What you pay for…

As you know, I’m a teacher. I’m not very happy with my profession. It’s difficult to work in an environment obsessed with “leadership skills” and various “learning theories”. It always amazes me when I sit through some professional development about schemes to present substandard content in a new and “fresh” way. The presenting experts are always in their late 20’s, having spent at most 4 years in a classroom and holding some sort of liberal arts degree. But they speak confidently about how to teach subjects they don’t understand.

And with all that is spent on reform, all of the attention paid. At the end of the day, many days, I lock the doors on the floor of my school. The administrators have gone home, leaving myself, the janitor and sometimes as many as two dozen totally unsupervised kids in the building. And the principal didn’t even pull the door shut behind him.

Poor reactions to the important.

Today, we had a gun at school. And some other weapons and some other contraband. My school has adopted a more aggressive policy towards searches at the door, so today there were actual honest to goodness searches. Someone looked in many but not all of the students’ bags.
One student panicked when he realized that today someone was actually going to look in his bag as we walked through the metal detector instead of letting him set it down the table, walk through the detector and then pick it up. Most days, the employees who watch the students come in don’t even search students who set off the detector. But today, things were different and this young man got caught.
Oddly, even though this happened, at any given time today, students without passes could be found in the hallways and stairwells, near unalarmed exits that could be opened from the inside to let more guns into our school. We’ve had another clear warning and the system, from the superintendent down, barely flinched.

A little piece of satisfaction.

Every week, someone makes a presentation about how public schools have been going about their business in the wrong way all along. This person, usually young, usually educated in some “liberal art” at some college and usually with little or no experience in the classroom, invariably explains some new and novel process about catering to various “learning styles” and exciting kids about “exploration” in school. Of course, every week, some kid tells me “fuck you” or expresses some other similar sentiment. I question the efficacy of overhauling everything in order to do our job when maybe we could identify a handful of problems, like behaviour and address them. Which might require wholesale overhaul, I dunno.

Anyway, I’m really excited today because more students passed a chapter test than failed it for the first time since I came to this job. Which is pretty awesome. We talked about it and my students felt that they had new success because they worked hard and consistently for the whole chapter. We’re hustling along and plan on taking another test on Wednesday, this time over volume. (It’s a geometry class.) My kids are confident and working over the weekend, so for once, I’m looking forward to Monday.

So this is what a chunk of job satisaction feels like. I had forgotten.