Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Bitch is Back!

Today was my first cranky day of this school year. Whee, I'm back!

Mostly, I was cranky because I was so damned tired. And sneezy. And throat-tickly.

Then, in common planning, I was trying to print something out and the stupid thing would not print, from TWO different computers (in the resource room, not in my own classroom. My "computers" are "paperweights."). It irritated me.

Common planning always irritates the shit out of me. First of all, there is ZERO planning that ever gets to happen. What does happen is someone giving us a list of things to do or not to do or some such crap. And two of my colleagues bug me to no end. The more annoying of the two was mercifully not at this meeting. She is loud, brash, a bad speller, and thinks she's still teaching in an elementary school. Um, hello, no. Middle school means no more babying of the children. They need to learn that the real world does not involve writing spelling words and storytime on the carpet.

The other one bothers me because she is very unprofessional. Even lazy, in my opinion. She came to the school last year as a sub, and ended up having to take over an ELA position, when she's in school for a different subject altogether. And she was very vocal about "hating" ELA and "hating" everything else. I never saw her actually work, or try to find some kind of success. My unofficial mentor/friend said once that she was the one doing all the work, and this lazy woman just copied the lessons and did no planning at all.

Plus, she wears jeans and sits around on her preps going online and talking on her cell phone. Like, if you hate this job and "can't" do it, wouldn't it make sense to use that time to find out how to make things better/easier?

This year she's in our department, and last week she got transferred to our grade. And she just sits there in meetings, face slack yet somehow lazy and defensive, as if to say, "I didn't want this stupid job, so why should I have to actually work at it?" And ooh, it bugs me.

I don't like singling out people in a blog entry like this, because it feels spiteful and ucky, but these kinds of colleagues make my job a lot less fun. I have a hard time covering my emotions; I usually end up with a big ol' sneer around people like this, because I just can't take them. Why be difficult like that? Quit the fucking job if you hate it so much.

And yes, I know that this is the ultimate irony: me, the ever-whiner, whining about someone else constantly whining. But really, it's stupid. I don't poison the environment of the department. And if I irritate my colleagues, they hide it really well.

When I told her that I still wasn't sure what I was teaching this morning, my friend N hands me a lesson printout, and says, "Oh here's one I found online." I looked at it and swatted her. "*I* sent this to you yesterday, dummy!" We laughed. It was funny, not irritating or stupid.

Okay, let's see. I have more, lots more.

Like I said, I was tired and cranky before I even saw one of my classes. I took the opportunity to be especially bitchy to them. But listen, it wasn't just spitefulness or cruelty.

Last week, an email from the Fellows reminded us about the stages of group dynamics: forming, storming, norming, and performing. And that right about now is when the forming/honeymoon stage ends and the kids start acting real again and testing boundaries. Which got me all scared that my good year has been a honeymoon fluke and they'll turn into monsters. Thus, since I felt shitty anyway, I figured that would be a good motivation (remember that teaching is acting?) for my bitch act, to remind the students who's boss: Me.

For reading workshop, I read them the story Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. It's amazing, because it's so short, but very emotional. I read the whole thing aloud twice today and got chills both times.

While I read, they were to simultaneously (I introduced them to that vocabulary word. Go me with my teachable-moment self!) take notes in a t-chart. One side was "Actions/Statements" and the other was "Trait they reveal". For example, when the teacher says, "Of course it's your [ugly red sweater]" and ignores Rachel's feeble protests, that shows the teacher's stubbornness or inconsiderate, while Rachel's inability to stand up for herself demonstrates shyness.

I spontaneously brought the test into it, and gesturing to our colorful chart of character traits, I asked the class, "Which of these traits is LEAST like the teacher?" then "LEAST like the main character?" Good answers for both.

It was a successful lesson. One class got to read their independent books and do the same thing. The other class will just have extra reading time next time we meet for two periods.

For writing workshop, I did another thing with character traits. It was a web with traits, characters, and reciprocal feelings (yes, I used that term. Lexicon expansion underway!). I did a sample with Snow White, then showed them the format for a Bio Poem. In groups, they chose their own character, made a web, and began to write a Bio Poem.

It also was a successful lesson. The kids really get into discussions of well-known characters and stories, because everyone knows it and is comfortable with it. I guess that's one good thing about Disneyfied fairy tales.

So tired. So not caring about grading or looking over plans or finishing the homework for class tomorrow night. Blah.


Fred said...

We have a new teacher this year that just won't shut up. We turn our backs to her, put our heads down to mark papers, and she just hovers over you and rambles on. We've even talked to her, yet she continues. I'm thinking of hanging out somewhere else during my planning period, it's that bad.

Nancy said...

There's a teacher like that in my department, except he SINGS. Thank god, this year we have no common periods.