In which I’m certificated

UnknownFrom the Not Especially Important Life Achievements file: I spent the last couple of hours (they give you three, and it has to be all in one setting) getting my Level One Google for Education certification, which means … I get to put that little image to the right there in the signature portion of all my email messages and make people who don’t know better think that I’m really impressive and knowledgeable about The Googles.

It does not really mean that.  I had to sign an NDA before taking the test, and I’m not about to take the risk of pissing Google off, so I’m not going to share a lot of details, but I suspect the vast majority of those of you reading this right now could go into the exam with no preparation of any kind and pass it.  This particular level of certification doesn’t really signify any particular expertise other than 1) that needed to know that the certification exists, and 2) the desire to actually hold said certification.  There is a Level 2 certification and also a Trainer certification, and I suspect I’ll be getting both over the course of the next couple months, but until then: Hey!  I’m Level 1!  Woohoo!

Now let’s see what sorts of other trouble I can get into with what’s left of my weekend.  It’s been cool the last couple of days and I’ve had a hoodie on, so the happy season has begun.  Will there be tortellini soup for dinner tonight to celebrate?  Yes there will.

In which I do the right thing eventually

87154-fullI’ve been out of my building for a good piece of last week and nearly all of this week, and won’t be around much next week either, as my traveling band of merry People Who Share My Job move around from building to building doing Important Things What Need to Be Done.   Last week we were at a couple of middle schools and I was back at my home school by late afternoon.  The high schools have been this week, and after seeing how yesterday went (at my alma mater, no less) I emailed my boss and told her not to expect to see me at all for the rest of this week.

Well, today’s tasks went by fast, and I was out of the high school by just after noon, and so I had this weird hour and a half or so where I kept going back and forth on well, I told her not to expect me to come in at all, and it’s not like she’s going to be looking for me to the rather more conscientious dammit you know good and well you’re supposed to be at work until four and it’s 1:30.  Take your ass back to work like you know you’re supposed to.

I took a long lunch and the high school is on the other side of town so I threw some drive time in there.  At any rate, I was back in my building for the last couple of hours of the day.

Let me back up.

The next couple of days are going to be interesting.  Tomorrow we are going to be at the high school that most of my kids from my previous school– the one I quit at mid-year– usually end up.  I will know a lot of those kids, or at least will remember their names, but honestly there won’t be many of them who have any particular reason to come see me.  On Friday, I will be at the high school where most of my kids from my first school in this area are at, and I’m probably going to know half of the senior class and a sprinkling of the younger kids.  So I’m kind of looking forward to Friday.

Today I saw exactly two kids who I remembered.  One of them was a young lady who I know I’ve written about once or twice (he said, after spending fifteen minutes looking for the post) who I basically helped out at exactly the right moment once and have received endless and frankly ridiculous levels of gratitude ever since.  She’s a really sweet kid, but she was never actually in my class, and when it comes right down to it I don’t actually know her all that well, but that didn’t stop her from running right over to me and giving me a big hug and saying hi and being really surprised that I remembered her name.  Her first name, at least; I admit I blanked on her last name.

The other kid I saw?  Remember Jihad?  Yeah.  He either didn’t recognize me or pretended not to, and I’m fine with either choice; honestly, I’m amazed that he’s still in school and not, say, in jail, or dead.  He appears to not have changed much other than that he’s covered his hands in gang tattoos (from gangs he does not, I suspect, actually belong to, as he appeared to have tattoos from rival gangs on opposite hands, which is perfectly in line with the shithead poser he was in middle school) and he’s grown a beard.  He managed to be literally the only discipline problem we’ve had at this particular thing we’re doing, and that’s across, so far, four schools and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of four thousand students.  Which is entirely unsurprising.

But!  Let’s stay positive; he hasn’t dropped out yet, no doubt because his parents won’t let him.

Anyway.

I didn’t want to go back to my home school because frankly the place has been stressing me the fuck out lately.   I’ve talked about this a bit, I think: the more knucklehead-inclined among our student body have been taking advantage of the fact that none of the teachers, myself included, really know many of the kids yet, and it’s led to what I will gently refer to as some disciplinary challenges, along with the somewhat expected cohort of, ah, territorial disputes among some of our kids who were previously at other, competing schools.  And parts of town.

I have two choices, and I know what the right one is: I can hide out in my classroom/office and not come out during passing periods and during times when I can tell from inside said classroom/office that some sort of shit is going on, because coming out is guaranteed, fucking guaranteed, to lead to something fucking stressful happening.  Or I can be an adult in my building– my fucking building, whether I like it or not– and go do something about shit and control the kids, despite the fact that a fair proportion of the time that’s gonna lead to me having some shit to worry about that is not specifically within my lane, so to speak.

