Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wrong names

Things have been more than a little rocky lately, but there are still plenty of fun/funny moments.

I have a student that I'll call Teddy here.  We have a hot and cold relationship; he has been known to tell me off, but he also brought me a homemade Valentine's Day cupcake with a teeny paper heart that said "What the formula for happy V-Day" (sic).

T raises his hand for help.
Ms. P: Yes, Theodore?
T: That's not my name.
Ms. P:  No?  Teddy is your full name?
T: Yes.
Ms. P:  Oh.  Too bad, I kinda feel like calling you Theodore anyway.
T (shooting me a mock dirty look): Fine.  Ms. G.
Ms. P (laughing heartily): You have no idea how funny that actually is.

Ms. G is the other physics teacher, and last year when we were both brand new white female physics teachers, everyone, including the principal, secretary, school police, and 2/3 of the teaching staff, called both of us Ms. G.  All year.  Nobody called her Ms. Pippi, but I got called Ms. G on a daily basis (her name is much more common and easier to remember, spell, pronounce than my real name).

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I haven't written anything here because things have been too hard to sum up in a blog post.  I'm stressed out all the time and every class period feels like a battle.  I am losing more battles than I am winning.

I have been watching for job openings at other schools, and this past week I interviewed at a charter school near where I live.  I am really impressed by the students and staff that I talked to, and the school seems much more coherently and thoughtfully run than the school where I am right now.  On Friday I got a call that they want to hire me; we haven't talked salary yet, but it will definitely be a significant cut from what I am earning now, possibly $10k less per year.  Still, if I'm looking out for my own interests, the new school is certainly better for me than where I am now.

But I'm hesitating because I feel like I'm bailing on my students.  My wonderful spouse says I'm not bailing unless I leave midyear, and I see his point.  However, I became a teacher in an urban school because I wanted to work against the achievement gap that kids face.  I feel like a failure often enough that I can rationalize leaving by telling myself that students would be better off with another teacher who can manage behavior and serve them better, but in reality my replacement will likely not be much better than I am.  They'd be best off if I could stay and figure out how to be better, but I don't know if I can.  Or, I don't know if I can do it without sacrificing too much of my own sanity and time and lifestyle outside of school.  Part of me knows it's not selfish for me to want to have some free time for my family and friends, but the other part of me knows my kids can't bail out of their school just because it's not meeting their needs, so it seems unfair that I can.  And that's why I feel like I'm abandoning them, both my current students (who may or may not be moving on to 10th grade next year) but also the as-yet-unknown 120-some incoming freshmen who will study physics in room 2301 next year, with or without me.

Still, regardless of the guilt I feel, I will probably accept the new job.