teaching

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Interrupting Flo?

Published April 5, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Ah, the routine! Many may decry the hum and the drum of a regular schedule, but to those of us who dodge the slings and arrows of the classroom, and for some of us, it’s potentially dodging actual bullets, but that’s a tirade for another time.

Anyway, the daily routine of  normal school day is what keeps most of us sane. Unfortunately there are many factors that can disrupt the average. Like the season. It is early April and some of us came back from Spring break and rolled right into an Easter Break. Now we are break free and trying to cram in benchmarks and evaluations and recommendations and weekly assessments in to the last six weeks of school. All of this while occasions such as this morning’s Easter Parade do inform against us.

My school has an Easter Parade featuring our early elementary students in their spring gear pushing/pulling carts and dressed as sunflowers, bumble-bees, etc as they walk down the street and up the driveway.  (It’s terribly cute, especially one little girl in a flower costume, holding up a window box of other flowers, and the Grand Master of the parade,  a round little boy dressed as bee, proudly brandishing his baton. My favorite was a child who refused to do anything but walk grimly with his arms down.  He didn’t see the point of an Easter Parade after Easter.  When I asked him why he didn’t want to wave, he raised one eyebrow at me and said, “Really?” )

This fifteen minute parade disrupted everyone’s entire routine.  The entire school has been in  chaos all day. So now I am the shrew because I refuse to let my kids eat their candy (Our Pre-K buddies sent us some for helping them.) because they won’t stop talking, pushing, shoving and accusing someone of having Cheez-it Farts.   True, i would have some of these problems without an Easter Parade, but part of the problem is that being outside in the blustery wind made everyone’s allergies  act up so I have mountains of Kleenex all over the place and everyone is giving me Disney Eyes because I won’t let them have candy.

My theatrical training has taught me that conflict creates the story; that no story was ever written about the day things went ok, so I should be grateful for the material.

My theatrical training has also taught me that if I had gone the performance route, and was lucky enough to be cast in a recurring role in a commercial, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about money, like every other teacher.

And we’re back.

inferiority, complex?

Published April 3, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I am having the kind of day where I can’t do anything right.  I  started out feeling guilty because I didn’t let Samantha (the cat) lick my toast and she mewed piteously at me.  (What if she dies today, bereft of toast?)  Then, as I was getting ready to leave, I saw the strip of ceiling hanging loose because the entire house is running down the hill and I felt a) like a terrible housekeeper because, really, shouldn’t I get on a stepladder with a glue gun and fix it? and b) like a generally terrible human being because I should be out of this house by now because EH and the Adulteress (world’s worst punk band) picked it out and I can still see the spot of floor I stared at and counted to 100 so I wouldn’t pick up a wiffle bat and wail on both of them while they were hugging before I went to my grandfather’s funeral. I totally could have gotten away with it too.

Then I got to school and felt guilty because I’m not particularly excited to be back teaching and guiding young minds. Then I felt worse because after carefully planning my lessons, I discovered that I haven’t been putting in enough information on the plans. I am supposed to put a four step evaluation, objective and process plan into every lesson. I teach five subjects and some days the objective is to get the kids through the day with the ability to walk and talk at the same time.  The educational guilt cycle continued with a mild reprimand because I have been using the wrong copier to make the double sided copies for my class.  No one has ever told me not to use this copier nor has any one demonstrated the double sided features of the other copier to me.  (All of the other classes have workbooks for the exercises I was copying. It is a mystery to me why I don’t have a class set of these books, but since I still haven’t found the curriculum guide that last years’s teacher prepared.)  I have a heap of work still to do, but just found out I have a meeting after school.

I still have three hours left in my school day. I can’t  wait to see how I fall to the occasion.

Strange Days Indeed

Published March 11, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

“Just how does one become a professional blockhead?”-Fox Mulder

I find it strangely synchronotic (I think I just made that word up.) that as I am writing this particular bit I should hear that snippet of dialogue. You see, and how could you not, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you. There are strange doing afoot. I am officially on Spring Break and my head is fraught with worry.

I am worried about finances. Quite simply, I am not making enough money to cover expenses, and this time it is not entirely the fault of the vicious whomping my savings took last year when I worked for a school that had a shaky understanding of how the business world works.