I walked into the office after dragging myself into the building and within three minutes had six extra things to do, and then hauled a box of stuff up the stairs at the counselor’s request to deliver it to the teacher next to my office.  And then I had the delightful challenge of trying to figure out whether I couldn’t breathe because I am fat and old and have effectively lived a lifestyle completely free of climbing stairs for two years and was therefore slightly out of breath, or if I was having a fucking panic attack.

We are not fucking doing this again, and we are sure as shit not doing it in fucking August.  No.  Not doing it.  Period.  I haven’t had a panic attack in years and we are not. doing. this. shit. again.

I got over it.  I think I was just out of breath.  But I got over it.

The weird thing is, by the end of the day, despite having thrown myself into the shit with every available opportunity, because I made the correct decision and did not hide out in my room like an asshole, I was in a good mood.  And today was a good day.  And did I stay in my lane?  No, I did not.  And did I do my damnedest to make my building a place where one might want to go to receive an education?  Yeah, I did.

I’m gonna focus on the small victories this year, I think.

In which I am dialed back

2973026I am trying– I have said this to a number of people in the Real World, but I don’t think I’ve made it clear here– to maintain a very healthy sense of what Is and Is Not My Problem in this job.  I have absolutely no doubt that I will frequently be doing things at work that are, officially at least, outside my purview.  Hell, I already am.  I did twelve of them today.  But there’s shit that’s not my problem and then there’s Shit That’s Not My Problem, if you know what I mean, and while every previous teaching job I’ve ever had has been positively riddled with capital-letter Not My Problem stuff, I am bound and determined that I’m not letting it happen here.  I need to keep reminding myself that I’m coming back to education because the last time I had a job in a school it led to ambulances taking me from the building twice and I had to go on fucking medical leave and then resign.  I am not letting that shit happen again, and one of the ways I’m doing it is by very strictly monitoring my boundaries.

Not that anything in particular happened today that’s making me bring that up.  Not really, at least; I walked away from a couple of student conferences that I might have sat in on and participated in in the past, and I got an email during dinner just now that I’m not taking time away from my evening to respond to, because here’s another rule: when I walk out of that building at the end of my day, I’m done, and barring special circumstances of some sort or another I’m not gonna be doing Work Shit once I get home.  I kind of wish I could figure out a way to tell my work email to stop pinging the server for new messages after 4:30 every day.

Hell, there’s probably a way to *do* that, come to think of it.  But seriously: I was talking about getting too much email the other day?  I got two work emails at 10:30 last night as I was going to bed, and I damn near replied to them and told the people who had sent them to put their phones down and go to sleep.  At which point I decided not to bother and, instead, took my own advice, put my phone down, and … well, okay, I read for another hour– Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep is starting off well— but I did it in bed and without anything electronic staring at me.


I didn’t mention this yesterday, because I hadn’t pieced it together until today, but along with talking to Auntie No-Pants’ niece I had a bizarre moment at the end of the day where I heard someone shout “Bye, Mr. (my real name)!  I liked your book!” as he– it was definitely a boy– was leaving the building.

This was a problem in a couple of ways, prime among which was the fact that I was pretty sure there weren’t more than one or two kids in the building who knew my name in the first place, and none of those knew me well enough to yell goodbye at me on the way out the door– today was the fifth day of school, after all– and there damn sure shouldn’t be anyone who knows who the hell Luther Siler is.  The fact that the kid yelled goodbye at me as I was facing a different direction and he was headed out the door and I wasn’t able to get a good look at him beyond “one of the boys in the midst of this large group of students” wasn’t helping.  I couldn’t have picked this kid out of a lineup if my life had depended on it.

It had me a bit concerned, if I’m being honest.  I’ve never been anything other than clear-eyed about my own anonymity here; I’ve left enough clues lying around over the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of words I’ve written here in the past several years that a dedicated interloper could probably figure out where I work and even where I live within a few miles’ radius given a day or two of reading, at most.  I’m not anonymous to keep people from figuring out who Luther Siler really is.  I’m anonymous to keep kids from Googling my real name and finding their way here.

Oh God, now I want a word count for the blog no goddammit I’m not doing that.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending, of sorts: I managed to completely randomly discover that a certain 8th grade student has a rather distinctive last name that matches the last name of a couple of kids I had in my very first group of Indiana 6th graders, kids who I just happen to still be in fairly regular touch with, and I dropped one of them a quick text message and discovered that yes her little brother does go to my school, and then a moment after that I realized that I’d actually had a conversation with his mom at Open House and had somehow not connected that conversation with the fact that since she was at the school she probably had a kid there somewhere.

