If only…

we could write contract language like this!

One of my colleagues at school wrote this so I could get a laugh.  She is the band director and extremely bright and clever.  I shared it with my bargaining buddies and now I’ll share it with you.

Proposal for Teacher Contract – Verbal Abuse

Any teacher subjected to verbal abuse by a student will be compensated as shown on the schedule below.  This will include being called these words, or having to listen to them used in the workplace.  In any situation where the student is a repeat offender, the compensation will be multiplied by the number of total teachers that student has abused within the school year.
Stewards will keep records of teacher abuse that will be used in calculations.

Compensation to be paid at the end of each year, after the number of abused teachers is known for multiplying purposes.  Administrators concerned with limiting budget liability may wish to arrange on-line homeschooling for such offenders.

Compensation for Vocabulary Abuse, each instance
(word combinations to be added together; see below)

$100 words

$250 words
“c-cksucker” or “c-cksucking”
“f–k” or “f–king”
“motherf—er” or “motherf—ing”

addition of any racial identifier, gender slur, or sexual preference slur to any of the terms above $100

Compensation Math for Popular Combinations

example: “F–king B—ch” = 250+ 250 = $500
example: “c-cksucking motherf–ker” = 250 + 250 = $500
example: “F–king White B—ch” = 250+ 100 + 250 = $600

Alternative Tenure Program

Upon being called “F—ing White B–ch” or “C—sucking Motherf—er”, probationary teachers will automatically receive tenure AND a district sweatshirt.

Tenured teachers will be bumped up the salary scale one step for each three abuses directed at them, AND receive a district window-cling decal.

If they run out of steps, inservice credits on vocabulary development will be furnished to advance them to the next lane.  If they run out of lanes, the district will pay for them to take early retirement.

Thank you for considering this proposal.

Hopefully you’re laughing at this.  But at the same time, there is quite a bit of truth to it.  We don’t get compensated for verbal abuse.  But if we did, I wonder if there would be more of an effort to deal with the poor language and ultimately, the verbal abuse that actually does take place.

Thank you AMP for laugh and writing such an entertaining proposal!


Parental Concerns

Parents have lots of concerns about kids in school these days. There’s a lot in the news about bullying.  Much of that talk has been spear-headed by the GLBT community.  GLBT teens are so often the target of these bullies.  I’m lucky in that my district is ahead of the curve on that one.  I see openly gay teens all the time and it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to the rest.

But what if your school is in an area where the crime rate is higher?  What if your school has a higher percentage of kids that have experience in and around the system?  Just the other day I had a call from the office to send a student down.  His probation officer was there.  Whatever this kid has done in his past, he’s been just fine in class.   I’ve had plenty of other kids with probation officers in the past.  We’ve had kids that have come from far-away cities with records that they are trying to escape.

We’ve had things happen in our neighborhood.  Several years ago there was a police officer killed at a bar nearby while he was undercover.  We were on a modified lock-down while the police were tracking down his killer.  There was a rape of a middle school girl within 2 blocks of my school.  There have been stories in the news of various crimes where we find out that the perpetrator attended a program in our school at some point.

I know there’s a law that says we are supposed to be notified when we have a potentially dangerous student.  But in my 15+ years of teaching, I’ve never been notified.  I have a feeling that I probably should have been several times.

For the most part, things go very well.  It’s amazing what is accomplished in my building with all of these undercurrents.  We still manage to teach and get a lot accomplished.  But it’s getting harder.  The issues that they have these days are more difficult.  Their problems are more severe.  It used to be that when you treated students with respect, they would in turn treat you with respect.  Now they don’t even know what that is.  They don’t treat their parents and other adults with respect, so they’re not inclined to automatically treat their teachers that way.  I was having this conversation with my mother today.

My mother is a wise woman.  We have many conversations about teaching.  She’s a retired ECFE teacher and in retirement she volunteers as a guardian ad litem.  In her guardian work, she’s the one that makes the decision if parents are able to keep parental rights or they are discontinued.  She knows her stuff.

So while we were talking this afternoon and I was describing things happening at school these days.  What does she ask me?  “Do you have any mace that you could keep in your desk?”


The thought has never occurred to me.  I don’t even know if it’s legal.  But if my own mother is asking me that, what should the parents of my kids be thinking?

