All sorts of bookish adventures!

Tag Archives: education

Today, I was going to post a character sketch of Denna, the female love interest of Kvothe in The Kingkiller Chronicle series. That’ll happen. Maybe Friday, maybe Saturday, it’ll happen. I’ve pretty much written it, I just have to put the finishing touches on it. But, I’m not in the mood for that today.

Actually, I’m not really in the mood to be bookish at all today. I kind of just want to be self-centered and talk about ME. Usually, I save this for the weekends, but I’ve got a lot going on right now, and I feel like venting. If you’re not in the mood for it, tune in tomorrow when I get back to books and whatnot.

No, this isn’t just a book blog, this is also a Mandy blog. So, let’s talk about me, Mandy.

Now, I’m not looking for sympathy–I’ve got things under control. I just want to vent.

So, yesterday I received my pink slip at the school. Now, before you think this is a pity party, just know that I knew this was coming. I was pink-slipped last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and well, this is my fourth pink slip in five years of teaching. I’m used to it, and I knew it was coming.

So, I’m slightly bummed, just because it’s always an uncomfortable situation when your boss gives you a letter saying that you will no longer be needed in the upcoming year, “we’re sorry, but the budget…”, yada, yada, yada. And the sad looks that your colleagues give you is always depressing, because, of course, they knew that you were going to be pink-slipped too. Sucks to be you, bro!

Here’s the thing that always gets under my skin, and I know it gets under my bosses’ skin too. I am a kickass teacher. I’m not being cocky. It’s a fact. My students are engaged, I get them excited about learning, and my students always perform well. That’s saying something, considering that many of my incoming 7th grade students come at a 4th grade level. By the end of the year, every year that I have taught, the test results prove that I raise my students to proficient and advanced levels, which means I usually help my kids advance a few grade levels in about nine months time. Perhaps the best indicator for me has always been that the students who get busted for drugs, who are on the truancy watch list, who are most teachers’ worst nightmare…these kids always perform well in my class and have been known to skip every period except my class and lunch.

But, I’m the one that’s let go EVERY YEAR. All because I’m the new kid on the block, with only 5 years of experience, while the senior teachers sit back at their desks, collect their paychecks, and continue to be mediocre. Houston, we have a problem!

And here’s the sad thing–I’m not the only one. I work at a school that no one wants to work at–urban San Diego–where many of the kids are homeless, or have one or both parents in prison, or if they do have parents at home, they’re completely unfit due to various forms of abuse. Also, the majority of my students are English Language Learners. Yet, I’m estimating that at least half of our staff received a pink slip yesterday, and the majority of them were energetic, innovative young teachers who want to work with this population! And again, meanwhile, the staff that didn’t receive pink slips are the ones with seniority, who don’t want to be at our school (they were placed at our school because none of the other schools wanted them, and they’re too senior to get rid of). Just collecting paychecks and bitching about how bad our students are and how they receive no support from the administration. Same shit, different year for the majority of them.

So, what’s your point, Mandy? I thought this wasn’t going to be a pity party!

Well, it’s not…I’ll be unemployed in July and either get hired back in September or work as a sub throughout the year while I pursue my Masters in English again. Or, I’ll collect unemployment checks and blog a lot.

My point is that, well, this sucks. And nobody seems to be talking about the dire situation that is education. And I’m on the fence on the unions. I dunno. It’s because of the unions that the shitty teachers are able to keep their jobs even though they’re doing a shitty job. But, at the same time, I’ve worked at schools without union representation, and it was a totalitarian dictatorship. The administrators treated the teachers like shit, blaming us for the students’ shortcomings, paid us crap wages, and would often put us “on blast” in front of the students, so that the students felt that they had all the power. I actually had students who thought that they could get me fired because I scolded them–they actually thought that they had all the power!

But, teaching is supposed to be about the students, not about the teachers. So, when it comes down to it, all of these layoffs are really hurting the students. I’ve become a pro at doing a good job even though I’m currently laid off, but that’s me. The stress that comes with knowing that you won’t have a job in a few months really begins to impact the morale. Who would blame a laid-off teacher for not caring anymore about their lessons, for deciding to cash in on their sick days before they’re lost at the end of the year. It’s a crappy spiral—you treat the teachers like crap, the education suffers, and students perform poorly.

So, my point is…I don’t know. Things kind of suck. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know there is a problem.

Sorry if my rant was ranty, but I just wanted to put it out there.

Back to the regularly scheduled program tomorrow!


So, I’m not sure why, but I’ve been in a funk all week. Apathy. Didn’t want to do anything. Came home from work on Monday, no motivation. Watched Reality TV (I never watch Reality TV…I prefer stories). Watched Smash (not impressed, but it didn’t take any brains, so it served its purpose). Tuesday–same thing, except I read I Want My MTV and watched 80s videos on YouTube while I read about the making of the videos (wow, I  forgot how much I love the videos for Gypsy and Hold Me from Fleetwood Mac. And Total Eclipse of the Heart was a really weird video!). Wednesday, see Tuesday. Thursday– I spiced it up after a pep-talk from the wonderful GreenGeekGirl from Insatiable Booksluts and a poetry recommendation from the poetry buff Amy at Lucy’s Football. I read 20 Dorothy Parker poems THAT I LOVED, as recommended for my mood from Amy. Thanks girls for your advice and support!

