Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And this I Promise you: One Day Everything will Go Wrong

This was a line in a blog post I recently read about why world travelers make the best workers. A college friend had shared the post with me as we often talk about our traveling and Gustavus adventures together, but something spoke to me in the words of the post "And this I promise you: One day everything will go wrong." 

Upon reading those words all I could think of was "Yes" and then immediately afterward I thought, "what a wonderful title for a blog post!"

Today was more or less hell on Earth at work today. I don't like blogging about the bad days or how ridiculous public education is in New York City, but today I think I'll make an execption.

If you have been following my blog you are aware that my school does this thing called intercession where students stop taking all their core classes and work on an integrated project across the disciplines for roughly about a month. EVERYONE I talk to outside of the school thinks this is a marvelous idea. "What a great opportunity for the kids!" they say. 

Except it is not. 

And here's why.

First of all, in the previous years students have not recieved a grade for intercession. This year, for the first time ever, students WILL be getting a grade for this class, but the seniors refuse to believe it as if not believing in it suddenly makes it true

"Yeah right, intercession doesn't count for anything, we don't have to do any work!" is the general sentiment throughout the senior class right now.  

In fact, our valedictorian has been completely skipping whole days of school during intercession. When I talk with other teachers we ask ourselves at what other school does this happen? None of us can think of any. 

The senior attitude not only makes my job incredibly difficult it also makes it significantly less enjoyable. The senior class and I are not friends right now.

Second of all, our intergrated project is based off project-based learning (PBL), which is great except our kids have not been set up for success for that type of learning. They are used to so much structure that they can't handle the "do it yourself exploration" type of activies PBL requires. They hear unstructured "research time" and think "YES! I get to throw markers across the room and run in the hall because I don't need to be in class!" 

I was taking it personally like.. OMG I have lost complete control of my class- until I realized it wasn't me. It was the school. EVERY classroom that had seniors in it was like this. OUTRAGEOUS.  

Every teacher I talked to was furious, except one. Yeah one, he said he just stopped caring and decided to roll with the flow of chaos. "there's no use in fighting them, let them make their decisions. We hold their grades in the end." I thought this was particularly wise and that will be my strategy tomorrow. (am I going crazy? When else would this be acceptable?)

We have also not set the kids up for success for PBL because they do not know how to research or cite sources as I discovered last week, when they were required to find sources online for a solution to their sustainability problem. These are twelfth and eleventh graders mind you- they should know how to use citation. 

Again, I am reminded how far behind our students are. Our school should have been setting them up for success for this intercession project from day one starting with teaching them citation and using sources.

Third of all, technology. We only have 4 laptop carts for the whole school. Almost every class wants the laptops AT the same time, yet we still have not figured out a way to organize the laptops to make this so. 

It becomes like a battle to get the laptop carts- first come first serve unless you are really good at negotiating and we are all polite (but with an agenda). Even then, say you get the laptops you can bet that half of them are not charged and the cords to charge them are tangled in at least 20 minutes worth of untangling. 

Oh AND then, if you get the ancient Dell laptops because someone was considerate enough to negotiate with you you will find the Dell batteries only last for roughly 20 minutes. So basically it's not even worth it.

OH and another surprise! I do love surprises don't you? Apparently internet doesn't work on half of the laptops either. NO ONE in the school seems to know the password or how to solve this internet problem and it baffles me.  

Ok. What is the point of even having laptops if we can never use them and they can never get on the internet. If we don't have textbooks (which we dont) we should at least be able to have working laptops.  

But I don't know, I'm starting to feel like a crazy person thinking this is a legitimate request, since NO one seems to mind that the technology is utter chaos. In the words of my brother David, "THIS is stupid!" and that is why I hate the laptops and probably will never use them again- until next intercession.

OH... and this... this takes the cake. So I was walking to the teacher's lounge (emphasis on teachers lounge) to grab my lunch already angry about how outrageous today had been and guess who I find. FIVE OF MY SENIORS THAT I HAVE NOT SEEN ALL WEEK SITTING IN THE STAFF LOUNGE LIKE THEY OWN THE PLACE WATCHING A MOVIE

I was not prepared for that. I was SO mad... if you are going to cut class at least have the courtesousy to NOT come to school. I didn't know what to do.  

With adults you would say "I am angry because......." and explain why and maybe say you will be angry for awhile, but then you get over it and have a rational conversation about it

I realized I don't know how to be angry at kids- because you can't treat them like adults (or maybe you can.. I just dont know how),  you also need to discipline them. This is something I'm still working on, with mild successes.  

Our school has zero discipline policy and no way to assign detention. How am I suppose to discipline them outside my classroom in a way that doesn't make me look stupid!?! Zero accountability whatsoever.

I'll admit upon walking in there completely surprised to see THAT my immediate thought was "dear God not on my lunch break!" then I realized I MUST not be the only teacher that has experienced them HERE in the staff lounge today and even more anger bubbled up inside me. 

What am I supposed to do? Be the only nazi teacher who forces them to get out. Dear LORD  the teachers can't even be consistent this IS outrageous. I guess for the sake of consistency I'll just grab my lunch and leave like all the other teachers. 

I really did not know how to handle my anger in that moment- I knew it wasn't fair to yell at them for everything that was driving me nuts about intercession, so I opted to leave instead before "Ms. H. FREAKED out in the teachers lounge" became the new rumor spreading throughtout the school

Retrospectively I should have kicked them out, but did NOT see that random situation ever happening and was definitely not mentally prepared to handle it.

Oh and in the midsts of this, lets not forget that the state regents tests (which are required by the state to GRADUATE) are taking place next week. I mean you know... I'd think maybe PREPARING students for the test would be a top priority since not having a high school diploma is detrimental to my student's future. But what do I know? I'm just a first year teacher. 

OUT. OF. CONTROL. That has been what my school has been the past 2 weeks. 

I hate intercession.   


1 comment:

  1. This blog post is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS, Amanda. I can only imagine how humorous it might have been to be a fly on the wall as you walked into that "teachers'" lounge. Watching as you probably silently gawked at the absurdness, momentarily debated what to do, only to turn around in discuss.

    By the way... Did you hear how Ms. H freaked out on the Seniors today? Haha.