Teachbad Enters Semi-Retirement
Dear Teachbad Readers-
If you read this blog, even infrequently, you know the activity level has dropped way off in the last several months. That’s because I don’t post things very much anymore. And that got me wondering why; and asking myself if Teachbad might be coming to a natural end.
Mr. Teachbad has been my part-time alter ego for four years, going live on December 9, 2009. Mr. Teachbad kept things interesting and tolerable for me, if not always healthy. He became a minor celebrity in a small sub-culture of education bloggers and teachers. He was once banned from a blog competition and won it anyway. He exercised my mind and amused me. And I think he brought people joy. The comments and emails expressing thanks, either for forestalling your total mental collapse or just letting me know I gave you a laugh, have been truly gratifying. Thank you to everybody who took the time to comment or share your own story.
Teachbad is at a crossroads. Though never the primary goal, Teachbad didn’t make any money and was sometimes a fairly expensive habit. I have been out of the classroom for more than two years now. The blog used to write itself because so many stupid things would happen to me every day. I just had to pick a few and write about them for a couple hours a week.
After I was fired from the Control and Harass Education Camp (CHEC) in Washington, DC, I had a pretty large reserve of unused, ridiculous stories to draw upon, so the material was still there. I began to spend more time on each post and I think the writing became more diverse and thoughtful; with some book reviews, national issues and a little more discussion of policy and data. Readership held steady or increased. I was able to keep up with the writing, though posts became less frequent.
But the last six months have been different. Even though I have been out of the classroom for a while, I still care about education and, in particular, the working lives of teachers. If this blog is about anything, that’s it. I have found different ways to write about teachers without being one, so that’s not really the issue, though it does become more challenging and sometimes feels less genuine.
The real issue is time. My new position at work is much more demanding, stressful and has irregular hours. But I love this job. Probably 85% of the Teachbad blog thus far has been written between the hours of 10:00 pm and 2:00 am. Now during those hours I work and sometimes watch Parks and Rec or Archer on Netflix. I don’t mind. It allows me the flexibility to pick my daughter up from school, hang out with her and my son, make dinner, etc. It’s a good trade-off.
There are other important things I had left unattended while being Teachbad. I’ve been playing drums on and off for over 25 years, but I never got very good. And in the last eight years I haven’t played much at all. Three months ago I got rid of my old Tama Rockstar kit and bought a Getsch Brooklyn Rock kit. It’s beautiful. And I love it so much. For the first time I’m disciplined enough to really study and practice. That takes time.
The other big neglect was my health. Looking back, I was kind of a wreck. How much of this was me, how much was teaching, and how much was the peculiarities of the Camp is hard to say. It was certainly a toxic mix. I started smoking when I was a teacher. I drank too much. I was on anti-depressants and Xanax. My diet and sleep were shit. I was almost 50 pounds heavier. None of those things applied before I became a teacher, and they are all gone now. Getting fired from the Camp was possibly the best thing that could have happened to me. But I’ll always wonder if I could have been happy teaching somewhere else.
Two days ago I got a vasectomy. While I was waiting to go in, the nurse wanted to double check the machine because my resting heart rate was 41. I don’t think it ever went below 100 in seven years of teaching. I’m in good shape again, as I always had been before. My scrotum looks and feels like it lost a bar fight, but everything is actually pretty good.
Teachbad will continue, but it will be different and irregular. As its primary goal continues to be my own entertainment, it cannot fail. I will write when I want to and have time. And I probably won’t limit myself strictly to education. At the moment, I feel like writing a screed on the insanity of DC’s rent control law, for example …That’s the other thing that’s absorbing my time. My wife and I bought a 4-unit apartment building that needs a lot of work and takes a lot of time. Designing, demolishing, going to court, writing letters, standing in line at various government agencies, meeting contractors, writing and cashing checks, etc. But, again, I like it. It’s much better than grading or listening to another presentation on motivating students who don’t give a shit.
So that’s the story. I don’t want to seem too self-important or imagine that too many people really care about this, but I thought it was time to make an official statement. I feel better.
Take care. And thank you.
Oh…I’d also like to apologize to anyone who has emailed me in the last two months or made a comment on the blog. I have not checked Teachbad’s email or approved comments in quite some time. Needed my space. I see I have 644 comments pending, most of which will be spam because I haven’t updated my filter. But I might start getting to that this afternoon.