I’m sorry—I have to interrupt myself with one of my favorite 80s videos—the boys from Journey talk so much shit about this video in my book, but I have always loved Steve Perry in it. He was my FIRST crush. My parents joke about how I would stare at the tv back in ’82/’83 when this video came on–

I’m totally rocking out as this is playing in the background. I’m typing as if I’m playing the keyboard. Have you ever done this? Try it with The Eurythmics…that totally helped me get through late night typing sessions in college. My typing speed went WAYYYY UP. Man, I am loving this. I Want My MTV is helping me find my love for music again. You might see more music talk on here now as I rediscover my love for Joe Jackson, The Cure, The Smiths, and whatnot. At one time I was known as a music geek and not a book geek. Random fact for you. Totally free. I think Amy is rubbing off on my writing style. Off on a tangent…

Now, it’s Friday and I feel a million times better! It might have to do with the fact that my students proved that all of my hard work this week paid off–they nailed their persuasive essays today (they wrote 5 paragraphs in 60 minutes). These are all ESL and Special Ed. kids who have never written more than a book report in their life, and today they totally wrote thesis statements, topic sentences, transition words, addressed counterarguments, and explained their reasons. I am so proud!!!

Also, it’s the weekend, and while I have a ton of grading to do, it now doesn’t seem so daunting. Sure, I haven’t gone to the gym all week, and my house is a mess, but it’s all gravy baby! Everything will work out…it always does.

Anyways, I know we’ve all been there, and I’m just glad it’s over.

Locke and Key vol. 1On the positive side, I did read! Since my last post, I finished The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, and volume one of Locke and Key by Joe Hill. Also, I’m about a third of the way through I Want My MTV  by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum and half-way through Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw. So, at least I’m reading!

I should have a review of The Drawing of the Three in the next few days, and a review of Locke and Key subsequently. So, I’m getting back into the groove.

I really want to give away books too, I just need to announce it. Perhaps, I’ll officially announce it tomorrow. Well, let’s just say that I have a bunch of books to give away–Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and A Visit from the Goon Squad among them–and I will announce that shortly. I’ll do a raffle for a week or so.

Well, it’s good to be back! I’ve missed you all, and will be more active in the upcoming week!

30 days without Admin breathing down my neck.

30 days without Greek and Latin roots, prepositions, thesis statements, and plot maps.

30 days without cooling down emotional, erratic, and hormonal 12-year-olds.

30 days without listening to teachers complain about Admin./teachers/students/whatever.

30 days to DO WHAT I WANT!

Many of my readers know that I am an English teacher. What many of you don’t know is that I am a teacher at a year-round middle school. What that means is that I teach for about nine months in the year with about a month off every three months or so. And, today begins my first day of my first month of vacation for the 2011-2012 school year! Yippee!

Now, for those of you who think “Wow, teachers have it made! They only work for 9-10 months and get paid vacations. Why do I hear so many teachers complain?” just know that we never really stop working. And, we DON’T get paid for these vacation months.

I will be working on my curriculum for the new year over vacation, doing things I never have time for during the school year, and I will be called in to work with my peers on two days in January for test writing and lesson planning.

Also, here’s a little known fact about teachers for all the naysayers- teachers get paid for 10 months of work! Essentially, teachers are laid off for two months a year! You may elect to get your pay stretched out into the 12 months, but essentially, the pay we receive is only for the months we work. So, there naysayers! Sometimes, I think I should write a second blog on teaching just to dispel this and other myths about teaching!

Anyways, back to the good stuff.

With my vacation, Dec.17-Jan. 16, I plan on accomplishing a goal or two, which is what I always do with my vacations. I don’t really set resolutions on January 1. I set them on Day 1 of vacations so that I may devote all of my time and energy into making habits. On my last vacation, in August of this year, my goal was to start writing. I started journaling every day, completing writing exercises, and towards the end of the vacation, I created this blog. This is the only habit that stuck, but it’s a good habit, and I might return to my daily journaling on this vacation as well.

My goals for this vacation are as follows:

Divergent by Veronica Roth1. Finish five books by January 1st so that I might meet my goal of 100 books in 2011.

2. Read at least two books a week until vacation is over.

3. Go backpacking/camping with my husband at least once.Backpacking in San Diego

4. Start and stick to an exercise regimen (jogging a mile or two, 3 times a week).

5. Improve my eating habits.

6. Write a blog post at least six times per week.

7. Clean the house completely!

8. Big Goal: Not sure yet. (Past Big Goals: Create a blog; Camping for the first time; Swim in the Ocean; Run a 5K; Read 30 books in a month) I’ll figure it out probably in a few days.

What this means here: You’re going to see a whole lot from me–more reviews and more ramblings! I’m hoping to get more involved in the blogoshere and twitterverse this month. Maybe that will be my Big Goal. We shall see, but it’s gonna be a great 30 days!