[Intensely edited for job protection]
I have been involved in some deep drama here in ol' City, fortunately none of it caused by me! We were about x weeks into the year, and things started to seem funny. One of the other English teachers, a Veteran Teacher who had taught here for a billion years or something, seemed to be taking a *very* long weekend vacation, and that seemed strange for a teacher, especially one with multiple APs. Then my neighbor-lady Mrs. Poetry, who is lovely, starts coming by and saying things about "preparing for changes" and giving me big hugs. Clearly something was up.
I totally thought I was going to fired or something (god knows why, I'm just insecure that way), so I went in to meet with my principal (who even talks to me! on a regular basis! and says nice things!) armed with all my crazy meticulous info about how many kids had been to the writing center, what they needed help with, what we accomplished, which teachers had sent people, my huge-plans-to be awesomest-writing-lady-ever, etc. Hopefully, I would have been very impressive, but it didn't end up mattering. Principal closed the door, sat down, and quietly said that we needed to "chat." Apparently, Veteran Teacher had suddenly "resigned" as of that morning, and now "we as a school, and [me] in particular, needed to make some major changes." What??!
In the end, they closed my precious writing center after promising me about a hundred times that we would start it up again next year. I didn't want, and was SO not qualified* to teach this dude's AP classes. His reading lists were CRAZY; I didn't take classes that hard in grad school! In the end, five teachers and seven classes were switched all around. I ended up with two sophomore classes. So now I teach a "full-load."
I was really, really disappointed at first because I'd worked so hard to get the writing center nice and running--I bought cute rugs! And cute lamps!--but I'm enjoying my new kids. The course is sort of like another 9th grade year genre study with a twist. Now that they learned all the traditional conventions in 9th, in 10th they learn how authors have experimented with those conventions. So it was nothing I'd ever taught before, the two sections were from two different teachers with wildly different approaches, and they were smack-dab in the middle of the term. That was a new one.
We're just finishing up great book and about to start "As I Lay Dying"--that is, if I don't die from fear first. Scary Teacher From College*** attempted to teach me that novel in my sophomore year, and it was one of the two things that totally had me lost****. Yes, the other was "Ulysses."
But here's the thing, in the middle of everyone LOSING THEIR MINDS about Veteran Teacher being fired, I sort of picked up that it had something to with an inappropriate relationship with a student, and that this wasn't the first time. (All that is hearsay, but it seems likely.) Basically, I'll go figure out how to teach Physics if that means we get rid of a teacher like that, so call me Ms. Flexibility.
Oh yeah, just in case y'all feel like a vacation and you feel like stopping by, the school brings in some pretty amazing people to hang out with us. Please control yourself from vomiting all over the computer as that is the only natural reaction:
[Insert names of FANTASTICALLY AMAZING PEOPLE coming to my school]
I have to admit, I'm really most excited about next year because My Hero is coming. I guess these rich people do have some MAJOR ADVANTAGES IN LIFE that are totally unfair. I exist here pretty much to tell them that every, single day. I am now the master of the "You don't even KNOW how good you have it, so you'd better START appreciating it and do something USEFUL with yourselves" speech. I start getting impassioned about how, when I was a kid, my parents cleaned buildings in the middle of the night to make ends meet, and we were still practically on food stamps, so who do they think they are complaining about how their parents won't let them fly to another city for a big concert because they failed my quiz and can I PUH-LEASE add on some points?!
Also, um, no to the child who wanted two points added to her average because otherwise mommy wouldn't buy her a car for her birthday. And, boy, do these kids have cars--I mean if you can really call a Hummer a "car"--worth some crazy money.
Really, it has been major culture shock for me.
I mean, Cute Small Person I Hang With (Cutie) has to take this big test soon to get into Pre-K. Age 3. It's ridiculous. But I have to admit, Cutie's gonna be some kind of genius, even just going to the day care place. We were talking shapes at dinner the other day, you know, square, circle, triangle. Suddenly, Cutie yells out, "Trapezoid!" And I yell out, "Huh?!" I didn't know Cutie had "triangle" down, and, already, octagons and parallelograms are SO last week. Needless to say, I found one of my favorite upper school science teachers to give me a quick survival course in geometry. So I can keep up with a 3-year-old.
Right. That's me now. Just tryin' to keep up.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to deal with some of my esteemed fellow English teachers who insist that all American lit is "rubbish" that ought not be taught. They only like the REALLY dead authors. Oh yes, and that creative writing isn't an "art." How did all those books and poems they teach get written I. Just. Don't. Know. Plus, they are all really old and male, only teach very old and male books, and sort of SNIF loudly when you say where you went to college if it doesn't start with an H, Y, or P.
So, snif away, the old replaces the new. I like new. (Take this as a with a grain of salt please; new includes anything originating after, say, 1790???)
Whatever. I mean, they hired me right? They had to have known, even if just a little, what they were getting into?
*I'm not a moron. I'm even pretty smart with books and writing stuff. I'm just a very new teacher. They have people like me experiment on ninth graders**.
**I love ninth graders. I totally, like, WANT to teach them. We're all growing up at the same time--trying to figure out our way around this whole high school gig.
***I may have mentioned her before. She gave me back my first paper with "TORTURED SENTENCES" written diagonally across the whole first page. I found her scary. She was completely right, of course. I grew a backbone, endured almost completely incomprehensible conference after incomprehensible conference with her, earning many hard-won Bs, and got better. I hope.
****Note: I read it again with an open mind (hard for me sometimes when I think I won't get something--I tend to assume I hate it. I know, so silly), and by page 70ish, I had fallen head over heels. That book is COOL. Faulkner is such a hipster---you know, in a dead, Mississippi-ish way. Why I totally missed the boat in college I don't know. Probably my dumb love life.