Saturday, December 20, 2014

Out of the mouth of babes (and I'm certain she'd like me to be calling her a babe because she's hot and not a baby)

Yesterday, as Grace and I were driving to Target (riding in the car with a 17-year-old is a whole separate post), she said, "You haven't been as stressed out and pissed off as you were when you were still working at TEC. You've been like you again." 

I got to thinking about it and realized since getting the axe Monday, I haven't had chest pains, heartburn (that was a new development from around Thanksgiving and I may or may not have thought I was having a heart attack), woken up in the middle of the night in a panic, been queasy, light headed, had a screaming headache, seen black floatie things or just not felt good in general. I'm not even joking when say I would tell the kids or NJ I just didn't feel right every single day. Oh, the jokes they made about that one.

In fact, I've felt really good. I've felt relaxed. I've wanted to go back to the gym. I've wanted to write. I haven't yelled at my family (other than NJ but we're together all. day. long.). I've actually laughed and made jokes like I used to.

I haven't been a total bitch. 

Okay, fine, I've been less of a bitch. 

I'll always be a bitch.

I could go on-and-on about how this feeling alive is because I'm not dealing with a school run by this anymore. Or that is freaking out about this and taking it out on the teachers. Or their total disregard for separation of church and state, or not taking bullying seriously or being constantly scared of retaliation for pointing out the things happening in the school that weren't exactly ethical, like not following IDEA. Or the fact the superintendent is making over $95K a year, but the principal was using my hot glue gun and (not my) duct tape to put the seats on the bus back together (by the way, I want my damn hot glue gun back). 

I could, but I'm not. 

You know why? Because in the same conversation, Grace said she was scared that job was going to cause me to have a heart attack and die because I stayed so stressed out and upset all the time and she is happy to see me not so upset anymore. 

Nope. I'm going to focus on being happy so my daughter doesn't have to worry about me dropping dead from stress.

I might even get involved with some of the stuff her senior class does for graduation. 

That's a lie. I'm not actually going to do that last thing at all. 

But I did buy her senior pictures, so there's that. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Conversations at my house when NJ and I are both home during the day.

Most of mine and NJ's conversations involve yelling at each other because he is a child and he seems to think I'm a control freak which is not true and he wouldn't think that if he did stuff the way I told him to do them the first time. There's been a lot of Netflix being watched since he got off work for the season (mostly by him because he watched every single episode of Supernatural for like two weeks straight and I wanted to end his damn life). We are currently way into Breaking Bad (we're only on season episode 1 of season 4, so no spoilers) which we oddly won't watch until it gets dark, like we're cooking the meth or something. There is something wrong with us. 

Anywho, the following is re-enactments of three conversations that just took place in our home:
(While he watched the Avengers and I pretended to do something important but was really on Facebook)

NJ: Do you know who they're talking about when they say the Big Guy?

Me: Why is that information I would have?

NJ: It's the guy made from rocks.

Me: The Rock? He's an Avenger?

NJ: No, the guy made from rocks.

Me: I only know of The Rock.

NJ: It's not The Rock. 

Me: Then I don't care.


***

(While speaking to me about Danny Trejo because he is obsessed with him and all I've been dreaming about is his damn head on a turtle for three nights due to the Breaking Bad thing)

NJ: Do you know who Danny Trejo's cousin is?

Me: Lou Diamond Phillips!

NJ: No, the Mexican comedian.

Me: The fluffy guy!

NJ: No, the other one.

Me: George Lopez!

NJ: No. Like one of the first ones.

Me: Gabriel Iglesias!

NJ: He is the fluffy one. You know, like Hernandez or Rodriguez.

Me: Cheech!

NJ (not really amused): No, but he was in Born in East L.A.

Me: Never seen it.

NJ: It was in the part blah, blah, blah.

Me: Still never seen it.

NJ: You know, blah, blah, blah.

Me: Chong!

NJ (rolling his eyes): He's not even Mexican. You know this from Dancing with the Stars.

Me: I got nothing. Paul Rodriguez?

NJ: Yeah, him. They didn't even know they were cousins until they did a movie together.

Me: Why the hell do you know that?

Paul Rodriguez was not in Smokey in the Bandit. That was Paul Williams.
I chose not to share my confusion with NJ.
(Photo source: http://www.wearysloth.com/Gallery/ActorsW/18453-17667.gif)

***
(Out of the damn blue)

NJ: Remember the Bible?

Me (so confused because he's still watching The Avengers): Why would I forget it?

NJ: You know the guy who got the Ten Commandments and he was gone for a long time?

Me: Moses?

NJ: Is he the guy who got the Ten Commandments?

Me: I think so.

NJ: I don't think it was him. He was up in the mountains for a long time and while he was gone they built  a golden god and worshipped it. I wonder if they'll ever find it. 

I just stared at him blankly. 

***

We're only on day three of being home together all. day. long. 

God (or the golden god statue or whatever he's talking about) help us all. 

**Edit: He just tried to make me touch the pimple on his nose. He's the one I picked out of everyone that I decided to spend the rest of my life with. I feel good about that choice right now.**

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Now that I don't have to worry about losing my job anymore...

So, as I'm sure you've noticed (yes you have), I haven't been around much. Part of it is because I was teaching five grades and an elective and that requires a lot of lesson planning. A LOT. The other part was because I was scared of writing something that would get someone's panties in a wad and cause me to lose my job. 

However, since that ship has sailed, here I am. I can't say much about the job thing because, well, I can't. But, I can tell you this: it has been a crazy semester. Like, not regular, run-of-the-mill school crazy, but other-people-don't-deal-with-this-shit-at-their-job crazy. 

