WTF Wednesdays #10

This week’s WTF Wednesdays is going to be a rant of sorts. It’s not going to be humorous, and some readers may not enjoy this one as it’s not my usual satire, but it needs to be said.
This rant will be focused on two of my biggest current pet peeves on the topic of education-my chosen career.

Ignorant, Biased, Uneducated Opinions 

I’ve always been the type to speak my mind and to stand up for what is right. I’ve not always been perfect at doing this. Sometimes my voice isn’t loud enough, or I speak too late, or too soon. Sometimes what I really need to do is bite my tongue, but that tastes of blood and defeat, and those don’t agree with my stomach.

Ask any close friend or colleague (hell, anyone who’s my friend on Facebook), and they will tell you I have strong opinions, and I generally speak them.

As a teacher, this kind of outspokenness can literally mark a bullseye on your back. The general consensus in the teaching world is that you keep your strong opinions out of social media discussions and elsewhere. What this translates to me is that teachers should just do what they’re told and to not rock the already capsizing boat.

For someone with a mega mouth, this can be almost impossible to do. When I read the comments section on a story related to education, and I see some ignorant spouting garbage, it takes the power of the gods to ignore it and not respond with the wrath of Zeus.

I know that the state of education in the U.S. needs a lot of work, but until you’re a teacher/have done your homework and done it well/know exactly what life is like as a teacher, kindly sit down.

The very fact that teachers have to defend themselves and their careers against unfounded and ludicrous presumptions is sickening. Until teachers are paid what they’re worth, are treated with respect and regard (we are only molding the minds of our future, no big), and we are allowed to be the ones to make the big, policy-making decisions about what we know best, education in the United States won’t improve.

I was reading the comments section on a We Are Teachers article, and one teacher said that teachers need to stop referring to teaching as a calling, as it creates the illusion that it’s more akin to pledging our undying devotion to being a nun instead of it being a paid career. I couldn’t agree more.

You Can’t Win 

It’s a tumultuous time to be an educator, because we don’t really value education as a society. It’s a nice idea, but when it takes from our pocketbooks, it’s a burden. As such, there is never enough funding.

Teaching, support, and admin positions are being cut all across the district where I teach. Amidst these cuts is a new reading law that requires reading specialists and highly effective teachers. Yet, the specialist positions are the first to go at schools losing teachers. Truly highly effective teachers can’t make the grade anymore due to new, near-impossible evaluation criteria.

If a student in my district isn’t reading by third grade, they can be held back and must be placed in a classroom being taught by a teacher rated as highly effective. Due to the new evaluation criteria, there won’t be any highly effective teachers (well, there are, and there will be, but not on paper).

Hmm.

As a teacher at a struggling school, I have to make the decision about how I will teach my students, with the knowledge that high stakes tests and other classroom assessments will ultimately be how I am evaluated and paid. I do not agree with teaching to the test, as it merely prepares students to take tests and not life. However, if I do not prepare my students enough for these assessments, I am left being the one losing out.

It is a painful Catch-22.

So, in preparing my students for the high-stakes tests they will be taking, the very tests that will be considered in how my school is rated and, in turn, how I’ll be evaluated, I wonder how well the student making fart noises during our practice test will do.

In essence, my livelihood is dependent on how well little people who still eat their boogers do on tests. That is terrifying.

And, we wonder why education is failing and teachers are leaving in droves.

Despite all of this, I care deeply for my students, my fellow teachers in arms, and education. I will be an advocate for change. It is time for teachers to start speaking out, standing up for themselves, and working to make the changes that we all know need to be made.

Even though the very act of speaking my mind about my own career is a precarious thing to do, I won’t be silenced. I won’t.

Check out this video on YouTube:

The Happy Teacher Challenge

A couple weekends ago, my teacher friend and I engaged in a fun day of learning on a Saturday. I had to get up at 6:30 on a Saturday and had to put on a bra and makeup on my day off. I totally did not have a shot of whiskey in my coffee or a super sugary filled donut for breakfast. 

One of the break out sessions we signed up for was all about Social Emotional Learning for the educator. They sold the class like we would learn skills to feed our souls and regenerate our purpose. 

Pretty quickly, we called bullshit. 

After reading an article that stated my teacher burnout was due to my low social emotional intelligence, I pretty much mentally checked out.  

