Thursday, March 21, 2019

You Have To Wonder Why Anyone Wants To Be A Teacher Anymore

As a longtime school board member, I have some real, serious issues with the teachers’ union in my state and their slimy, underhanded negotiation tactics, but my experience with rank and file teachers has been good overall.  They have legitimately done a solid job (in some cases, outstanding and with effort well beyond the job requirement) of educating my kids.  Full props to them.

Scenario the First: I teach two consecutive taekwondo classes every Friday afternoon with another adult instructor and Thing One. We have one class of 5-7 year-olds and the other of 7-11 year-olds (the higher belt kids are older, the first class is the introductory level.)  Thing One is now a paid junior instructor (his first official job!) and since he and I are there anyway, I generally bring my other two kids to help as well since both are also older and higher belts than the kids we are teaching.  To say the least, it has been an eye opening experience for all of us, particularly the class of younger kids.  There are a lot of kids in that class, 25-30 on a normal Friday. I would also say (I’m just guessing, none of the parents have talked to me) that a good four to six of those kids either have something like ADHD or are on the autism spectrum or both.  We have them for only 45 minutes, but those 45 minutes are exhausting.  Last week it took me and all three of my children to keep a subgroup of 12 kids orderly (luckily we had a third adult in class that day.)  And all we were doing was trying to get them to stand in two lines and kick padded targets without injuring each other. As my daughter observed, imagine having to teach kids that age to sit still and read or write, and all day every day, not for only a few minutes a week.  It would take a real gift, sincere dedication and probably more patience than I will ever possess.

Scenario the Second: a friend of mine from soccer, who used to be a middle school history teacher, quit her job in frustration this year and has just finished retraining as a flight attendant.  She got tired of teaching to standardized tests, dealing with paperwork and the kids not having to think anymore.  She says being a flight attendant is much easier and also a whole lot less stressful. (!!)

Scenario the Third: last but not least, the stories I hear from school administrators (they aren’t talking out of turn; as school board members we need to know what’s going on.  We aren’t told individuals’ names or other identifiers though.)  Some kids can only be released to one parent and not the other because of court custody orders and previous attempts by noncustodial parents to abduct the kids from school.  Some kids have parents who abuse or exploit them or seem legitimately mentally ill.  Some kids have such chaotic home lives that school is the only safe place they have.  And some parents are of sufficient concern to the administration that the topic of having town police at our board meetings has come up more than once.

It’s a crazy crazy world.  You have to wonder what kind of person looks at this and says “Yep, that’s for me. Sign me up!”

Friday, March 8, 2019

Not Even Close

If you have a few extra minutes on your hands, go here and take this New York Times quiz.  Supposedly, it tells you where in the US you are likely from (i.e., what regional dialect you speak) based on the words you use for certain objects and situations.  I took it just now, and while it was very interesting, I’m curious as to whether others find it more accurate than I did.

Although I lived overseas for most of my childhood, I was raised by Midwesterners.  I went to college in the Midwest, lived in Texas for the six years of graduate school and have spent most of the last 20 years in either the northern half of the East Coast or Midatlantic regions.  So...why this thing says I am likely from Florida is a bit confusing.

Especially since one of the key things they apparently used to make this determination is the fact that I call the shoes one typically would wear to gym class at school “sneakers.”  I thought that was a fairly generic term.   How in the world does that make me from Florida??


I had a lengthy conversation with a man from Zambia this evening.  From his accent when we exchanged greetings, I could tell that he was Afr...