom devalues the very academic goals they’re trying to achieve. Any time I stop to deal with something different, I am, in essence, putting out a message that says, “What we’re doing here isn’t as important as what is interrupting us, even though I have no idea what it is that is interrupting us.”
This is one reason I usually leave the phone to my room unplugged. And I try to explain to students this value concept, but very few really understand. They’ve been indoctrinated into intrinsically devaluing what happens in a classroom.
Okay, end of mini-rant and back to the story…
This kid comes in as I’m attempting to begin my lesson and hands me the note. He turns to leave as I read the note and who it’s for.
Me: “Um, I’m sorry, but this student is absent today.”
The delivery student came back from the door to take the message back.
Student: “That fucking figures.”
Me (attempting a correction without being combative): “Hey, can we get a handle on the language? It’s really uncalled for.”
(Now a) Punk Student: “I really don’t give a shit.”
He walks out the door. I turn to 30 students who are looking at me with a WTF? face.
Me: “Geez, I hate it when students cause me more paperwork.”
They call back about ten minutes later –once again interrupting my class, which I had just begun to get back on track.
Office: “Okay, we talked to the counselor and she said to absolutely write the student up and recommend, at a minimum, an after-school detention.”
Me: “The hell with that. He was so offensive I’ll insist on a Saturday school detention.”
I write the referral, send one of the students to take it to the office and then struggle to get my class back on track. But by this time they are all consumed by the little asshole that came in with the note. Just as I get their attention redirected, an administrator comes to my door.
Administrator: “Can I speak to you out here privately for a moment?”
Me (getting frustrated, because once again my class is being interrupted): “Sure, why not? (to the students) Hey guys, if you’ll read the next two pages I’ll be right back with you.”
I walk out into the hall.
Me: “What’s up?”
Administrator: “So, what happened with the student who came in with the note?”
Me: “Just what I said in the referral.”
Administrator: “Well, he’s saying that he never said those things.”
Me: “Are you kidding?”
Administrator: “Well, he’s just denying any of it happened.”
Administrator: “Well, was there anyone else who witnessed or heard what was said?”
Me: “Are you shitting me? The whole class heard it. And when did this become a ‘he said, he said’ situation?”
Administrator: “Well, could I talk to one or two of your students to validate what actually happened?”
Me (walking back into the classroom): “Hell, why not? Take any students you like.”
The administrator called a student out. A few minutes later the student returned.
As the class ended and the students were leaving, more than a few commented to the effect of, “Really? Administration doesn’t believe you and has to double check on what you say?”
Obviously, I stewed on this for a while. In essence, the administrator was not only doubting my word, but also giving credence to the kid’s lies. My class was interrupted yet again and by that point I was not able to get them back on track.
Frankly put, I was pissed off.
After not hearing anything more about it, after lunch I sent an email to the administrator in which I wrote: “Did the student receive an additional punishment for lying to an administrator and for interrupting my class yet again?”
The administrator emailed back that in addition to the Saturday school I’d recommended, the student was suspended.
I felt slightly vindicated. That is, until I received the suspension notice via email:
“This student has been suspended for the rest of the day due to lying and foul language.”
Now think about that for a second: For his foul language, offensive behavior, rudeness, lying, causing a continued class disruption…the student received the rest of the day off from school.
He got to go home early.
In essence, he was rewarded for his asshole-ishness.
And in addition, my word was doubted in front of the offensive student and in front of my class of 30 students.
I can handle students. I can handle a whole class of students. I can handle a vast variety of students and a vast variety of classes.
What I can’t handle is the incompetent administrators and bureaucrats who are more focused on public perception and appearances than in making the teaching/learning process more efficient and more engaging.
There are many other avenues to altruism. I would recommend any of them over teaching to anyone who might be inclined that way.