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Category Archives: Teachers

E-mail from a teacher today:

You told us we got a step and a half raise this year. I only got $80.

Okay, what step are you on? She told me. Okay this is your salary this year, this was your salary last year. That’s $1050.00.

I still have my paystub from last August. My August check this year is only $80 more than last year.

(really folks, I don’t make this chit up…)

Well, if you divide $1050 by 12 thats $87. I’m guessing the missing $7 is taxes…

So you’re telling me I have to divide my raise by 12?

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(that’s the actual results when you repeatedly bang your head on a keyboard)

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Our school district doesn’t have a “dress code” for teachers, we are expected to dress professionally and appropriately for the workplace.

During a meeting yesterday a teacher came up to me while I was sitting at a table and said her principal had told her that her blouse was inappropriate for the classroom. She asked me, “What about this is bad?”

I slid my legal pad to her side of the table and asked her to write down her name and which principal had spoken with her. She bent over to write. Ohhhhh. Now I understand.

I told her, “I think I may see the problem. You’re wearing a lacy pink half cup bra with front hooks. You have a mole on the left one that you might want to have a doctor look at. I can actually see your belly button ring from here. I think your principal might be right on this one.”

She said, “I teach first graders, do you really think they’re going to look?”

Riiiiiight.

In my first period class today two girls came over to my desk just before the bell rang.  They asked me if I could make sure that if I’m ever gone I don’t get the same substitute teacher that they had in Spanish class yesterday.

I asked them why.

They told me that the teacher had left a lesson plan and an assignment for them to work on in class.  The sub instead showed them a movie, Horton Hears A Who.  While the movie was running they said he lectured the class on how the movie was really about abortion.  He would stop the movie to explain the point the that was trying to be made and then try to start a discussion about abortion, how it was murder and against God’s laws.

They said at one point he was yelling at them and so stressed out his face was turning red and the cords in his neck were standing out.

I guess $55 per day doesn’t buy as good a quality substitute as it used to.

If you’re a teacher and have never heard this before…

 

Yesterday one of my little darlings received a paper cut while passing a worksheet down the aisle.  He asked to go to the office to get a band-aid.  Being the ex-boy scout that I am, I was prepared.

“I have band-aids in my desk.  I also have some Neosporin.”

We fixed up the damaged digit and went about our business.

During my planning period today I was summoned to the office.  It seems that this morning the young man asked one of his teachers if he could come to my room to change his band-aid.  The teacher asked why he wanted to go to my room.  The kid told her it was because I had Neosporin.

This teacher is one of the ones who doesn’t do her job, and I’ve called her on it in the past.  She doesn’t care for me…

So she turned me in to the administration.  The administration has a placed a reprimand in my file.  Dispensing medication without authorization.

When they told me they had to write me up my response was, “Kiss my ass.  I’ll sign the form, but you can kiss my ass.”  Direct quote.  Probably not wise, but wtf?, I’ve got tenure…

 

[edit]

by the way, no we don’t have a nurse.  we can’t afford the luxury.  the main office receptionist is the “trained” staff that dispenses meds…

I am the web-master for our school.  One of my duties is to train teachers on how to create their own webpages.  The district has online sign-up for PD sessions and the PD person in the central office set up a session for today.  I don’t have access to who had signed up, so for the past week, every day, I have sent out school-wide emails telling the teachers who are attending to inform me of what they want to use for a userid and password.  I have pointed out that I need to have this info ahead of time so I can set up their accounts and be able to use the session time to actually teach them something.  About a dozen teachers responded.

3:30 rolls around.  I go down to the computer lab.  There are 30 teachers there.  17 of them need me to set up their account.  WTF? 

So, WWMLRD?

[What Would My Loyal Readers Do?}

A.  Go ahead and take the whole hour to set up the new accounts, and get no teaching done at all.
B.  Explain to the 17 who didn’t get me the information ahead of time that we will set up a session at a later date for them.
C.  Completely ignore the 17 idiots and start the session.

I chose C.

I began the session by giving out the URL for the sign-in page.  I told them when they got to that page to type in the userid and password they emailed to me.

“I don’t have a userid or password, what should I do?”

“Go home.”

“Go home?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t you set up my account now?”

“No.  Go home.”

“Well, I never…”

There is not a day that goes by that at least one of my colleagues makes me wonder how in the hell they received a college degree.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but I’m the VP of the local teacher’s association.  In this capacity I intervene when a teacher feels they are being treated unfairly by the administration.

A teacher came to me this morning with their paycheck stub.  The conversation follows:

Teacher:  I’m being underpaid.
Me:  What makes you think that?
Teacher:  If I take the first line on my paycheck and multiple it by 12 it doesn’t equal the amount that is listed on our salary schedule.
Me: (at this point I’m thinking that the payroll department didn’t bump him up a step for one more year of service.  this is a fairly common occurence at the beginning of the year)  How much are you short?
Teacher:  4 cents.
Me:  4 cents?
Teacher:  Yes.
Me:  Well, your annual salary doesn’t divide evenly by 12, its always off a few cents.  Your July check next year will have the “extra” 4 cents on it.
Teacher:  So I’m being underpaid every month and I’m supposed to wait until July to get caught up?
Me: (confused look)  Uhmmm, you realize we’re talking about one-fourth of a PENNY per month, right?
Teacher:  It is the principle.  They should pay me that 4 cents on the first check, not the last one.
Me:  (blank stare)
Teacher:  I want to file a grievance.
Me:  (blank stare)
Teacher:  Can I have the form please?
Me:  (blank stare)
Teacher:  (defiant stare)
Me:  No.  I’m not going to file a grievance over 4 cents.
Teacher:  Well.  That’s not very professional.
Me:  Seriously?  Seriously?  Get out of my room…

Before you accuse me of not knowing how to spell, yes I did it on purpose.

