God bless Friday and great thanksgivings for Spring Break.
Last Sunday, I had a renewed joy and fresh spirit. I was pleasant, kind, and looking forward to the beginning of Lent (I have given up caffeinated cokes, especially cherry Cokes from Sonic). I was also looking forward to the last week of school and anticipating spring break with excitement. Fast forward to today and I’m beatened and battered. Alas, I’ll put my big girl panties on, dry my wet face, and get on a plane tomorrow morning to Kentucky. Home. Sweet. Home.
The grading period ended last Friday. When a grading period ends and another begins, it’s always a stressful time. Students are anxious about their grades and suddenly interested in missing or incomplete assignments. I have had two parent conferences this week with two individuals that, in my opinion (it’s my blog, remember), are two of the most enabling and crutching individuals I have ever met. One said her son is failing my class because I don’t like him and I pick on him. No, he sits in class and plays with his backpack-full of toys and it becomes a problem when he involves the other 28 students. Besides the toys, let’s identify the real reason he’s failing my class: he doesn’t do any work.
OH WAIT, that’s the obvious answer, let’s ignore that one.
The other one says I should ignore deadlines and extensions and give her Beloved another opportunity to do whatever he has to do in order to keep his average above 70 so he can participate in band, orchestra, choir, cadet corps, and on and on and on.
I collected more grades last six weeks than I have all year: 18. A variety of daily classwork items, projects, and small homework assignments. No, your eyes are not tricking you: I did not have any assessments (tests) last six weeks. Rather, I use class activities and projects to assess what my students know, rather than the standardized, multiple-choice, paper and pencil test. A person can memorize dates, names and signficant places until they’re blue in the face, but that’s called regurgitation ~ as an educator, I’m not interested in fact vomit.
This week, I was told my expectations are “too high.” According to said parents, I’m unfair.
When is life fair? When do bosses care about the stresses in your life, outside the 8-to-5 job? When do deadlines get extended because you’re burning the candle at both ends and just don’t have time?
I missed that memo!!!!!!
I’ve bent over backwards, many times, for my students and I’ve given them ALL more opportunities than I would have liked. But as a first year teacher, I recognize the politics of this shitty system and yeah, it’s unfair to me too. But, life must go on. I have to deal with it. As hard as it may be, I keep a smile on my face.
The more I read about “Generation Me” (which, for the record, I belong to but I’m upset about that fact), the problems become clearer and clearer. To the parents that are enabling their children to be inadequate members of society and expect the world (and every person on it) to bend at their every whim…shame on you. And, shame on you for setting the example that it’s OK to disrespect authority and refuse to do a task that’s been asked of you simply because you don’t feel like or don’t want to do it.
I didn’t want to read Beowulf, but Mrs. Hill sure-as-hell made me read it. I didn’t want to read Canterbury Tales, but Ms. Catlett sure-as-hell made me do it (and later I had to dress as The Cook in a presentation to class!). I didn’t want to dissect a fetal pig, but Ms. Turley sure-as-hell made me do it. I had a hard time understanding all the ins-and-outs of media law, but Dr. Bridges didn’t pause so I could whine. I struggled in many classes and came close to failing some too. (Actually, I did fail a class: it was Calculus II my freshman year at Bellarmine. I cried of embarassment when my parents learned the horrific news. I cried even harder because I had disappointed myself.) I have no good reason for taking Pre-Calculus in high school except my friends were in there. I should have been across the hall learning to sew on a button or hem a pair of pants. Instead, I was miserable with struggle. It was a very difficult course for me. However, I refused to drop-out (my parents would not have allowed it anyway) and Mrs. Hobgood knew I had lessons to learn ~ lessons that had very little to do with y-axis. In Calculus, I was an epic failure. Learning the important life lessons of responsibility, self-pride, and honesty, however, I was a star-student. I successfully graduated from high school with an honors diploma. Four years later, I proudly walked across the stage at Texas A&M University – Commerce to receive a Bachelors degree in journalism and public relations. I went to the corporate world and had my ass handed to me more times than I’d like to admit. Bosses didn’t care if I had other things on my personal to-do list, I had deadlines to meet. My job ~ most importantly, my name ~ was on the line all the time, every time. If it meant I missed a vacation or special occasion, oh well. Deadlines loom and there are no extensions. Now, my bell is getting rung in the classroom. Literally and figuratively. But I will get through this. I will. Dammit.
Fortunately, I have the support of administrators and counselors at school. In fact, several of them have been in these conferences with me. It’s nice to have them in the “lion’s den” with me, especially when parents are yelling and screaming because their precious babies are (for once in their lives) getting a reality check.
To the person that attacked me and said very mean things about my family: shame on you and your disrespect. I’m very proud of my parents and how they raised me. I’m even more proud they did not lower their standards and expectations of me. Maybe you should do the same. I’m also proud they let me fall on my ass and learn the hard way. They sure as heck did NOT let me off the hook because I was standing in front of adversity or a challenge. Nope, if I wanted something, I had to work for it. I had to achieve it. I’ve been beaten in the classroom, on the golf course, in corporate boardrooms, and now in the conference room of a middle school. Bring it on, but I will not be moved.
This time tomorrow I will be in Kentucky basking in the sweet and loving kindness of one of my greatest blessings: FAMILY. They are my pride and joy. They are the reason I am and I represent all of them, all the time. You can bet your britches I’m going to set high expectations and aspirations for myself. In the meantime, I’m staying thirsty in Kentucky. I’ve earned this.
Now, I’ve got to get my bag packed. My plane leaves in 10 hours. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!