I, and my fellow teachers, are quite frankly grotesquely underpaid and there is not a thing we can do about it.  Exacerbating this situation is the fact that my mortgage has gone up to the equivalent of exactly one half of my paycheck.  (Why yes, this is the same house that had sparks shooting out of the floor this time last year and had similar sparks shooting out of the ceiling two years ago.  For some insane reason, the property has been appraised at about $20,000 more than it was last year.)

Clearly it is time to get out of the house.  Like my fellow teachers there is not much I can do for the immediate fix, with the exception of getting a second job or selling plasma.  I already work approximately 10 hours a day, and if I sell plasma The Mom will reach into my chest and pull out my still beating heart. Plus the plasma alone won’t cover the already stretched bare spots in the budget.

I know the problem: teachers are simply not paid enough.  It is the second most senseless thing in Education, the first being that we, as a country, can not find away to keep our children safe in our schools and BTW, have you noticed that in wake of the far too many school tragedies you haven’t heard a single story of a TEACHER fleeing the scene. No, teachers understand that their first responsibility is to their students, which is why we put up with the low pay and terrible hours.

In a mostly related note, I just finished reading the book,A matter of days by Amber Kizer. I generally stay away from the “This is how the world ends” genre, mainly because I think Stephen King did it best with The Stand.

This book was a great read, kind of a The Stand, light.  It pushed forward the idea that when it does end it will be as sly and fast as an OkCupid date. You won’t see the horror coming until you are trying to get away from it. (If you reuse this phrase, please direct people to my books on Kindle which are still free through the 13th! )

Now why, you may ask, did I leap to this book review and shameless plug?

Because I have genuine anxiety about the daily circus that is our current administration.  If any of my students ran off at the mouth like that (Just go to CNN.com and check out the latest) they would miss recess for the next few weeks, possibly the rest of the school year.

And now the President plans to meet with Kim Jong-un.  I think the problem of underpaid teachers might just go away, along with the rest of us.

Because I see the horror coming.

And I’m just an amateur blockhead

 

Parmegeddon (Because if it’s the end, I want cheese.) Part 1: The bearable rightness of being.

Published January 7, 2018 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

What is it that Robert Burns says about the best laid plans of Mice and Men?

I know perfectly well what Burns said. ““The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” I even know what it means.  The very rightness of knowing things has been both a lifesaver and an anchor in many of the storms of my life (How picturesque! I’ve been teaching children to write descriptively and I may have just lost the run of myself as I am wont to do.)

There is a lot on my  mind right now. There is even more in my sinus cavity because allergy season and kids around me all day, many of them with various and sundry illnesses. Being around my cherubs reminds me of my elementary school experiences and it makes me watchful  because in the anchor and the lifesaver category (world’s worst jeopardy home game) I have a good working memory and have vivid recollections of myself at nine years old and younger. I remember being in Kindergarten and getting into a screaming argument with Sam Honea and Janea Townsend that Ma’am and Mama were two different words. This would not be the first time that I would concede to loud blondes just to keep the peace.

I mostly remember knowing I was right, and not being able to wrap my mind around the fact that these two shrill beasts couldn’t accept that.  As I grew up and my intellectual curiosity was encouraged by nuns, librarians and student teachers (Pretty awesome name for a book store/lounge.) I began to ask a lot of what if’s. I remember asking my parents, “What if someone killed an entire classroom of kids, would the kids be buried together or individually?”  This was in 1980, and, of course, my parents were shocked by my questions because things like that didn’t happen. There are a few other incidents where I just knew something was right and it was. As an adult I have joked about being the pawn between good and evil and I know I have gone on quite a bit about that. With that power seems to come a bit of Cassandra’s curse (world’s worst Lingerie store)  I won’t go into my knowledge of Greek mythology and how Agamemnon should have had more sense to return home after 10 years with another woman, especially since the woman in question spent the entire voyage home warning him that his wife, Clytemnestra probably wasn’t going to be thrilled to see him at all, let alone with a female slave, but, of course, Cassandra was right. Unfortunately, Agamemnon didn’t realize this until after he met the business end of an axe.

Cassandra didn’t get to enjoy her rightness for very long, because  Clytemnestra was only slightly more thrilled to see HER than she was her husband.  And, of course, Cassandra died.