How her son’s existence didn’t come up while we were talking, I have no idea.  In my defense, it had been an incredibly long day and I was both 1) really tired and 2) trying to get out of the building so that I could get to my kid’s Open House, which was the same night.

So yeah.  I don’t have to shut the blog down or anything.

In which my day is foretold by prophecy

rs-242887-prophets I walked into the building this morning, dropped my bag off in my office, ate whatever sausage thing I had brought for breakfast, picked up my coffee, and headed down to the gym/cafeteria area to monitor the kids before the first bell rang.  In the gym, I saw our security guard, a guy I know from one of my previous buildings.  We chatted for a moment.

“I’m about to say something I’ve never said in a school before,” I said to him.  “As of right now, I don’t really have anything to do today.”

He knows me, so he laughed.

“Someone will come in and drop something in my lap in the next five minutes,” I predicted.  “This isn’t gonna last long.”

It took, in fact, less than one minute before the principal summoned me to the office, and then we were off to the races for the rest of the day.  Yesterday was calm and sedate.  Today was not.  It was productive, don’t get me wrong, but holy shit I did not stop moving once all day long.

(Checks, discovers he walked four miles at work today)

(Is surprised it’s that low)


So it’s the end of the day and we’re shoving the very last of the stragglers out the door and to their buses.  I am closing the doors behind them so that they can’t decide they have something Very Important That They Need Right Now and dash back into the building.  Someone tugs on my sleeve.  I turn and see someone who is much too young to be at my building looking up at me.  She is, maybe, in third grade, and I’m guessing probably second.

“Do you have a student named Aaron at your school?” she says.

oh god what did I do to deserve this

“We probably have a lot of Aarons at this school, sweetie,” I say.  “What is his last name?”

“She’s a girl,” she says.  I wait.  She does not elaborate.

“Do you know Erin’s last name?”

She thinks carefully and says a last name.  I repeat it.  She thinks about it some more and says that that’s not the right name.

“What’s your name?”

She answers me.  I ask if Erin has the same last name as her and she says no, but she can’t remember Erin’s last name.

“Who brought you here, sweetie?”

“My te-te.”

“Okay.  Can she come into the building and then we can go to the office and look for Erin?”

“She can’t come in.”   Note that this response comes immediately.  She doesn’t have to think about it at all.  It’s at this point where I realize I don’t have a radio and can’t buzz the office about this conversation.

“Why can’t she come in?”

“She’s not wearing any pants.”

I blink, slowly, a couple of times.  I notice that there’s a teacher standing behind me, just inside the building, and that that teacher is listening to the entire conversation I’m having and is laughing her ass off at me.

“Did you just say that she wasn’t wearing any pants?”

“Yeah, she just drove me here but she can’t come in ‘cuz she’s not wearing pants.”

I am not going to ask you can’t make me ask nope no way I am not asking

“Okay.  Let’s try one more time, real hard, to remember Erin’s last name.  I can have the office call for her to come out this door.  She’s supposed to be out by now anyway, so she’ll probably come out soon anyway.”

She thinks and gives me a name.

“Are you sure?”

She nods vigorously.

“Okay.  I’m gonna go to the office and tell them to call for Erin to come out, okay?  Where’s your te-te’s car?”

She points.  I don’t see a car. Auntie apparently didn’t figure out not to pull up by where the buses were.  At that moment I hear an all-call behind me for the name that this little girl has given me, so apparently Auntie got tired of waiting and just called the school.  I point out that they just called for Erin and the little girl runs away.

All right then.

Glad I could help.
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On being 1/90 through the year

New_Mutants_Vol_1_90

My kid started first grade today, and I finished the second day of the school year.  He’s gonna lose a tooth this weekend, I think.  So: milestoney?  Grammarly doesn’t think that’s a word, but I don’t have to care what Grammarly thinks.

I have received three hundred and fourteen emails since Monday, and I have responded to or properly dealt with every single one of them.  

I am sleepy as hell.

I will make cogent observations over the course of the weekend, I think.  There is also a Patreon story coming and quite possibly also a new installment of Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews, because holy shit, this new show the boy just found.

Also: the image to the right is one of the results when you GIS the fraction 1/90.  Pickings are kinda slim for that, as you might imagine. But Rob Liefeld and his starburst crotches and complete lack of understanding of perspective (my god) and anatomy can embiggen the smallest post, right?

Go have a Friday night, y’all.

EDIT:  I can’t stop staring at that goddamn picture, and the longer I look at it, the more terrible things I see.  Here, have it enlarged:

New_Mutants_Vol_1_90

My God how did this man get paid to draw?