I’m having a serious moral dilemma. Ever since I got back from Minnesota, life just keeps sliding closer and closer to the shitter. For some reason, every organization in Miami-Dade County wants to lie, manipulate, and otherwise make my life hell.
I reported to work on Monday, went to my required innane, sometimes painfully boring meetings, still with no definite teaching assignment. School started in 10 days, and they still didn’t have 75% of the students scheduled. Hey, could we have forseen this problem? Oh, maybe we could have seen it when the School District couldn’t get their fingers out of their asses for long enough to make a decision about the Zone until July 14th. The plan from the Superintendent didn’t trickle down until nearly July 20th. Then, Central’s computer database crashed during a power outage on July 22nd. What a stellar way to start the year.
As of Thursday evening (yes, that’s four days before school started), I was teaching some form of 10th Grade English. I would be staying at the 95th street campus.
Friday morning (yes, that’s three days before the start of school), I was informed in no uncertain terms from my Assistant Principal that I would be teaching at Madison Middle school, 9th grade. I left school, went home and cried in a ball for an hour, before moving 10 boxes of books in my own minivan (the movers left without me) in 90+ degree heat over to my new portable classroom (no computers, for my “computer-based” classes, no internet, no teacher desk, mountains of fire ants.).
Saturday, I said a great big “fuck you” to all things high school. I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.
Sunday, I went to school, put up posters, arranged desks and cleaned my room.
Monday brought the students, in scant numbers. All the bad attitudes decided to take the extra “mandatory” Zone week off and come back to school on the 9th. Oh, what’s that? What day is today? Oh, shit, that’s right. They all decided to come back today.
Week 1 of school consisted of complete disorganization on the part of the administration. We had no principal at Madison, no Assistant Principal. They finally decided to hire someone circa Wednesday. Smart move, School District. Way to really support your staff which is implementing reforms that you threw down from on high without actually thinking about. Kids are fine the first week, they can’t figure you out, especially this crazy white lady that wears trendy clothes and talks about literature. I turned in my Midterm for one FIU class, scrambled frantically to write the lamest paper I have ever written: a summary of a scientific research study. 15 pages. Gag.
On Wednesday, at lunch, I opened my lunch box to find every ziploc bag covered in a slowly-moving black mass. Oh, you guessed it, those were ants. 10:15 am, my lunchtime (does that seem logical? no, it doesn’t), also seemed to be insect chow hour. De-anting my lunch didn’t really excite my appetite, but that wasn’t really the problem. These wonderful bugs were fire ants, to which I am extremely allergic.
By Thursday afternoon, I couldn’t move my left thumb, which was twice its normal size and a nice hot reddish color. Did I mention that fire ant bites also itch? That evening, I noticed a large red streak moving down my arm from the ant poison. Super. Super-de-duper. The red streak stayed till Friday, and my ant bite continued to ooze puss from the swollen thumb until Saturday. Excellent. I love my new classroom.
Saturday brought another exemplary class from the master professors at FIU during which I fell asleep I was so bored. The only entertaining part was when EIGHT people whined at the professor about getting an extension on their paper because they were “too busy.” Right, I forgot, “I didn’t feel like it” is a great excuse to use for not completing school work. Why on earth should we expect our students to take school seriously, or even bother to complete their work when their TEACHERS have such lame ass excuses for their own work. Way to set an example, Miami-Dade.
No wonder, then, that by the time Sunday rolled around I was ready once again to say a big “fuck you” to all things Florida International University. I proceeded to do so, having a wonderful day on South Beach: brunch with Dave after an envigorating run, and a haircut at the Aveda Salon with VA.
Monday. Oh, Monday. On Monday morning, the administration switched us over to block scheduling (100 minute classes instead of 50) with absolutely no warning. “Hmm,” I thought to myself “1st period is really long this morning. I wonder why.” Gee, it’s so good that I have barely enough lessons planned for the day, I wasn’t worried at all about filling twice the normal amount of time. Whatever.
