“Why are Students Helpless?” Friday April 21, 2017

ch860125.gifI know they’re only 7 and 8 years old, but they’re basically babies. I had a student today come up to me because his pencil eraser broke off. He didn’t ask me anything. He just came up and interrupted me while I was working with another student and said, “Ms. Sinclair, my eraser broke off my pencil.”

“So?”

“It just came off while I was trying to erase. Now I don’t have an eraser.”

I nearly lost my shit. But this is just one example of how students need help with every little thing.

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“My zipper’s stuck!”

“My shoelaces are untied!”

“The sun’s in my eyes!”

“I can’t find my <insert any object>!”

“I have to go to the bathroom!”

“I’m hungry!”

“My hand hurts from writing!”

And do you notice anything? They’re all statements. No– scratch that. They’re complaints. They just complain about everything. It would be different if they were asking me nicely to help them unstick their zipper or tie their shoelaces, but they don’t do that. They just complain and let the adults around them swoop in and fix everything in their lives for them.

You remember that book, “Lord of the Flies”? Where a bunch of school-aged boys end up on a deserted island and attempt to remain civilized but resort to violence? Well, if that happened today all of the kids would shit their pants and die of dehydration because they would sit there complaining about having to go to the bathroom and being thirsty and if there isn’t an adult around to tell them to go to the bathroom or find water then they’re completely helpless.

I’m sick of it, too. Because this helpless attitude transfers to their schoolwork.

“Jamal, you need to write two sentences.”

“My hand hurts.”

“Do the best you can.”

“I don’t know what to write.”

“You need to tell me about your family.”

“I can’t spell that.”

“Do the best you can.”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

I wish there weren’t any child labor laws. I wish these kids had to work in the fields or in factories. I hate children. Probably shouldn’t be a elementary school teacher. Or be pregnant with a child.

 

 

“Oh! I Understand Why That Kid Cries Now” Thursday April 20, 2017

38239518 I met with the parent of my crybaby today. This kid cries over everything: if he can’t figure out how to do a problem, if he hurts himself, if I scold him for talking in class.

And I really have no patience for crying. I think the kid is 8 years old. There’s no reason to cry. I mean, I cry a lot. But I’m a woman. And it’s usually because I’m hormonal or just watched a Nicholas Spark movie.

Whatever. The point is I didn’t cut this kid any slack. When he cries I usually say, “This is completely inappropriate behavior. You need to compose yourself.”

His mom said that the crying is something new. She thinks it’s because his grandmother has been in and out of the hospital. His grandmother was the one that watched all the kids before and after school. Well, she has 3-stage cancer or something and has been on hospice all month.

And I’m like, “I’m really sorry to hear that. I didn’t know.”200_s

And I didn’t know! How the fuck was I supposed to know that the kid’s grandmother is dying?! Of course the kid is overly sensitive! And what a fucking asshole I am!

But I get the lesson I’m supposed to learn. Our students’ home lives are not like ours. We need to be aware that they’re dealing with personal stuff, too.

I’m dealing with personal stuff. I’m fucking pregnant. But I can’t cry at school. Ug.

“Parent-Teacher Conferences Unleashed” Wednesday April 19, 2017

There are 4 types of parent-teacher conferences. These are actual quotes from today. I wish I was joking.

Where both the parent and the teacher feel like the student is awesome.

These are the best conferences. They go by the quickest. They sometimes go by long because both of us want to talk about how happy we are. These parents always show up, but there’s usually only one or two students like this.

Teacher: “I love having Lehani in class. She’s always on task and looking to help out. She’s wonderful. She’s doing very well.”

Parent: “I’m so happy to hear you say that. She really loves school. She loves you. She’s doing great! Is there anything we should be doing at home?”

Where the parent thinks the student is awesome and the teacher doesn’t.

This is the one where the parent is either completely blind or a lying sack of shit. I hate these parents.

Teacher: “Barook is struggling a lot with reading and math. He’s often very distracted in groups. He also hasn’t been turning in any of his assignments.”

Parent: “I find that very hard to believe. I’m not seeing that at home. I spend an hour each night going over his homework with him. He’s done every assignment. I would know. He says he’s doing very well, I believe him. I don’t think you understand my son very well. You certainly don’t know him like I do.”

Where the teacher thinks the students is awesome and the parent doesn’t.

This is the one that makes you like that student even more. Usually these parents are no-shows.

