Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Women For Women International

Please consider donating to one of my favorite charities: Women for Women International. Until October 31st, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar, making your gift even more meaningful. Your money will be used to help women in war torn countries help themselves to improve their status and reconstruct their own societies.

If you give, I will do a happy dance for you. Oh, and you’ll change the life of a woman, her family, and her community. Whichever is more fulfilling, you decide.

When Adults FAIL.

I’m noticing a pattern here. While I don’t mean to remove all responsibility from the hands of the kids, I have to take a look at the adults for a moment. In most messed up kids’ pasts or presents, you can usually identify some adult/s who has/have failed them. Those who were victims of abuse or neglect, those whose teachers gave up on them, those who were punished more than taught, and those whose school psychologists suck copious amounts of ass on a regular basis. I also point an accusing finger at the system that allows students to graduate high school thinking they can continue to behave the way they did all throughout their educational career because they were never sufficiently taught to do otherwise. We’re not being kind by doing that, we’re destroying them.

I was doing my best not to bitch about my colleagues, because Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I’m not perfect, but when certain lines are crossed- whereby an adult actively harms the best interests of the kids- I have very little patience or tolerance.

So let’s take into consideration our school psychologist. The man who took a whole year to identify a kid I was helping as having special needs, and when he finally did “test” the kid, he asked me which label we might want to go with, as though we could arbitrarily pull one out of one of our collective orifices. I know he doesn’t have a freaking clue how to do his job, so I pointedly responded with “Well, what did your TESTING say…?” I would have asked to see his documentation, but I probably would have had a hard time reading his handwriting with it being written in crayon and all.

Said “psychologist” has reached new heights of detriment to our students. There is a girl who showed obvious signs of having major mental and emotional concerns and a fellow colleague took two hours to convince the mother of the need for assessment. She finally agreed. The psychologist then had to be included in the follow-up meeting as it is HIS JOB to get the ball rolling with assessments and collection of data etc. He decides to try to flex his impotent muscles by sucking air through his teeth and saying it might be a bit early to jump to the conclusion that she needs help. The mother leapt onto this and agreed that she always just felt her child was just a bit emotional, and that there was nothing out of the ordinary about her behaviors.

This is how he does his job: By avoiding it. Sometimes, I think the effort he puts into avoiding certain aspects of it seems more time consuming than actually doing them. He has failed that child to a monumental degree and he is so self-absorbed and narcissistic that he doesn’t see how damaging his laziness is. That girl’s needs will not be formally identified, she will be misunderstood, she will get herself into trouble both in relationships and with the law, and she will undoubtedly be an unstable mother some day and probably pass on her misunderstood mental instability onto her kids either through their upbringing and/or her genes. By not knowing her own problems, she won’t be able to understand and help those of her own kids either. He may not be the sole reason her future is as bleak as it will probably be, but he is a CONTRIBUTOR to it.

There are far more horrific stories that I don’t care to go in to in which adults fail kids to monumental degrees, but it’s horrifying me to realize that the bad guys aren’t always the more obvious ones such as the child rapists or the parents who beat their children… They come in the form of people whose jobs are to help these kids, but instead fall short through poor qualifications, apathy, laziness, and/or simple mistake, and even ones who are malicious in their intents and it gives these poor kids even less of a chance of climbing out of the black holes known as their “futures”.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TeacherLady Philosophizes For a Moment.

Each year, I notice trends amongst the groups of kids as they migrate up to the high school. One group was particularly strong in math, but not so hot in the English department, one group had fun attitudes, but not a lot of math or English skills, but this year shall be known for sheer anger and inability to relate appropriately to other human beings!

I see angry kids every year, there’s no doubt about it, but this is definitely the year of the Angry Child in my neck of the woods. While I’m empathetic and sympathetic to an unholy degree, I’m also handcuffing myself quite nicely in terms of how much I can actually teach these kids.

So… The kid didn’t sleep last night because of all this crap going on at home and he tells you so and gets mad when you tell him he can’t sleep in class. I can’t tell him off, and I can't tell him to lift his head up for the billionth time. Do I give up and let him sleep? Do I let him make up the assignment each time this happens? When does it become a boy cries wolf situation? What do the other students think when they see this?

So… Another kid experienced a great trauma a week and a half ago and it has resulted in her completely losing it with staff and students almost daily, cussing and verging on coming to blows, disrupting classes and hallways. We’re told to give her more space, which I can understand, but what kind of credibility do we have amongst our students when they see their teacher get yelled at, called names, and sworn at by a student, only to see that the student receives no consequence?

