I Don't Get Paid Enough

Our school, because of the ridiculous standardized tests we are forced to give every year, has decided that students who are "at risk" of failing the test should have an extra English class on top of their other English class. This is called English Lab (though I would add an adjective or two to the title).

English Lab is, fundamentally, a waste of time. It is an opportunity for students to hate English more than they already do, and an opportunity for me to hate the educational system's total submission to various (unnecessary) testing services more than I already do.

What happens in this class is this: the kids take practice tests. Yup. Sometimes they do it on paper, and sometimes they do it on the computer. But they just take tests. FOR A YEAR. To practice. Then, by they time they actually get to the real test, they are so burned out on testing that they bomb. Massively. Without exception.

Also what happens without exception is this: the kids who are placed in this class (because they don't voluntarily sign up for it, believe you me) are the ones whose class and test scores are low, not because they are slower learners, but because they don't give one tiny rat's patootie about a) school, b) English, or c) TESTS. So what we wind up with is a class full of miscreants and criminals who actively FIGHT LEARNING.

Nobody wants English Lab. Not students, not teachers, NOBODY. It sucks.

So of course I have one. Well, half of one. Because in addition to being forced--yes, FORCED--to "teach" English Lab, I also have to give up one-half of a planning period in order to spend my time babysitting children with lower maturity levels than the average four-month-old howler monkey.

I'm not going to lie: my partner-teacher carries the load on this one. And I literally CRIED in the assistant principal's office when I found out I was assigned to a lab. Not just because it's a stupid idea in the first place, but because I already have four preps, which means that I have to create and teach four different lessons over a period of six classes. That is a heavy load, but then to drop a whole new class on top of it? Seriously: the crying.

Fortunately, my partner has taught EL before, and she is also a good friend, so she offered to bear the burden. But, at this point, with the test a week away, and with everybody--EVERYBODY--being burned out and ready for school to end, there's just nothing left to do; either they know it or they don't.

Unfortunately, I still have these students for one-half of my sorely-needed planning period every other day. And it would be fine, probably, except for this One Kid.

Jiminy crickets, this child is annoying.

No. Annoying is not even the word for it. This is going to require more words than just that.

Imagine, if you will, that you are locked in a room with fluorescent lighting, and one of the bulbs keeps blinking. Also in this room, there is a television that plays only static, and the Muzak plays "It's a Small World" on an endless loop. A tiny mosquito keeps biting you, and you have a horrible itch right in between your toes. You hear, but cannot see, another person who keeps sniffling, but never blows his nose. Somebody, somewhere, bounces a ball against the wall and never stops. A child is kicking the back of your chair. Your little brother holds his finger one centimeter from your cheek and chants, "I'm not touching you." A Psych 101 freshman begins to analyze you. A thread hangs from your sleeve, and when you pull it, it just keeps unraveling and unraveling and unraveling. Water drips on your face, but you can't tell where it's coming from. Somebody has decided to favor you with a re-imagining of Austin Powers, complete with the horrible, horrible British accent. The idiot next to you is chewing his gum with his mouth open. Someone else is rubbing pieces of styrofoam together. Elizabeth Hasselbeck starts to talk to you. You can't stop hearing "My Heart Will Go On" in your head. You're forced to participate in an Old Maid tournament. And then Rob Schneider shows up.

Now, multiply that by 19,348,674,928,686,205,992,475,608,976,509,867,520, and you will have .000000001% of the amount of annoying that this child is.

I only have him 45 minutes every other day, but sometimes I wish I would die just so I can get away from him.

He would be useful in torture situations, when our military leaders are trying to extract information from prisoners. One second with him, and they would vomit up everything they know.

And I am privileged enough to "teach" a "class" with this delightful "student" for a mere pittance and negligible benefits.

Gosh, teaching is fun.


Marlene said...

This is so how I feel right now! I love your post! Thanks for putting into words what I've been experiencing the last few days. I posted about it on my blog: http://iheartteachingelementary.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hey! I think you might be describing the brother of one of my students. I see the family resemblance ALL TOO WELL!!! (Don't believe me? Come see for yourself: http://moldingyoungminds.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/penmanship/)

Thanks for the laugh-snort...you definitely have a way with words!!

Anonymous said...

So, this child irritates you? LOL, tell us how you REALLY feel. That was great! I love how you manage to get the FEELING across without going into any specifics, I think it actually comes across more powerfully that way.... I've got a girl like that in my kinder class.


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