In which I remain calm

I haven’t done a good old-fashioned teacher rant in a minute. Lemme see if I still remember how they work.

One of the unexpected side effects of doing everything remotely is that it is now virtually impossible to get out of IEP meetings. Or, at least, it’s kind of rude, and I do want to look like I’m at least trying to earn my paycheck. Previously, these things were always scheduled during the school day, and they do always want a regular ed teacher there (are legally required to, I think) but nobody is about to provide coverage for them, so they basically look for whatever teacher happens to have a prep period at the same time as the meeting. Which means that I might attend no more than two or three in a grading period under normal circumstances.

Well, now I have no schedule, so I’m attending three or four of these things a week. Which, again, this isn’t the part I’m complaining about– it’s fine, I’ll trade extra IEP meetings for the fact that I haven’t had to tell anyone to sit down and do their work for a month. I am absolutely coming out ahead here.

So this particular kid is a good kid. He tries, most of the time, and while I do need to keep an eye on him and encourage him to do his work once or twice a period he’s a sweet kid and he’s not a discipline issue, which means I’ll break my back for him if I need to. He’s a 504 kid, not on an IEP, and the 504 is for ADHD, and honestly he’s a pretty mild case– I have 7-8 kids in every class with a higher degree of ADHD than Sean (not his real name) does. So I’m expecting this meeting to go pretty smoothly, honestly. He gets all the accommodations he’s supposed to so there shouldn’t be any problem. I am, however, planning on bringing up the fact that he’s currently failing my class– and I suspect I’m going to find out that internet access is an issue, which will lead to me figuring out some other way for the kid to get his assignments to me.

It’s kind of weird, then, when Grandma starts off the conference by complaining about Sean’s little sister, Shauna, and how she can’t believe that her grandkids have just been “passed along” all this time when they can’t do any math. She said that Shauna had no idea how to do yesterday’s assignment and she had to sit down with her forever to get it done.

I, uh, am also Shauna’s math teacher. Now, she has two, so I double-check to make sure I know what assignment Grandma is talking about, and yep– it’s mine. Which is review. Of averages.

There is an instructional video and two different written reviews of how to average numbers appended to the assignment. I ask if Shauna watched or read either of them.

“I don’t think so.”

(Note that Sean hasn’t done the assignment. He has the same thing.)

Hm. That’s interesting. Perhaps she should take advantage of some of my attempts to teach her the material before complaining that she hasn’t seen it before? Because surely the seventh month of seventh grade is the first time she’s ever seen this material before; averages aren’t covered anywhere before seventh grade, right?

(To be clear: this starts in, like, fourth grade.)

I point out, as politely as I can manage, that she has these resources available to her right there with the assignment, that she can also email me at any time, and that I also have two hours of office hours every day where I’m literally sitting in a Google Meet video chat waiting for kids to pop in and ask questions and I ain’t seen hide nor hair of Shauna anywhere.

We go back to talking about Sean. Who, it turns out, skipped fifth grade. Grandma explains that it was because he was too tall, and they wanted him in a higher grade.

This is … not a thing. No one is ever advanced a grade because they are too tall. There are occasions where kids are moved up when they’ve been held back multiple times to prevent kids who can drive from coming to middle school, but no fourth graders are being moved to sixth grade because they are tall. Plus, it is impossible to skip someone up a grade without parental consent. Grandma (or somebody) would have had to agree to this nonsense.

Then she drops that he’s got Asperger’s syndrome, too, and I watch as a bunch of teachers’ eyebrows shoot up. We’ve already been emailing each other behind the scenes– a bunch of variants on holy shit, Siler, I’m surprised you kept your cool just now— and all the sudden I get five emails going wait shit am I the only one who never got told he had Aspergers?

A bunch of things sort of click, but shit, wouldn’t this have been on the damn 504? I read the damn 504! This should have been on the fucking 504! We all should have known this!

Nope. The 504 is just for the ADHD, which he barely has. Suddenly the meeting is about making sure he has an actual IEP for high school next year that is about his autism, because Jesus Christ how the hell did none of us know this shit?

He’s high-functioning, obviously, but *nobody* knew about this, and there are just certain things that you make sure to do when you know a kid has Asperger’s that might not have been happening automatically for Sean. I’m looking around and now fully half of the faces in the room look actively pissed off.

And then Grandma starts in on the math again. She’s discovered recently that neither of her grandchildren know how to convert fractions to percentages! What an outrage! How are these kids getting passed on?

(This, from the lady who approved Sean skipping fifth grade.)

I point out that converting fractions to percentages is something that we have discussed repeatedly in class, as well as in the other math class, and that furthermore it is also a skill that has been addressed repeatedly by teachers in previous grades.

(It is also not terribly complicated. You convert fractions to percentages by performing a single division operation. This is not something that should be particularly hard to remember.)

