Back To School Badness
In this season of new beginnings, I was thinking about the many different cracked and crap-crusted lenses through which I have written about the start of a new school year. Lacking the energy to think of a new way, I have constructed a chronological compendium of my thoughts on the subject.
From the irresistible and irrational panic of mid-July to the week-long faculty circle-jerk of mid-August to the familiar self-loathing and resignation of mid-September…we’ve got it all.
Let us begin…
July 20: Teacher Somehow Not Getting Fired (In which a terrible miscalculation has been made.)
…I have been nauseous and waking up soaked in sweat for a week now…OH MY GOD! Do you understand!? I’m going to have to go back there.…this…this is crazy! I thought I had positioned myself to unquestionably be let go in a budget cut or something…I peed in the drinking fountain. I call all the Hispanic kids Speedy Gonzales. I have lost every textbook I’ve ever been issued….
July 26: BACK TO CLASS!! (In which the power of denial is tested.)
Is it time to panic yet? No. Not yet. But it’s in the mail. I’m starting to get that “shit, where’d the summer go?” feeling. The Sunday paper came today (Sunday) and it was full of back-to-school crap….I saw two or three little advertisement/circulars that had dropped out of the paper. I saw them plainly. It was back to school this and back to school that and save on your back to school shit here and save on your back to school shit there. But is was like in a dream. Like maybe I didn’t really see them. Maybe I was hallucinating. Or maybe everybody in the advertising department at the paper and at all of the companies who had purchased ads had made the same, terrible mistake….
August 15: Oh, Crap (In which idiocy is revealed.)
…We start each day with a Quaker reading. We stand in a circle, about 100 people, and somebody reads a touchy-feely quote about teachers or children or puppies or some crap. Then everybody stands around like an asshole for a little while until somebody finally says something about the quote…
August 19: The Fear In Their Eyes (In which requirements are described and new teachers cry.)
…There is an extraordinarily complex and subjective evaluation system. There is a meticulously detailed, inflexible and absolutely unrealistic discipline system. There are hall pass, tardy, locker and dress code policies that administrators must have rehearsed over and over in order to describe with a straight face….I remember my first year here. I spent the first four months on the verge of a heart attack. Requirements are so extensive, detailed yet unclear, explained so poorly, change so often and, in fact, cannot all possibly be complied with such that everyone, by default, must fail….
September 1: Re-acclimation (In which the administration shoots itself in the foot and new teachers continue to cry.)
…my thoughts turn to the new people. They are all a mess. I’ve been making it a point to check in with them. They are not feeling good. One woman I have never seen before grabbed my arm in the middle of the hallway this morning at 8:02 and was terrified that she was late for some bullshit meeting and could I please tell her where it was. I told her that the good news was that there was no 8:00 meeting today and the bad news was that the meeting was during her planning period. She was so grateful…They can’t possibly comply with or even fully understand what is “required” of them. They get criticized severely for this. They get frustrated. They realize that, strictly speaking, they cannot succeed….
September 6: Teacher Psyched About Getting Same Room (In which a twisted silver lining is found.)
…I own this place. Make no mistake. THIS is my domain and I intend to use it to leverage my power. I am going to fuck with the new teachers and make them my dependents. By the end of September, none of them will have any idea how to make copies, where to exit for a fire drill, or whether or not their department chair is a crack dealer. It’s all about information and, bitches, I intend to control it….
September 16: It’s All About Communication (In which administrators display ineptitude and contempt for teachers.)
My new administrator, whom I had never spoken to or exchanged email; who I had met only once in a 45 minute meeting with 20 people, thought that the following email was the best way to initiate one-on-one contact with me (context: this is the weekend before school starts. My room obviously is not ready and I am obviously coming in over the weekend to work on it):
Hello Mr. Teachbad:
I have examined your classroom to assess whether your class is ready for the first day of school. It is a part of your professional responsibilities to have a clean, safe, and learning-conducive classroom for your students. I assessed whether 1) you had areas labeled for a standards-based classroom (i.e., student work, data, etc.), 2) it was neat and tidy, and 3) other room guidelines were adhered (i.e., no adhesives on the wall, classroom library, and accessibility of textbooks). Find below what you still need to do prior to the start of the first day on Monday, August 23. I will visit your classroom again on tomorrow to ensure it is ready for the students on Monday. You may visit the online staff handbook to get further guidance on what is expected in all classrooms in addition to contacting me….
A friend of mine a thousand miles away had the best response: “I can feel the stick up her ass from here.”
Welcome back, everybody.