Tuesday, January 8, 2008

They just don't like you, kid.

That was the advice I got from a friend of mine today when I was talking about my job. I was trying to puzzle out what exactly the reasoning would be behind my bosses setting up an environment that made me hate going to work. I was pointing out all the reasons why people would be lucky to have me in their employment and trying to comprehend why I now have TWO negative letters in my file after 5 years of glowing reviews and a spotless reputation.

I know it doesn't sound like the most encouraging advice, but it is freeing in a way. They don't like me. Ok. And I said to my friend, "But everybody likes me." Certainly, my bosses always have. And he asked if I honestly expected to go through life batting 100%. Well... yes.

I'm tenured, so there's not a whole lot they can do about not liking me. They can put nasty little memos in my mailbox. They can be snarky with me. But that's about it. I'm leaving in June. I'd leave before the Spring term, but there are kids that would be without a math teacher for half a year, and I don't want to do that. And we discussed passive-aggressive, mildly amusing things to do in retaliation, but that's not really my style.

I have 5 1/2 more months to go. About 110 more days.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Rocky Start

I recognize that 2008 is only 6 days old, but I'm not wild about it so far.

In the late afternoon on the 2nd, the radiator stopped working. The boiler in my apartment building died. Of course, we didn't know it was dead. With the radiator working, our apartment is generally about 90 degrees. When we awoke the morning of the 3rd, it was about 65 degrees inside and about 13 outside. And there was no hot water.

The Tummy was not happy. He grumbled about us living in the 'hood while he ate his oatmeal.

I called our landlord when I got to work and left a message saying, "I just wanted to make sure that you knew that we had no heat or hot water this morning. Please call me back." I was cranky with my students, because the temperature in my classroom goes from about 55 degrees to about 110 degrees and back to about 55 by the end of the day. When my landlord called me back, she was all apologies. She very sweetly explained that she had been working all day to fix the problem and found out that she needed to replace the boiler. It would take a few days.

The Tummy suggested we not renew our lease at the end of the month. He does not like not being able to rely on heat and hot water.

Our landlord stopped by later in the evening and gave us a small portable electric heater. It was a very nice gesture, and it did a very nice job heating the square foot of space on all sides of it. The rest of the apartment got steadily colder. I baked snickerdoodles so that I had an excuse to turn the oven on.

The Tummy and I slept in sweats and slippers with 2 quilts and a down comforter on top of us. We cuddled.

Friday morning, it was colder in the apartment. I heated water on the stove to bathe and wash my hair. I grumbled all the way to school. I learned that I become quite grumpy when I can't get warm. I argued with the dean about bathroom passes.

Saturday, the apartment was colder.

The Tummy got up around 9:00 and I stayed in bed under the pile of blankets. Around 10:00, he got back in, because he said it was too cold to stay up. I didn't want to stay in the cold all day, but I felt so gross from not being able to take a real shower for 3 days that I didn't want to go out in public. (And before anybody suggests a cold shower, I'd like to point out that our cold water was about 33 degrees.) So I spent the day in sweats and slippers and a jacket, under an afghan, too cold to do anything but read and watch tv.

Around 7pm, we heard a hiss. The radiator had come back on! WE SURVIVED!!! Tonight, I'm actually sitting comfortably in a t-shirt! Hooray for heat!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why teachers cry on Sundays and Holidays...

I don't hate my job.

I have to keep saying that aloud to myself. It's true, but it's easy to forget. I don't know any teachers who sleep well on Sunday nights. I don't know any teachers who sleep for pretty much all of Labor Day weekend. And for those of us who go back to work tomorrow... well...

I don't hate my job. I don't hate my job. I don't hate my job.

Once I am in my classroom with my students, it will be easy to remember. I enjoy teenagers. They're fun. I enjoy teaching math. It's fun. The New York City Department of Education... well... they're less fun.

I fully expect to walk into work tomorrow and find a memo in my mailbox that suggests that I make sure that I re-do my bulletin board before the end of the week, because the current bulletin board is from last year. Now, for those of you that are remembering little posters with kittens that said, "Hang In There" on the bulletin boards, that's unacceptable. Every bulletin board needs to have student work on it. (But it should be interesting... they're not really interested in worksheets of math problems) And the work should be graded according to a rubric which also needs to be posted. And it needs to have the name of the class and the name of the teacher and it should be "visually interesting".

That's no problem. I recognize that someone in an office somewhere has decided that updated bulletin boards help students learn. I'm sure that that's true. I'm sure I should focus on the bulletin board instead of on undiagnosed learning disabilities, troubled home lives, pressure to join gangs, spotty educational histories or inconsistent attendance. And I will attempt to do an assignment with my students that can be handed in by Thursday, so that I can grade it late into the night and get to school early on Friday to post it on my bulletin board.

Just a couple of itty-bitty hitches. First, I'm not going to have many students tomorrow. Whenever we have a week that starts on Wednesday, the students and their parents consider it optional. Second, I will probably be asked to cover a class tomorrow for a teacher who is not back from vacation yet. This will make photocopying an assignment.... tricky. Third, our photocopier will not be working tomorrow morning, and probably neither will the printer in the teachers' lounge. They weren't working when we left for break, and I doubt that they've gotten them fixed since.

So.... let me sum up. I need to have a project which can be completed in under an hour, that demonstrates mathematical ability and is visually interesting and can be assigned without giving kids a copy of anything written. I also need a rubric for the project that takes me less than a minute to complete so that I can grade 90 of them (assuming all the kids do the work) preferably in under 2 hours. It would be great, by the way, if the project pertained to sketching sine and cosine curves or solving systems of linear equations, because Regents exams are coming up January 22, and my students aren't ready for them.

I don't hate my job.