Teachers

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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

 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

Published February 3, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I haven’t blogged in almost a month. My heart feels grim. I do have a bit of hope, only because I must put on a mostly brave face for  my students.

What concerns me the most is the inability of the people around me to just think.  (I always have this concern, I’m just hyper aware of it right now. I often have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “What are you? Stupid? I know this is not a good attitude for a teacher to have.)

I am trying to lead by example and help my students become aware so that they can be good people and make informed choices. This is in addition to not voicing my actual opinions because as a public school teacher, I am not allowed to make a formal, public stand.

Two teachers in my area have been suspended for their political views.

One teacher in Dallas, Tx was suspended for shooting a water pistol at a picture of President Trump

A teacher in Joshua, Tx blatantly expressed her political views in her English Class. This apparently was illustrated by showing a picture of Hillary Clinton thinly disguised as Adolf Hitler.What does this have to do with teaching English?

I work with a former student of this teacher and he informed me that this person was a good teacher. Ok, that’s not the point. (This teacher is also one of the people who keeps trying to console my panic by saying, “It’s going to be ok.” He is a young, white male.  Yes, it’s going to be ok for HIM.)

I have no idea what motivated these teachers to do what they did. Regardless how you feel, as a teacher you are supposed to stay publicly neutral.  That doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover.

As one of my students, a teeny little thing who weighs maybe 50 lbs said,”Shut your yaps and get to work.”

I think it’s time.

 

 

 

 

 

treatment bound (aries)

Published December 2, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

There is a truly great Replacements song called Treatment Bound.  The first line is “we’re getting nowhere, as fast as we can. . . .”

That lyric danced through my head as I glanced over an article on XOJane “7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Had Slept with My College Professor. ” I read the article; it was interesting, but it was the title that drew me in.

I am in no way defending the professor for abusing their power, but I do want to know why we as educators and human beings not empowering our children to have faith in their instincts and absolutely say No if they are faced with a situation that sends up red flags. The blame falls on all of us in society.

It also makes me angry that these predators and jerkozoids are getting teaching jobs when I am still subbing and side-gigging. (I am actually doing well on that front.) Shouldn’t we be more grateful for the opportunity to encourage and nurture students in a field that we enjoy?

There is another article on XOjane called” Teachers Shouldn’t Have to Be Politically Neutral”. I have not read this article, mostly because I’m afraid my comments would come back to haunt me when I seek full-time employment.  (So I guess that tells you a little about me.)

Teachers walk a fine line everyday. We are scrutinized by our administrators and parents.  I, for one, welcome that, because the alternative is much worse.  There have been stories of teachers abusing their power by mistreating their students. There is also the other end of that spectrum. Teachers are also being assaulted by their students.

I have to say I have had a few moments in my teaching career that was I terrified. (Mostly because I was afraid that I would say something that couldn’t be unsaid. Something that would definitely ruin my career and integrity.)

Teachers are constantly performing a balancing act between what is right and fair and what they actually can do.  Their 60 +hour work week is under appreciated. Their job will soon become even more difficult when the new standards and new textbooks arrive. ( I have no inside scoop on new state standards; my state has a history of changing standards based on test scores. I can not graciously comment on the text book issue.)

Teachers do so much and some d-bag has to go mess it up by crossing boundaries. And yet, teachers are not allowed to publicly give an honest opinion about something, like how Donald Trump is a harbinger of Doom and that a new hellmouth will probably rip right open should he be elected President. (Don’t say it can’t happen. All it will take is enough people not giving enough of a crap to actually do something to stop him.)  I can venture a pretty good guess where said hell mouth will be. (I amazed that my kid is in more danger now than he was when he was in NYC. Amazed, but not surprised.)

I know I sound like a crazy person (Yeah, sound like.) But after so many years in education, are you surprised?

I think I have the proof

Published December 20, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have often thought the universe mocks me and I have mentioned a time or two that I strongly suspect that I am the pawn between good and evil.

I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to finish a thought, let alone an actual project. Now it is the first night of Winter Break and I am taking some time to reflect. (I actually really hate using “reflect” as a verb.)

The stress zit that I used to get every September in celebration/consternation of the Fall Show at Fort Worth Theatre. It took me years to convince my skin that I did not need a memorial blemish.

The stress zit finally caught up to me and my new schedule.

The Winter Play went off, not hitchless but it was well received. It was largely student written and directed and featured 50 students.  The parents loved it and their were only two diva meltdowns(neither of them mine.)

The big post show let down was that I still had to teach a full day today.  I am over the firm belief that students should be sedated at noon on the day before a break as the teachers slowly ride out the day.

On the way home, my sluggish transmission started making a horrible sound.

