Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Waiting for Judgment

Some of us are eager to please, and some of us are super-competitive, and some of us are both. I'm both. Give me a job, and I want to do it well. I want to be the best at it.

Bored Gods and Goddesses aren't plagued with doubts about their skills. They're perfect all the time, and they are not particularly eager to please. Oh, to be divine!

I'm still waiting for my final teacher evaluation of the year. I've had two already: one announced, one unannounced.

Have you ever been hunched over and overwhelmed by your grueling job, only to look up and see someone standing there with a clipboard, charting your every move? And then scoring it numerically? How can a number be affixed to something as nebulous as teaching? Well, fling some money at some specialist, and they'll find a way to quantify everything.

Have you ever sat down to lunch with a bunch of colleagues who've all been evaluated numerically, and their numbers are all better than yours? Welcome to my world! The 25-year-old, second-year teacher who is with me 8th period got a better score than me ... and he was late to class.

I'm never late to class. I still wallow in mediocrity.

Our school district uses an evaluation tool called Danielson, which has about 10,000 categories, called "domains." Supervisors breeze into the classroom, watch the goings-on for a class period, and judge all of those domains based on a 40-minute span of time, one day out of 181. One would think that everybody would be mediocre under those conditions, but some teachers are always distinguished. They get 3.95 out of 4 possible, time after time. (I'm beginning to think some select few of my colleagues are actually bored deities. But I'm afraid to out-and-out ask.)

The thing about observations, they're the only time a boss even comes in your classroom. It's not like these people pop in to say howdy and see what you need. They don't drop by to chew the fat. Three times a year they slither in and start assigning numbers to every little thing. Then they disappear.

It's the middle of April, most of my co-workers are long finished with their evaluations, and I'm still awaiting the clipboard.

 At night I dream the observer is in the back of the room ... and I'm passing out textbooks and dropping them on the floor ... and the document camera won't turn on ... and the kids aren't paying attention ... and half of them are asleep. Then I wake up and go to work. Day in, day out.

All this and Donald Trump too.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Texting a Bored Goddess: Persephone

Anne
seph where r u? i'm cold af


Persephone
i'm home w/ my man <3 <3


Anne
plz plz plz hop on da
train!!!!


Persephone
ive had enough of my mom im staying
home for the summer


Anne
if u dont come there wont be
summer!!!!!


Persephone
my mom doesnt respect my
man its soooo obvious


Anne
u no u missed easter


Persephone
for realz? early


Anne
not that early seph ...
come on its supposed 2
snow tmr


Persephone
why should i care
down here im queen
up there im princess
and u try goin 6 months
w/out ur man! Im 3000
yrs old i deserve respect


Anne
well u no how moms are
but i think ur mom likes hades
come on she is crying, be a sport


Anne
seph? u there?


Anne
SEPH PLZ


Anne
discounted easter candy
chocolate bunnies 74 cents
at shoprite


Anne
peeps at deep discount
and still soft ... aren't u
sick of pomegranates


Anne
????????


Persephone
k k k tell my mom 2
pick me up 30th st station
2:00 on wed. It's baseball
season & it's all He watches
and He likes the Yankees


Anne
YAY! will do <3 u seph






Monday, April 02, 2018

Interview with a Bored God: Dionysus

Boy, am I ever in a slump! Here I sit, it's Spring Break -- the longest holiday I will have until next Xmas -- and the weather is straight outta February. To make matters worse, I'm now gun-shy about writing on this platform, since the Trickster God of keyboarding wants to blot out all my hard work.

But soft! There's someone at the door! Oh. My. Goodness. I wish this God was more welcome here than he is. All the same, let's give a warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Dionysus, God of boozy parties!


Dionysus: Anne, baby! Spring Break! It's time to partayyy!

Anne: Don't you remember, Dion? I packed it in. I don't drink anymore. I just went to a wedding last weekend, and I didn't even have a glass of champagne.

Dionysus: And you wonder why you're so unhappy? I've got about 10 picker-uppers that will light your fire.

Anne: Nah, bro, I've been off the sauce for five years now. Mostly I don't miss it.

Dionysus: Don't expect me to nominate you for a position as a nymph or a dryad, or any of that! Grapes are good. Especially fermented.

Anne: Stop! You're not cheering me up! You're making it worse!

Dionysus: Well, if you're not jonesing for some vino, why else would you be depressed?

Anne: Do you want the whole list, or just the top ten?

Dionysus: Killjoy! Look, there's a sports bar within walking distance! Go up there and watch the NCAA finals, grab yourself a brewski. You've even got a local team in the game ... and I recall that when you and I were bffs, back in the day, you were a Michigan fan.

Anne: Pass.

Dionysus: Whoa, you are definitely in Downerville. Catch a God up. What's the problem?

Anne: We've got the worst president in my lifetime. He's so bad, I can't even joke about him.

Dionysus: As bad as Caligula?

Anne: Getting there.

Dionysus: ... Because no one could joke about him either.

Anne: This cold spring is a bummer too.

Dionysus: Come to sunny Italy with me! We'll eat some fish, some pasta, drink some red wine ...

Anne: STOP ALREADY! All I want to do right now is buy myself a big plate of pasta and a bottle of wine! You're a terrible God.

Dionysus (proudly): I do my part. Hey! Where's that cute little tabby cat?

Anne: She died.

Dionysus: Aww. I liked her. But ... you had a birthday not long ago, right?

Anne: Okay, I'm usually polite, but fuck you. I don't want to contemplate my age. Or my dead cat.