My Latest Reads…

I got my nook about a year ago.  I love it!  I would much rather read than watch television.   I originally got the nook so I could save space and quit accumulating all of these books that I love.  That strategy has worked.  But I’m probably getting more books than I typically would.  Oh well…

Every once in a while I get on a non-fiction kick.  I just finished “That Used to Be Us” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum.  I won’t attempt to summarize it.  But it is definitely worth reading.  Any young person these days has their work cut out for them.  The competition is fierce for everything that they will do and they have no idea that it’s coming.  I’m pretty much on the left side of the political fence, but the authors make a very good case for what’s wrong with our government and how out of whack it has become.

Since I go to Barnes & Noble every Sunday after church, I thought I’d try to read a book in the store for free for an hour each Sunday.  I started reading  Rob Lowe’s autobiography, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” about a month ago.  I only lasted about 4 weeks until I broke down and bought it.  The idea of reading his book never crossed my mind until I saw a lady reading it in my dentist’s office.  But honestly, I was one of those teenagers that went to movies just because he was in them.

For some reason, I was surprised at how entertaining and read-able this book was.  The stories of his career and various people he has worked with and has met were really interesting.  I think we all have our own stories about becoming comfortable in our own skin.  He goes through the same things that many of us experience, but it’s on an entirely different scale.  I’m not going to give away the book, but I will tell you that it’s worth the read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What’s up next?  I downloaded The Hunger Games a long time ago.  I should read that.  I’m not sure when the mood will strike me.  So many books…  So little time…

Not Enough Room in the Front

I have a problem.  I need to make some new seating charts over the weekend.  It’s time to change things up. So here’s the issue.  Between the kids that can’t see, the kids that need to be up front to focus and the ones that just want to be up front, there’s not enough room.

Seating charts are always tricky.  I’m always asking myself who would work well with whom, which friends to a keep apart, how far can I put the talkers away from each other, which smart kid can I pair with a not-so-smart kid, and so on.  Seating charts are a regular part of every teacher’s classroom management.   When I teach my Pre Calculus classes, I do let them select their seats.  At that point, they should be mature enough to make a wise seating choice.  But to make sure, we do have that conversation.  But with my current Algebra 2 classes, seating charts and their change-ups is a regular part of the gig.

One positive is that the kids that need to be up front to focus and do better, realize they need to be up front and want to be up front.  I think it’s great that they recognize this and want to do well.  But I still need room for the kids with vision issues.

One class period this week I had one student sitting by my computer so he could see what I was writing on the Promethean Board.  He can watch the computer screen and see what I’m writing as it’s happening, within 2 feet of the screen.  That same class period, I had two students standing by my front counter, off to the side, taking notes.  One had forgotten his glasses.  The other has glasses, but they are broken and she needs to order new contacts.

There are a lot of kids that want to do well and like sitting in the front.  It’s easier to see, hear and participate.  I only have a few kids in each class that need to be separated because they can’t resist talking to each other.  For the most part, that’s a minor issue.

So who do you put in the back? My rationale has been to put the kids that I trust back there.  Also, the ones that are frequently truant get relegated to the back.  If you’re not going to be here every day and take your education seriously, you don’t get a primo spot.

It’s encouraging that there are so many that want to be in the front.  But what I really wish is that these kids with vision issues could get the glasses they need so they wouldn’t have another of the many obstacles to success in front of them.

How Many People Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

In a school?  Well, actually the answer is one.  The more pertinent question is: How long did it take for said lightbulb to get changed?  Three and a half weeks. 

What’s so special about this bulb?  It’s in a Promethean projector.  Yes, it costs a few hundred buckaroos just for a bulb.  So it’s a big deal when the bulb goes out.  But the bigger deal is deciding who is going to take responsibility for these technological wonders.  If you have someone change the bulb that isn’t a certified technician, the warranty is void.  So you can’t just have anybody change the bulb.  Hence, the wait.

Today, after a lot of phone calling and demanding, someone came out to change the bulb.  The bulb had been in the building for about a week.  Some special light-bulb-changer-dude had to come out and do the 5 minute job.  It involved unscrewing a couple of screws, taking the old bulb out and putting the new one in.  Because of the shape and the casing, it sounds like changing the bulb is pretty idiot-proof.  One of our teachers looked up online how to do it, and it seems pretty easy.

The other topper to the story…  The teacher had to stop teaching and let the bulb-changer-dude change the bulb in the middle of a class.  Yes kiddos, we interrupt your regularly scheduled program to change a light bulb.

Being a Professional

When you look up the word profession in the dictionary, it says something about a career requiring an advanced degree.  The majority of my colleagues don’t just have a BA.  They’ve got Master’s degrees in various educational areas.  We take our jobs seriously and put in the time it takes to get the job done.