At the end of the session, we were handed a gorgeous color copy (you know you’re a teacher when a piece of paper has more value solely due to it being printed in color) of The 30 Day Happy Teacher Challenge. 

We looked at each other like, “Holy shit, yes!” 

We both need more happiness in our lives in regards to our school year, so we were so down for the challenge. 

That is, until we actually read the “challenges”. 

Double lame with some “fuck that” sprinkled on top is what this challenge consisted of. 

Most of the “challenges” are things I do every single day, because they are what good teachers, who have a solid pedagogy, do. And, some of them, like assigning an exit ticket (one or two questions to gauge understanding) depress the ever-loving crap out of me a lot of the time.  

When we saw, “Happy Teacher Challenge”, we both thought it had to involve alcohol, days off, and lots of chocolate. Not one of those things are included. 

For shame.

Here’s the challenge:


I blurred out the copyright name, because I don’t want to shame this teacher. I’m sure they meant well, but, well, just, no. 

So, after being utterly disappointed and underwhelmed, I decided to make my own “Happy Teacher Challenge”. 

In case there are any fuddy-duddies reading this, or people who have not one ounce of humor, know this is satire. It’s not literal. 

I’m not fancy and also have way too much shit to do, so I didn’t make this into a pretty calendar, so you get a list. Quityerbitchin. 

1. Pull a trusted colleague aside to whisper all of those ‘fucks’ to that you have been holding in.

2. Have your students partner up and organize a section of your room. Call it OCD: Beginner’s Edition, or just Life Skills.
3. Finally strike up a conversation with the idiot who keeps jamming the copier and leaving it for someone else to deal with. Getting how you feel off your chest first thing in the morning will make you feel ready to tackle a day of holding in how you feel all over again.

4. Spend your entire prep period sending teacher memes to your teacher friends. These might be especially apropos:


Michael Scott knows! 

5. Take a short walk down to the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for a much-needed soda during lunch. When everything but Dasani water is sold out, take another short walk to your car where you have a nice, little scream.
6. Calm yer tits, paper. Organize the stacks of papers on your desk labeled “to be graded” by sweeping them into the garbage can. They’ll just end up crumpled around a moldy bag of apples in the back of their desk anyway, so…

7. Think of a student who is always well behaved and really smart. Pick them to lead your math lesson for a day.

8. Fill out a staff appreciation for your fellow teacher in arms. Luckily you have a really good one this time: “Mr. Walton is a real star for cleaning the word, ‘sex’ off of the boys’ bathroom wall during his only break last Tuesday”.

9. Buy this shirt for yourself (and wear it to school immediately upon receiving it):zyrwrgt

Buy here

10. Take an Ambien and a nap under your desk during lunch.

11. Ask your students to draw a portrait of you, and laugh all the way to the wine aisle at your nearest liquor store.

12.Download a fun desk planner, attempt to laminate it, and when the laminator is broken AGAIN, just buy one on Amazon.

13. Bribe your custodian with a Starbucks gift card so that they will keep providing you with those paper ass gaskets. When you share a bathroom with 20+ eight- and nine-year-olds, they make all the mental difference.

14. Make a very serious effort to smile more. Even while saying, “It goes in the turn in basket” for the nine billionth time. Bonus: your excessive smiling with creep them out.

15. Take a goofy picture with your students-it’s super cute. Just crop out the kid throwing up gang signs.

16. Do a compliment circle with your students to start your morning. Maybe they’ll notice your new Kate Spade earrings or overly-expensive Tieks that they’ll scuff after three days. 

17. It’s Life Skills day again! Provide a Swiffer duster and a push vacuum, and they will actually want to clean the room.

18. Play some Enya, add some lavender essential oil to your diffuser and transport yourself during Guided Reading. Hey, it’s better than nodding off. Calgon, take me away!

19. Drink your double espresso out of your World’s Okayest Teacher mug, and remind yourself that you are doing your very best, dammit. 

412u4j8o7yl

But it here

20. Make time to sit on your fat arse at the end of day. In fact, make time to sit accompanied by a glass of wine, loaded nachos, and some Netflix. Getting up 20 times a day from the kidney table counts as exercise. Thighs of steal, man. Thighs.of.steel.

21. Bring home the contraband notes they write to each other that you find on a daily basis. Laugh over their spelling choices and sweet innocence with a glass of wine and your dwindling sanity. Math sux bols! 

