Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School

So it's about two weeks since I've been back to school, and one week since other sane people have been back to school.  So what?  I can still write this post.  People can save it for next year - I'm sure they'll remember.  In fact, I know they will, because it will have that much of a reality-altering effect on their lives.

Anyway, here is a helpful list for first-year teachers who are just crawling into their trenches.  These things should prevent them from choking on some of the dirt that will fall into their mouths:

1.  A desk calendar, preferably one that costs you $1.50 at the nearest baseline supply store as opposed to the ones Staples tries to sell for literally more than ten times that amount.
2.  A grade book.  Don't expect your school to give you one.  That would be like getting dental insurance with you health insurance -- a minor miracle.
3.  Black, blue, red and green pens. Some teachers don't use red pens for corrections.  I do.  Because life does not correct in soothing green ink.  And when they've had me comment on something in their essays seven times, and they're still doing it wrong, I want them to get the idea that it is, in fact, wrong.  If they get the idea that the red in my ink is from the blood of innocent kittens, all the better.
4.  Duct tape.  It does fix everything, including (and I know this from experience), their desks, your desk, their chairs, your chairs, their books, light fixtures, and the broken, spikey edges of cork boards.
5.  Pain medication.  I'm not even remotely joking.  800 mg. of ibuprophen. 
6.  Emergency candy.  This is always for you, never, ever for them.  Unless you want that kind of circus unleashed upon yourself or other teachers.
7. Pencils.  Because your students never have them. I actually had one girl tell me, when I asked her why she didn't have anything to write with, "Isn't it your job to give us that?"  To which I replied, "Um, actually, no.  We think you can take a small amount of responsibility to bring a pencil to school."  (I might not have been quite that sarcastic. I think I left out the "small amount of" part.)
8.  Folders.  Because, again, you'll need them, and the school won't have them.
9.  Emergency paper.  See #8.
10.  A special folder to put all the correspondence you're going to generate from calling parents, emailing parents, and doing the same with students.  This is so that when a few of them fail, you can say that you tried everything you could short of taking their little hands in yours and tracing out the answers to their homework with them.  Although, I've done this, and was still told by an administrator to "stay after school an extra hour, in case someone wanting extra help might wander in."

There.  That was me being helpful.  Now I'll be helpful and tell you what we really need to bring.  And, for all of those out there who have no sense of humor, I'm not serious.  What follows is not really what I have or intend to have at school.  (Just thought I'd add that so that when some person looks at this, he or she does not then fly to the authorities and claim that I am a homicidal maniac intent on murder and mayhem.) 

1.  A desk calendar, one with plenty of space in each square so you can designate which days are for teachnig and which days are for killing.  You might try color coding.
2.  A grade book.  So you can open it near the end of each term and see how many of your little angels/cherubs/chipmunks/assholes have ignored the 30 or so chances for a good grade you've given them, and can absorb just how much time you've wasted correcting their almost literal shit.
3.  Black, blue, red and green pens.  Lots of red pens.  Only two green pens.  For Christmas.
4.  Duct tape.  Obviously, this is for the loud ones.  The ones who think everyone wants to hear them, all the time, because they can't see their friends rolling their eyes since their own eyes only care about how good they look in their own head.
5.  Pain medication.  Hopefully the prescription and/or injectable kind.  Hide it.
6.  Emergency candy.  Chocolate laced with espresso beans.  Junk food of the highest order.  It's all we have besides caffeine that might offer the smallest chance of us keeping up with their adolescent hormone-induced nutcasery.
7.  Pencils.  So you can take them and stab yourself in the forehead with them.  Slowly, methodically, and over and over.  Tiny bursts of pain distract from larger, existential ones.
8.  Folders.  For keeping lists of which guidance counselors do their jobs, which parents are probabl clinically insane, and which students you'll probably see in the police logs.
9.  Emergeny paper.  For kindling on that day when your finest daydream is physically destroying the school in a last-ditch effort to rework the problems with heat and circulation.
10. A special folder for the results of your all your job searches.

Once again, I was joking. Please envision the emoticon smiley-face here.  I do not, nor would I ever, honestly propose duct taping a student's mouth shut.  It would leave a mark.  And burning the school down?  Towns would never let the children run around unsupervised, so they'd have us teaching them in poorly constructed tents in the football and soccer fields, come rain, snow or tornado.  But it's nice to dream.


  1. I also suggest binder clips. Excellent for clamping down the blabbering lips of students who just don't seem to understand that being in the back row does not, in fact, make them invisible nor make their chipmunk chitter-chatter silent.

    1. Excellent idea! I have not had that thought, but will definitely add it to the weapons cache.