Tag Archives: teaching

The Teachers I Remember

With a new school year about to start in Florida I have decided to post some writing that has languished in the draft bin for a bit. This post is from a year ago when I was seriously considering leaving my public school job (which I then did).

When you have around 150 students a year, that’s a lot of lives teachers impact, and the good are just as good as the bad are bad. In High School I had 23 different teachers, here are the ones that I remember and why.

Mr. K – I was in his regular History class and he only wanted to teach AP so we just did definitions from the textbook and read the chapter (silently!) while he sat at his desk. He also left a lot for no reason, so we went through his desk and found “paraphernalia,” which we never told anyone about.

Freshman English – Some guy who was a coach and kept saying “Your ass is grass and I’m a lawnmower” which, for some reason, upset me a lot. He made us do quizzes every day, but we graded with ourselves. I think he wanted us to cheat?

Ms. K – My Junior English (AP Language) teacher was obviously talented at one time, but by the time we came around she was completely burnt out on teaching and hated us. However, as much as she hated us, she hated our affectionate nicknames even more (sorry, Kern-dawg). Once my friend wrote a paper – not on the topic assigned mind you – but about how another student (an athlete) was paying someone else to do his papers. Ms. K just wrote “I know” on her paper and drew a frown face; my friend got an A.

Physics Teacher – She was so awesome and weird and I can’t remember her name. She looked perpetually disheveled with her coke bottle glasses and mop of dark hair thrown into a ponytail that she slept on. Then she came to a play at the school, on her motorcycle, wearing red lipstick, and was easily the prettiest teacher there. Refusing to put on makeup at 5 AM was something I would identify with once I taught High School. In class when she got bored she would get a chicken from the farm class and let it run around. I was terrible at Physics, but she would give me extra credit for my doodles. I got an F, but she still invited me to be in AP Physics (back when you had to apply) because she liked having me around.

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End of the School Year Slanguage Roundup 2016

One of the thing I liked about teaching High School is the direct exposure I received to the evolution of slang. I thought it would be fun to post the current slang and what isn’t popular anymore, since the olds (aka me) have gotten hold of it. I actually drafted this post over a year ago and just discovered it again. Better late than never? Well, that’s up to you to decide.

Current Slang (as of June 2016)

Gas – pronounced with a subtly elongated “a” sound, “gas” is a compliment primarily reserved for delicious looking food one is able to look at but not eat. While “gas” was a general compliment last year, replacing “dank,” it now is used almost exclusively for foodstuffs. Real examples: “That pasta salad looks gas” or (looks at picture of sushi) “That looks so gas. I want some!”

Heated – is still around and is used to indicate anger, it’s going strong, but my effort to introduce “pre-heating” to delineate the emotional space of growing anger did not take. Apparently, one is either “heated,” “getting heated,” or “was heated” and there’s no room for variation.

Lit – is a verb, (ie: “that party was lit” or “this party’s getting lit”) and has nothing to do with literature, much to my disappointment. Last year it was more clandestine and would indicate drug use, but now it has become main stream (real example: “that board game looks lit”).

Savage – being a savage is a compliment bestowed upon one by an outside party (real example: “Miss C is a savage”) and indicates that one is willing to be truthfully mean to someone. Sample conversation:

Student 1: You gave me an F! That’s not fair!

Miss C: What’s not fair is you not doing your work and then trying to blame me.

Student 2: Ooooooh! Miss C’s a savage!

Generally the party “being savaged” with recognize the validity of the critique, thus differentiating it from rudeness. Additionally, it is always done to the party’s face and is not considered gossip or ‘trash talk,’ what makes someone “savage” is the ability to tell the (often unkind) truth, to concerned parties, and have the party acknowledge the truth of said statement through silence. Complicated to explain, but very intuitive in person.

T.H.O.T. aka Thot – is an acronym that stands for That Ho Over There. While the term is well-seasoned enough to have lost its correct capitalization, it’s still regularly in use. Example: “Rachel? She a thot.”