22. Organize your files on your teacher computer with fun new folder names like, “Important Shit”, “Crap I Will Never Look At Again”, and “Bullshit I Have to Deal With”. 

23. Share passwords to Teachers Pay Teachers, HBO Go, Discovery Ed, Match, and Flocabulary. Sharing is caring. 

24. Encourage students to bring cupcakes for their birthdays. It’ll create positive memories for them and you won’t have to fund your cupcake habit. But, store-bought only, and remind them not to forget the Capri Sun (organic tropical punch pairs nicely with a good white cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting). 

25. Bring a bottle of wine to weekly planning with your grade level. Watch how your lesson plans are utterly transformed.

26. Download a countdown app and set the date for the next school break. Watch the seconds count down as you get closer and closer to freedom. 


Get the same app here.
27. Do you work with an overly harried colleague who needs some “chill the fuck out” time? Buy them this mug, if they have a sense of humor, it’ll make their year:


Buy it here

Don’t forget to include some mini booze bottles and a couple Xanax. Bonus: You basically own them now. 

28. Make sure you plan “Coffee/Wine Bitch Hours” with your teacher friends. These people and the moments you spend commiserating is a huge part of why you might remain sane during your career. 

29. DON’T assign an exit ticket so that you can briefly, blissfully believe your students understood what you were going on about for 40 minutes.

30. Stand at the door and give your students a high five as they leave for the day, knowing you don’t have to see them for another 18 hours.

So, what do you think of the challenge? Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments. 

Hello, My Name is Fertie McCerpcerks

So, I was totally meaning to share my beautiful school picture with ya’ll months ago, but being a teacher, tutor, and have-to-do-everything-during-the-holidays-freak kind of distracted me. 

I’m excited for the holiday break coming up. Maybe I’ll find some inspiration to write some little ditties (is that how that’s spelled? It kind of looks like a dirty word to me…no?)

Anyway.

So, way back in the beginning of the school year, was one of my most favorite days ever. 

I mean, I get up early and actually do my hair for this momentous day. 

I pick out a special outfit that I hope will say, “I’m a teacher, but that doesn’t mean I’ve resigned myself to denim jumpers and solid white orthopedic shoes”. 

I make sure my eyebrows are on fleek. Or, at least, they’re laying in the right direction. 

I.get.up.early. Did I already mention that part?

Unless you’re a skimmer (and you missed that part) or you’re shit at comprehending what you read, I’m talking about picture day. 

So, I hate picture day. 

I am not the most photogenic of people, and there’s something just downright evil about school pictures. 

Maybe it’s the lighting. Maybe it’s the ridiculous glamour shot poses they make you sit in. Maybe it’s just that I look like a tool when I fake smile. 

Because my eyes always look like two, tiny, beady little assholes smashed into fat cheeks, I decided to wear my hipster glasses.

This was my ultimate downfall- I just didn’t know it when I was trying to make myself look half decent. 

After my super awesome “modeling” sesh this last spring, I learned some tricks of the trade. I fully planned on incorporating what I learned so that I didn’t get lost in my chins like every effing year. 

So, I started out with jutting my chin out like an utter idiot as my first trick. After that I firmly planted my tongue against the back of my teeth. 

Then, I waited for the already-over-it photographer to take my first ever decent school picture. 

He snapped once, checked out his work, and then shook his head, disapprovingly. 

“Your glasses are creating a huge glare. It’s going to feel weird, but I need you to put your head down, look up, and stick your chin out by straining your neck forward.”

I almost just said, “Actually I’ll just take the glare”, but I did what I was told like a good teacher.

Want to know what it looks like when you  are jutting your chin down, but out, as you look up, expectantly, all the while holding in a gnarly fart?

Well, this is what that looks like:


HOW YOU DOIN

I give up trying to take a decent school pic. 

My eyes still look beady and my forehead looks six inches tall.

I look like I’m 12 years old. 

I look like I have a naughty secret. 

I look like I’m holding in a fart (well, I guess I really was). 

I’m so excited that this will be included in the school’s teacher and faculty photo page for everyone at school to see. So excited.

Well, now the whole world (at least my followers) get to see it first. 

Today I got some mini stickers, so I can share my derp face with family and friends. 

Oy vey. 

5 Reasons Why I’m Failing at Adulting


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1.When my students do or say something turdly, really, just once, want to say, “I know you are, but what am I?” I know… but it would be so awesome to give them a little dose of the ridiculous excuses/responses/attitudes they give me every.single.day.


