In which I am in the presence of excellence

Just a quick note today again, because while I made it to work today and got through the entire day I’m still feeling pretty shit: we had a parent-teacher conference today. It was prescheduled, mind you, as it’s the time of year for these things, so it’s not like it was one of those YOU MUST COME IN NOW AND DISCUSS YOUR CHILD WITH US sorts of things.

I think the highest compliment I can possibly pay to my son’s teachers is that they make me miss teaching. I mean, in general the quality of the staff at Hogwarts is pretty damn high, but I am going to seriously miss him being in first grade with the teachers that he has, and– and I say this without even knowing the names of the second grade teachers, so I could very well be wrong– we are going to seriously have to prepare for a letdown next year, because there’s just no way he’s lucky enough to get people this good in charge of his education two years in a row.

I mean, yeah, it didn’t take that long of having a non-education job for me to miss being around education and around kids, but moments in the past two or three years where I missed teaching itself are vanishingly rare. And every time I sit down with these folks I spend the entire conversation thinking yes, that’s exactly how you should handle that and yes, that’s exactly what I tried to do on my best days in this job and yes, that’s exactly the sort of mind-set I want you to have about my son, who is smart as hell but who is manifestly not perfect and absolutely has any number of things that we want him to try harder and do better with.

And it’s every single conversation I have with them. I just hope he realizes how fucking lucky he is. I wish everyone had teachers this good.

I gotta move out of this neighborhood

(That’s a BB King song)

Today was fucking awful.

We had … I dunno, six fights in the building today?  Let’s say six, it was close to that one way or another.  One kid caught what I think is probably the worst ass-whipping I’ve ever seen short of Rodney King.  I hope to hell the other kid is in jail right now.  I don’t know why they don’t take you to jail when you attack someone at school; school is the only place you can just beat the shit out of someone and then expect to go home afterwards like nothing happened.  This kid should be in jail.  He should be there until he turns 18, frankly.  But he’s not, because he attacked someone at school and not out on the street.  

Go ahead; there’s six plus years of damn near daily blog posts around here.  Hell, the running average is probably still more than one a day.  I wrote a whole-ass book about teaching that you can look through too if you like.  See if you can find another post where this kid needs to be in jail for what he just did is the topic.  I can’t think of one.  That rough of a day.

And I do not have a hard job, guys.  I really don’t.  There’s a lot of moving parts but I don’t have a hard job, not compared to what everyone else in the building is doing.  And today was damn near too much for me anyway.  I don’t know how the hell any of these people get up and go to work every day.  I do know that there’s no way in hell I return to this building next year.  Not if my life depended on it.  Which means I get to start jobhunting again.  There’s a chance to do the same job just in some other school but for various reasons (which I’ll probably get into eventually, but not now) is not as likely as I’d like it to be, so the best move is to start looking for alternatives now.  Because I can’t be in a place with this rotted a culture any longer.  I’ve never worked in a school this bad.  Not even close.  And I’ll make it to June, but I need to be gone after that, and if something good turns up before then I’ll jump ship.  I’ll be burning this bridge for the last time, but I think it needs to be done.

(Then again, for fun, especially if you know me in the real world, think back over my life since graduating in high school and count the good decisions.  Other than marrying my wife, there aren’t as many as I used to think there are.  I’m actually not very good at this being an adult nonsense.  I remember when I thought I was good at stuff; it was a while ago.)

And tomorrow I’ll get up and do it all over again.  Six more days with the kids and then I get a couple of weeks off.  I can manage this, I think.  I don’t have much of a choice, one way or another.

Another thing I just realized

5104389f26c12.image_.jpgMy kid’s school is cancelled tomorrow– not because of the weather, which is supposed to be absolutely outstanding, but because nearly 40% of the students in some grade levels and a not-inconsiderable number of teachers and subs have been sick lately.  The email from the principal named no less than four different diseases that had been running rampant in the building lately, and apparently the janitorial staff will be boiling the building tomorrow.

It’s probably good that this happened, because the email also made reference to the “four-day weekend” that the kids were about to have, which made both my wife and I realize that he actually does have Monday off, which neither of us had really realized because we don’t have any idea how the hell to check a school calendar.