I ask if Shauna ever actually spends any time studying. I am told no.

I look up her grades. She is failing seven of her eight classes, and was last quarter as well. Sean is not doing as well as he should be either.

I somehow do not say Ma’am, the seven failing grades each of your grandchildren have do seem to have a common factor, which is that they are the ones getting those grades. From seven different teachers, each. Furthermore, the fourteen failing grades that your grandchildren are currently receiving this quarter all have something else in common, which is the person raising them. You wanna bitch at me some more about how I’m not doing my job?

So, yeah, long story short? When your kid doesn’t crack a fucking book outside of school under any circumstances, doesn’t study, and doesn’t do any of their work, when you literally admit that your child who doesn’t understand how to do something made no attempt to avail herself of the resources that were literally right in front of her face to attempt to learn how to do it, when all of those things happen at once, maybe you shouldn’t go bitching at the teachers who are literally at a meeting specifically about how to help your other kid succeed that they aren’t doing their jobs right.

Especially when all the fuck you had to say was “Shauna needs more help in math,” and the very next fuckin’ thing out of my mouth would be to try and figure out a time where the two of us can get together to go over some of the stuff she doesn’t understand.

I emailed my assistant principal, who was also in the meeting, and told her I was demanding a raise.

Thus far I don’t appear to be getting one.


3:49 PM, Thursday April 16: 653,825 confirmed cases and 30,998 Americans dead.

Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!

Today was pretty much a Day of Dreadful Meetings from start to finish, mostly of either the I Can’t Talk About It or I Don’t Wanna Talk About It variety, and the bits that weren’t Dreadful Meetings were mostly Unwise Acts Leading to Expulsions.  I am pretty sure that my building put more kids up for expulsion today alone than most schools do in a semester, if not a year.  

So it was kinda a rough day, and yesterday was a rough day, and Monday and Tuesday weren’t exactly great, and fuck it tomorrow’s payday and then I’ll have survived my first five-day week in a while so bring it on Friday, I ain’t skurred.

Hopefully at some point in the next couple of days I’ll find something worth writing about.  Because it ain’t been happening much this week.  

Same as it ever was

UnknownMeeting today was surprisingly productive, honestly.  I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that, but it was nice to go to an all-day teacher meeting and, other than introductions in the morning running a trifle longer than they needed to be, not feel like my time was being wasted at any point.  I think I’m going to like this job.

Also, the whole day was a constant whipsaw between “holy shit, nothing ever changes around here” and the odd feeling that by being gone two years I had missed out on everything changing.  At the same time.  Which was deeply weird.

Also, my day started at eight, and I’m tired as hell.  Morning coffee is going to go back to being a high priority for me, I think, after a couple of years of it not being especially essential.  Also returning to my daily lifestyle: my laptop bag, which as of today contains not only the Macbook Pro and iPad Pro I already owned but also a Chromebook.  Because I need to be a nerd across multiple operating systems, dammit!  But Google certification for my Clark Kent identity is in my near future, and I’ll be spending a lot of time screwing around with Chromebooks this year, so I figured I ought to pick up a relatively inexpensive one.  So: new hotness.  I will be The Master of The Googlez by the end of the month.

And then I got home and no dog greeted me at the door and everything was sad again.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before I stop noticing she’s gone.

In which I’m baaaaaaaaack

istock-499343530I officially restarted my career as an educator today, with a leadership team meeting at my new school.  I’d only really ever been in one small part of the building before, so I took a while and wandered around, trying to get a feel for the place.

We, uh, may have a roach problem.  It was one of the first things my new boss said to me when I walked in.   She’s kinda horrified, so there’s gonna be all sorts of exterminators out between now and school starting.  I’m fully aware that every old building this size has some roaches but I saw two of them that were both over an inch long while I was there and that’s gonna be a problem.

That’s all I’ve got to complain about, though.   You can usually identify the bad seed in any group of educators within a couple of minutes of the start of a meeting, and as far as I know there wasn’t one, which is pretty damn exciting.  Everyone seems really dedicated and hyped about the school year starting, and it got infectious fast.  I just wish I had a better handle on what my actual job is going to be like on a day-to-day basis, but that’ll come sooner or later.

I also had a moment about halfway through the meeting where I realized that it looks like the places where I disagree with my new boss about things all seem to be places where she has more faith in the kids than I do.  I don’t know that I’m going to unpack that any more than pointing it out, at least right now, but it was an interesting thing to take note of.


I haven’t sold a book on Amazon since a day or two after I got back from Indy Pop Con, which was an embarrassingly long time ago.  Somebody out there has to be looking for something to read, right?  My books are inexpensive and delicious, check ’em out!

I am beginning to suspect…

…that I’m not going to be getting much of anything done at work today. Meetingspalooza all up ins.