Then, today happened. This morning, in a truly unimaginable development, I arrived at my classroom to find all of my desks replaced with broken ones, my filing cabinet gone, all of my papers taken from any horizontal surface, and my desk gone. Slightly confused, I presented an inquiry to the administration regarding the whereabouts of my belongings. “Oh, Ms. Williamson, you’re in room 6.” I don’t have a key to room 6. The last time I was in room 6, there was another teacher’s things in it, and no desks.
Apparently, last night someone packed up all of my things and put them in boxes, then threw them in room 6. At 7:45, fifteen minutes after school started, with my class of confused students in tow, we finally got someone to open room 6. There were 32 desks, 6 6foot by 3 foot tables, 8 computers on 2 more 6 foot by 3 foot tables, and 14 boxes of textbooks. Room 6 is not large. My sudents had to climb over the desks and sit on top of them, because they could not fit in the chairs. Apparently, the administration does not understand that students, especially ones with bad attitudes who finally decide to show up a week after class started, are not apt to be on their best behavior in a room that looks and functions like A STORAGE CLOSET.
Oh, but it was fine, because I have white boards now. White boards, yes, but no markers. Several hours later, when I finally found a marker, it was orange. New-Girl-From-The-Back: “Miss, I can’t see that. You have to write with something else. I can’t read that. You can’t make me read that.” Of course New-Girl-From-The-Back-Who-Missed-Last-Week, I would be *more* than happy to accommodate your aversion to orange ink.
The old kids are pissed at the new kids for missing last week’s work; the new kids are pissed to be here, and about 20% of them are just those kinds of kids who are pissed all the time; I’m pissed as fuck at the administration, who keeps coming in and smiling, telling me how nice I’m being, and interrupting the sad excuse for a lesson that was my class today. Movers came in during 4th block, 7th period, and 6th period to cart off several large tables, and somehow one class actually got through Rudyard Kipling’s “The Elephant’s Child,” with me doing animal voices.
I worked through lunch, felt ready to keel over at 3:30 when the kids finally left, and proceeded to have my first bite of food since 6am while I worked on my paper, which, I might add, is due tomorrow evening. I drove home in a daze and proceeded to fall instantly asleep while talking to my cat.
While I was ignorant in dreamland, blissfully ignorant, if you will, the forces of evil known as Florida International University were conspiring against me. I learned, upon waking, that….[drumroll please]
- I cannot register, due to a database malfunction. Hmm, these seem to be contagious lately. Maybe every Webmaster in Miami is a fucking idiot.
- One of the classes for which we cannot register is already filled up, by people who somehow miraculously CAN register.
- The only other class which is available to Urban Masters students is on Monday nights, the evening which I attend the only activity which keeps me SANE in this fucked-up-upside-down-perverse infrastructure of the Miami educational world: soccer.
- Neither the web tech support people, or the Registrar, who I spoke to on the phone, can fix this problem.
I sent an email to our dean’s secretary saying that I would be withdrawing from the program. I still have a paper due tomorrow night.
I am so upset. I don’t quit things easily; true, we got roped into this shitty program under false pretenses AND blatant lies by TFA and FIU, but in spite of unethical acronyms, I have devoted a year to the program and thousands of dollars. The ignominy of being beaten by THIS system, of all the asisnine idiotic systems in the world, is acrid. It makes me want to vomit when I think of all the nights I spent trapped in meaningless classes with vapid students, doing absolutely no worthwhile work at all. I feel surrounded by the vile putrescence of quitting, and I can’t seem to rid myself of it.
I shouldn’t care. It’s a stupid program. It’s not intellectually validating, nor will it really help my future career goals. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m a quitter, or that I still have that damn paper due tomorrow.
So, friends, I turn the music up very, very loud and close out this post to the wise words of Wilco…
“Monday, I’m all high
Get me out of FLA
I fooled ya, in school, yeah.
Now, I know I made a mistake…
I only wanna go where my wheels roll”