I worked at a charter school. If you are unfamiliar with charter schools in Texas, they do not operate under the same laws and restrictions a regular public school does. For instance, teachers don't have to be certified (unless they are special education or ESL teachers) to work there and they don't have to disclose that your child's teacher isn't certified, like they have to do in a public school if an uncertified teacher is in your child's class for 30 or more consecutive days. Teachers are generally at-will employees and do not get contracts, which means they can be let go anytime for any reason or no reason at all (which is why I'm sitting here writing this instead of working on stuff for school tomorrow). Apparently, principal's don't have to be certified either. 

The list goes on-and-on. Not all charter schools take advantage of these lack of restrictions and operate just as a regular public school would. Some charter schools do a great job achieving their actual purpose which is:


“(1) improve student learning; (2) increase the choice of learning opportunities within the public school system; (3) create professional opportunities that will attract new teachers to the public school system; (4) establish a new form of accountability for public schools; and (5) encourage different and innovative learning methods.”  (http://www.txcharternetwork.org/domain/14).

Others, well, not so much. They look at things (and by things, I mean kids) as more of a revenue source and, as such, certain things are allowed that wouldn't be tolerated in a regular public school because losing a student means losing income and since they don't get money from tax revenue, that's a huge deal. Do you know how frustrating it is to have students coming to you daily about the same two students bullying them and to write these same two students up over-and-over and seeing them not get any real punishment? Do you know how frustrating it is to have no real control over your classroom because students know that the principal won't punish them if you do write them up and that you will get written up if their parents call and threaten to pull them out because you're too mean because you just want them to pay attention and work and actually attempt to enforce rules? Do you know how frustrating it is to have awesome kids who really want to learn but can't because there is no accountability or consequences for students who constantly disrupt and break rules and to slowly lose those awesome kids while the problems remain because their parents know they would be kicked out of a regular public school in about two seconds?

That stuff? Is the reality in some charter schools. It's just a small part of what the teachers, who are paid less than than their peers (but are totally paid the same as the uncertified, untrained teachers at their school) and teach multiple grades, often with kids with multiple behavioral, emotional and learning disabilities making up the majority of their class deal with every. single. day. That's why teacher burnout is a real problem in charter schools in Texas.

That's why charter schools in Texas and the people who run them need to be held to a much higher standard than they currently are and it needs to be much easier to shut down the low performing ones. Texas passed a law that makes it a little easier, but it's not enough. The parents who entrust their kids with these people deserve better. The teachers who are doing so much with so little deserve better. Most of all, the kids who are depending on them for an education deserve better. 

There is so much more to this than what I've listed here, but I'll leave it at this for now. Just please, if you are considering putting your child in a charter school, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you're planning to go to work at a charter school DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Really, really research it and the people running it. 

You may be shocked by what you find. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A typical Tuesday night at our house

video

She wants to work as a personal trainer while she's in college. 

I guess this is the first step?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Important facts about prepping for the upcoming school year-if you're me.

This week has been a flurry of decorating one of my two classrooms. I really need to be at school finishing up classroom #1 as I type this, but I'm waiting for my capri pants to dry since we can't wear shorts due to parents coming in and out of the school this week. I guess parents think teachers don't do heavy lifting, deep cleaning and redecorating in shorts. I wonder if they also think we live at school? 

Anywho, in this week of craziness, some points about me, decorating a classroom and possibly not being the brightest bulb in the box have been driven home. The following is a list of what I knew but now really know or what I have learned that will be so beneficial in the future:


  • I can't hang anything straight. I also can't cut straight or fold straight. This becomes especially annoying when I'm working by myself and the number of holes I can put in the wall really need to be kept to a minimum.
  • With the aid of a dolly, I can move a huge bookshelf by myself. With only the aid of an 11-year-old guiding me, I can also hit every wall, door and desk in the school with said bookshelf. 
  • When picking out certain things I want to put in my classroom, I've had to consider if the kids can make anything in it into something dirty, if a parent is going to get offended and if Beyonce is showing too much booty for it to be school appropriate. 
A time will come when a kid asks me who Metallica is
and I will weep.
  • I have no pictures of presidents to hang on my wall because someone defiled every single one of their faces on the posters that came with my room except Abraham Lincoln. Not sure why he got left out.
  • Someone was nice enough to add Obama to one poster, but put "Obama Care." Screaming, "Care is not his last name!" will make your 11-year-old roll his eyes at you.
  • I have the best reading corner ever.
  • Making a straight line with duct tape sucks. Probably due to point #1. However, a rather irregular border has been made around my desk that no one is allowed to cross. 
  • Making bulletin boards is fun. In theory. The actual execution is hard.
  • Stapling butcher paper while also holding it up sucks so much.
  • I put butcher paper over my light switch yesterday and there's a good chance I won't move it. We don't need light. 
  • I have to go back to Mardel's. They are the only people in a 10 mile radius who have lots of bulletin board borders. This impending trip led to a long conversation with my principal about how I sometimes cuss and feel it's wrong to cuss in the Christian bookstore. 
  • Mardel's isn't my favorite. 
  • I feel like not knowing the Pledge is going to be an issue this year since a) I teach social studies and b) we are supposed to say it as a class every morning. 
  • I think the pledge to the Texas flag is something that just got made up because I don't remember saying that in school. Granted, I don't remember the regular pledge, so maybe not. 
All that? Is just the tip of the iceberg. Trust me, there will be so much more once I finally get back at it today!

And school hasn't even started yet...