Sunday, September 24, 2023

Dark Night of the Soul

 The bored Gods know I've been through some things and have had some dark times. This is one of those times.

On or about August 7, I got a call from the schedule director at my school. He told me I had been moved from freshmen to seniors for my entire school schedule. In 15 years I had never taught seniors. I have always made it abundantly clear that I like freshmen.

Not only do I have seniors, I have all the seniors who don't qualify for Honors or Advanced Placement. Our school also sends our best and brightest seniors to the junior college. So the seniors I have are mostly male and mostly cashed out already. I gave them a questionnaire about their reading habits (or lack thereof) and only one of 76 students reported liking to read.

Two teachers of seniors quit last spring. The only other teacher of seniors this year has all the Honors and Advanced Placement seniors. She is starting her sixth year, while I am starting my 15th.

Rarely does my reality match my anxieties about what might happen, but the first two and a half weeks of this school year are coming damn close. Students who flounder academically are more likely to act out. They are more likely to have poor attendance. And if they have perfected any skill, it's manipulating the system.

I have poured vast amounts of energy into engaging these students, and the best I can say is that they are not openly defiant. But I am dreading each and every morning and coming home exhausted every afternoon.

No worries! Only five more years to go after this one! [Sarcasm]

It's not clear who made the decision to put me in this position. The man who called me on August 7 blamed the woman upon whom I had already initiated banework. She, in turn, told me to my face that she had no hand in the schedule.  It could have been the principal himself. He only cares whether or not the students are wearing their uniforms and IDs, which is an easy ask with freshman but impossible with seniors.

I could have been placed with 76 students who hate school simply because I had success keeping my freshmen in their uniforms and IDs.

Or, more likely, it was yet another vindictive act from someone who bears me ill will and can lie with a straight face as well as any cheap politician.

Either way, I have ramped up my work for the union. Our steward has noted that the chronologically oldest teachers at both campuses have suddenly been given seniors for the first time.

Yes, I have initiated my banework, using multiple tactics.

The only consolation I have in this dark night of the soul is that I have so many great connections with the support staff in my building. I know all the janitors and security guards and enjoy warm, friendly relationships with them. They don't blink an eye if I ask them to unlock an office door or point out a parking space. This is my only blessing in the workplace just now.

I have so little energy at the end of the day that I can't even contemplate writing an amusing blog post. Best I've been able to do so far is drag myself to the gym to exercise, but I'm not sure how long that will last when it starts getting dark earlier.

Last week I took a plate of fresh scones and a pot of tea to Sisyphus, just to ask for a little good advice. He said I should go review The Exile and the Kingdom by Camus and adjust my enthusiasm to match my students'. Sounds like a plan.

Here's hoping this Equinox finds you in a patch of sunlight with a soft cat on your lap. Don't give up on "The Gods Are Bored." I'm a stubborn someone. I'll be back.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

May Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning, protect and aid you as she does all teachers who prepare the upcoming generations of students! I'm sure your 15 years of experience and skill with recalcitrant teens will stand you in good stead. We're rooting for you, Anne!

Anonymous said...

Hey. So are your gods not helping you in this or are they?

e said...

Anne, that sounds terrible. What is wrong with the administration that they are punishing the people who have worked the longest, hardest, most consistently? Well, clearly they are demons.
Hang in there, woman! You will survive. Keep up the bane work. I'm sending you strength.

Anonymous said...

Hi. So are the "gods" helping you?

A fellow traveler said...

I'm reading your account as an also-exhausted, IA with a school system in another state. I forget how many years I've lurked reading your blog and can't recall if I ever commented. The scenario you find yourself in is ridiculous. If I had the energy I'd find adequate words to express my disdain for the admins' decision to reassign you, and also to say how thoroughly I enjoy each of your posts. I so look forward to reading them! Do what you need to and persevere even it it keeps you from TGMBB but your insights and humor have sustained my fragmented efforts at public school instruction. I'm glad you're surrounded with *enough* people there to reassure you have more to offer than the system deserves and who help reaffirm the vocation you chose to continue~

Anne Johnson said...

As a matter of fact, "Anonymous," my Gods and Goddesses are about to help me in the most splendid fashion! I'm gonna bust the whole idea that they're "myths" and then teach Greek deities all the rest of the year!