Thursday, March 20, 2014

A day in my life as a teacher

I need to get this down in writing just in case.

Last month, we had the local police come out to do a 'training' on school safety.  It was really, here's a whole bunch of bad things that have happened since 1966, now lock your doors.

My classroom door locks from the outside.  It is a steel door and there is no window.  I can't see who is knocking and you can't hear who is on the other side of the door.  It was suggested that I have a student answer the door whenever someone needs to get in.  Kids go in and out to the bathroom or to bring passes for other students.  I totally disagree that a student (or my child) be the responsible one for letting in an unknown person, especially since we can't see or hear who is outside the door.  The logic is that if it is a school shooter, they won't knock on the door, they will just look for an open door and if it's locked, they will move on.

I'm not afraid of school shooters.  Especially some random off campus shooter that randomly comes to campus to make a name for himself.

Fast forward to the present.

Monday morning comes along and the principal sends out a picture of a student and asks us to identify him.  Says there was an incident on Friday and she needs to know who he is.  I had to laugh because the look on his face was very similar to the look he gives in class.  Blank stare like, 'hey, you want me to answer a question?  Was I supposed to be paying attention?'  I just laughed and wondered what he had done.

So it turns out he was causing problems at the school dance and wouldn't give the principal his name.  Silly kids, that's a one day suspension.

So, he comes back to school Tuesday and I asked him why he wouldn't give his name and he says, she never asked him for his name.  Then used about every foul word he knew to describe the principal and said he hated the school.  I said he was going to have to try harder to get kicked out of my class.  I understood he was upset for getting in trouble, but he needed to learn to deal with his frustration in a better way.

So, he told me why he was really angry.  The PE teacher only brought out 5 balls and there are 6 basketball courts.  He and his friends are smaller than the other kids and they don't get to play.  Yeah, that sucks.  That isn't fair.

But, let's do some science and have fun.  Here, there's enough stuff for everyone.

So about two minutes later he says he's going to bring a gun to school and shoot up the whole school, now go tell someone so he can get expelled.

I told him ok.

And then we did the lab.

So of course I had to tell someone.  They called him in with a parent yesterday and of course his whole story changed.  No, he never said that, I overheard him talking about another school shooting, no he likes our school, no, he doesn't want to leave.

But, what really frustrates me is that nobody asked if he has access to a gun.  Do either of his parents own a gun?  That's the first question I would ask.

This same police officer who told me to lock my door is now telling me that I have to let this student who threatened to shoot up the school back in my room.  What good is it to have a locked door when the threat gets to walk in every day?  Teacher's word means nothing.  They didn't even call me in to verify his story.  His word against mine and his has more validity.  Of course, I heard wrong.  Who has more to lose by lying?  Why would I make up a story like this.

And that's just one student in the day.

There are the 7 parent emails asking why I lost their child's homework, when their child comes in and finds it in their backpack or on the wall of no name papers, or admits they never did the work.  Do I ever get an apology from the parent?  My lunch is spent every day helping one child after another get caught up because the kid stayed home every time they sneezed.  What?  You need to eat and go to the bathroom?  You want to sit down and take a break?  You can't do that.  I need attention now.  There's the two or three kids every period who just need that extra bit of attention, because mom or dad or both aren't home until 9 or 10 at night and there isn't anyone to listen to the story they just have to tell so instead of doing their work, they just want to talk.  The 17 pencils I pass out that I purchase with my own money because the district hasn't provided pencils or paper since I started working 23 years ago because kids don't bring them and if they don't have a pencil, they don't work and you can't expect parents to provide them.  I can get fired if I send an email home asking for supplies, so I go out and buy them and smile every day when the same kid asks for another pencil knowing they just want the attention that goes with the daily interaction.  I bet if I checked their backpack, they would have 83 pencils in there.

And then there's the other teachers I work with who don't seem to understand deadlines and meeting norms and collaboration and shared responsibilities.

So as I get ready for work this morning and face the challenges of the day with a smile and wonder what's in store, I also know that some kid is going to make me laugh.  They always do.  That's the best part of my job.  I laugh every single day.  Kids are the best kind of people.  Most have no filter and whatever pops into their head comes right out of their mouth and then they look around as if to see if someone else just heard what they said or if perhaps someone else just said it.

I will more likely die laughing than from being shot by a student, but know that when one of these school shootings happen, the warnings were there.  Nobody took them seriously and the student's word was given more validity than the teacher's.  It's just sad.

1 comment:

jirons42 said...

I know our system has lost a couple great teachers because of these kinds of issues. How sad for all the good kids.