I love my job. I really do. And I'm not ranting about it the past few days. I'm merely giving you a glimpse into my world. Sometimes it's surreal. Take, for instance, a couple of days last week.
At the beginning of the school year, I go over my classroom rules. It's a high-wire stand-up act. I grab their attention and run with it, giving them real-life, ridiculous examples of things that have actually happened in my classroom. As a justification for my rules. We all have a good time. And it sticks with most of them. Because throughout the year, I will overhear one telling another not to do something, because it's on The List.
One of these rules involves personal grooming. I feel it has no place in my classroom. Get yourself ready before you come to school. You don't need to be putting on your mascara, or deodorant, or perfume, or combing your hair, or plucking your eyebrows, or curling your eyelashes. And under no circumstances should you be applying lotion, or wiping your face with medicated acne pads, or clipping your fingernails, etc.
I looked up first hour to see a girl with her bag of make-up tricks spread out on her desk. Sure, she might have just set them out while looking for something at the bottom of her purse. But because ninth-graders will be ninth-graders, one of the boys sitting by her was grabbing at her stuff. Ahem. Her make-up stuff. What kind of a story do you think this is?
I reminded her of my rules. And asked her if I should be able to come into her house when she's getting ready, and stand between her and the mirror, and start teaching science. Again, no personal grooming on my time. She drew herself up, all haughty, like only a ninth-grade (and yes, an eighth-grade) girl can do, and said, "It's ONLY lip balm!"
Like a gave a fat rat's behind what it was, specifically, that she was applying. My point was that it had become a disruption, what with the boy grabbing at it, and me having to stop and comment on it, and then get the lesson back on track. But apparently, in her mind, the application of lip balm in the middle of science class was not considered personal grooming.
The other instance concerned a late paper. I give time in class to finish assignments. I do that so students can ask me questions. No excuses of, "I didn't do it because I didn't understand it." I've been at this more than a couple of years. I know how much time an assignment will take. Two students did not turn in the assignment that day. I put it in the gradebook as a zero, but I will accept it the next day if it is turned in before we go over the answers. Just in case someone legitimately works slower than others.
A boy brought his paper to me mid-way through the class period. He was lucky that we had not gone over the answers that day. I took his paper, but asked why he had not turned it in the day before as I expected. "I didn't get it done."
"Why not? Everybody except two people got it done."
"Well, I didn't get it done."
"Put it on my desk. I'm not sure you were working on it in the time I allowed."
"Don't go blamin' me."
"Who else should I blame? I'm not the one who kept you from finishing it."
Seriously. Who else is to blame here? I'm thinking of pointing the finger at all those folks who believe in the I'm OK/You're OK, Everybody Gets a Trophy world who have coddled these kids since the day they were born, making them think that they don't have to take responsibility for their own actions. It's always somebody else's fault when things don't go as planned.
Yeah. I love my job. But it's February. The Scholastic Doldrums.