So here’s the cool part: I started the Current Occupation in June, right?  And it’s mid-February now, as insane as that might feel.  During all that time I have not missed a single day of work due to illness.  I’ve come home and died a couple of times, and had some less-than-fantastic days, but I haven’t really been sick in months.  And that’s after fifteen years of missing, usually, around a day a month every single year I was teaching.  I was rarely if ever able to carry sick days across from one year to the next and had to dip into the sick bank twice.  And not one illness worth any serious consideration since June, despite constant contact with the public throughout that time.

Add that to the pile of reasons I don’t miss teaching, I guess.

Friday grab bag (ALSO: 1500th post!)

  • 510Cy7ZwEHL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_This is my 1500th post.  The blog came into existence in June of 2013, so that’s a rather ridiculous number.  Clearly the place was appropriately named.  I’m closing in on my 200,000th pageview, so I probably ought to start thanking people every day for bothering to pay attention to me at all.
  • Speaking of thanking people for paying attention, how about a free book?  It’s #SilerSaturday again tomorrow, and Skylights is the book of the week.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it does, since this is the first time it’s ever been free other than a handful of little contests and giveaways.  It’ll probably go free sometime late tonight and will be free until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
  • It hit me today that I don’t really have any funny or interesting stories from school yet.  The dynamics of my classes haven’t really changed all that much, although I’m starting to get the afternoon dialed in a bit better (don’t tell them.)  I just don’t have anything memorable to say yet.  That’s really surprising.
  • That said, our district has in its infinite wisdom decided that on Monday and Tuesday of next week every math, language arts and special ed teacher in seventh and eight grade in the entire district is going to be at a training, and that furthermore all teachers new to the district should also be at a training on Tuesday.  These two things overlap, of course.  How people are expected to attend both is an open question, and the fact that we appear to have no subs at all even on a normal day means that they may as well cancel school.  We have 22 people scheduled to be out on Tuesday, plus one of the administrators, and that only because they rioted and insisted that one of them be allowed to stay behind.  Yeah.  They thought they were pulling 22 teachers and both of the administrators.  From every middle school in town, plus the high schools.  You understand why I don’t want to work for these people any longer.
  • We played a fun game at lunch, called “Try to come up with a way for this plan to be more stupid than it is.”  No one won.
  • Our zoo acquired four new tigers this week.  Four!  Omg zoo zoo zoo zoo NOW.  I’m going this weekend tigers tigers TIGERS!!!
  • I was all psyched about starting to watch Dr. Who this season.  Apparently Dr. Who was not all psyched about me starting to watch it.  Doing it anyway, show!  Screw you!
  • That’s all I can think of.  Watch Sourcerer tomorrow for another Fear the Walking Dead post, though.  And remember: Skylights is free on #SilerSaturday for the first time!  It’s a great book!  Check it out!

In which I am upset about a good thing

Hogwarts_coat_of_arms_colored_with_shading.svgSo the boy got into Hogwarts.  Which is what I’ll be calling it from now on.

He actually had to do the preschooler equivalent of an interview today, which was basically just my wife dropping him off for a couple of hours and them making sure he didn’t try to stab anyone.  I suspect the actual interview part of the interview was with us, not with him.  But at any rate: he’s in.  Next year my son will be attending a private school, nay, a private academy, that will cost me $car his first year and $muchnicercar every year after that.  And my salary is about to drop.  Rather substantially.

I’m conflicted.

On the one hand: like every parent, I want my son to get the best education I can provide him, and I’m willing to work harder to provide him with a better education.  On the other hand, I’ve spent almost my entire career in public schools– hell, I’ve spent almost my entire life in public schools– and working in them while refusing to send my son to one seems just a wee bit hypocritical.

The more advantages I can provide him with now, the more likely he is to land on his feet as an adult.  On the other hand, the first time he starts acting like he’s more special than the people who don’t get to go to schools like his I’mma slap him.

I’m not looking forward to the day where he finds out he’s one of the poor kids, and I’m even less looking forward to the day where I have to convince him he has no goddamn idea what poverty is.

There are not nearly enough children of color in his classes, and I don’t know that there’s more than one or two people of color on the staff.

They don’t do any standardized testing.  Well, okay, there’s one test in middle school.  But they pick it themselves and use the data for their own purposes, and it’s not the ISTEP.  No IREAD.  No second and third grade nearly entirely wasted on testing.

I’m not conflicted enough to even consider not sending him to this place, mind you.  We can definitely afford it next year.  The year after that… we’ll see.  It’ll depend on an awful lot of things.

Until then?  I think I probably need to spend more time writing books.  And maybe jobhunting.  We’ll see.