A Funny Thing Happened At Work Today

I liked my job.

This was highly unlikely because it was the first day back after spring break. I have been nuturing a pit of bitter anxiety about this day. It had been growing in my stomach, honestly, since before spring break even started. I would think to myself: it will be so awesome to be on spring break; no kids, administrators, lesson plans, etc. for 11 days.

But then, before that thought had really had a chance to develop and come into its own; and before I really had a chance to revel in it: Goddamn…it’s going to suck to come back. Everybody will be crazy. The dicks will be bigger dicks. The lazy will be more lazy. The mostly absent will simply disappear. It’s just so bad to be there that the longer I am away the more painful will be the return. I feel like a space shuttle with damaged heat tiles. Reentry may kill me.

The exact some thing happens in minature every Sunday night and, really, almost every day. The anxiety of going back drives people crazy. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But it has something to do with not being able to just amble into work and sort of pick up where you left off. You have to have a goddamn plan for everything, all the time. I know exactly what is going to happen today, yet I have to plan it? That drives me nuts.

Anyway, I walk into the school this morning…slowly. And immediately it became biblical. I walked into the building, knowing there was a meeting somewhere I should be at in about 10 minutes. So I run into a friend at about 7:52. Asking about the meeting I say, “So, what’s going on?”

“Crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth,” he says.

I already knew that. But where is the meeting?

So the day wore on.

But today was actually a pretty good day. I had a hunch that there would be no career-make-or-break-surprise observations today. So I relaxed and taught. Ahhhh…….

The best part was in government class. Talking about separation of powers and checks and balances and all manner of good government things. The question came up about the difference between impeachment and removal from office and all that. Bill Clinton, etc.

Then, spontaneously…and, believe me, I know how crucial it is to kill spontaneity in the classroom in all its non-standard forms…I starting talking about Nixon. They don’t know anything about Nixon, but some have heard of Watergate. I explained what the building is and where. I told them the story of the break in, the cover up, and how Gerald Ford became President of the United States without ever having been elected president or vice president because Agnew was already gone. It was all off the grid. Unrelated to any project. Unrelated to the standard on the white board. Unrelated to what I had thought we would be discussing.

But it was so much fun. Questions and answers. Making me think. Making them think. Making them make genuinely quizzical looks on their faces.

I felt like a teacher on a day I really didn’t expect to.

Mr. Teachbad

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25 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened At Work Today

  1. Tracy says:

    You are lucky you did not get observed…It sounds as if you abandon you learning objectives for the day…TSK TSK…LOL

    Once in an informal post-ob when I was criticized for doing something similar, I twice mentioned that I seized a “teachable moment”. After the second time I used that phrase, the Principal actually asked me what that was and if it was some new terminology I learned in an Ed class. After explaining repeatedly, as he is quite dense, I was told that I am FORBIDDEN to talk about anything that was not in the lesson plan…..
    You can’t make this crap up!
    Glad your day went well. We return tomorrow….Fingers Crossed

    • Knows Better says:

      Your principal and mine are cut from the same cloth….never mind that the curriculum is the biggest piece of crap on earth. I am taking FULL advantage that it’s testing time and she’s too busy policing the halls upstairs (I’m not in a testing grade…thank God!). We had a great day today…Flat Stanley, science arts and crafts and an online game about budgeting…totally not on the curriculum, but the kids ate it up!!

  2. ForReal says:

    You better hope THEY don’t find out you were off the script! Hopefully your students don’t realize they were actually LEARNING something they will not be tested on.

  3. I love these times. We were discussing symbolism while reading a play the other day and one of the symbols is moths. I asked, What do you think of with moths? I got a lot of standard responses and then one girl said, They smell like dust. Awesome. We took off from there and went into all kinds of sensory impressions that moths, shoes, backpacks, etc. make upon us.

  4. Sean says:

    Days like you had kept me in the classroom for 30 years.
    Fuck the script. Fuck the lesson plans. Fuck the curriculum. Fuck the dumb-ass who has not been in the classroom in 25 years.( And came up with the curriculum.)
    If the kids LEARNED something today, it was a damn good day.

  5. M says:

    God, I love that. These are the lessons they remember, not the ones we painstakingly plan and organize.

  6. Simone says:

    We were told that we were to “continue teaching bell to bell” as well as to “expect classroom observations” and we were not to begin “breaking down our classrooms”
    ( packing up , taking down posters, etc…and I have a Chemistry lab & storeroom to pack away!).I wonder if the admins have looked at the freaking calendar and realized that we have another week of testing and after that 2 weeks before final exam week. Have they not realized that the students as well as myself have already checked out mentally? I can no longer perform complex mental processes , I am only useful for physical labor right now *sigh*

    • JoAnne says:

      Only a few phrases set my teeth on edge as much as “bell to bell teaching. FTS.