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2. Every year when I renew my car registration, I don’t put the new sticker on my license plate until I get pulled over. It’s like tradition. It is just so hard and takes too much effort to wipe the dust and grime off of my license plate and place the new sticker over the 10 that are already there, about to fall off. Pure unadulterated laziness.


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3. Every month, since I was 11 (why, God?) Aunt Flo has visited. One would think that after three decades of this ridiculousness, I would know to be prepared. Yet, every month, I ruin a pair of panties and I have to waddle into the store, with an entire roll of toilet paper wrapped around the crotch of my underwear.


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4. I love to wait until the bitter end before a credit card payment is due. That way, the extra money I was planning on using to pay down some of the debt can be used to buy new shoes or way too many Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccinos far before I have to make the payment. Winning.


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5. I buy bananas for one sole purpose: I like to watch things slowly wither and die. For what other purpose do bananas serve? I sure as hell never eat them.


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Decision Made

Well, I did it. I sent the email declining the job offer. Before anyone tells me I just lost an incredible opportunity, let me first be clear about a few things:

1. I’ve learned throughout this process that I need to stop taking to heart how others feel when what I really need to be doing is listening more intently to my own beat.

2. It’s really fucking expensive to move to another country, and until you know my finances intimately, you don’t really know. You know?

I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s really, really hard to make such a huge decision when left and right you’re told that money doesn’t matter, or that you’re wussing out because you don’t want to be going down the road to bankruptcy town. All of my young adult years I went about my business as if money didn’t matter and it led to serious problems. I cannot continue down that path.

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Decisions-Not My Forte

Happy Friday Eve, beautiful people.

This past Monday I was offered a teaching position at a school in Surrey. Surrey in freaking ENGLAND.

I can’t even put into words how I felt, but I can say, it was a mix of insane excitement and utter fear.

The rest of this week I have been a mess of decision-making-crazy.

Most of you are probably wondering what decision I even have to make. HELLO? ENGLAND?

Well, after several email correspondences, I have been given my final salary offer, and well…

I am disappointed to say the least.

I had wrongly assumed that the cost of living would be pretty relative to here in the U.S. and that is just plain not the case. The cost of flats in Southern England is astronomical. I mean, twice the cost of apartments in my area. For me, paying half of the rent, the costs I am looking at are more than three times what I am currently paying.

This wouldn’t be too horrible except for the fact that I will be taking a $3000 pay cut. What is absolutely insane is that the salary they offered me was incredibly generous and a HUGE step up from what I am currently making, but with the high tax amount taken out, I will be paid significantly less.

I don’t even know what to say.

I will have to some more crunching of numbers, but so far, it isn’t looking good.

Because I am someone who thinks with their heart and far too often I am idealistic in how I view the world, I had assumed that I could move to a different country, do the same work I do here, and it would work swimmingly. Well, that is not the real world. Not even close.

Not only am I a heart-thinker, I am also one who has a lot of debt and minimal savings.

Just to get my fat ass and my few possessions across the pond it will cost a fortune. And I am a broke as a joke teacher.

It isn’t over yet, I may be able to figure something out (like, maybe I can sell a kidney).

So, now I ask you all, what would you do? Would you go into further debt to move to another country? Would you be OK with being seriously broke just to experience another culture? Would you live well under your normal comfort zone in order to experience a serious adventure?

I need opinions and maybe some moral support. Something. Anything.

 

 

 

Keen-An Update and a Request

Hello, fabulous blog buddies. I have a Skype interview with a school in England. The email I received said they were, “very keen” to interview me. This just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I love the word ‘keen’ and seeing that, very British, word just reminds me of why I am working on moving there. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH.

OK, I am better now.

Now, for the update…Go Fund Me will match my donations up to $100 for Teacher Appreciation week. The catch is that I have to have at least $100 donated by five different donors before May 13th.

If you all could share my post or just get the word out about what I am trying to accomplish, I would be very grateful. I hate asking for money (and I am still questioning my decision to even continue pushing my agenda), but this is a great opportunity that I can’t not at least try to participate in. Many, many thanks.

Here is my link:

U.K. or Bust

Go ‘F’ Me?

Happy Hump Day (Wednesday, you sickos). I got some good news yesterday. I guess I won’t muck about dragging out the preamble, so, guess what? I was just awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England. This means I am qualified to teach in maintained and non-maintained schools across England. I was also made exempt to serve the statutory induction period. To my American readers, this means that I do not have to go through the probationary period upon landing a job.

Basically, I was freaking excited yesterday, and today I am feeling overwhelmed. This status means nothing more than I am qualified to apply for a teaching job. I still have to apply and then there is the visa issue. The sell-my-car-and-possessions issue. The seriously-am-I-considering-leaving-my-amazing-school?-issue. The this-will-be-expensive-as-crap-issue. The can-I-really-move-abroad-by-myself?-issue.

This is big.

Also, this may not even happen until next year. A whole year. The thing with teaching is that once you commit to teaching a year at a school, and you meet your class, you can’t exactly just up and leave. There are children to consider. Consistency. Doing what is right. So, if this doesn’t happen for this school year, I will have to wait an entire school year to try to make it happen again.

Le sigh. 

In my excitement, I made a Go Fund Me page. I know. To some, this may seem in poor taste. Asking for money is tacky and I am the first one to think, “Come again?” when I see bloggers with the “Go Fund Me” link on their page, so readers can fund their writing. We all would like to be paid for our writing, but that doesn’t mean that we should. Or does it? I am beginning to understand why people ask for donations. Why the hell not?

Stupid people ask for the dumbest shit on Go Fund Me. I would LOVE for someone to pay off all of my irresponsible debt, but that doesn’t mean that anyone should. I would LOVE a pair of Louboutins (actually, no, I wouldn’t. I look like an idiot walking in heels and my feet are in agony after 5 minutes, but you get the point), but people asking for money for expensive heels should maybe just get a freaking job (then they will, maybe, realize that they can pay their rent instead).

However, I am asking for donations to fund my furthering career of teaching the future. I think that is a much more reasonable request than, say, needing money for pizza (although, needing pizza is a very real struggle).

 

I will make this happen regardless if I get a single donation or not. If I get a donation, I will feel like the luckiest, happiest girl in the world. I will also forever be grateful to whoever feels the need to help support my venture with their money.

With that, I will end with a picture of my editor/life coach/friend’s “Grandma Jeans”. In helping to assure me that I made the right decision with the Go Fund Me, she sent me a picture of her sexy jeans. She said, “Some would call these ‘in poor taste’, but until someone wants to take me on a shopping spree, I am rocking these jeans”. Or, something like that.

Mom Jeans

I was given permission to share these bad boys, don’t you fret.

 

gofund.me/U-K-orBust

 

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

We (as in my students and I) have been learning about the 13 British colonies and the road to revolution. Yesterday, we read about the Stamp, Tea, Sugar, and Quartering Acts. “No taxation without representation”, yo.

A colleague suggested playing a game that would entail taxing our students for certain things, like using a piece of paper, eating an apple, borrowing a pencil, etc. Each tax would fall under the acts they learned about: Stamp: “Pay me for that paper and the holes on the LEFT for the umpteenth time!”; Tea: “You want a drink of water? Pay up!”; Sugar: “Do you really think you need to eat graham crackers right after lunch? Well, then you are gonna pay.”; Quartering: “You wanna move to see the process grid? Well, it’s gonna cost.”

Can you already tell that this was way too much fun for me? Oh, it gets way better.

*evil laugh*

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U.K. or (Literally) Bust

Loch Ness

Friends, I hardly ever ask for help. OK, that is a boldfaced lie. I ask for it all the time in the form of comments over at Shopper Lottie. However, this is different. For some time (like, 10 years), I have wanted to move abroad (get in line, sister). I have always had a crazy love affair with the U.K. and since visiting way back in 2010, I have never been able to forget about my one, true love.

For those who don’t know, I am at teacher in the U.S. I teach 3rd grade. I would love to be able to do something similar somewhere, anywhere in the U.K. I have friends in Scotland, so that would probably be preferable. I have heard that the education system is really very different when comparing England with Scotland, so one may be possible and the other out of my reach. I really don’t know.

I have contacted a couple of agencies, but the wait to hear a response is making me certifiably insane. I am not even sure they are legit or the correct way to go about this. HELP.

Long story short, can someone familiar with these parts give me any information they have that could help me in my endeavor? Even better, does anyone have connections that would better enable me to have even the slightest chance to attempt to live one of my dreams?

My loving thanks in advance.