A rolling thread where we are teachers

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what a nightmare

the late great, Friday, 30 November 2018 21:14 (one year ago) link

not the only alternative school out there that's functionally a cult, from what I've heard

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Friday, 30 November 2018 21:39 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

I've been keeping a Google classroom page this year--better than the board-created page I used to use (which wasn't bad). I posted a novel-study assignment today: "Joey Pigza - Culminating Task." (Jargon...I rail against it, but sometimes I give in.) The kids--grade 3 and grade 4--love to post responses, some of which kill me.

From V___: "thank you so much for the joey pigza culmination"

Culminate away.

clemenza, Tuesday, 26 February 2019 00:34 (one year ago) link

(Can I just post, being a parent, I'm in awe of teachers. Many tell me I'd have been good at it. But since I feel rub as a parent, I'd prob fuck that up too. The chaos description seems apt. What I find most saddening/maddening is the intro of technology/direct communication. So many patents pester the teachers. Question their authority. I myself have never done so. There's a distinct: that's the school/classroom. The teacher gets to decide and apply their rules. I even told teachers: if they are in the wrong, you are in charge. Not I.)

nathom, Tuesday, 26 February 2019 15:24 (one year ago) link

I was looking over some of the stuff I've posted here the past few years and came across the back-on-forth on rubrics six years ago. No better example of how they never settle on anything before moving onto something else. Rubrics are so passé now--it's task requirements and success criteria. ("Co-created," of course.) Our resource teacher--someone I like, and she's helped me at times--is a true believer in all this stuff, I'm most definitely not, so when she asked me a few weeks ago if I knew the difference between the two, the question put me off enough that I made it a point to make up an antiquated rubric instead. (I'm finished this year, so at a certain point, it's like nobody cares what you do anymore. It's a great feeling.) Would bet a small fortune: four or five years from now, the words "task requirement" and "success criteria" will never be heard.

clemenza, Wednesday, 27 February 2019 06:22 (one year ago) link

When I started teaching in earnest (ca. ‘03) it was all about “learning opportunities” which now seems both quaint and de rigeur.

rb (soda), Wednesday, 27 February 2019 12:02 (one year ago) link

i still use rubrics and don't feel shame about it

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 27 February 2019 14:34 (one year ago) link

my students like them too. sometimes i use a checklist to get them ready to turn in an assignment but the grade is determined by the rubric. i hate grading. however, i love teaching.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 27 February 2019 14:38 (one year ago) link

GRADING, you say?

more like DEGRADING if you ask me!!

the late great, Wednesday, 27 February 2019 19:24 (one year ago) link

Once a year--today was that day--the kids will be working on a math test and I'll take out some chocolate and say, "You guys work on your math test; I'll be sitting here eating chocolate." I'm going to miss that.

clemenza, Thursday, 7 March 2019 00:09 (one year ago) link


you know who deserves sitewide mod privileges? (m bison), Thursday, 7 March 2019 01:24 (one year ago) link

I'm on the clock.

clemenza, Thursday, 7 March 2019 12:28 (one year ago) link

Swine! Seriously though, good luck and enjoy those 100-odd days.

(Just for a minute there, I read DeLillo and thought, Don!)

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Thursday, 7 March 2019 20:20 (one year ago) link

I can't tell you how many times people come up to me on the street and start asking about arcane plot points from Underworld...Thanks; only about 70 of them in the classroom.

clemenza, Thursday, 7 March 2019 20:53 (one year ago) link

Things I will miss, part 83: learning stuff I never knew, in this case what games and sports Ancient Egyptians played (from a grade 4 slide show):

"What the Egypt people played: fishing, rowing, football, basketball, golf, hockey, tennis, swimming...chess, weight lifting, wrestling, long jump and other card games."

clemenza, Saturday, 16 March 2019 01:02 (one year ago) link

i mean i bet there are people in egypt in 2019 who do that

you know who deserves sitewide mod privileges? (m bison), Saturday, 16 March 2019 04:52 (one year ago) link

Pretty clearly, their research led them to a page on Egypt today--happens all the time with kids. The thought of King Tut standing over a three-foot putt on 18 still made me laugh.

clemenza, Saturday, 16 March 2019 15:54 (one year ago) link

dying @ "long jump and other card games"

the late great, Saturday, 16 March 2019 16:04 (one year ago) link

Dying @ ancient Egyptians golfing

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Saturday, 16 March 2019 20:05 (one year ago) link

one of my students got into yale!!!!!!!!!!!!! yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(for reference of how big of a deal this is at my school, more of my former students have been convicted of murder than gone to ivy league schools)

you know who deserves sitewide mod privileges? (m bison), Saturday, 30 March 2019 00:17 (one year ago) link

That's great--I've had other success stories, not an Ivy League school (that I know of), and they always mean a lot.

clemenza, Saturday, 30 March 2019 15:10 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

In 21 years of teaching, I've had to administer standardized provincial testing in all but four of them. (Students do it in grade 3 and grade 6 here.) It came in one year before I started, and I wouldn't be surprised if it only outlasts me by a few years. I think--I hope--it is gradually dawning on the public what a rigged charade it is.

