If Today Were the Same As

Yesterday. If today were the same as yesterday, I would be seeking employment as a poisonous snake charmer; it probably pays better than being a substitute teacher, and less riskier. Ouch. I’m still hurting from yesterday’s half day session of torture. I could not wait to get away from the school. ON my half an hour way home, I kept asking myself, Why the  Hell are you doing this job? The pay is lousy and I wasn’t having any fun at all. Yesterday, which I already blogged about how even the school building wasn’t cooperating.

I was standing at what I believe would be the Eastern Door. East Door. Whatever. There wasn’t a sign per se indicating what direction I was facing, but it did tell me to find the South Entrance. I’m under an eave of this used to be an entrance but harsher security reduces that door’s rank to locked and never used. Today I was in a modular building that had a door that  did not go anywhere. You can walk to the other side of the wall that the door is in and there’s no door. Two halves pushed together would be my guess. Anyway, I didn’t know where the sun was at 11:30 and even then I don’t think I would have been able to translate into do I go right or left. There was a door to the right, but it was so close,  and it didn’t have the stateliness that a Entrance should display.

I went to the left, but after looking around the corner, I didn’t see anything to suggest the Grandiose Southern Entrance was in that direction. Back to Point A. I put my used to be a hound dog in a previous life ear’s to work. I heard kids towards the right. Of course, I tugged on the door as I passed, praying and wishing and only silently cussing. I’m walking in what seems to be a back alley. The Porta-Potty, AKA, Bucks, wasn’t giving me much confidence that I was going in the right direction. As I rounded the corner, I was able to witness a couple of boys trying to tip the plastic waste collection system over. There was a smaller boy inside.

Little did I know that the cesspool metaphor would become my afternoon. Within two hours of this combat mission, I cancelled the next mission. I would even had been a PE teacher, my favorite, but an hour of total driving for four hours of hard labor with no chance of parole. I’m trying to be nicer to myself on my second half of 55. When I started talking about using age 56 as a halfway point in my life, I had forgotten that that’s what I said last year. I hadn’t ever said it before, though fifty would have been more reasonable. I think the oldest woman in the United States danced with President Obama twice. She was only a hundred and four the first time, but four years had passed. My math isn’t quite adding up. I don’t rightly remember even when I saw this. Nightly News perhaps.

Did you notice how quickly I shifted from the cesspool of yesterday’s battle. Walked straight into the eye of a tornado. Blown away.

Maybe I just wasn’t on my game. I either was drawn a bad hand or I didn’t play the good hand well enough. I’d like to think the latter. I couldn’t do anything yesterday. Being super nice and quirky wasn’t working for them, so as a result they got the I have to put my foot down approach and demand they tow the line. Toe the Line?

I don’t like being mean or strict; it’s not my cup of tea, but some kids need that extra structure and discipline. Give ’em an inch kind of thing.

But today was such an amazing day. It helped that I had been at this school several times, but same grade. Different school. Different school district. Different Socio-Economic situation. Night and Day.

Middlers will always be middlers. Goofy. Hormonal. Still Growing. Still Figuring things out. Not in control of much, not their face, their body, their mind, and especially their mouth. Today’s middlers were just as noisy and crazy as yesterday’s, but they weren’t mean or disrespectful or flat out defiant. No, you can’t make me. The throwing of things. The constant chatter. None of this behavior was displayed. They re-focused very well. We had fun, they got work done. They even earned some do work outside time, always a great way to make bonus points.

Earlier I was thinking about how teaching and playing sports are the same. Some games the refs aren’t throwing the flag and cheap shots are happening, so it’s not a fun game. Tempers flare. But when the refs are on top of things, which I guess as a Substitute, that would be my role of enforcing the rules, if I call a tight game, then there’s more room to have allow the kids to have fun.

There’s a scene that’s just amazing in Robin Williams’ best movie, Maybe the name will come back to me as I  write. Dead Poet’s Society. The scene is when he is telling students to huddle up and he tells them a story; the kids are laughing, even the shy one who has to follow his great brother’s footsteps and has a smaller foot. I love that scene, and I marvel how the character earned their trust right away. Maybe I should do trust falls in my class. He is a teacher that tells it like it is. It’s not realistic that his character would ever be hired at a school where he was notorious for being a rebel. Did they really think that part of him disappeared over time?

Mr. Keating. John, I think, wanted students to think for themselves. Schools typically don’t like this. At the Willamette Leadership Academy, my last place of servitude. I served to the best of my ability and was rewarded, but I am a rebel rouser. Always have been. When I don’t see something right, I’m going to talk about it and make a statement.

I was teaching a upper-level class, Film and Literature. We’d  read the book and then watch the movie. I had junior and senior high school students. I had permission slips signed by parent or guardian to allow those students to watch R rated movies. The movie where the soon to be king with a stuttering problem is R rated because of the number of times he swears, and he pretty much uses up his  quota in one scene. Maybe after he had to have marbles in his mouth and talk at the same time.

All Syllabi came back with signature of approval. There was a movie about a kite. Great movie. Kite fighting. I didn’t realize that the book version would be more graphic than the movie, but no one seemed to have an issue.

The issue came when I had students read the book Color Purple, One of my all time favorites. Kill a Mockingbird might have a little higher rating. The movie is so mild and meek compared to the book. The School Board President had an office on the school grounds, which I thought a bit bizarre, but when she got wind that I was teaching this Still probably banned somewhere book, she took the first page to the boss and read it in his face. Probably yelled it in his face.

Have you ever had to report to the principal’s office? well, typically I felt the same working at a high school as I did when I was in high school. When the Colonel either called me to his office or even worse, came up to my classroom, I knew I was in trouble.

The schools bought the small class set of books. They knew well in advance that it was part of the curriculum. I had crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s. I did learn how to cover my Ass while working at WLA in just five short years, but I’m a quick study with these kinds of things.

We were just finishing the book in class when the hammer came down, declaring that this book was off limits in the future. I don’t tend to teach the same thing again anyway, so I didn’t care, but I cared since  that was the first time the school was pulling in the reigns. The two of us teaching the entire high school curriculum illegally were given carte blanche. Do what you need to do to accomplish the mission.

I seldom know what I am getting myself into when I get a job. I wanted a full-time teaching job. I had never heard of WLA. I didn’t know what a military-style school would be like.

As I got used to the screaming and the spit flying and the profanity and the put downs, I noticed my humanity was crumbling. Same thing happened when I was in Boston as a young security guard where my job was to kick homeless people out of buildings or door steps. I watched the wanna be police officers abuse people. I could tell that the Boston Police Department was doing a great job keeping the undesirables out by seeing these idiots abuse their “powers” because they dressed like police and even carried guns. Thank God they didn’t give me anything but a Mag Light, Cuff’s and a radio. Sometimes I didn’t get the radio.

There was a point to this story, but it seems to have vanished into thin air. This is my brain’s way of telling me to unplug and go outside and play.

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