Teacher: “Derak is doing fine. He’s good working alone and in groups. He needs to put a little more effort into his writing, but other than that I think he’s making a lot of progress. I’m glad to have him in class.”

Parent: “Really?! I’m surprised to hear that. He’s just awful at home. You can keep him. He’s yours, I don’t want him.”

Where both the parent and teacher feel like the student isn’t awesome.

This is most of my conferences. I think most parents come in expecting me to fix their children for them.

Teacher: “I don’t know what to do with him. I can’t get him to work, he’s constantly talking and off task. I’d be open to any advice you have.”

Parent: “I was hoping you could give me some advice. I’m at my wit’s end. I also don’t know what to do with him. He’s completely out of control at home.”

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“A Tale of a Forgotten Lunch” Tuesday April 18, 2017

Gather around, readers, and I’ll tell you a story that will remind you how important it is to always be nice to the person at the front desk. (Disclaimer: this story was told to me second-hand, but I believe every word of it)

A student’s mother walks into the office and she’s clearly in a hurry and disgruntled. The secretary at the front desk is on the phone talking to a different disgruntled parent. The mother rudely says, “Uh… Hello?! Anybody work here?”

The secretary holds up one finger to the mother so she can finish with the parent on the phone.

The mother goes, “Oh, you did NOT just hold your finger up to me like that!”

Our secretary finishes up her phone call and politely asks, “How can I help you?”

The mother replies, “Yeah, my son, Darnell, forgot his lunch today. I need y’all to give him one of those free lunches the poor kids get.”

Note: the woman didn’t give any pleasantries, she didn’t use any manners, hell, she didn’t even ask.

Now, our school has plenty of extra sack lunches. I have no idea what’s in them, but I do know that every morning a big box of sack lunches gets dropped off and kids on the Free and Reduced Lunch Plans get well-fed. There are always plenty of extras that can be used just in case a kid forgets his lunch. Exactly like Darnell did.

My school may have many horrible things about it, but letting kids go hungry is not one of them.

However, the secretary isn’t under any obligation to follow the demands of this horrible she-witch in front of her. So the secretary says, “I’m sorry, those lunches are reserved. I can’t be giving them out. Then some other student will go without a lunch.”

The mother replies, now more upset, “Whatchoo all do when kids forget d-eir lunches, then?”

The secretary was prepared for this. She says, “Most students realize they forgot their lunch in the morning. We usually call the parents and have them bring it in.”

The mother: “I ain’t got no time to bring no lunch to nobody!”94d74643939cd685a54ae8065ce91cd3f66a8aa727239585983bd879b07b2793

Secretary: “I’m not sure what that means. Do you have time to bring him a lunch?”

The mother: “FINE! What time he eat lunch at?”

Secretary: “I believe Darnell’s class eats at 11:30.

The mother leaves. She does come back before his lunchtime and drops off McDonald’s.

But let that be a lesson to parents everywhere. Secretaries are more powerful than you.

“Beginning of the Last Stretch” Monday, April 17, 2017

I actually began the day with optimism. My students came into my room saying, “I missed you, Miss Sinclair! I missed you!” Some of them ran over and gave me hugs. One of them even brought me a present from his trip to Indiana.

I was touched. I was thinking, “Alright, maybe my students realized how much they need a strict adult to hold them to higher standards.”

Then I tried to start class. That was the end of that.

Ralph-Wiggum-image-ralph-wiggum-36389348-420-315Children are stupid creatures. What makes it worse is that they act like they know everything. My students were off for a week. They might as well have been off for a year. They had forgotten our routines and procedures. I had to remind them that they have to raise their hands to speak.

I had to argue with our policies on the bathrooms. And Tyrese proved that his life’s purpose is to make my life a living hell. I don’t think he sat in his desk once all day. He wandered around the classroom for most of the morning. I asked him twice to take a seat. He replied with, “I will, I will. In a minute, Miz Sinclair.” And he continued to wander.

I can’t physically touch him. I can’t force him to behave. I can’t threaten him because I have nothing to threaten him with. I should threaten to hold him back a grade. But I can’t. It doesn’t matter if he never sits down all year. He’ll still move on to 3rd grade.

I can’t threaten to call his mother. His mother has no control over him.

I can’t threaten to send him to the office. Because he’ll enjoy the attention and then just get sent back to class after 20 minutes and he’ll miss out on valuable instruction time.

