Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 07 2011

Release

Today was an absolute pile.

  • First period, my Sly kid threw my entire stack of perfect blue paper down the stairwell right after first period. It would have been some stupid mischevious end-of-year thing if it weren’t MY stack of nice paper that I’d set out for them. For some reason it really made me angry. Probably because my Sly kid is also the one who refused to take my final, since he had a whopping 88 in the class and “this class isn’t even a credit, anyway.”
  • During third period, all of my students left to hang out in the classroom that was watching Princess and the Frog. Don’t blame them, but it still didn’t make me feel awesome.
  • In fifth period, I let them start playing with the deck of cards in my closet, which of course means throwing them up in the air, knocking over tables, and screaming obscenities at the top of your lungs. Me? I went to my computer, typed a few caps-locked obscenities of my own, then busied myself about the room in a stony silence I pretended they noticed.
  • Seventh period drew on my tables and floor with the brand-new markers I’d decided to let them use for some reason. Then my Sly kid pissed me off again by somehow getting hold of all of my tracing paper squares and throwing them down the stairwell, too.
  • Eighth period suddenly decided I’d promised them they could climb out the window onto the roof on the last day of school. Then shouts in the hallway from a water-balloon fight (or I suppose I should say ketchup-balloon fight) caused a Race to the Door. “Race to the Door” is what happens whenever the hallway becomes a battlefield: there’s a split second during which everyone in the room realizes there’s something big happening, and then it’s me against them. If I don’t win (ha. I never have), consequences range from the entire classroom emptying its contents into whatever hallway spectacle awaits…  to five or six kids becoming suddenly, infuriatingly deaf as I try to order them back inside without touching them, which always causes a spectacle in itself (“ooo miss, don’t you TOUCH me!”).

But, here we are at the end, looking back, just like I wanted. It’s hard to tell whether my sour feelings come from the lovely day or from my level of satisfaction with the year in general. Or my anger at the fact that apparently I have to magically turn a 46% failure rate into an 8% failure rate–when I have yet to enter the grades for the final exam.

Anger is it, actually. Turns out I’m looking out the bus window on the last day of school, crying the same hot, angry tears I used to cry after my big brother sat on my face and farted. Turns out my hesitation to reflect on the year and my inability to evaluate it before June 7th was not because it was confusing or because I was conflicted, but because I had a big old mess of frustration I was holding inside my lungs.

… and now we’re standing at the end, and I now can only exhale, and now I’m so pissed off I want to scream and throw something loud and breakable. I’m not just mad about feeling bullied into changing grades, but about all of this. I’m angry about being pushed around by my kids for so long, and I’m angry that once I finally found my voice and saw things change, it wasn’t soon enough to make much of a difference. At every math teacher my kids have ever had, and that I now get to add my name to that list. At whoever got my OBGYN girl pregnant and whoever pulled my Wise Young Lesbian out of school and whoever drew huge veiny, saggy boobs on the back of my Cadet’s binder six months ago. At kids who think they can swagger in and ask for missing work on the last day of school, raise their voice at me when they don’t understand how to do it, and turn in trash expecting it to raise their 52% to a passing grade. And then at my principal when I remember that they will, because I don’t have the pages and pages of documentation required to fail them. At stupid, stupid Texas and their stupid, stupid tests that assess my 10th-graders on literally NONE of the standards I’m supposed to teach them in Geometry, and at all the stupid, stupid curriculum people who think it’s okay to ignore that completely. At all of the awful ways this country makes things so hideously unfair for everyone in that building—from the principal all the way to every last student. At all the people who will go through their lives and never know or care about it, and think that’s “just the way it is.” And at every evening I wasted just being upset about it instead of getting my ass in gear. That it took me five months and seven therapists to solve my problem. At everyone who wasted my time with “but it’s not your job to change these kids’ lives.” That I haven’t seen my kid they call Dirty for weeks. That my department chair is quitting (“because I want to teach—this is a zoo” he said today), and that his next-door neighbor is not. That my kids’ parents aren’t answering their phones.   –That my Brat left without saying goodbye.

One Response

  1. I’m so enormously sorry you’re feeling like this… I know this anger and how it eats at me. You’ve earned the chance to sit and steep for awhile in whatever emotions you’re feeling (summer is for indulging yourself, right?), and this is eventually going to be the feeling that drives you to back to work to make it better next year… and hopefully in years after. Just make sure you find some time to intentionally reflect on all the great things that happened this year too. I’ve been reading your blog long enough to know that you’ve had plenty of great things happen for you/your kids/your community, and you’re going to be much happier in the long run if that’s where you focus your attention!

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Region
San Antonio
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell

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