Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Find Another Calling Because This Was a Wrong Number

I've always hated the following saying: Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach.  It's an insult to teachers like me and so many others I've worked with through the years who put their heart and soul into the classroom.  As a public school teacher, we've always had our daughters attend public schools.  We've been fortunate to have had a great number of fabulous teachers in the past, but we've also had the occasional rotten apple since there must be at least a few in every bunch.  I can only assume these folks were the "somebodies" who had to graduate at the bottom of the class.

Mr. Nutso was really far out.  He was a devotee of science fiction, which is fine because I always enjoyed the Star Wars franchise.  I'll even admit to thinking William Shatner was a bit of a hottie in his form fitting red Star Trek shirt back in the day.  Mr. Nutso took it just a bit further, though, and told my daughter's class that he believed in aliens, as in had personal contact with them.  And he wasn't joking, he was serious.  I don't care if you believe in this wackadoo tale you've created, but you certainly don't need to be sharing it with middle schoolers.  It's already a tough crowd to motivate, tackling challenging literature while dealing with the undercurrents of all that budding teenage angst, and you throw out odd crap like this.  What the hell?  Maybe the aliens abducted you and stole your common sense as well as professional judgment.  I don't know if Mr. Nutso had mental issues, dementia, a history of chronic halluciogenic drug use or what, but it set the tone for the year and it was less than stellar.

Mrs. Prozac seemed so calm and even keeled at elementary school parent orientation.  Maybe she had just taken one of her "happy pills" because she wavered back and forth between that and catatonic all year.  I guess she thought if one is good then two must be even better.  And then she lost count at three so tossed back another one at lunchtime.  Kids cursed at each other and she just shook her head.  They slugged each other at recess and earned a good talking to.  They climbed the stalls in the girls bathroom like spider monkeys and got a warning.  They peed all over the floor, including the sink, in the boys bathroom and got a sad face for the day.  After Christmas, this teacher's meds seemed to quit working or her scrip ran out and she just gave up.  The little thugs in the class sensed victory and became even more obnoxious.  Poor Mrs. P needed some Cesar Milan pack training because she definitely wasn't the alpha anymore... more like the zeta.  I figured a big roll of duct tape and a charged taser would be required to get the little hooligans back in line.

Those were our public school horror stories.  Since arriving in the UK, we've had to deal with more than one private school twit of a teacher.  I just always assumed that if you or your company were shelling out the money for a private school education, then it should be a top notch one, right?  I always thought private school teachers would be the cream of the crop since you're paying handsomely for their expertise and commitment.  Nope.  Negatory.  Think again.  I would be wrong about that with a capital W.

Mr. Old School got tenure when he and Socrates were teachng together, back when the world was flat.  I think Mr. OS may have some dyslexic tendencies, confusing the numbers 15 and 25, because he seems to think high school sophomores are as capable and responsible as PhD candidates.  I'm all for challenging kids so they can rise to the occasion.  However, you have to give them the tools to be successful and that starts by using the textbook you assigned them, especially when you use some oddball mumbo jumbo problem solving they are unable to reference in the book.  At least show them a tradiational method once so they will be able to teach themselves at home in order to really "get it".  You're supposed to instruct by using a model, practice and assess approach.  Showing them a concept once and then moving on to something new with each class period is a waste of everyone's time since you're not reinforcing the scaffolding for new concepts.  And the ridiculously difficult tests that require you retest and STILL curve in order for at least half of the class to pass on the second try?  I have no idea what the hell that is all about, but obviously it's not an effective teaching strategy.  

I think you suck, a technical teaching term I like to throw out every once in a while since I do share the same profession as you, though thankfully not the same skill set.  It would be a step in the right direction if you could stay on task during class, refraining from rambling on about your glory days playing football (soccer) when you were at university back when they rode wooly mammoths to school.  Give the kids a study guide and some direction rather than this idiotic idea of tough love that's more my domain as a parent in regards to behavior rather than yours as a facilitator of classroom concepts to be mastered.  Now I'm paying your peer across the hall for some after school tutoring when you could be making that extra spending money if you weren't so inflexible and a total teaching dinosaur with your antiquated skills.

All I ask is that you do your job, whether it's the local taxes or corporate America that pays your salary.  Don't bring up your oddball ideas so that all the kids and parents think you're a total flake.  Be a leader in the classroom by establishing rules of conduct you are willing to enforce so the kids don't make you miserable all year, forcing the whole faculty to have you on suicide watch.  Teach the curriculum and get out of the classroom when you're obviously past your prime, just hanging on until your retirement kicks in at a higher rate.  Do it for the kids.  I hear they're hiring greeters at Wal-Mart.


No comments:

Post a Comment