He has all the power. I wish I could beat him. I wish I could take a yard stick and smack the black off that fucking kid.

And I’m stuck with him for 3 more months. I’m not going to make it.

 

“I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!” Saturday April 15, 2017

tiredIt’s only 11:30 and all I want to do is go to sleep. Johnny and his friends made me go out to see this band play at a bar. The band started at 9. I wanted to leave by 9:01. In fact, I wanted to leave when the band was still doing sound check. The music was loud and awful.

Of course, Johnny didn’t want to leave. And that’s fine. I don’t care. He can stay and party with his friends. So I just left. I figured Johnny and everyone were already drunk from pre-gaming (and I can’t drink since I’m pregnant) that they would stay and not even miss me. It’s awful being the only sober person in a bar.

But they didn’t stay. No. They followed me home. And now I’m locked in my bedroom while those three idiots smoke pot and play beer pong and make so much freaking noise I can’t sleep.

I especially can’t sleep because every 10 minutes Johnny knocks on my door and asks me to come out to talk to him. Then his friends all laugh because I won’t come out.

So I’m going to have to be a bitch. I’m going to have to go out there and yell at them all to leave. Here I go!!!!

“The Last Day of Break” Friday April 14, 2017

635941308855833459-393805507_spring break is overBreaks always take so long to get here and then they go by so quickly. I don’t want to go back to work on Monday. I don’t miss my students. I’m miserable. I didn’t plan all the way through June like I had envisioned. Although, I can’t since I’m still waiting on my co-teachers to put up their share. I have next week planned out, which is pretty nice.

Next week isn’t even a full week. Wednesday the students don’t have school because of Parent-teacher conferences. Those conferences are a joke. The only parents that show up are the parents that have fairly good kids. Which I guess is self-explanatory.

Ug. I’m tired and feel nauseous. Those stupid pre-natal vitamins make me sick. I’m going to bed. Good night.

“Why I’ll Never Be Able to Relax” Thursday April 13, 2017

OverwhelmBeing a teacher is stressful enough. Add being engaged and pregnant and that’s more stress than a normal person can handle. Fortunately, I’m not a normal person.

The pregnancy stuff still doesn’t seem real. I haven’t felt my baby kick or anything. All I’ve been is nauseous, horny, and constipated. A lethal combination. Johnny doesn’t want anything to do with me. I think he’s been going out with his friends and not even telling me.

Which leaves me to continue to plan our wedding, our baby, and stay on top of the school work that I promised myself I would do over break. Except now it’s Thursday and Spring Break is almost over. I got very little accomplished. And that’s not because I wasn’t trying – it’s because there’s just SO much to do.

I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can have a baby. I don’t think I can get married. I don’t think I’ll be a good wife. I don’t think I’ll be a good mother. I know I’m not a good teacher. Basically I’m not good at anything, so what the hell am I doing?

Everybody else in the world seems to have their shit together. I’m not the first one from my high school to get pregnant. A couple of girls got pregnant right after high school and have families and look happy. I know one girl who is a massage therapist and married to an EMT. They have this huge house and a cute kid and seem to have it all. They like their life.

I’m not sure if I like my life right now.

 

“What Spring Break Means to a Teacher” Wednesday April 12, 2017

resized_y-u-no-meme-generator-work-y-u-never-ending-438fa8Kids and teachers aren’t really that different. We both look forward and cherish our days off from school. The difference between teachers and students is that teachers have more work to do. Spring break isn’t so much as a break in order to relax and unwind, it’s more like halftime if I can be so brave as to use a sports analogy.

Spring break is only a temporary reprieve from the agonizing responsibilities accompanied with educational torture. Spring break means that we’re getting closer to the end of the year, but that we still have a long way to go. After spring break we have 6 solid weeks of school before Memorial Day then about 3 weeks and change until the end of the year. It’s like being on the road cross country and seeing that sign that says, “next rest stop in 2,000 miles.”

It’s taken everything I’ve got to get this far. On one hand, 9 more weeks isn’t so bad and I might be able to do it; on the other hand 9 weeks more weeks of this soul-crushing job might cause a nervous breakdown and I could spend the rest of my life in a robe and slippers watching the nature channel with unblinking eyes while an overweight nurse wipes the drool from my mouth as I mumble, “Stop it, Tyrese” to nobody and twitch every so often as I pull the hair from my head and crap in a diaper. 

That’s what Spring Break means to me.