So… The kid brings no materials to school because money is tight at home. We buy the materials for him, only for him to lose them more than once and get mad when you tell them you can’t keep buying them replacements, so he refuses to work. This isn’t just a case of his not bringing in a pencil, it’s school books, book bags, calculators, etc. I can have a trade plan set up for pencils, whereby he has to leave me collateral if he wants to borrow a pencil, but I can’t do it for other materials consistently.

These kids DO deserve sympathy and our understanding, but on a superficial level I have to get these kids to pass the state test, and on a more significant level, I have to prepare them for the real world. Will the world be forgiving for the cussing and the fighting because they’ve got “anger issues, you know that, so get outta my face”? Will the world read things for them because they graduated high school with the reading level of an elementary student at best? And I’m not talking exclusively about the students with special needs at all, but even those kids will be held accountable for their actions (or inactions) in the work place, unless they’re bagging at Krogers. Are we perpetuating the dependency on Welfare every time we buy them the same things over and over for which they fail to take ownership and responsibility?

Aren’t we, instead, dooming these kids to a life of dependency, mediocrity (at best), poverty because they can’t keep down a decent job even if they GET a DECENT job, and even jail time? Have we lost sight of the fact that after four years, they actually leave the shelter of our building and have to go out into the Big Bad World? It depresses the hell out of me.

While I’m a bit of a “fiscal conservative” this isn’t my whining that I don’t want to be paying for them to sit around so much as my feeling heartbroken at the loss of potential, hope, and chances for happiness for these young people. Even when some of us DO care enough to try our damnedest to pave their ways with opportunity after opportunity to succeed, it’s often OTHER ADULTS who whip those paving stones right out from under the kids…

I’m talking about the teacher who intentionally provokes the fragile student to get him kicked out (sorry, folks, it happens), I’m talking about the teachers who fail to communicate what they know about the kids to others (more on this later), or the people who heard the words of warning and failed to act, to the psychologist who takes his sweet-ass time to get a kid identified as having special needs because the truth is he has no fucking clue how to do his job, to the parent who ignored or abused their child, to the doctor who didn’t want to put a name to the child’s mental condition because he didn’t want the kid to have such a harsh label attached to him at such a young age but then doesn’t suggest a follow up evaluation later on in the kid’s life…

These kids are being failed by adults over and over and I’ve had enough of it. I refuse to contribute to their failure, but at the same time I realize I’m part of a bigger team, and if the team doesn’t work together, the whole structure falls apart and you’ve got more kids headed to untreated mental illnesses and lives of crime, perpetuating the cycle that came before and will come after them for many generations.

Here’s my proposal. A period can be offered to include the following: Anger management, relationship building, coping skills, and study skills. I’d even include some etiquette lessons. All year long. The class would include goal setting for each student based on their particular need/s and this would be shared with all the students’ teachers. This class would be optional unless the student receives more than three days of out of school suspension, in which case it would be compulsory. Maybe it could be wrangled in such a way that the kids could earn an elective credit for it.

Whaddya think?

I've got so little free time, so forgive me if this could have done with a lot more editing.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's Speech to the Students

There. That wasn't so bad, was it? I may not subscribe to Obama's domestic policies, but I think his role as president of this country gives him the right to address our students if he so wishes. I may not agree with the man, but it doesn't mean I don't show him a certain level of respect. I may have been troubled if he had said something during that speech that I felt was out of place, or bearing an ulterior motive, but I would have let my students watch it, if they wished, and let them agree or disagree of their own accord. I don't believe in censoring that kind of material from my students. They're going to believe what their parents believe for the most part, anyway.

Too bad his words of wisdom regarding students taking responsibility for their own successes and futures fell on deaf ears as my one student I had at that time announced: "Man, he boring. How long he gonna talk for? Can I go get a drink of water?" It's also a shame that his speech was timed right when I was working one-on-one with this student who is farthest behind on ALL her subjects AND failed to inspire her on top of that.

I guess he should have had Michael Bay direct his speech and Danny Elfman do the score. Ew. Danny Elfman, NEVER work for Michael Bay. Please. Actually, let's make that a general rule. NO ONE should work for Michael Bay. Maybe then he'll stop making movies.

Anyway, back to the case in point, here's the transcript of the speech if you didn't get to hear it. I had hoped it would have been a little more dynamic to capture the interest of the students who REALLY needed to hear it, but oh well. It was a nice thought.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Teachers: How to Look Like a Complete Moron

It's sad that I am not at all surprised that people like this not only exist, but managed to get a teaching license too. Why? How? They must be seriously desperate for bodies.