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Thoughts from the Day After I Quit Teaching High School

Get Me Otter Here by Look Human

This post was written in August 2016, the morning after I walked out of my public High School teaching job. I’m publishing it now that the dust has settled, just in case other teachers are wondering what to do, or how it feels, when you walk out of a teaching job.

I’m not sure where to begin, but I feel the need to write something down because I’ve been walking around sick to my stomach for half of a day, and it’s not getting better. Almost a year ago (11 months ago) I posted that I was thinking about leaving teaching … and I did. Today is the first day of school and I’m not there. I feel both relieved and incredibly guilty, I feel like I abandoned my team, my students, my school. These are emotions that I need to process. I am posting them here because, maybe, just maybe, you are going though this, too.

Last year Ms. L said to me, “You are nothing but a number to administration. You need to take care of you. Nobody else is going to.” A few days ago my dad told me this story: “There’s a parable about a man, trapped on a roof during a flood. He cries out to God, ‘Help me, God, I’m trapped! Save me!’ and as he does a tree drifts by. ‘Well, I’m not diving in after that tree,’ the man says, ‘it looks too dangerous.’ Just then, someone in a canoe goes by, ‘I am not getting into that leaky canoe,’ the man says, ‘it will probably sink.’ Soon after a rowboat comes by, ‘That rowboat doesn’t look much more safe than the canoe did,’ the man says. Finally, a horse swims by, ‘A horse? There’s no way I’m getting on a horse,’ the man says. Then he cries out again, ‘God, why aren’t you saving me!’ and God replies, ‘I sent a tree, a canoe, a rowboat, and a horse. Now you’re on your own, buddy!'”

Those two stories helped me make my decision, which I doubted up to the last moment, which I doubt even today, because I had seen my tree and my canoe go by already. I had turned them down, waited, not understanding, and finally, when I worked up the courage to look at my student roster, I cried. I knew that I didn’t want to teach High School anymore, that I couldn’t. Class sizes were overstuffed, a huge influx of students meant 30+ kids in every class, and I knew I couldn’t control them. I told the Universe that I wanted to keep teaching more than anything in the world, please Universe, send me a job. And the Universe did.

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Teacher Confession: I’m Contemplating Huge Life Changes

How to Quit Your Job

How to Quit Your Job

Note: Below is a very personal article about some struggles that I’m having as a public High School teacher. If you don’t teach High School this will probably not be interesting at all. Stop back later for our regularly scheduled programming.

I am contemplating some huge life changes. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I found myself doing a newly familiar Google search: “teaching sucks.” Hilarious because a lot comes up. Turns out that teaching public school is incredibly grueling, barely rewarding, and stressful beyond belief.

When I worked at a corporate job years ago (why did I ever leave) we had personality profile tests that we had to complete. It was fun actually, my chatty office bestie had to socialize to be productive, others have to innovate and experiment in a safe environment, and I, I have to be right. Sounds strange, but basically what the profile said was that I have to know exactly what my job is and I have to be able to execute is perfectly every time, otherwise I get recalcitrant. It’s completely accurate. My house is a mess, but at work, I’m an organized, obsessive perfectionist.

When you teach public school (any maybe this is only for Florida, which is as specific as I’m going to get for fear of retaliation) you have no real, specific things to do and no perfect, accurate way to execute it. “Do a Marzano scale board configuration,” they say three days before students return after a summer of silence, not giving us an example. “Do we add it to our standard board configuration and essential questions?” “Yes.” Except I have three different class preps that each needs two dry erase boards full of space, I only have two boards, and it has to change at least weekly? Only I have about 20 minutes before work to work, during which kids want to socialize, and 30 after work, during which kids want to socialize, so I have about zero minutes a day to change my board. Is my board right? Is it wrong? Someone came in, photographed it, and left silently. What is that? I can’t care about something I can’t do right, but I’m not apathetic, I’m pissed.

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