Dionysus: Well, surely you've been posting witty stuff on your blog ...

Anne: Not a thing.

Dionysus: Anne. You've got to get a grip ... around a nice crystal wine goblet! Everything looks bright through the bottom of the glass.

[Dionysus spills a whole bottle of finest cabernet on Anne's sofa.]

Dionysus: Oooops!

Anne: Gods damn it! Things were bad enough around here! Look what you've done to my upholstery! Ruined!  That's it. Out you go.

Dionysus: All right. Be that way! I'm off to the sports bar!

Anne: Knock yourself out. If there's anything worse than thinking about Donald Trump in a sober fashion, it would be thinking about Donald Trump after a bottle of whatever that awful deity just dumped on my furniture. Guess I could take a small comfort in that.

Friday, March 23, 2018

First One I've Missed

I've been having trouble with this platform. I'll write a 500 word blog, hit a wrong combination of keys, and the entire thing deletes with no record. I just wrote a passionate diatribe about guns in America, complete with photos, links to spoken word poems, and firmly held beliefs. I was proofreading it. Three keys later, it's gone.

I can't attend the March for Our Lives. I will be in transit to a wedding in Manhattan.

I can't re-write the post. It took me an hour, and that hour is done. Life proceeds.

I only have time to do this:


Next time I'll upload a goddamn Google doc.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Union, Yes!

We at "The Gods Are Bored," as well as Great Deities of Justice from multiple pantheons spanning millennia, congratulate the teachers' unions of West Virginia for reaching a deal on their contract demands!

EXHIBIT A: THIS IS WHAT SOLIDARITY LOOKS LIKE


Two weeks ago, if you had asked me about the future of organized labor -- as it faces certain disruption by a conservative Supreme Court -- I would have said, "Palliative care only, send to hospice."

And then ... in deep red West Virginia ... a "right to work" (for less) state ... the teachers just walked out. Fifty-five counties, all the teachers walked out.

EXHIBIT B: ANNE FEELS STRONGLY ABOUT THIS


Bring it on, corporate pig-dogs! We will taunt you mercilessly!


I'm not playing, here. I believe in unions. No system is perfect, but the practice of collective bargaining, so maligned in our modern times, is the only way to keep decent, living wages in the hands of hard-working people.

All glory, laud, and honor to the WVAFT, the WVEA, and their parent organizations! Guess what? The bargain the teachers brokered extends to all public employees in the Mountain State!

United we bargain, divided we beg.




Monday, February 26, 2018

How To Teach Walt Whitman To Kids Who Don't Like To Read

Have you ever sat down and tried to read Leaves of Grass? No offense to the Great Gray Poet, but it's a labor of love. A nice cold glass of wine and a verdant hillside help immensely.

Unfortunately, there is neither wine nor hillsides in an urban classroom.

But fear not! These handy tips will work even if your classroom isn't in Camden, which mine is.

ANNIE'S HANDY TIPS FOR GETTING THESE MODERN DAY TEENAGERS TO TAKE EVEN A MILD INTEREST IN WALT WHITMAN:

1. Show the bridge.


Ask them, what do you have to do to get a bridge this big named after you? Then tell them that this bridge is named for a poet. It floors them.

2. Be ready with a dollar amount for a first edition of Leaves of Grass. Actually the number is lower than I thought, but it's still a mighty, mighty sum. Tell the students to go home and look in their attic, they might have a copy under a floor board. (Well, this does work best in Camden. Might also work in Brooklyn.)

3. Show them this engraving from the first edition of Leaves of Grass.

... and explain how "proper poets" dressed in those days. Let them connect the dots to today's rappers.

4. Make good use of the trendy Volvo commercial from 2017.

5. Or this really good little confection!

6. Go for the easy poems, like "O Captain, My Captain" and "Miracles." News flash: Have you read "I Hear America Singing" lately? Most of those jobs have either gone belly up or have been outsourced.

7. Memorize some of the poems and speak them without notes while the students follow along reading. They love it when you get stuck or screw up and they have to prompt you.

Then, when you have those lil puppies hooked, fling harder poems at them for analysis. In a nice think-pair-share environment.

All the while, pray fervently that your last observation of the year will not happen during this lesson -- but be prepared for yet another lackluster mediocre score if it does.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

This Annie Doesn't Want a Gun

Hi there, buckaroos! It's me, Anne Johnson, back from being president and safely in civilian life again!

I could have stayed at the White House forever, since it's so much more lavish than my own humble home, but after this latest horrible school shooting, I decided I was needed more at the Vo Tech. What, really, is more important than caring for our vulnerable teenagers?

New Jersey has some hella strict gun laws (another reason to love the Garden State), so I'm pretty doggone sure my school administrators aren't going to hand me a pistol and send me to the firing range. And that's a good thing, because I will quit my job if they start bringing guns into my school.

LIST OF JOBS ANNE WOULD DO RATHER THAN HAVE A GUN IN HER CLASSROOM

*Taco Bell drive-thru window, graveyard shift
*Goat judge (wish this paid better, it's a great job)
*Shrimp boat
*Wal-Mart ... yes. Wal-Mart cart collector
*Busting rocks with a sledgehammer
*Fox News focus group
*All natural mosquito eradicator
*Flagpole sitter
*Janitor, turnpike restrooms

If I couldn't find one of those compelling jobs, I would do anything that provided a meager paycheck. ANYTHING rather than having a gun in my hand in a classroom!

I'm not pretending to speak for all public school teachers here, but as for me and my classroom, we will follow the path of peace. No. Damn. Gun.

Ever.