      • Knows Better says:

        I teach “bell to bell”…..the bell on my computer that rings 10 minutes before dismissal…he he….;)

      • Dsnider says:

        Imagine what it would be like from a student’s perspective on any given day if every teacher they had actually taught “bell to bell”… a dizzying gauntlet of rubbish… They’d be mentally exhausted and spiritually depleted… FTS!!!!

  7. JoAnne says:

    Shame on you for being spontaneous! Next thing you know, the kids’ll start asking questions and thinking for themselves. That would be bad and you should feel bad.


    Glad you had a good day! Tomorrow we start the testing insanity again…

  8. Melissa Bollow Tempel says:


  9. Rebekah says:

    So glad you had “this day” in the midst of everything else. You made me feel better though because EVERY Sunday for two school years now I suffer from horrible insomnia and heartburn, it will be bad on Monday and Tuesday and ease up a little as I get into the week, but Sundays are killer. And that feeling you had before break about coming back- I thought it was just me and felt horrible for feeling that way.

    We get the same garbage too- it kills me- do you people REALLY think you have to say this to us???? And if we are really that lousy, then why on earth would you keep us on staff? I mean, really??? Yesterday we got told that we had to look for the positives in kids and encourage them- like that was some novel idea. Seriously??? Do teachers not do this naturally? I find it more frustrating than I can say! The big thing we are hearing now is that we have to provide documentation of what strategies we are doing to motivate the kids to pass the EOG’s, and we have to come up with some new plan that will make the kids want to do their best, put it in writing, and implement it. Then on top of that, we are to document how we are motivating ourselves and our colleagues. I had some thoughts, and though they’d bring a smile to my colleagues’ faces, I didn’t figure the big-dogs would appreciate my humor. :)

  10. tom says:

    I feel the Sunday night blues and the end of break blues too. It is really weird how I dread going back to the nonsense, but by Monday morning I seem to be ok. Strange how that works:-)

  11. Miss Crabtree says:

    “I feel like a space shuttle with damaged heat tiles. Reentry may kill me.”

    “SNB–Sunday Night Blues.”

    Great post–great thread–great comments. Great analogies.

    This is like the faculty room I always wished I had. I NEVER go in the faculty room at my school. It’s all about BMW–bitch-whine-moan–but no depth, no thought, no reflection, and NO HUMOR.

  12. Great review! You actually touched some curious things on your blog. I came across it by using Google and I’ve got to admit that I already subscribed to the site, will be following you on my iphone :)

  13. amvonoh says:

    are you teachers often observed by some one? by who? I’m a college student studying music education, and was wondering what its actually like in the real classroom world. How do you feel when you are observed?

  14. Attorney DC says:

    I read your post today and your Sunday night stress about going back to work the next day brought back memories of my years as a teacher. I really used to stress out on Sunday evenings/ends of vacation b/c as a teacher you can’t just “amble into work” (as you put it) on Monday morning and pick up where you left off. You have to do work (on your own time) on weekends and evenings in order to be able to come to work (to do your real work) each day. Maybe it sounds selfish, but one thing I enjoy now about my relatively normal 9-5 job is that I can just leave on Friday and show up again Monday morning. It’s great.

    On that note, I am heading out for the weekend! Hope you have a good one (till Sunday night!).

  15. teacherabuse says:

    I feel a lot better knowing I am not the only one experiencing the Sunday and post-break anxiety. I have for several years now and expected it to go away and it never has. I’m looking for alternatives because I no longer want to teach. It just isn’t worth it to me anymore. If the kids I taught cared, I could deal with the b.s. and anxiety, but they don’t. I find it encouraging that Attorney DC mentioned leaving work at work. It sounds fabulous and I hope to experience it in the near future. Thank you for this blog. It has been a lifesaver!

  16. Simone says:

    Informal observation today during a 3 hr block (due to the testing schedule which actually went to 3 hrs and 30 min). During this 3+ hrs there was a test, 2 trivia games and a board game with 10 15-16 yr olds in 1 room. I was observed during the last few minutes of that 3+ hr block when we were packing up the game and waiting for the bell to ring. There are 15 days of school left.

    • Sean says:

      Damn Simone, what do they expect this time of year?….I got had my formal evaluation last week and the principal didn’t even come in….can’t complain, he gave me a good one…..then again, he knows I am done….

      • Simone says:

        It’s my screwed up district policy. We are on these 3 hour blocks for a two week period. They still continue to say ” You should be teaching from bell to bell” without even realizing some of these days I haven’t had a planning period! I think these admins forget when they are doing the testing schedule and giving directives what it’s like for the students and the teachers this time of the year. It was actually a productive class and the kids played the game themselves for a good 30 -35 mins; the other teacher whose class I was in even noted “Oh they’re actually playing the game by themselves!” We had been in 1 room for 3 + hrs and we were all ready to go.

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