Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Grass Is Always Deader On the Other Side of the Classroom

Crawling out, once again, from deep within my work bunker, now six school days from a long-awaited break that will surely be gone seemingly minutes after it begins, I pause here to put far too many commas in a sentence and write another incoherent ramble.

No, I promise this is not another in a series of "my job is hard" whiny rants. I'm sure I can think of something besides how tough the last part of this semester has been. Hmmm...still thinking.

Hey wait, instead of writing about how hard K-12 teaching is, why don't I just link to this article by Trib columnist (and soon-to-be-ex charter school substitute teacher) Joseph Crumb about how hard K-12 teaching is? Or even quote from it:

"But after three years of substitute teaching in Albuquerque's charter schools, I have a different theory as to why Johnny can't read: He doesn't want to."

Nothing is as good for the soul as finding someone more bitter than you are. I thank Joseph Crumb for making me feel better during these dark days when Winter Break seems as far away as one of Neptune's moons. Here's some more salve to soothe the bitter teaching beast:

"But read in school? Johnny is more likely to throw his hand up in a traffic-cop pose: Stop! For Johnny is determined to remain illiterate."

Another reason to wish the Tribune would last forever! Mr. Crumb is making me almost giddy with relative compassion for all things K-12. I am a veritable Mr. Chips in comparison!

Perspective is a great, great thing, and now that Mr. Crumb has me thinking, I can not only look back to my own days at a charter school (speaking of dark times of the soul), but can also remember my first year of K-12 teaching in a time/galaxy far, far away: West Mesa High School, 1993.

Man, did that job suck.

Conscious incompetence meets mid-90s gangland Albuquerque. I get creepy chills just vaguely remembering it. Better switch to yet another quote from Mr. Crumb:

"But these critics have never been in a classroom with 20 or 30 kids who have grown up believing, as a result of relentless corporate marketing, that they have an inalienable right to be entertained every minute of every day."

Ah, that's better. Maybe if I re-read Mr. Crumb's bitter ode every day from here on out I'll make it to next Friday, the 21st, and the sweet oblivion of a two-week vacation. Again, thanks Joseph Crumb. Your pain is easing my pain.


Anonymous said...

And why teacher's can't teach, Johnny won't let them. And why teachers quit in the first three years? Ask Johnny. And why teachers are taking early retirement and starting down another carreer path? Ask Johnny's Helecopter Parents.

Kelsey Atherton said...

Since I've had my hand at just-above-minimum wage teaching work here, I can only agree (though I wish I couldn't) with a bit of that bitterness.

There was one student who decided that my being present (as an in-class tutor, specifically there to help him) was a visible sign of incompetence, or weakness, or something. The first three weeks were fine, but as I tried to offer help he became more withdrawn, being unwilling and unable to accept help or to change his performance. His regular teacher was incredible, and had way more success with him than i did, but I've quietly that job, instead focusing my energies on students who show up to ask for tutoring.

But I've the optimism of the young, and so soon enough I'll find myself back in the fray, and be dismayed that such people could say such things about teaching. This'll happen after the generous college winter break, which is another last hurrah.

You bring out the snark quite well