The only useful things I've gotten out of it were 1) marking it for the first few summers, which was genuinely worthwhile from the standpoint of learning how to assess (and allowed me to put away some money), and 2) the signs I post on my door every year while we're writing it.


clemenza, Thursday, 23 May 2019 04:23 (one year ago) link

One regret about leaving now: I won't be around eight years from now, when I'd have a class where half the boys and a couple of the girls are named Kawhi.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 June 2019 20:21 (one year ago) link

just got back from graduation. always a dope experience.

be the 2 chainz you want 2 see in the world (m bison), Saturday, 1 June 2019 20:32 (one year ago) link

I always enjoy the grade 8 grad at our school. This year, though--with an incredibly small class of 14--I've never taught any of them (I've coached two or three).

clemenza, Saturday, 1 June 2019 20:45 (one year ago) link

i teach primarily 12th graders (high school seniors) so it's an annual thing for me now.

be the 2 chainz you want 2 see in the world (m bison), Saturday, 1 June 2019 20:59 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

When I write my half-arsed 'the impossible profession' book, one of my chapters/sections will be titled 'getting used to holidays - the unspoken something or other' because, four years in, it's still really weird. I'm all a) BIG PLANS - do the garage, shave the cat, make the garden less like a jungle, write a poem a day b) spend every second with my family! c) read everything d) sleep and laze about etc etc.

A) I'm quickly reminded I'm shit at big plans and trying to actually do anything with b) being such a big factor is the key.
B) Well, christ.
C) I'm currently in the grip of this and literally trying to read everything and it's driving me mad.
D) This gets old quite quickly and a), b) and c) are like gadflies.

Anyway, yes, I'm turning having 6 weeks off into a ballache - what of it?

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 10:01 (one year ago) link

summer is def too long

Carisis LaVerted (m bison), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 13:52 (one year ago) link

i spent the entire time either dealing with a tooth infection or complications that arose from it. awesome vacay!!!!!!!!!!

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:39 (one year ago) link

i would rather have some scattered time off during the year than one time per year when i can try to accomplish something substantial and fail due to circumstances that happen to coincide with that one time of year

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:39 (one year ago) link

Can I still post here, or do I have to look for a "Rolling Thread Where We Were Teachers" thread? There are a handful of year-round schools in my former board that are exactly what LL describes above--a bunch of scattered two- and- three-week breaks throughout the year. I always needed the long break and was never tempted to apply to one of them.

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:43 (one year ago) link

tbh i think we all need the long break because it's the only break we get -- i wouldn't need it so badly if i had more breaks!

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:45 (one year ago) link

i literally spent my entire break being sicker than i have ever been and dealing with monster physical problems
now that they have been handled on my break they are invisible to my coworkers, who inevitably expect me to be feeling chipper and refreshed after a lengthy "break" when i barely feel able to function. this is not healthy imo

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:47 (one year ago) link

also i have stopped referring to it as a vacation. it's "time between contracts"

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 15:50 (one year ago) link


Carisis LaVerted (m bison), Wednesday, 31 July 2019 18:51 (one year ago) link

This is how a teacher in Gaza welcomes the children in her class every morning.
❤️🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/LdVvz29AMV

— James Melville (@JamesMelville) August 10, 2019

j., Monday, 12 August 2019 02:48 (one year ago) link

that is so precious and totally a kid-friendly way to teach about consent!!!

Carisis LaVerted (m bison), Monday, 12 August 2019 03:10 (one year ago) link

I love that.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 12 August 2019 07:24 (one year ago) link

four weeks pass...

A friend interviewed me about teaching just before I retired last spring (link at the top):


If anything, it's mostly about how difficult the job was even 20 years along. There's some stuff on my various principals that I contemplated removing, but I decided in the end it wasn't that big a deal.

clemenza, Monday, 9 September 2019 19:00 (eleven months ago) link

two weeks pass...

I've invented a new term for supplying a couple of days a week after you retire: load management.

