"Thus, with child to speak, and helpless in my throes, biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! Said my muse to me, look in thy heart, and write.”
- Sir Philip Sidney
8:25 am. I am sitting on a floor.
In a hallway. At a school. In front of a classroom I liken to a terrarium, with its glass windows.
It took me thirty minutes to get to this spot.
Last night, I received the call for work. I was to report to the second-chance school again as a Special Education teacher. As usual, I copied the information and that put that sticky note… somewhere.
When I reported to the third-floor office, the principal asked me whom I was covering for. Blank. Where was that sticky note? Had I forgotten it? “Special Ed,” I said. He named the teacher I’d worked for last time*. Recalling the correct name in the recesses of my brain, I uttered it. “Report in on the first floor,” he told me.
I went to the first floor. There are exactly four active rooms:
The Family Resource Center
2 Special Start classrooms
I didn’t even bother going to the Family Resource Center. I’m not that clueless. Special Start told me to go to the preschool. The preschool told me to go to Special Start.
Back to the third-floor I went. The secretary said that teacher hadn’t called out and that the second chance school was cancelled for students today and told me to go the second floor. As I made my way down the darkened hallway, it was clear that nobody else was here. I sighed a big sigh and called my husband. He couldn’t find the cursed paper to confirm the assignment. I made my way up to the third floor.
Sitting down in defeat, I began reading an article about building relationships with students or teaching content is pointless that sat on the table. Two pages in, the principal came in and said, “I’m sorry but those are for two teachers who didn’t get copies.” I handed mine over.
Then I pulled The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins out of my bag and realized by bookmark was the sticky note. Finally able to verify I did have the correct absent teacher, I signed in and was told to go to the second floor to the glass room. Turns out he was at school planning for next year and had called in a sub but the secretary didn’t know. And why the principal sent me to the first floor to sign in and work, I have no idea.
When I arrived on the second floor, I turned on the lights and tried the door. Locked. I trekked back upstairs to find out the secretary didn’t have a key and I had to wait for the other teacher. So, here I sit.
8:40am. The other teacher arrived, so I stood up and brushed off any dust off the back of my legs and butt. She advised I’d be dealing with a “transition” classroom of no more than thirteen students. These would be at-risk students. They’d gotten kicked out of the regular high school for discipline and/or attendance issues. It was being determined whether they’d go upstairs to the second-chance school or back to the regular high school. Oh, and classroom wasn’t in the terrarium.
I’d have homeroom, where they would just hang out. It’s a long homeroom. After that, they’d have Math. (No, please no. Why me? Why?) Then we’d take them to gym. Then lunch. I was told that they take a while to settle after lunch so we’d split them. Then it would be two periods of Social Studies. (Woo hoo!) The upstairs Math teacher would bring me work. (Please bring me an answer key. PLEASE!) And she would find some Social Studies for me to do. The students would show up when they got around to it.
8:45 am. No students yet.
9:05 am. Still no students.
9:23 am. The teacher came in and introduced himself. He’s upstairs planning for next year. He gave me the lowdown about the students:
“Even though it’s a behavioral school, most of the problems aren’t behavioral. Students are here because of truancy and marijuana. Many won’t show up. Some will work and some won’t work. If they don’t, let them be. If they are disrespectful, send them next door.”
I asked if the math packet had an answer key or I should look over it now. (So I wouldn’t sound like I’m a math illiterate.) He said, “Tell them if they don’t understand a problem, just skip it and we’ll go over it next time.” I’m saved.
9:33 am. The other teacher is taking them to breakfast. I decided to tag along and get to know them. “Take your pocketbook and laptop with you so they don’t get taken,” she warned.
10:04 am. My first students. I have six in total – three ninth-graders and one tenth-grader. I recognize one student from my subbing travels. They’re all working quietly. One is definitely stoned.
10:20 am. One student is in the bathroom. Four students are wearing headsets, listening to music. Three students are sleeping (two of them with headsets on). Nobody is working.
10:41 am. Three students are working. One student is writing on her desk. Two people are scrolling through their music players.
11:18 am. I’m home. How is this possible, you ask? At 11:00 am, I walked behind the students on the way to the lunchroom when the other teacher called me over.
“You can just go home. There’s nothing for you to do. So few students showed up and I just had an hour break. I don’t want you to sit with them bored and I’m teaching the afternoon anyway.”
“Are you sure? Do you want me to stay with your for lunch and gym?”
She shrugged. “No. I even checked with the other teacher. I’m fine.”
So, I left.
Now I’ll make lasagna, empty the dishwasher, wash and fold clothes, and finish ironing.
*My last and only other job at this school: