Friday, February 03, 2006

Fate up against your will

In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon
Echo and the Bunnymen, "The Killing Moon"

What a day. I worked for a big three hours. Seems almost not even worth it to come in, right?

At noon, I left the Job, got dressed up in fancy "business casual" clothes, and drove off to H Elementary, where I'm doing my remaining 20 hours of field work. I really enjoyed my time at W Elementary, in R District. This school is in D District, and what a difference: it was very much what people think of as the worst of big-city public schooling. I was placed in a 5th grade classroom to observe. The teacher was cheerful, bright and active, and clearly put a huge amount of work into her day.

But when her last period of the day came in, I was troubled. They were the special ed class, and as my textbooks so euphemistically put it, mostly "diverse learners" (that is, they were black and Hispanic). She plowed through the lesson, but I saw girls hitting boys, boys hitting girls, kids talking and paying no attention, and one boy with his head down on his desk for a long period of time, obviously oblivious to the lesson. Much worse, there was a lot of downtime; the teacher harried and chivvied the ones who were slow to do the TEKS activity, even though they were clearly the few students who cared about actually doing it. "Come on, we're waiting for you," she said to them, making them feel rushed and embarrassed, as the dullards who didn't give a rat's ass sat around hitting each other and talking. Couldn't she see that the reason those kids had "finished" was because they hadn't paid any attention to their work whatsoever? Then, when she went over the answers, I was further troubled that she did not explain why those were the answers, or what hints the kids could use to find out those answers if they were stuck. Has she just given up on this group? Was she having a bad day? I can't judge, because I observed them for about an hour and half and she's with them day in and day out. But if this is indicative of what teaching at D District is like, count me out.

Now, it's tossed around in education that teachers need to be best friends with the office manager and the custodial staff. But at H, the office manager was the worst kind of power-hungry martinet, a trashy little woman bureaucrat with a chip on her shoulder. Because I wasn't able to access the online criminal background check at home, I went to H early, getting there at 12:30 or so for my 1:00 shift. I introduced myself, and she said in a smarmy tone, 'You're very early," as if it was a horrible inconvenience and I should apologize. I explained what I needed and wondered if there was something I could do at the school to fill out the form. She shrugged and said, "We have the same internet as everyone else." Luckily, a sane person who wasn't on a power trip showed up, cheerfully led me to a computer, and I filled out the form with no trouble.

After that, while waiting for my assignment, I met some fellow State School students in the office. I mentioned that I had forgotten my green form, which is our time sheet. "It's no problem," I said. "I'll just fill in the time when I get home and have the teacher initial it tomorrow. It'll be fine." Overhearing me, te office manager interjected, "Except I can hear you." Uh... so what? Keep in mind that I was not discussing doing anything illicit or underhanded, just filling in a correct time a little later. I replied with a smile, "A year from now, who'll know the difference?" She said: "I will, because I'll still be here, and somewhere down the road, I'll be handling your resume."

What... the... fuck? See how she instantly brought into the discussion the only possible thing she could think of that gave her power, some hypothetical smoothness or lack thereof with which she could file my hypothetical resume at some indeterminate point in the future? My immediate thought was, of course, "If I have to depend on or buckle in any way to a tin despot like you for my employment, I'd rather starve in a gutter." And also, "Not to worry --- if I wanted to work in this dumbed-down diploma factory, which I don't, I'll make myself indispensible to the teachers and administration who actually matter here, so your input won't mean much." But of course I didn't say either of those things. Instead I said, again with a smile, "But my resume won't contain fudged data... Or will it?"


Apropos of nothing in particular except education, Samurai Frog has some thoughts on "creative spelling" here.


The Maddening Angel called me today to say that her counselor has told her not to be friends with me if I can't stop being jealous and resentful, because her mental state and esteem are extremely fragile right now. I don't have much to say about that at this time. We talked a bit, and I said a few of the things I discussed earlier about not wanting to hear about how the latest guy she's sleeping with is treating her badly, and how I really don't know how to give any consolation to someone who's going out and doing things that they know will hurt them later. We have no resolution for this as yet. I am disappointed.


Class today was Classroom Management. We watched another Harry Wong video, then discussed the Love and Logic strategy a bit. Fairly boring stuff.

T texted me that a band she knows was playing at "The Pub," so I went there after class. I met a couple of her friends (including a guy who is undoubtedly trying to get into her pants --- can't blame him, as she's intelligent, fun and very pretty) and her brother. I liked the band a lot.

After that, I went to the Hangout, where I had a drink and played a bit of video bowling. The Friar was busy with his record label dealings.

It's one a.m. in the morning, and I have to do the same routine tomorrow, sans class. Oy vey.

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