090522: Day 162
Jeff and I drove to Pittsburgh last night. I called in “sick.” We took today to meet with our photographer (two-plus hours to plan family portraits, cuz my family’s a little complicated), meet with the judge, and apply for a marriage license! We also had a lovely lunch en plein air in Shadyside. Tuna salad is particularly tasty with pickled jalapenos. Then we had dinner on the patio at the Sewickley Cafe with my dad and I embarrassed him a little by repeating the things my students routinely say in the classroom. I am ready to leave New York for good.
090521: Day 161
Magical realism must be working because GL—king of the depressives—entered class today, came specifically to the back of the classroom to talk to me and showed me the narrative he had started writing!
Also, I officially gave up on seventh period today. I told AP A that they were unteachable (true), and she suggested showing them Pixar movies. Though it tees me off that these kids can treat me like shit everyday and be rewarded by watching movies, AP A said it wasn’t about learning anymore so much as surviving. I’m still coming to terms with her being right.
The pieces have finally come together as regards the department that cried wolf story and the mysterious meeting that AP P requested of Ms. Po (see Day 152). AP P met with Ms. Po—last week, probably—to gently scold her for downplaying JR’s sexual talk in her class. Ms. Po included JR’s name in the email that started everything simply to introduce the much dirtier comments made by SC and MN in response to JR’s asking if they “eat pussy.” During a conversation with JR’s mom, Ms. Po said that while JR was inappropriate, she wasn’t concerned about it because it’s not a pattern with him and he’s not normally a problem. AP P made the “bending over the backwards” comment to Ms. Po, too, and I assume she was embarrassed to have called a parent unnecessarily.
Fast forward to today, when Ms. Po has a copy of a letter that the administration plans on putting in her file because she made a “false accusation” against a student and if she makes another false accusation, she is in danger of being terminated. (For those of you uninitiated in the ways of the DOE, administration puts letters in your permanent file when you do something good or something bad. Usually it’s something bad, like taking too many absences or being “insubordinate” for forgetting to go to a meeting and reporting to hall duty instead—ask Ms. L about that one.) The administration is saying Ms. Po made a “false accusation” when she downplayed JR’s one isolated sexual comment. I cannot connect the dots between what Ms. Po said and “false accusation” logically, so I’m just laying out the facts of the situation here. Hopefully you can connect your own dots.
Now if any of us—not just Ms. Po—starts making noise about how no one has helped us all motherfucking year, the administration can simply point to the letter in Ms. Po’s file and show how they had a teacher making false accusations. How could they do anything when they knew they had a liar? The way I see it, Ms. L and I could end up with similar letters in our file pretty easily. They don’t seem to be based on much other than covering up a prolonged mismanagement of a hostile and potentially dangerous situation. What’s to stop anyone from giving me one of those letters? Not much. The bottom line here is that we have all been unofficially—or officially—silenced.
Mr. P was pleasantly amused that I was surprised—and that Ms. Po was surprised—by the administration’s nefarious plot to fuck Ms. Po up the ass. It’s not that I’m surprised that this happened; my cynical, tough-skinned hide that spends eight hours a day in this school knows this shit happens all the time. But the part of me that is still human is outraged. What kind of place is this that it destroys its own staff to keep a clean front?
According to Mr. P I have until around my fifth or sixth year for this to happen to me. Fortunately, I’m not planning on staying that long.
090520: Day 160
This week, we are working on magical realism. I love this assignment. I cannot take credit for the idea, as I stole it from two of my grad school classmates. Here’s the idea: have kids write a narrative about something in their own lives. Introduce them to magical realism by providing a sample text—in this case, “Flying” by Stephen Dixon (an old professor) and a clip from “Like Water for Chocolate.” Instruct students to rewrite their narrative to include just a couple “magical” details. So far, the kids have been doing awesome. They enjoyed “Like Water for Chocolate,” which isn’t surprising because I picked a clip wherein dozens of people vomit by the side of the river, and are excited to start magicking up their narratives.
090519: Day 159
I had four students removed from fourth period today: DS, GA, JCr and JC. I’m telling you: I called home for DS last week—because he never has a writing utensil—and since that moment he has been an unbearable asshole. He’s started up with the trashy sex-talk all the other boys enjoy so much. Some highlights from my dean’s report:
DS came to class late and loudly demanded that I write him a pass to go to Ms. L’s room because he doesn’t like me right now. I told him no because he has work to do in my class if he wants to pass it come June. He continued to demand I write him a pass and then became involved in the constant talking and laughing. He is one of four students in this class who often call out FR’s refrain (spelled phonetically): “ALL-lo FO-kay.” DS’s persistent use of this phrase today made it impossible for me to finish a sentence.
At one point, JC bragged about insulting Ms. Po: “Remember what I said about her? That she has a dirty clit? . . .that was funny.” JC brought this up in response to FR saying something about “smells like Ms. Po.”
GA laughed very loudly and inappropriately at whatever other students said or did. His laughter also seems timed to come at the instant I am about to attempt to teach again. He had a brief encounter with DC, again, in which the two of them threatened each other. GA got out of his seat to threaten DC. He also called out “lesbo” at least two times if not more.
All four kids are in the SAVE room for the rest of the week. Though my (ever-growing) vindictive side wishes they were suspended, the SAVE room at least gets them out of my hair for a moment.
On a related note, remember when AP P was going to set up meetings with parents, assistant principals a police officer and all our students who are sexually over the line all the time ? (See Day 142) Apparently those meetings have happened, but one of the teachers in the special ed department said in the middle of one of the meetings “oh, that didn’t really happen.” I can’t figure out exactly what couldn’t have happened or who would have taken something back, as I’ve read all the emails and everything we’ve said is true. So now AP P is furious with our department because she “bent over backwards to help” and according ot AP A we are the department that cried wolf. Now no one is going to help us or believe us or anything.
Of course, I had this conversation with AP A in the two minutes before the end of second period, so I’m pretty fuzzy on all of the details. Though it’s pretty clear that the administration is going to continue to do nothing while we eat shit.
090518: Day 158
When I unveiled the second writing topic in the Writing Workshop unit, seventh period accused me of trying to make them fail. They claim it is too much work for ninth-graders—having to write one five-paragraph narrative per week. Furthermore, RQ was upset that he did not win Student of the Month for Best Effort in seventh period. In point of fact, there was no student of the month in either fifth or seventh period. There was not effort in either class; exactly one student in fifth and one student in seventh passed the fifth marking period, each with a 65% D. RQ thought that just because he was the kid who managed to pass, he should win a prize. In my book, best effort does not mean doing the bare minimum of work and giving the teacher attitude about copying the notes or writing fucking five paragraphs over the course of a week.
This evening was my last ever class at Mercy. I have finished my second master’s degree. Though I am sad I will never have Saul Brodsky again, I will not miss the industrial park or the repetitive curriculum.