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.

Mr. Teachbad







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