My Trashy Girlfriend: A Lesson on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll

My Trashy Girlfriend

I always believed that working at occupations other than teaching before I became a teacher was very beneficial. Doing other jobs helped me keep the joys, the challenges, and the frustrations of teaching in a manageable perspective. Those other jobs also gave me a rich background of examples to make my lessons more real and relatable. I’d recommend that all teachers get experience at things other than teaching before entering the field.

I’d done it all: bus boy; service station attendant; cab driver; construction laborer (a member of the Hod Carriers Union) and more and through all of it – professional musician. It was as a musician I learned something I later turned into life lessons for my kids. I learned that no matter how much you love your woman, when she gets banned from the biker bar where you are working you have to face it, “You’ve got a trashy girlfriend!”

Read more

The Two Worst Times

14 years oldHaving Trouble? Call Home!

Imagine I am a novice teacher. I’m having trouble with a student’s behavior. The kid is talking at inappropriate times, won’t take directions seriously – that sort of thing. Nothing dangerous, but still disruptive and/or disrespectful. I go to my principal (or my university professor) and explain the situation. What’s the first question they will ask? “Have you called home on the student?”

Calling home is the most often recommended behavior management tool we teachers are given. But I was (we are) never told what the given assumptions were with that advice. Nor was I told what to do if calling home didn’t produce any positive behavioral changes in the student.

Unspoken Assumptions

Read more

What Were They Thinking? Parents #3

Just Plain Crazy

I wrote about parents who are powerless with their children (Parents #1). I wrote about parents (and teachers) who seemed to be doing everything right and still their kids turned out evil (Parents #2). But what about the parents who seem to be just plain crazy?

[Disclaimer: Yeah. I know there are plenty of crazy teachers out there too and I wrote about one in What Happened To David but here we are talking about parents so keep an open mind and go with me a bit.]

Now I always try to keep an open mind when dealing with kids and their parents. You know my philosophy Watson, I believe that a teaching or parenting method that works for one might not work for someone else – that’s why I frequently recommend lots of different tools in the teacher’s toolbox. So, while it may be more than a bit judgmental and harsh to call someone crazy… there are times when I just had to shake my head in frustration and ask, “What were they thinking?”

Read more

Santa Claus or Satan?

Santa Claus wearing sunglasses dancing outdoors at North Pole in snowfall. He is celebrating Christmas after hard work

Santa Claus or Satan?

I told the class, “Your behavior controls my behavior.” I said, “You get to choose. Who do you want standing up here, Santa Claus or Satan? Santa Claus is a jolly, white-haired, old man who gives presents and grants favors. Satan is a mean guy who enforces the rules to the letter of the law without pity or consideration for your situation. Now who do you want standing up here?”

Read more

School Is Funky

School is Funky - Boy Holding NoseClassroom management can be disrupted by the funky nature of kids.

Yes, school is funky!  Now, I’m not talking about funky as in the syncopated stylings of a James Brown or a Tower of Power.  No, no dear friends.  I’m talking about the kind of funky that leaves sticky fingerprints all over the place, or smells bad, or leaves unpleasant stains on your clothes.  Hey, we’re dealing with human life at school and life is messy.

I’m bringing it up here because too many reform initiatives and criticism of teachers don’t take this funky human element into account.  Sometimes we teachers have to dress for the occasion, which can make us look a bit unprofessional or unfashionable.  I was lucky to have worked with some very conscientious plant managers but even the cleanest school can be an incredible source of dirt and funk.  I’ve already written about the time I found black mold in a book cupboard.  But we also get dirty dealing with dusty books and shelves, crawling around on the floor plugging in computers, projectors and TVs, or just cleaning up after the hoards of youngsters who storm through our classrooms on a daily basis.  Please remember, it takes time and energy to deal with the funk.  In an effort to save time when dealing with some of it, I invented the ‘Gum Museum’.  But before I tell you about the ‘Gum Museum’, let me give you some human background (which you may already know about but maybe haven’t considered from a classroom management perspective).

