chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Great Quote

Posted by Jason on January 24, 2009

“An elementary school music teacher is kind of like an animal lover working in a slaughterhouse…”

-Some dude on NPR


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The Worst Excuse Ever…

Posted by Jason on January 14, 2009

Keep in mind that most of my students live in giant apartment blocks within a half mile of my school. There is no bussing in our district so everyone has to walk or get a ride.

A girl walked in like 20 minutes late to 1st period.
“Where were you? Why are you late?”
“Well, teacher, the reason is I was late because I walked…”
“What? Everyone else here walks. They made it on time. Do you just walk really slow or something? Did you break your leg or something? Get here on time next time…”

As I write this, I’m realizing I sound like a jerk. Still, she just waltzes in and thinks that walking is a valid excuse? Gimme a break!

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I Would’ve Done OK in the Military

Posted by Jason on December 16, 2008

I live in San Diego. It’s a military town, bigtime. Some people can’t stand that. I must admit that sometimes in bars and stuff people act like idiots, and sometimes those people are service members. But not all of them. We had a little career fair for the 8th grade students today. The ROTC group from the local high school was assigned to give talks to kids in my classroom.

I don’t really know anything about the ROTC, but it seemed like they have their own little military system within a high school setting, and this can be really cool for some of my students who are generally tough cases. You learn respect for superiors and a hierarchy; you learn that it feels great when people show you respect; you belong to something larger than yourself that isn’t a gang. Aside from all the scholarship stuff and things like that, I really think I would’ve liked ROTC had I joined it back in the day. You can do all of the other things that normal high school students do (mostly), but you have a family and a brotherhood that will help you survive life. 

That brings me to my musing for the day. What if I had joined the military or gone to one of the academies? I’d be in a lot better shape, that’s for damn sure. Would I have gotten as involved in music, or languages, or whatever? I think I could’ve done well in the military. Granted going to war would totally suck, as well as moving around a bunch. But thousands of people do it and it works for them, right? 

In high school, the general attitude was that the military was for idiots. If you’re not going to college or if you’re an ROTC nerd, that’s what you do. I don’t think that so much any more. Wouldn’t you want as many smart people as possible involved in protecting the country and its interests? I’m fairly certain that the military is not a waste of anyone’s intelligence anymore. I think I would’ve enjoyed it, once I got over all the difficult stuff. Sometimes I envy the brotherhood that I think military people seem to share…

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Rainy Day in San Diego

Posted by Jason on December 15, 2008

Today is the first time it’s actually really rained here in quite a while. It’s the first real winter storm we’ve had since last winter, pretty much. Most of the time, our weather forecasters get all excited and giddy when there’s a bit of low pressure and some precipitation out in the Pacific somewhere. They say, “This is the storm of the year, going to bring some much needed rain to the region…” They inevitably cry wolf and we end up with a light sprinkle/spit all over the county, maybe with some rain in the mountains. 

Today is different. It’s been steadily raining for about 5 hours or so, and it’s damn cold by San Diego standards (that means 50 or below). There’s even snow in our local mountains. So here’s what rain actually means to me:

  • My students are insane and soaked (they haven’t figured out that it’s miserable to be cold and wet–rain is still a miracle).
  • My dog Scout will not go outside to go to the bathroom (loves the snow all 1 time he’s been in it, hates the rain).
  • Getting anywhere on the roads will take at least 2 times as long (rain =  freeway Armageddon in San Diego). 
  • I get to wear a jacket that’s more than a windbreaker.
  • What did I do with that umbrella from last year?
  • Don’t need to wash the car this year.
  • Can’t see through my glasses.
  • Maybe our plants will actually realize that summer is over.
  • Last night was the first night we’ve slept without the fan on in our bedroom.
  • Contrary to the rest of the year, the cold tile floor is actually uncomfortably cold instead of refreshing.

That’s what my life is about right now.

An interesting diversion from hot and dry.

Welcome, you wonderful wet stuff that falls from the sky!

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Fire Drill in the Rain?

Posted by Jason on December 12, 2008

We had fire drill today and it started to sprinkle a very very little bit on us. I actually hoped it would downpour, just to see what would happen with 1200 students that had to stay outside because of a fire drill. 

That shows you how spiteful I am toward my students right now: I would get soaked to the bone and become even more sick just to watch them suffer a little bit. Besides, I had a jacket with a hood on. =)



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So frustrated…

Posted by Jason on December 11, 2008

It’s been a rough two days in the teaching world of this not-so-illustrious author. I’m really frustrated and don’t feel like writing anything of substance… Any attempt at writing something would betray my major pissed-off-ness at my young students. Some days I feel like teaching them how to use a shovel or how to say, “You want fries with that?” is more useful and would be much easier than what I’m trying to do with them.