For those of you not familiar with the Peter Principle, here it is:

In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his/her level of incompetence.

If you happen to be a school administrator, I’m sorry, but from what I’ve seen this holds true.  Let me give you an example.

Last year we had a first-year teacher teaching Algebra 1.  71% of her students failed the class.  She was always upset about the success (or lack of) from her students.  She did everything she could to help them.  She tutored before and after school.  She made home visits.  She really tried.  She refused to give a student a passing grade if the work didn’t merit it.  The principal didn’t want to re-hire her.  The central administration was riding the principal’s backside about her failure rate.  She was constantly told how bad a job she was doing.  They couldn’t find someone to take her place so she was re-hired and given the worst classes.  Her self-esteem was crushed.  She doubted if she was in the right profession.

A second-year teacher was teaching Algebra 1.  His failure rate was about 60%.  Again, he only kept his job because they couldn’t find someone else.  He also was “demoted” and doesn’t teach Algebra 1 anymore.

A 17 year veteran teaching Algebra 1 had a failure rate of 11%.  A 19 year vet teaching Algebra 1 had a failure rate of 7%.  What great teachers.  What shining examples for the slackers.  Try to be more like them.  Watch them teach.  Learn from them.

In my fair state we have End-of-Instruction tests.  When you hear about high stakes testing, this is high stakes.  The Algebra 1 EOI is infamous for its difficulty.  Today we received the results of last year’s tests.

Our school had 67% pass the test.  Now that number may not impress you, but state-wide only 40% passed. 

The first-year teacher who was constantly told how bad she was had 91% pass the state test.
The second-year teacher who couldn’t teach had 87% pass the state test.
The 17 year vet, one of the shining examples, had 31% pass the state test.
The 19 year vet, the man held up as the prime example of doing it the right way, had 19% pass the state test.

The superintendant and the assistant super both showed up in the principal’s office today demanding to know why the two most successful Algebra 1 teachers were not teaching Algebra 1 this year…  They seem to have forgotten that they wanted to fire them 4 months ago.  The principal can’t imagine why those two had such success on the state tests.

Maybe it is because kids will rise to your expectations.  Maybe it is because if you actually hold kids accountable they’ll learn something.  Maybe it is because if you actually teach and not just pass out worksheets kids will learn. 

I hope they both feel vindicated.  I hope they both continue to keep high standards.  I hope they both remember why they chose education as a career. 

I hope someday I’ll see a real live administrator who doesn’t forget what it was like to be in the classroom.

One component of the new software our district is using is a new gradebook.  I love it.  It is user friendly and has many nice extras.  One of the extras is that with one click I can look up any of my students schedule for the day.  I know which teachers each of them has, and which period.

Maybe this isn’t such a great feature after all.

We have a rule in our school, no visible piercings other than ears.  Period.  None.

That’s supposed to be the rule.  If a kid comes into class with piercings we are to first ask them to remove them and if they refuse, send them to the appropriate administrator.

[It may be a stupid rule, I may not agree with it, but, a rule is a rule and I’m expected to enforce it.]

Seventh period.  A girl enters my room with two studs in her upper lip, a large nose ring, and three studs in her eyebrows.  Excuse me young lady, can I speak with you in the hall?  You know you have to remove the piercings, right?  Why?  Because that’s the school rule.  I don’t care if I’m the first person to tell you this today, you still have to take them out.  Well, if that’s the way you feel go the principal’s office.  I know I’m a jackass, do it anyway.

I then go into my room and email the principal.  Surely I’m not the first person to send her to you today am I?  It turns out that yes, I am.  Flashes of red begin to appear at the edges of my vision.  I look up her schedule on the new handy-dandy software and compose an email along the lines of: WTF do you people think you’re doing?  Do your F’ing job.

Before I hit the send button I cool down enough to realize this might not be the way to approach things.  I delete that email and send this one:

JF is in my seventh period class.  She put her studs and rings back into her various piercings before she got to my room today.  Then she proceeded to lie about all of you telling me that none of you made her take them out when she was in your class.  I just thought it would be good for you to know about the nasty rumors being spread about how you don’t do your job.

Too subtle?

Long time, no write.

But I’m back.  My summer didn’t go quite as planned, but such is life.

Yesterday was the first day of new teacher orientation.  The local teacher’s association buys lunch for all the new teachers each year, and then we make our pitch for them to join the union.  I’m the VP of the association and I’m also the chairman of the membership committee so its up to me to run this luncheon.  By my lists our district has 35 new teachers this year.  As the teachers were arriving at the restaurant I was counting them.  About midway through I had a moment of deja vu.

A few years ago my school was holding our freshman orientation.  At one point a shy blonde Reese Witherspoon look-alike came in my room.  She was apprehensive about being at the high school and proclaimed, nearly in tears, that she really sucked at math.  We talked and I tried to convince her that she would do fine in algebra and that high school would be fun.  She left my room that day unconvinced.  She worked hard in class and to be honest, she had an amazing teacher, and she finished the year with a B- in algebra.  She was in my class her sophomore year for geometry and her junior year for algebra 2.  She overcame her shyness, was captain of the cheerleader squad and homecoming queen her senior year.  She was elected most popular her senior year and was planning on getting a degree in nursing.

Imagine my surprise when one of the new teachers is a bubbly blonde Reese Witherspoon look-alike.  I asked her what she was doing here and she told me she was a new first grade teacher at one of our schools.  I jokingly asked her if she had had trouble with the math in nursing school.  She said that after her freshman year in college she spent some time thinking about what she really wanted to do with her life.  She told me that I had inspired her and that she wanted to touch someone’s life the way I had touched hers so she became a teacher.

We don’t get paid a lot monetarily, but at times this job is priceless.