This whole rambly tumble of words is the preface to what will be part book report, part catharsis and part display of my education. (I have an obsessive need for constant reassurance)

This all came about because I just finished reading:

The Mandibles: A family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

and rereading:

The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S.Tepper

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

That kind of explains my mood.

 

Because a girl has to try

Published December 11, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Today, while not the craziest day I have had teaching, and is not by far the most challenging, it is a rough day. It’s rough in a hurry up and wait kind of day.

Many years ago when I was in late teens I still fancied myself an actor, even though it was more nerve wracking than fun and I was far too thin skinned to last very long in the business. (In fact the thought of being in “the business” makes me roll my eyes.  You see, friends and neighbors, if you are female and more or less fit into the ingenue category (doe-eyed, more boobs than sense, and a strong endurance for the scent of Aqua Net)  You have a very small window of time to actually attain some level of success. It is a small and very narrow window.  In fact, it is so narrow that at 20 when I weighed a 138 pounds and was a size 7 on the bottom and a 10 on the top, I was STILL too fat to be considered a true ingenue. I would have to lose twenty pounds to at least be in the right shape, week and woozy it may be to audition for the “right” parts.

Anyway, around this time I was an extra in a little film called Born on the Fourth of July, staring a little actor named Tom Cruise. This movie was filmed in North Texas and one of the teachers at my college had an agent who got a whole bunch of students in on the film. Oliver Stone touched my hair and said I was pretty.  I spent a long, chilly day standing outside of the Dallas Convention Center pretending to be a young Republican.

All I can remember of this experience is that if the Film Industry is all hurry up and wait, then I was better off focusing on Theater.

Today the music teacher is staging the Christmas Musical. In the first place, none of the students is feeling particularly malleable, none of the  staff feel particularly festive and no one knows what are schedule is. So all day I have been herding kids from place to place and trying to get at least one piece of information to stick in someone’s head.

On the plus side, BatBeard is safe and I am at the point in my life that if I decide to jump back into show business I am now safely in the Ethnic Character Actress, so at least, I will get to eat.

I’m not made of puppets, so you can’t blame me for Youtube

Published December 7, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

As I said the other day, it’s chaos (be kind). Well certain recent events have compromised my kind nature, gentle spirit and otherwise cherublike demeanor. I will not go into it here, as it is not my own personal business.

I had the kind of day where you just want to throw yourself on the floor and roll around like a dust bunny, but you can’t because even though you only got 5 hours of sleep, you still have to corral and herd and possibly teach 9 year olds.

Highlight 1: One of my ELL’s, a sweet but intense Burmese boy who doesn’t quite have a grip on euphemisms and idioms, decided he would bust out with an Elvis impersonation to Santa Claus is Comin’ to town. Even better, this is apparently a dance that he does with his brother.

Low spot: One of my other students who has more angst than a 13 year old girl, was really down so I let his parents know because the same parents are very, very concerned. (this is not a bad thing.) However, I used half of my lunch talking to one parent, then the other parent showed up, which took the other half of my lunch.

In the conversation with the other parent, it was implied that this child did not have any interest in Social Media (re:Youtube and that vines/videos that feature Jake and/or Logan Paul) before this year because of the way last year’s teacher managed the classroom differently.

The teacher they had last year is a nun, and last year all of the kids were a year younger.

Somehow, this parent managed to imply that I am the one who is responsible for the social media that he is interested in and that I should stop any exposure the child may have to any of it.

I called The Mom to vent and she said that I should bring my puppets ( I have a full set of puppets) to do a story time. I told her, “I’m not made of puppets, Mom.” This of course made both of us stop for a minute. Then I realized that I definitely need more sleep.

And I’m not responsible for Youtube.

How are we supposed to have a cult with these personalities?

Published November 21, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Logan Paul. Jake Paul. Rebecca Black. Kardashian. Kanye and all of the other Jackasses and Catfishes

I wonder what song Living Color would write if they were to reboot their song.

I have been compiling some research about this culture of rudeness that I see springing up all around me. This is just a preface to the longer blog that I will be posting. I just wanted to get this down because I am furious.  Twenty minutes ago, when I went to pick up my students from the gym, one of them, the hardest working and sweetest one of them was crying. Because at 10 minutes til eight, someone had already teased him to the point of crying.

I have no idea why.  After this, all of my boys commenced to talking about the latest Logan or Jake Paul video.

It’s really making me angry..