My stress zit was so huge I think it actually grazed the windshield. It is possible that it grew when I heard the sound my engine was making

As I look back on this week, I am tired. Several of my students said they love me. I told them I love each of them individually, as a group, they drive me crazy.

I may be able to make more sense tomorrow.

The cat wants me to stop typing now.

So what’s the problem-part one

Published June 30, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Actor Boy has been in town for a few days. We have had several conversations on what we want to do over the next few years. I don’t dare say “Five year plan”, because in five years I will be fifty and the sheer concept will make me want to go on some kind of ice-cream/drinking/crime spree, and that helps no one.

I realize that Actor Boy and I have the luxury of planning and rational discussion because both have food, shelter and access to clean water. We also have a strong support system in place and have a reasonable assurance of personal safety. (The ceiling catching on fire next week is story for another time.)

We have the luxury of time and ability to intelligently discuss our plan.

This luxury, combined with my course work and job search in the field of education, leads me to the question, what is the biggest problem in public education?  Well, that depends on who you ask.

According to the Public School Review, class size and poverty are at the top of the list, closely followed by family issues and technology. (http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/434)

There are a total of ten things on the list all of which boils down to the facts that there are too many needs for far too few resources. In the past semester, I worked with a few elementary schools, a few middle schools and two different high schools. Class size is indeed a big problem because it limits the most valuable resource in the class, the teacher. Because there are legal issues, not to mention crowd control, a second teacher is added to the mix when there are more than twenty-two students enrolled in the class. (This is legal, but it is no secret that it is rarely enforced.)   In a high school setting, it begins to look like the world’s worst hostess party.

Full-time teachers have five classes a day. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you toss in a planning period where you must track down signatures, supplies and make copies and race back to your classroom and a “conference period” where, if you’re lucky, you will be meeting with concerned parents who want to help you help their student.  All of that when you are more than likely dehydrated because if you do have time to get a drink of water, when do you have time to use the restroom?  Sprinkle in the classroom management component which suggests that you monitor all classroom activity by strolling around the room as you teach. Much of this time will be spent dodging around backpacks or other supplies various student bodies who are trying to balance themselves in and around the desks of the over-crowded classroom. Now imagine there are two teachers trying to do this at the same time.

This is just the first problem.   I have no idea of how to try and fix it. I know I can’t help everyone, but how many will I help if I don’t try?

 

 

 

What to do when your brain is not fried, but a little sizzly.

Published August 24, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I  feel better about the SAT retake, particularly since I discovered that three other teachers did not do well either.

This warrants the question, “Is the SAT geared against students?”  or the better question, “I am just too freaking old to learn old tricks?”

I have spent the last three hours avoiding what I need to do. I’m a little zingy because I celebrated my finishing the SAT with a nutritious veggie sub and diet lemonade before I ran errands.  On the way home I ate some chocolate covered mini oreos, and washed it down with a coke zero.

I am now metabolizing all of this while I process the rest of my to do list.  I need to clean my bedroom.  It’s especially pitly since I have essentially spread my crap all over the house and am no longer required to confine the crap to one place.  My plan is to bag up everything in the room, except the furniture and then vacuum, dust and change the linens before putting everything back.  The point of this is to have a really clean sleep oasis and maybe encourage myself to get rid of some of the accumulated detriitus once and for all.  (I started doing this earlier in the summer but then I got tired/angry/lost interest.   I have a little film festival set aside. I have Precious, The Color Purple and the Help.   It may seem like a big fat downer waiting to happen, but the point is to not focus on how dreadful my luck has been lately.

No matter how bad it gets at least Danny Glover/ MoNique/ Bryce Dallas Howard isn’t keeping me down and/or beating the crap out of me.

 

Work in progresss

Published October 4, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

So very many things are going on that my mind can’t keep up. Picture if you will a wind-up brain with chattery teeth.

That’s a much creepier image than what I wanted to go with.

I started out to write an informative essay about the importance of education and investing in the quality thereof, but the chattery teeth in my brain won’t slow down long enough to organize my thoughts.  As a result, what you are getting now is a stream of consciousness that may yet result in an exciting string of cohesive thought.

The first thing I want to say is we as a society are very hard on our children.

This is nothing new, the Mayans and the Welsh coal miners were also very hard on their children (Worst band name ever.)

The second thing is that education is looking up in some places. There are excellent teachers who really want to teach and there are also fantastic learning environments.  There are places where these factors  aren’t mutually exclusive.

The third thing is that people come in different shapes and forms and the sooner we teach our children and our society that this is the way things are, the better off we as a people will be.

Like I said, lots of stuff.

Now I’m going to throw tube socks at the TV.