New Teachers in September

I am going to tell you a story.  It’s a true story.  It’s a horror story.  And it is replaying itself somewhere even now.  It is the story of how human sacrifice is made repeatedly every September, with lots of blood and screams and tears… in the classrooms of rookie teachers all across the United States.

Cool School Blue

You see, the longer this whole misery factory of teaching and learning goes on while under the control of evil, blood-sucking politicians who have never been in a classroom and have no idea what they are asking young, enthusiastic people of twenty-two to twenty-five years of age to do, the more innocent, normal humans are going to be eaten alive by the maniacal, monstrous monkey house.

I started teaching a lifetime ago in 1981.  I was thin.  I was twenty-five.  I had a Master of the Art of Teaching Degree from the University of Iowa, so I knew everything I would ever need to know about teaching.  And I had a class of eighth graders in deep South Texas.   Mostly Hispanic, mostly poor, and I knew they were going to be the greatest kids in the world, especially after I had revealed all the necessary secrets of learning and life to them through my wonderful teaching.

Blue and Mike in color (435x640)

And then, at the end of August, I was standing in front of them, six groups of between fifteen and thirty-two kids.  And they were all looking at me.  And they expected me to know what to do.  And they smelled funny.  And my classroom was the same little windowless classroom where the year before these eighth graders had, as seventh graders, driven the unfortunately named Miss Hilda Fokkwulf out of Texas screaming for the crime of trying to teach English. I tried to learn their names, but they laughed at me every time I said a Hispanic name.  I honestly don’t believe I was pronouncing every syllable incorrectly, but they weren’t going to let me know that.  Not even the white gringo kids who had the same problem and were grateful for someone else to be the focus of linguistic ridicule.  And the names…  The scary looking eighteen-or-nineteen-year-olds in the back of every row were named El Loco Gongie, El Mouse, El Loco Talan, and El Loco Martin.  And a shy girl in the front row whispered to me that those were not their real names and “El Loco” meant “the crazy”.

And these kids had unusual talents.  El Goofy was able to tense the muscles in his face and head to turn his entire head purple.  Wow!  I had never seen that talent before, and, honestly, I haven’t seen it since.  El Boy was cute and charming and had fifteen girlfriends at the same time.  I honestly liked him too.  But he could get away with murder even with the toughest teachers on campus.  And little Emmett Moolazonger, a scrawny little gringo kid, was known for destroying the school’s water fountains by ramming them with his head.  There were girls with talent, too… but that part of the story makes me blush and is best left for another day.  (But don’t get the idea that I’m covering up anything here… I would never… and some of them never covered up anything either.)

By September I was throwing up every morning before going to school.  I had had my life threatened and made the mistake of mentioning that to my mother, who almost came to school to drag me home and make me live there the rest of my life.  I had learned that it is practically impossible to get kids to stop talking.  And even harder to get them to stay seated.  Chalk, spitwads, and boogers flew through the air.  Parents complained to the principal about kids freely using bad words in my class, but the words were in Spanish, so how was I going to prevent that?  And of course, Mr. Wizoll, the History teacher who had sixteen years of experience tried to show me how you made them sit down and shut up, but he could do it just by walking in the classroom door and being present.  Well, what are the steps necessary to get from where I was to where he was in that matter?

“You can’t,” Mr. Wizoll said.

And it is true.  Teachers when they start out are tossed into a classroom without a single “this is how you do it” demonstration.  They are expected to learn it entirely on their own.  Principals say, “I will support you when you have trouble.”  But that really means, “I am going to yell at you for not doing this thing that no one ever actually taught you how to do correctly.”  And you either learn to do it entirely on your own, or the kids are going to peg you down to the floor, cut you up into little strips, and eat you.  Or you could use the Miss Fokkwulf method and scream at the top of your lungs all the way to the San Antonio Airport.  This happens every year.  Every year there are new teachers being eaten in unobserved classrooms.  I saw it with my own eyes when I was still teaching high school in 2014.  My wife was telling me about a young teacher in her school being eaten alive in her classroom this year.  Oh, the humanity!  When will we ever offer a little bit of help and sympathy to a young, enthusiastic, idealistic new teacher, who has no freaking idea what is going to happen to them before this month ends?



Filed under humor, Paffooney, teaching

7 responses to “New Teachers in September

  1. Teachers deserve combat pay for the daily miracles they perform. Thank you for all you have done. In NC, our politicians have been so bad to teachers, the City of Houston had a field day recruiting our teachers.

  2. Teachers are SUPERHEROES. All of them, especially the ones who stick it out. I lasted 2 years. Educational publishing has been much more predictable.

    • Twenty-four years of grades 6,7, &8 for me… 31 years of teaching over all. 33 years if you count substitute teaching. So, hopefully you understand my whack-on-the-side-of-the-head sense of humor. I’m lucky society still lets me travel around with no leash.

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