Friday, November 9, 2007

The end of the innocence...

Despite using the title of the Eagles song here, there are not many innocents around these days. It was inevitable that this substitute thing at the middle school had to end sometime. Let’s just say that I lost my cool with the most disruptive seventh grade class this Wednesday to the point that I was asked to not come back as a sub.

I offer no alibi, no excuses, and no details. In fact, after six classes to try to manage an unmanageable bunch, I was going to end it at the end of this school day, anyway. Naturally it would have been more satisfying to say ‘no mas’ and leave in a huff, never to return. Hey, I tried against all odds and I am satisfied with the outcome. Strange, but these situations sometimes have to end in the worst possible way to be certain that it has ended for sure, slay the dragon for real. No alibis, no kidding!

The only reason for my being there that day was that the Principal, heretofore known as L, had asked me if I’d be on the committee that was interviewing for this teaching position (the job was posted at the end of last week), so I took the music room sub assignment yet again. I spoke with L for about ten minutes before I left this brick playpen for good. She is a genuinely nice person, and I like her. I didn’t stick around for the interview.

No grown-ups have said, but I think that the reason for the music position is available is that the school is taking great pains to oust the teacher, to avoid discrimination and/or a union grievance. Yet while these things go on, there is no music being taught nor band practice at the end of the day, which was a continuing disappointment to the band students.

I had no desire to be a teacher; it was never a career choice. After college, I wanted to be involved with manufacturing, where something finite is built. Therefore, it seems odd that I would ever attempt to sub at a middle school. As a wheelchair user in a society that tends to devalue your abilities. I want to disprove this by trying even harder to prove them wrong.

Except this guy in the wheelchair at the most is still no taller than 5 feet, with nary the physical presence required to deal with a generally disruptive bunch of students. ‘Disruptive’ is the kindest adjective to use here. I will quibble with anyone who wants to blame today’s disruptive students as just mirroring today’s social ills. This of course is total BS. Parents don't do their job anyway, but our kids were well behaved, and many are.Perhaps the authorities should enforce a serious code of discipline in the schools with no exceptions. You hope the authorities will agree, and forget about the lawyers. Do what you have to do. Or choose another line of work!

As much as I hold myself at fault for losing my cool the other day (remember the ‘No alibis’ line earlier), I find that some of the moves by the administration in obtaining my services in that awful music classroom (see here) were a bit surreptitious and somewhat suspicious. On Oct. 23, the call came in for seventh grade math, Oct. 24 for seventh grade social studies and this past Monday, for sixth grade math. On each of these three occasions, I was directed to be the sub in the music classes. I had come to loathe this room, yet I complied. Other subs would deal with this once, and never accept this assignment again. But not me!

I generally had more respect for the Asst. Principal J before now, and for the reason that being in the wheelchair I never should have been placed in that room, certainly not alone, I needed to have backup. Not trying to deflect any blame here, but I was never the right person for this, only the most compliant. Silly me. Being a good guy meant that I was to hold down the fort until the school had hired a new music teacher. Although the assignment was necessary, why did I not just call the agency and say I never wanted to go to this school again. Perfect 20-20 hindsight, as they say.


Linda said...

"Hindsight's 20/20 and I'm nearly going blind" as the song goes. I applaud you for going back over and over to take on the abuse that was obviously heaped upon you by kids who need to learn some discipline and respect. I don't think I could ever be a teacher these days as I have no tolerance for foul-mouthed, misbehaving children. I would be asked to leave and never return, too.

I'm sure something better and more satisfying will turn up but in the meantime, know that you did the best you could in a situation that was impossible. Kudos for trying!

Lynn said...

Teaching and subbing are really two different things. When you are the teacher, you have control of the students grades when you are a sub, you have nothing.

You are one strong person to have lasted as long as you did. Good luck as you continue on your search for the next phase.

Joan said...

I have nothing but absolute respect for you. To have survived as long as you did as a middle school substitute demonstrates a strength of will that few of us have.

I have faith that you will find your right path soon so try and hang tough until then.

Odat said...

You' certainly had more strenth in lasting that long! you should have run them down!! What a shame they have no respect. and what a shame for the school to put you in that situation....You just did what needed to be done. I respect that.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Your effort was heroic, and can truly serve as good seedlings for more writing later. You grew. And you know what? The kids did too. Often, years after I taught kids I found that results were there, even though I would've never guessed as much. Bravo.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

just catching up and hoping you are doing good ralph. sorry this did not work out but certainly understand!!! you lasted longer than doug in the king of queens, right? ha ha ha i am still picturing you in the white wig trying to write your name on the chalkboard and running out of space at the last letter. too funny!

smiles, bee

sari said...

Middle school, oy.