Here’s the deal. One of the first things you learn as a teacher of readin’ and writin’ is to be a good model. Hence when it’s readin’ time...if the story isn’t going to be read aloud in class, a good thing for a teacher to do is read. When it’s writin’ time, a good thing for a teacher to do is write.
Everyone with me on that one?
Let’s move on.
Every fifth hour M, T, R, F...the first fifteen minutes of seminar are meant for sustained, silent, writing. That means the kids don’t talk. They write. For fifteen minutes. They write about something, they write about nothing...but they write. What they write is their business. This is their one opportunity to write without the almighty red pen swooping down on their stuff and criticizing what they write. They can write in slang, morse code, Swahili or Pig Latin and their content is just that...THEIR content.
The whole idea is that, eventually, maybe some of them will get the idea, “Y’know...that writing stuff isn’t so bad.” Plus, the more you write...the better you tend to get at it. Once a week my students and I get together and share some of the stuff we wrote by reading it aloud. Of course the kids are told, that if they happened to write some thoughts down that are not school appropriate, then be sure to keep that log entry to themselves and do not pick that one to read aloud.
So, I do what a good teacher is supposed to do and model what I want the kids to do at the same time I ask the kids to do it. Even though I often want to check papers, clean my desk, get something ready for later...I put all that aside for 15 minutes and I write....just like I ask my kids to do.
Long ago I quit trying to write with a pencil. My pencil just doesn’t move fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. I compose on a keyboard these days. This year instead of composing on a word document, I have been composing on this here lovely free blog site. The idea being when I don’t write, I tend to stagnate creatively and what better motivation/learning experience to keep writing then to put my writing out there for the public to approve or disprove of. When I am done writing, I click post. Then a little pop-up window asks me if I want to let my facebook friends know I just created a blog post and I click “approve” then I go back to my work life as normal.
Well since my writings tend to be time stamped when they go online, apparently some community members felt the need to complain that some of the things I wrote appeared during school time and that some of it is school inappropriate. I did not post the items to a school related site. I did not tell the kids where they could find my school inappropriate stuff. In admittance of guilt, I have to say I did indeed have those thoughts I wrote about and I had them on school time. Damn me all to hell.
Here’s some facts for whoever is concerned:
1) I do not read the school inappropriate posts aloud in school with my students. Just like many of their thoughts get to stay private in their writing logs, I get to choose which audience gets to see my more PG 13 posts. A school setting is not the appropriate time and place to share those with students.
2) I am a grown ass man. I cuss. I drink. Neither do I make a habit of engaging in while I am at work. Did you think that part of becoming a teacher is that someone took a hot poker and burned out the parts of my brain that had school inappropriate thoughts? For the record, most upper high school students curse more than I do. That’s a fact.
3) I do not friend students on facebook nor on any other social networking site until after they have graduated for many reasons. Society considers them adults at that time and so I feel free to friend them from graduation on and even then, I only do it when they request it. Believe it or not, not all my ex-students want to be my friend on facebook. Go figure.
4) Once I post my thoughts on the internet, if you don’t want your kids to see the content...then it’s up to you to keep them from trying to find my content. By the way, if you think that my blog is the worst place your kid has ever found on the internet, then it is time for you to take a reality check. I am not spouting racist slurs, nor advocating suicide solutions. Last I checked, I am allowed to be funny and provocative on the internet and still be a teacher.
I am aware that some folks might be more comfortable with the idea that I come into school and present for their children the idea that I am a perfect human being. That I do no wrong inside school, nor outside school. That every time a student fucks up, I talk to them from my arrogant place on high and pretend that I have never lied, never messed up, and never made an ass of myself.
Yeah, that doesn’t work for me. I am imperfect and I don’t ever pretend to be anything other than who I am. Of course I take care to be professional at work, but I don’t ever try to put myself on a pedestal higher than the student. Make no doubt, I am in charge and I get the final say, but I think one of the reasons I have so few discipline problems with my students is because I do what I say and I don’t pretend to be who I am not. As some of the kids might say, I try to “be real.”
As a student there was nothing I hated more than a teacher who tried to be holier-than-thou M-F from 8:30-3:30...then I would see him trashed out of his mind night after night and cheating on his wife. From that point on, I didn’t believe a thing that teacher ever told me.
So basically, I tell kids outright that I behave differently in different environments as do we all, but I am still pretty much me. I don’t tell deer camp jokes at funerals and I don’t always say excuse me when I fart in my easy chair when I’m alone in my living room, but I’m still the same guy. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not, because it’s pretty easy to figure out when someone is full of shit in that department, and once kids figure out you are full of shit...good luck getting them to ever listen to you again.
So I guess, what I am saying is I try to be a good example to kids in and out of school because I like kids and my desire for my pupil-kids is the same as my desire for my biological daughter. If I have an impact on your life, I want it to be a positive one and heaven help me...I want you to have a better life than I have had.
Pretty simple stuff.
I also realize that some folks believe that 8:19-3:25 should always be solely devoted to teaching duties. I agree for the most part, but let it be known that I spend no less than half of my “duty free” lunch periods every week taking care of things for my kids at school. My average time of arrival at school is 7:30 a.m. in the first semester and 7:00 in the second semester. So if folks really want to split hairs about how I spend my time, I guess we can do that.
Maybe from now on I can get to school at 8:15 every morning and leave at 3:35 which is allowable according to my contract. Then I can lock my door at noon hour and ignore everything happening in the building until my “duty hours” begin again.
But I won’t do that. Why? Because I like kids. It means I’m going to show up tomorrow (Saturday) morning to help with the cross country meet. It means I’m going to teach students to the best of my ability even if it means reading “classic” literature over again during summer months. It means if a student wants to make up his test during noon hour or after school, or just wants to chat with me that’s okay, too. It means I will spend fourteen hours here in a single day during the track fundraiser. It means I will go to continuing education classes/meetings/seminars/conferences every year. I will be here for anything Paul asks me to be here for. I will be here for Halloween carnivals, blood drives, and tailgates. I will be behind the counter at basketball games keeping clock and all of it on my own time.
So, to conclude an entry that is far too long and far too boring for most of the regular visitors to my blog, whoever complained to my boss should have come to talk to me first. My email and contact number are on the school website and I do know it's the taxpayers who butter my bread. If you would have spoken to me first, I could have straightened everything out and explained exactly what my philosophies are about and how I do things. We more than likely could have resolved everything amicably. We may have agreed to disagree or we may have become friends. We'll never know, now. Instead, whoever it was decided just to complain to my boss without knowing his or her butt from a hole in the ground on the matter.
Hey, thanks for making my day a little bit shittier. Have a good weekend.
P.S. I am currently at home after using some comp hours while an installer works on my house. I hope it's okay with you that I am posting this on my blog during school hours even though I am at home. I have an idea for you. Try to look for something good our staff does instead of trying to nitpick. It's a lot easier to catch them doing good things if you are willing to look for it. On the other hand...hey..thanks for reading and keeping up to date on my blog!