September 20, 2008

Because We Like to Share Misery

I had the worst professional day on Thursday.

It started as I was getting into the car and I remembered that our new school does not have wireless Internet yet. You'd think that after a month I'd remember that I can't do things like I have for the past four years. This is particularly stressful because I had planned to stream a video from United Streaming from my laptop, which would be plugged into the projector.

So, when I arrived, I tried to download the movie from my desktop, so I could save it to my flash drive, and then I could plug it into my computer...only, I couldn't get it to download. It wasn't even a very long movie. My friend came in, and she's pretty computer smart, so she tried. Then she ended up calling the computer tech person so she could go get an extra long Ethernet cable so could I hard wire my connection. That didn't work either because I couldn't configure to our system. Sigh.

Long story short, I eventually able to get things going by my second class, as I had a prep between, but I punted in the first class and the students played The Uhm Game (my version's better, but it's similiar to this one), which was probably a lot more fun than a video on Shakespeare's life and times. Not harmful, but not the most productive. I apologized to the students, but they didn't seem to care.

Because I was dealing with all of that, I didn't check my mailbox in the morning, so it later in the day when I went, I found a notification of a parent-teacher conference. In fact, I found it about 10 minutes after the conference was scheduled to start... I dashed over to the conference room, without a progress report in hand. I couldn't decide which would be worse: not showing up at all or showing up late and unprepared. I'd like to think that I chose lesser of the two evils. Super embarrassing.

I left the meeting feeling like a snake's belly--in more ways than one. Did I mention that I woke up with a cold coming on? I should have added that because throughout the whole technology fiasco, I really wanted to just to home and go to bed.

And just before the meeting, I received an e-mail from a colleague where I couldn't read the tone to know if she was asking me a sincere question or taking a shot at me. This colleague was in the meeting.

And while I was checking e-mail, I found a message to the whole staff about a certain school-wide procedure that my department had been told we were going to do one way and now we had to tell our students to do it another way. Frustrating! It's been a struggle, and now that we finally have them trained, and we have to go and tell them to do it a different way, which is the way most of them were doing it anyway. As one of my fellow English teachers said, "Now we're going look to like asses." Indeed.

That would have been the perfect time to just leave early, but I had a stack of papers I needed to grade so I could get promised progress reports out on Friday. And let's not forget the faculty meeting after school, too. Bleah.

I made it home--albeit late--without dying in a fiery crash. After all, my driving has nothing to do with my professional life.

Crossing my fingers that the last part of my teaching day would go well, I went to night school, and even arrived early. While I was waiting in the teachers' lounge, I reached into my bag to get something and discovered that a can of soda (caffeine I would desperately need later) had been punctured. What punctured it? My cell phone? My camera? The plastic tip of a mechanical pencil? Some evil demon stalking me?

Some of the books in my bag received a little damage, but the brunt of the damage went to the feedback forms I had for my day school students on the speeches they had given this week. I would never accept such messy papers, and there's no way I'm giving messy papers either. What's worse is that on some of the papers I had used a felt tip pen, so the paper was just a blur of red and Diet Coke. What do I say to those kids? Without notes, I certainly don't remember how they did! Grrr.

My classes went okay, except for 6th hour. I have a student who is giving me problems, and I keep trying to work with him, but he keeps acting like he's doing nothing wrong. His cool-guy act is not helping be a better reader or writer at all. I moved him to a table where he would be away from his situation so everyone could focus better, but he couldn't get comfortable because he's a big guy, and the table was rather low. So, I moved Goldilocks to the teacher desk, and I moved everything out of his way and turned off the computer.

On Friday, I found out that was about the dumbest thing I could have done because he wrote on the computer screen. (It was apparently about an inch, written in ink, but we don't know what it looked like because the day teacher rubbed it off before taking a photo.) I know better than to let students use teacher computers, but I didn't think he'd get in trouble sitting at the desk with my aide sitting across from him and me in a direct line of sight. How wrong I was. (My aide is 16 going on 35, and she has no tolerance for the students who show up to school and just think they can goof off and graduate. She even took the opportunity to lecture him.)

Oh, and by the way, having a student write on a computer screen is a new one for me. Add that to my book of Stupid Things Kids Might Do.

Since the day school teachers at the school think that all things "night school" are straight up thug, including the teachers, my attempt to deal with this student, who really needs a boot up his rear, but I'm trying to deal with one on one, has set off another battle between the day school and night school teachers--don't think that this incident is just between the me, the student, the other teacher and the administrators at both schools. Oh no. Every teacher at both schools knows about this. Although the building has always been used for a dual school, we night teachers are interlopers. Or maybe even worse.

Okay, let's add them up. That's FIVE ways Happy Chyck can look like an unprofessional dolt. All wrapped up into one day. I hope that was my allotment for the rest of the year. Seriously. I took bitter pill after bitter pill all day long, and even into Friday, as I faced all of these issues head on, admitting my culpability each time. I certainly didn't lead by example. I hope I was able to screw up by example.

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