As the three of you know (I’m assuming my readership still includes my mom, my wife, and at least one random person from the internet… who’s turn is it this week?), I am not JUST a bad parent, but also something of a bad teacher. Not nearly as scantily clad as, say, Cameron Diaz’s version of a bad teacher, but just as into the extra-curriculars, scamming my students and their parents for money, and general debauchery of my (totally in denial about being an adult and parent) lifestyle.
DISCLAIMER: Since I am currently writing this on a district computer, using district internet and technological assets, I am required to say that I am NOT a bad teacher. I am, in fact, meeting all of my contractual obligations and, periodically, go above and beyond the call in certain, unnamed respects.
Anyway, I was responsible for the deaths of four students last year and that was just during essay season. You can imagine it gets pretty legit during finals.
In all seriousness, I have a life philosophy that probably doesn’t jive with the general public’s idea of what an educator should be doing with their life, public and private. We have this interesting concept of what a teacher, and what most public servants, should be like:
- Selfless, giving, dedicated;
- Going above and beyond the call (arriving early; staying late; making purchases for tools / activities / lessons / food from their own paycheck);
- A willingness to help students, parents, or the public at all times, regardless of personal obligations;
- Accepting a piss-poor paycheck for all of the above;
- Non-usage of intoxicants… even the legal ones….
However, public servants are often recognized for the very few who end up “representing” their particular field, such as: police officers who profile, beat minorities, or outright execute them, when literally hundreds of thousands of other police officers don’t do this; politicians who lie, accept bribes, or stymie the political process, as opposed to “getting things done”; teachers who are lazy, are caught at strip clubs, sleep with their students, or sell drugs to them; etc.
My reaction was to do the best I could while being my own version of “a human being.” Without further adieu, here’s my laid-back guide to being a bad educator:
Don’t Take That Shit Home
As my mentor teacher (during my student teaching experience) said (more or less): “I don’t get paid enough to take my work home; do what you can in the building and then leave it there.” It’s true! Think of how much money people make in positions where they only work in their building. Then, back to that double-standard, the people who earn about as much as managers at your local Subway (TM) franchise are then expected to do MORE work at home, for no additional pay. In the rest of the gainful employment community, that’s called overtime. That’s not to say that I don’t show up early, stay late, and work through my lunch break…
Give the Benefit of the Doubt (Even if it Kills You)
This might fall more under the how to be a good teacher category, but opinions go both ways. A “good” teacher should be nailing bad behavior from the start, right? However, off-task behavior, distracted behavior, even the dreaded “horsing around” sometimes have plausible explanations. Rather than jump on things that my instincts tell me to jump on, I back off and assume the student is doing the right thing. It often goes like this: the perceived off-task behavior, like playing on their cell phones or iPads, often winds up being them checking their grades; the distracted behavior, like staring off into space, is often them worrying about their siblings who didn’t eat or were abused by a parent the night before; the “horseplay,” like boys faux fighting and shoving, is what we call “normative adolescent behavior.” Slamming down on horseplay is kind of like giving someone a resisting arrest citation because the person in-question asked the officer how their day was going before dropping to their knees.
Give EXACTLY as Many Fucks (As They Do)
As I sit here, I see six students (because the other eight didn’t decide to show up). So far, I’ve directly taught a root words activity, and watched students take themselves through a self-guided grammar activity. Beyond that, they need to sit there and do the fucking work we’ve been doing all week. They still care to play video games, even though half of the students present are failing. Sure, give those fucks, but don’t destroy yourself trying to motivate the same assholes who have failed your classes twice and are en route to failing a third time. No offense, civilians, but do you have any idea how hard I tried motivating thoe same students the first two times? Believe me, the edict of “give no fucks” arose AFTER trying to be Robin Williams on crack.
As a wise man once said,”Sometimes they just need to get their ass kicked.” Sadly, I am prohibited by law from delivering said wake-up call.
Get Paid To…
… you fill in the blank! Yay! What is it you wish you were doing? Blogging? Shit, I save that for down-time DURING my classes. That’s how bad I am. No, I get paid to lose fat and gain muscle. We just happen to have a pretty excellently appointed gymnasium in my run-down building; rather than pay for a gym membership, I get paid to work out. Sure, it means working through my lunch breaks, but I can always chew during the next class’s lesson time. You could walk, run, sing, play drums with your music teacher friend (I also do this), make personal phone calls, surf the net, write essays, and really do anything you could achieve from your classroom, computer, cell phone, car, and locality (yeah, they let you run errands sometimes).