Yes, yes…. the title. I have this on loop in my head, it’s been going off for the last two days. The record is broken, and honestly I don’t think it’s going to stop because I don’t have the capabilities to lock this shit down.
Oh, I will endure. I might even do this job well. God knows I’m trying. God knows I feel like everything is exploding in my face and all of my efforts are hitting brick walls. A coworker told me today, “You are surviving, and you haven’t quit yet at day two! That’s more than a lot of people.”
A lot of people….? I can’t imagine quitting, I would never give up. I would have my face dragged through the dirt and injure myself psychologically, sure, but I wouldn’t give up.
I am working for a substitute temp agency, basically. Also, since I just moved recently, I really need money. So when I saw that there was a placement for two weeks in this one school district, I was like, awesome! I’ll get to actually teach. It said, “Extra teacher,” so I assumed there was some delay in the hire or something (Oh, how naive I was). Two weeks of subbing is a lot of money.
I walked in the door yesterday at 6:30AM, walked right to the main office. They told me they didn’t have any information for me, to just go stand around. Okay, sure. I stood around for about two hours, working my way through a chain of human beings (one teacher took me to another teacher who took me to another, who took me to another, who took me back to the first person, who sent me back to the office, who sent me to another person). At each individual I was able to excavate just a little bit more of what the fuck was going on: The teacher had quit, even though the job was posted weeks ago they still hadn’t hired anyone, and I was to start off the school year and lesson plan until they hired someone. No one person told me this—no one ever actually told me what my assignment was. I puzzled that shit together.
SURPRISE! Start off three different sets of classes for the first day of school! Both 7th grade and 8th grade English! Fresh out of elementary school, half of them! In forty minutes!
Oh, and I slowly came to realize a parade of things: I had no log-in for the computers so I could not print at the school, I had no computer to work with period, I had no access to any school email or information database. I can’t get parent phone numbers, and there are apparently no ways to write-up or refer kids to detention. There are no phones in the rooms. There are police and security officers everywhere. There are no air conditioners. There are blackboards with chalk.
The last school I taught in had SMARTboards. Oh, how spoiled I was without even knowing it.
Today, in an 8th grade classroom with 31 kids in it and not enough desks and no room to walk around in, I had a whole bunch of seniors walk in halfway through the class because their schedules had the wrong room number. I wrote them a pass to where they were supposed to go, they were gentlemen, whatever. The 8th graders were very amused and I told them with a laugh to stop trying to show off to the seniors. Five minutes later, a straggler senior walks in, and I tell him where to go. He stumbled back and forth and insisted he’s an 8th grader. His eyes were glazed. I would say he was baked out of his mind, but honestly weed doesn’t debilitate you to this level. I tell him to go. He tells me that he loves me. I tell him to go. He tells me I need to say it back. I tell him to go. He stumbles out of the room. The 8th graders (all 31 of them) are like “What the fuck, what is the teacher going to do?” I put on a good performance of asking them WHAT in the WORLD just happened, and that whatever he was smoking was spiked so it would be best not to ask him about it and we joked about it briefly, and honestly that was the best behaved they were for me the whole time.
After third period, there was a fight in the hallway outside the room I was in and some tall male teacher was yanking at these two adolescents (I’m teaching in 4 different rooms, none of them ever in a row on the schedule, so I have to pick up all my stuff and go every period). After class started, this 7th grader—who I did not even know the name of because he’s not on my roster—stood up and started cussing out this girl. Fuck this, fuck that, fucking, fucking fucking, you fucking bitch. He would not stop, so I had no choice really but to send him out of the room. I press a button on the wall (yes, I have a button) that summons an escort. A security officer in police-like uniform shows up, the kid is gone. I can’t even tell them what this kids name is.
That was an honors class.
I’m scrambling to lesson plan for three different classes, spending all my planning periods doing this and running around the huge building to find people who can help me get resources (or…. literally anything). They are taking away one of my planning periods next week and giving me a class.
Surprise, surprise—a tiny class crammed with 31 kids doesn’t behave well. My bag of tricks is reduced down to almost nothing due to lack of resources. I am trying to teach them. I really am. I am doing my fucking best.
I have to spend the whole long weekend lesson planning (and drinking until I’m dead). The two 7th grade classes will be receiving a BOX EACH full of workbooks, and I need to run through a scripted lesson that takes them through this magical world of workbooks. I received My Big Ol’ Magical Box Teacher Manual Edition Including DVD which was even bigger than their boxes, and it had a false handle on it. When you grab the handle all the books fall out. I have to do this, because this is what is done in this class, and it’s my job to set up the class for whoever is teaching it. They’ve already interviewed teachers for the position, and I’m so busy lesson planning I don’t have time to locate the application or find the mystery HR person or gather up the 12 fucking documents I need to apply. And do I even want the job? No, I don’t want the fucking job.
I’ll be there until next Friday. How am I going to make it? I don’t fucking know. I don’t even know if I can do a good job at this. I’m afraid to process what I’m doing too much so I don’t feel like a huge fucking failure. I’m definitely putting in a lot of work trying to do a good job.
As horrible as this is, thank god for the other teachers. These people. These wonderful people who expect this and have normalized everything that I’ve just described. Who fly by the seat of their pants daily. Who, despite how busy and frustrated and also lacking in resources they are, are helping me so much. I’ve had a dozen people take the time to help me out, show me where things are, suggest things I should do curriculum-wise, recommend rooms for me to work in (since I don’t have a set classroom), find resources for me and answer my questions. They don’t have to do this, but they see me sweating my face off and scrambling and they provide because they are simply amazing, and yes—you have to be a fucking superhuman to be a teacher. I don’t even care if they turn around and go, “Look at this fucking idiot,” at least they’re helping me.
The school has such a prison-vibe to it, the emergency button and the PA asking me what I need, the police, the security, the gates. I’m going to finish this assignment, no matter how much it wears me down. Yes, I’ve cried on the way home the past two days. Actually, I even held it in for the ride—God forbid somebody sees me—and managed to wait until I got home to fall apart. I think most people would cry. That doesn’t stop me from feeling like a horrible mound of shit.
I feel like I should add… this isn’t my first year teaching. I’ve been through a lot of this before. I should probably be handling this better. I’ve just never dealt with THIS much all at once in a location completely devoid of resources.
I just quit my telemarketing job because they switched the program to one that scams people.
What am I doing with my life, everyone? Holy fucking shit…