A former student who moved away to a rich part of town over summer came back to our little refugee camp of a neighborhood. Her mom married a rich white guy and 4 months later they divorced. The poor girl had a pretty good outlook on it, but she really didn’t like where she was living. Said it was “too white.” It was good to see her, since she’s a sweetie (despite the fact that she told me to fuck off last year in a fit of rage). She’s actually one of my better students…

Sometimes I think we should follow the European style of education, where students must pass a test to get into higher levels of scholarship. The American notion that everyone can succeed and that everyone can go to college is silly. There are always going to be poor people, and there are always going to be stupid people. Why try to make everyone equal when they are not and never will be? The Europeans generally give tests at certain grade levels, and how well you do on these tests determines whether or not you will go to Trade School, or go to University, etc. 

Americans are so against this “tracking,” and have made it illegal to do in schools. However, tracking happens anyway because schools mandate that there be different levels available to all kids. The smart kids hop on the AP/IB track. Middle of the road kids generally do “College Prep” work in high school. The dumb kids are in remedial. Now, I agree that students should be met at their level in order to bring them up. However, when does that stop? Do we have remediated college programs that still get the student the same degree as someone who was excellent? 

I don’t know, but I’d like to leave you with a quote from a fellow teacher:

“I see a shovel and an orange vest somewhere in that boy’s future…”

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Gum-chewers BEWARE!!!

Posted by Jason on December 4, 2008

I’m so cool that I can catch gum-chewers in my class without even looking at them. 

Today in the beginning of second period, I saw the tell-tale jaw movement in the wall mirror, but didn’t jump on it right away. I have class. I kept teaching. 

“And the reason that questioning is so important in an interview is that Lucy has to spit out her gum…” BAM! Didn’t miss a beat. The class was stunned and then everyone laughed as the girl sheepishly got up from her seat to spit her gum out.

“Shut up Allissa, you’re chewing gu…” she trailed off, not wanting to incriminate her friend. I took note but did not jump on this, either. I went about my business as usual. A couple minutes later, with my back to Allissa, I boom out, “Allissa! Gum! Trash!” Another one bites the dust…

That’s not difficult to do, but my students think I’m a freaking magician. But here’s where I actually impressed myself today:

Two boys were talking to Ericka (she sits next to Lucy and Allissa) and she had her back to me. They were off task so I ambled over there to see what they were doing. I smelled something minty, and decided to take a shot in the dark.

“Hmm it still smells like gum over here. That means Ericka should probably spit hers out, too.” The smile on her face betrayed that she was busted. I looked up at Christian, who was grinning ear to ear. I was going to tell him that I didn’t even know Ericka had gum, and then he quickly wiped the smile off of his face when he saw me looking at him. “That means you have gum, too, Christian.” He walks across the room to the trash can and leans over to spit his gum out. He starts walking back with that busted smile. “Spit it all out, dude…” He turned around and got rid of the last of his gum. Now only Daniel was left. “When are you gonna spit yours out, Danny?” 

“CRAP!” he exclaimed. “I thought I had you!” He stomped over to the trash and added a 5th piece of gum to the pile. 

I never saw any of the last 3 students with gum in their mouths, but I nailed em! Elementary, my dear Watson. You would think that as a teacher, my excitement comes from my students’ “Aha!” moments or from seeing underprivileged kids reading the subtitles out loud while watching an opera.

No: the high point of my day is nailing 3 kids for gum without even looking.

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Obama Parent-Teacher Conferences

Posted by Jason on November 7, 2008


Obama and Michelle

I just saw this picture on CNN.com of Obama and his wife talking, and the caption was “President-elect Obama talks to his wife, Michelle, after a parent-teacher conference.”

What kind of parent would the president-elect be in a parent-teacher conference? Is he all up in the teacher’s grill, taking his children’s side at any cost? Or does he try to work together with the teacher and crack down if his kids need it? Maybe the first-children-elect(s) (is that the right terminology at this point in time?) are just perfect and the teacher says what I say to the good parents that come in: “Mr. President-elect, sorry I don’t have anything to tell you about your children, I couldn’t even make up anything bad to say!” 

And then conferences would be over. I wonder if any teachers would have the huevos to tell the Obamas if their kids were presidential pains in the butt?

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