If you ever get the chance to supply (or, for Americans, substitute) post-retirement at the school you just left, especially if you were there for a long time (21 years for me), I highly recommend doing so. The kids know you, so you get zero grief; you get to see all your old students, who basically give you a hero's welcome; you know all the staff. My old room is being used for storage this year, so even my nameplate is still up there. As close as I've ever gotten to getting well paid for doing nothing. (I was in for an old friend last week, and she told me she needed me to actually teach for two periods--she was practically apologetic.)

clemenza, Thursday, 26 September 2019 02:15 (ten months ago) link

I'm just entering my fourth year of teaching (fifth, if you count the *shudder* training year) and it's been a really tough start. It's an Outstanding school and we've just had what are basically the best results we've ever had. Due to the Oustanding status, we've not been Ofstedededed for over ten years and since that privilege was recently officially removed, everyone is shitting themselves. We've always been left largely alone, with a 'let teachers teach' mantra but the purported Ofsted visit has meant a whole bunch of shit pouring in from above: directives for seemingly every kid - on various lists -, new safeguarding measures, new disciplinary procedures which is resulting in 100+ kids every night in detention. It's making for a really odd atmosphere: embattled, faintly aggressive, stressful. I've properly fallen out with both my Y11 classes and I'm sure it's transferred stress. I've also managed to fall upwards into a 2nd in department role, under a part-time HoD, which is intense and seems proper ad hoc at times. I'm also really aware for the first time of the problems associated with teaching the same texts over and over - great for planning, but also an edge of drudgery, which I'm concerned I'm communicating to the kids.

Anyway, short version: this fucking job, eh?

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Thursday, 3 October 2019 20:05 (ten months ago) link

three months pass...

I must say that I am very anxious to get away from this place. I have become very weak in health and do not seem to recover myself here or likely to do so. Teaching is very burdensome, especially when you have much of it: I have. I have not much time and almost no energy - for I am always tired - to do anything on my own account.

Gerard Manley Hopkins on teaching

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Friday, 31 January 2020 22:26 (six months ago) link

Ontario's a huge mess right now. Rotating strike-days board to board (my old school was out today), a province-wide strike-day next week, endless sniping in the media, escalating job action (onto extra-curricular) if there's no settlement by Friday. I was supposed to supply next Monday/Tuesday, but Tuesday's another strike day; I'm at my old school, so I'll stick around and walk with them.

clemenza, Friday, 31 January 2020 22:37 (six months ago) link

Just read your post from three months ago, chinaski...Some of it didn't make sense to me (Ofsted?)--are you in Britain? My standard advice for stuff pouring in from above is smile, nod, and let it go in one ear and out the other. But I know that's not always possible.

clemenza, Friday, 31 January 2020 22:42 (six months ago) link

G.M. Hopkins otm as usual.

Lily Dale, Saturday, 1 February 2020 00:02 (six months ago) link

Clemenza - yes I'm in the UK; Oftsed is the government office for standards in education. And they are as Orwellian as that sounds. I mean, they were set up to introduce some sense of accountability, which I can understand, but the relationship has become so toxic and punitive that they basically exist to make teachers' lives a misery. I'm lucky, in that my school remains largely untouched, but schools in 'special measures' or 'requires improvement' are under what amounts to outside rule and governed by whatever directives are imposed upon them. It's hideous. Our previous head was brilliant in shielding us from the latest bullshit but we've had a new head and she has retained the basic ethos but there are things creeping in...

Anyway, aye - GMH otm.

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Saturday, 1 February 2020 10:24 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Teachers...you remember them.

Got a FB birthday notification today for a former student (I was still substituting at the time) celebrating his 40th. Felt like some kind of a vicarious milestone.

clemenza, Sunday, 15 March 2020 13:47 (five months ago) link

A Brooklyn high school teacher died yesterday from COVID-19.


clemenza, Thursday, 26 March 2020 16:31 (four months ago) link

The mom of a student I had 20 years ago posted some old photos on Facebook this week, one with me, so we're FB friends now. From a post she just put up: "I’m running out of batteries......get yer mind out of the gutter." Geez--moms!

clemenza, Monday, 30 March 2020 14:13 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

My wife (public school librarian) got a linkedin email from an old lawyer colleague (literally named Karen) who was looking for public school teachers who "might be looking for extra work" to run some pod for her kids and a couple other rich families. My wife gently told her that she wasn't interested and that she wasn't comfortable with the ideas of these pods given the huge equity issues they raise.

DJI, Thursday, 23 July 2020 00:12 (three weeks ago) link

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