Read more

Every Child Can Learn?

7.28.14 Sax iStock_000028194066_SmallBlues singer Otis Spann once sang,

I tried to tell the city boy what to do,
But it looked like to me he just couldn’t learn.

‘…he just couldn’t learn.’  You might get away with saying that when singing the blues, but for teachers, we can never say a child can’t learn.  It’s considered giving up or politically incorrect (i.e. career suicide).  Just listen to politicians and highly paid administrators (most of whom have not spent much time in the classroom).  They’ll say with great confidence, “Every child can learn.”  What they don’t say (or won’t admit) is that although every child can learn, they might not learn what you want them to learn or they might not learn it as quickly as you want them to learn it (see what I wrote about Common Core).  To give you a taste of what I’m talking about, let me introduce you to Bennie.

Bennie was one of my darlings from the Special Ed. class I taught.

You may remember from an earlier post that I had taken a job as a long term substitute teacher for a Special Ed. class which was labeled ‘severely disabled’ (severe autism, Tourette’s syndrome, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and more).  These kids faced intense learning challenges.  I was teaching these adolescents things like: how to use a stove without burning themselves, how to use a public restroom safely, or how to count – very basic life skills.

Read more

Busted for Shouting!

8.6.15 Shout.jpegI got busted by the police for excessive force!

Yes, a cop… busted me!!! for excessive force.  And when law enforcement complains of a teacher using excessive force, you’d think, ‘Wow that teacher must be out of control.’  Or would you?

Officer Bradshaw was talking with the Principal out on the P.E. field when they heard shouting coming from outside a classroom.  They turned to see a white male teacher shouting at a black female student.  (Start the body camera now) Bradshaw turned on his ‘body cam’, he couldn’t make out what was being said but it was obvious that the teacher and the girl were yelling at each other.  Then they stopped yelling and stomped back into the classroom (stop the camera).

Outraged (and probably feeling like he had the moral high ground), Bradshaw turned to the Principal and demanded, “Is THAT how your teachers talk to your students?”  The Principal said, “I don’t know what that was about, but I will find out.”

So, of course, I heard about it that afternoon.  Before I could say a word in my defense, I was hearing phrases like, “I expect better things from you… Have you any idea how embarrassing that was… What were you thinking?” and more.  To which I protested, “You guys weren’t there.  I had to shout at that girl just to get a word in edgewise.  I was only following school policy but she refused listen.”  “So you had to shout?”  “Yes!”  And before the week was out, I was vindicated by the Principal’s own actions.

Read more

I Can Read Minds

I can read minds.  It’s a skill that’s helped me many times in the classroom.  I can teach it to you.  I even know what you’re thinking right now.  And I’ll be happy to tell you what you’re thinking after I tell you how I read minds at school.

I was teaching 7th grade math back in the early ‘90s.  Some days teaching middle school math can be like trying to control a room full of puppies with chew toys – they aren’t trying to be bad, they’re just full of crazy, uncontrollable energy.  It can be frustrating and I was frustrated.

Read more

English is Crazy

Maine Coon kitten and Labrador puppy on white background

I believe there is great benefit in learning to read, write, speak and understand English especially if you’re living in an English speaking country.  But my heart goes out to anybody who is trying to learn English as a second or third language.  English is a crazy language.  And if you really want to know how crazy English is, try teaching it!

Read more

I Saved A Life!

RACHEL, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 10: In front of the Little A'Le'Inn on November 10, 2013. An old tow truck hoists a UFO at the Little A'Le'Inn, which draws tourists from across the worldTeachers shape lives.  Teachers change lives.  And sometimes, teachers even save lives.  This is one of those stories.  Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s not about anything noble like taking a bullet or rushing into a burning building.  Nope.  Sorry.  It’s not about the day to day influence we exert that comes back to us years later when a former student lovingly says, “You helped me.”  No.  This is a story of how dumb luck and my Captain Bligh routine literally saved a kid’s life!

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: