I try very hard to keep it positive, but here are ten things in my professional life that I could do quite nicely without.
1. Drama. I know, I know; I work with teenagers, which means that drama is practically a prerequisite. I just wish that it wasn’t so profoundly disrupting. One good freak-out spills over into more spaces than it should. There’s nothing to be done about it, really – and all the adults in our community handle these things like the professionals they are – but it still bugs the crap out of me (and, if I’m going to be honest, it bothers me more because I can’t keep the kids from suffering at their own hands. I wish I could make it all better for them, and that’s what irks me the most).
2. Recalcitrant kids. You know what, Babies? Just do the damned work. Doing the work is MUCH easier than putting up with the shit we give you for not doing it; trust me.
3. Parents who make my job harder. There are so many things to add to this category that I’m just going to go ahead and let you fill in the blanks.
4. Other teachers who make my job harder. I understand that there are precious few bad teachers out there, and that sometimes the kids think things that the teachers never implied, but I still find myself having to un-teach a lot of negative habits and beliefs. What the HELL were they thinking when they told my kids that they couldn’t write, or that grammar and punctuation were more important than content, or that the five paragraph essay was the pinnacle of human expression?!
5. Viruses. Oh, dear Goddess, but the entire school is a hacking, feverish snot factory. I’m washing my hands like crazy, chanting hexes, and dousing every surface with Lysol. I WILL NOT GET SICK… I WILL NOT GET SICK…
6. Standardized tests. Look; if pretty much every ethical educator agrees that there’s almost nothing of value in standardized testing, then why the HELL do we still do it? We’re gearing up for the fall round of tests (math, and reading and writing; science happens in the spring) and I’m prepping my “taking a standardized test is exactly like playing a game” lesson yet again. Really, all I do is teach the kids how to read the questions; there’s nothing in these tests that asks these kids to demonstrate anything of value about who they are as students, so they may as well learn the “tricks” and play the game well.
7. Pointless workshops. I have to go halfway across the state tomorrow to attend an “orientation workshop” for a program that I’ve been involved in for the last two years. I don’t even get a meal out of it; I’ve been told to bring my own lunch. Yippee.
8. Printers. A student brought me this the other day, and I think it’s SPOT ON (particularly the part about not being able to print a black and white copy because the printer is out of magenta ink). GAH!
9. Crappy internet connections. I love the platforms that we use for our classes. I don’t love it when we can’t access them because the internet is being fussy. This becomes a bigger issue the more we rely on online communication and e-copies of materials.
10. Drama. This time, the drama is coming from an adult. It’s not that big a deal – this person is someone I don’t have to deal with very often – but every time I do, I leave the experience feeling drained and defensive. I need to figure out why that is and learn the counter-spell.