Once again, we are facing the fact that the higher-ups want to micro-manage our day.  Two years ago I wrote a post about my work day.  It’s worth a re-post.

The Beauty of Ambiguity – November 27, 2009

As a math teacher, I always try to clear. I communicate my expectations to my students. I use multiple representations for math concepts. I repeat myself over and over. When teaching, one needs to be extremely direct and very clear. But in some situations, being vague works to your advantage.

The one area of my job that is rather ambiguous is my work day. My day is expected to begin 15 minutes prior to my first class and can end 15 minutes after the students leave. What is the reality? I arrive 40 minutes prior to my students, which is before 7am, and I leave anywhere between 3 and 5pm. On Sundays I can spend a little time or a lot of time prepping for the week. It often depends on what classes I’m teaching as to how much time I work on Sunday. The point I’m trying to make, is that even though I’m not required to be in the building and working a full 8 hours per day, I definitely put in the time.

Of the over 3000 teachers in my district, we all put in this kind of time. We do it because we are professionals and we care about kids. In other districts, teachers are required to be in their buildings for 8 hours.  My required “in the building” time is not 8 hours.  It is understood that even though I’m not required to be in that location, I will put in the time to get the job done well.

Why aren’t we required to be in the building for exactly 8 hours?  Years ago, teachers fought for this “undefined” day.  We are professionals.  We get it done.  The benefits of this kind of set-up are much more than the powers that be realize.

Don’t we all know that we set high expectations and lo and behold, they get met?  When we are treated like professionals instead of clock punching hourly employees, the expectation is that you will put in whatever time is necessary.  And guess what?  It happens.

By this point in my life, I’ve figured out where and when the most I’m productive.  For me, I’m productive after school and I tend to get more done when I’m there.  But if it’s 90 degrees and humid in my room, I’m not going to stay in that building, being miserable just to work there.  On the same note, if it’s the dead of winter and they’ve turned the heat down and I’m freezing while sitting at my desk and entering grades, I’m heading home and doing it there.  If I’m at home and I’ve been ruminating over some teaching idea, I can work it out there.  I don’t have to go into work to do my job.  And as every teacher knows, your job and responsibilities are always in the back of your mind.  The only time I am completely free of that is summer vacation.

But even when you are on your own time you’re finding ways to learn and improve yourself.  Many teachers spend time in the summer (or on weekends and evenings) taking classes.  After school we’re going to professional development on our own time to become better at our jobs.  So any argument that we’re not putting in the time, is not going to hold water.

I would hate to see the benevolent attitude of our teachers change because we went to a specified work day.  And I think it would.  We are very giving of our time, but it’s on our terms and it needs to stay that way.  The one thing that we do have control over is where and when we are doing all of the extra hours that it takes to prepare and doing the work of educating our kids.  In this case, ambiguity is a wonderful thing.

It’s not me, it’s you!

I have kind of a love/hate relationship with my treadmill. I love the fact that I’ve got it and I don’t need to go anywhere to exercise. It’s even easy to exercise while reading. I hate the fact that it’s imperative that I use it. Often. Once I get in decent shape, I actually like it. But when I’m not? It sucks.

A few years ago. Ok… I guess it was six years ago. The treadmill was stuck on an incline of 10. All I could do was walk on it. I was dating an engineer-type guy at the time and he fixed it for me. Once again, I could run.

I usually run with an incline of 3. During the bathroom project I had to fold up the treadmill so Mr Contractor could move the vanity out to tile the floor. After the vanity was moved back in, I could use the treadmill again. When I tried to fold it up again, it wasn’t quite lining up. I just put it back down and didn’t think much of it.

After the Oregon trip I ran a few times before I had to get my stitches. I had one helluva time! I kept thinking, “I cannot have lost all of my endurance so quickly!” I thought I was completely out of shape.

Turns out, it wasn’t me. It was the treadmill. It said it was on an incline of 3, but it was probably at a 6 or 7. No wonder I was having a hard time! I had tried to lower it before. I was actually jumping up and down while I was pushing the button to lower it. Yes, it presents an interesting picture… In order to get it down, I raised the incline all the way up to 10 and then lowered it back down. Note to self: that is how to fix it.

Ever since I found out that it really wasn’t me, I’ve been doing about 4 miles at a shot each time I’m on the thing. I actually do a combo of running and walking. But it amounts to about an hour workout.

I’m probably never going to be any kind of distance runner. But at least I can now use the treadmill and feel good at the end of a workout!