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August 16, 2010

The beginning of the school year is exhausting for most of us, I am still trying to get used to being back at work. It usually takes at least a month for me, in part because my small students have little previous school experience and are so needy. Teachers probably get it, but it may be difficult to convey to others just how emotionally demanding the first few weeks or so of school can be. Why? Well, here’s a very small sample of some of the job’s inherent challenges, all things that I really observed or that really happened at least once in my professional experience:

Troubling Things I’ve Seen in the Course of My Job

*Small children with rotten teeth

* A (multi-generational) family of paint-huffers

*Principals (male ones) who tend to hire young, attractive women over other (possibly more qualified) candidates

*Nepotism

*Other favoritism for employees based on something other than qualifications

*Illiterate parents (who, therefore, can’t read with their children)

*Mice scampering through my classroom during the school day

*Enormous cockroaches in my classroom (such as the ones stuck to the mousetrap custodians set up to catch aforementioned mice)

*A little girl with a living lice specimen so spectacularly large that the school nurse discreetly plucked it up for archival purposes

*Children with injuries (or lingering odors of paints fumes, see above) that provoked calls to Child Services.

*Projectile vomiting

*Puddles of urine, and other toileting mishaps

*An unrelated parade of women who have arrived at school(s) clad in PJs and slippers to drop off their students, sometimes at midday

*A man who, when asked the child’s birth date, responded, “No sé, es cosa de mujer (I dunno, that’s the woman’s thing).”

*A woman who could not provide her child’s birth date from memory

and, not so much troubling but a memorable event nonetheless:

*A little boy who concealed his well-padded, “muscular” Spiderman costume beneath his school clothes without anybody noticing before he got to class

Wonderful things I’ve seen in the course of my job:

*The many, delightful, sweet , bright children I have had the privilege of knowing and instructing

*The many parents I have gotten to know

*The many “light bulb” moments I have witnessed, when children make crucial connections

My job is challenging, sometimes to the point of extreme frustration, but it is also filled with moments of incomparable reward.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 6:29 am

    I’ve seen much of the same. Unfortunately, when the media vilifies us, collectively and individually, they don’t consider any of what you mention.

  2. August 17, 2010 8:00 am

    I wish there were a way to capture those moments, and share them with the folks who want to make everything about Data. Education is transformative when it’s about people and relationships, not tests and labels.

  3. Michael Fiorillo permalink
    August 17, 2010 11:14 am

    No excuses!

    According to educational experts such as Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, Arne Duncan (0 years classroom experience) and Michelle Rhee (3 years), it’s ALL on you.

  4. Chris permalink
    August 25, 2010 7:49 pm

    Parents who bring their children in for the first time on the 3rd day of school at 10:00 without giving them breakfast…

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  1. Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining « The War on Mediocrity

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