Category Archives: Teacher Stories

Panty Flashers and Cuss Words

3:58 p.m. The final bell rang, signaling the end of another school day.

I sat at my desk, stunned.

Today made me wonder, are all my kids huffing glue?!

In one day I had 2 office referrals (AKA as the “you need to take your things and leave this classroom” moments) and three detentions. One girl in my homeroom thought it was a brilliant idea to stand up when she should be seated silently and pull the edges of her skirt up, flashing her panties to half a dozen students and my peripheral vision.

Confession-I am always full of sass and I always have plenty of light-hearted, playful, but to-the-point comebacks.

But the panty flasher left me completely speechless. When shit like this happens, my silent and still reaction is insanely effective. The whole mood of the room shifts like, “oohh damn if Ms. Wildes isn’t saying a damn thing then you know you screwed something up realll bad,”. In this case, I just silently gave the student the look that she needs to sit the eff down and then I silently and slowly floated towards my desk, where I keep my referral forms. Calmly handing her her form, I asked if she knew where she needed to go. She didn’t so I said “ok, hun. Come over here and have a look at my map with me,”. We looked at it together and I explained where she needed to go.

Poor girl was more speechless that I had been only moments earlier.

Another girl shouted “SHUT THE HELL UP!” to a boy clear across the classroom today. The profanity and the outburst earned her an office referral too. But in all honesty, that boy did need to shut the hell up and I secretly cheered her on. ‘Cause he just got TOLD! I spoke to her in the hall as I calmly sent her on her way, I reminded her that sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction. 

Good kids making silly decisions… That’s high school in a nutshell.

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Tears, Fears, and Mascara Smears

“What?!” I looked on in horror as Carey stood in the doorway of my classroom. Judging by the sight of her, it was safe to assume that someone surely had died.

Carey is another first year org-member and fellow first year, clueless math teacher at The Delta High School. I like her a lot, we get along really well, and she is what I would consider a phenomenal first year teacher. She has her shit together, she is on top of everything, and she know the content (that’s a big one that I certainly do not have). But here Carey was, standing at my door face all puffy and red with tears welling up behind her eyes.

“I–I,” she began, stammering through her hysterics. “I just had a parent-teacher conference and this mom just ripped me to shreds!”

Carey then went on to explain the whole story behind the particular student and the details of the conference itself. Basically, the student is struggling and not asking for help, not coming to tutorials, not doing his homework, and left 75 percent of his test completely blank. “And—and.. his mom said my biggest fear of all!” she now sat slumped in a desk tears streaming down her cheeks. Dear God, I thought to myself, racing over to close my door, the bell is going to ring in seven minutes get your shit together, Carey! 

“She said it’s because I’m a bad teacher!” 

Christ.

I just, emotionally do not understand how people take some of this shit so personally. No shit a mom says it’s your fault! She just cares about what is best for her kid and her kid is probably trying to cover it up and save his ass by convincing mama and daddy at home that none of it could ever be his fault. I pulled this shit only 5 years ago! I know exactly how the story goes. 

All I could say to Carey was a nicer version of…

toughenup

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Y’all are so NEEDY

Neediness. 

The one true characteristic that makes me rage with anger, fill with anxiety, and gasp desperately for air.

Needy friend who always wants to hang out or asks “what are we doing tonight?”. NOPE. Cannot handle. Needy guy who’s emotional stability somehow depends upon the number of times I replied to his texts that day or the hours that we hung out during the week. NOPE. Be gone with you. And finally, that leaves me to the neediest of all humans.

Children. 

I see the faces of 100 children a day and 96 of them are some of the neediest human beings I have ever encountered.

“Ms. Wildes!” “Ms. Wildes”, 25 voices call my name as I race frantically between partners during “buddy work”. “Ms. Wildes, my hand has been up for a long time!” “Ms. Wildes, we need help over here,” “Ms. Wildes, can I borrow your pencil sharpener again?” “Ms. Wildes, I need to go to the office to call my mom,” “Ms. Wildes, does this look right so far?”

“Ms. Wildes!” “Ms. Wildes!”

75 percent of the time, the scenario goes as follows…

“Ms. Wildes, HAAALP!” the innocent children shriek. “Yes?” I dart over from across the room, practically breaking a sweat with crazy pieces of hair falling out of my bun around my eyes. “Ms. Wildes, we don’t get it,”. “Ok… Where are you getting stuck?” “EVERYYYTHING!” the children make similar sounds to the dying mammals in the science video I saw a teacher testing during my planning period. “Alright. Well, did you read the question?” “…No,”

FACEPALM 

“Ok,” the anxiety in my voice gradually becomes audible as I signal to 3 other groups that I see their hands and will be right with them. “Start with that. Read it. Read it twice. I only help students who help themselves,” I race off almost slipping on the dirty floors to repeat the same conversation with another 4 students.

It often takes every fiber of my being not to look up to the sky and scream “Shut the fuck upppp already!!!” at the top of my lungs. In my daydreams, I have this outburst, the room goes silent, and all my students stare at me, blink twice, and turn to their assignments, reading the questions and no longer needing all this hand-holding bullshit. Instead, I reopen the wound on the inside of my cheek and tap my foot to communicate my disappointment.

By the end of the day I am exhausted, thirsty, and so overwhelmed with the anxiety of having 100 needy-as-shit kids that I can hardly handle reading and responding to any text messages that I have missed since 8:00 a.m.

I love kids. Love ’em. But this whole experience has made me seriously question if I could ever be a

  1. dog owner
  2. mother
  3. wife
  4. anyone who anyone else depends on for their own livelihood

Shit. I’m fucked.

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Winging It- The Importance of Adaptability

winging it

Confession- I am a control freak. 

I am neat, orderly, generally very organized, and I always know what’s going on. With teaching however, I am learning the essentially skill of adaptability. Plans only go so far. You can only plan for so much. Most importantly, if you only stick to your plan, you will fail. Your lesson is guaranteed to crash and burn. 

Now at teacher training this summer, they made us script out basically word for word what we were going to say and do which is POINTLESS because…

  1. you’re not going to memorize it and talk like a fucking robot 
  2. you’re not going to stand in front of a class and read aloud from your lesson plan 

Your students would eat you alive. 

Everyday, I plan. I plan out an agenda that I also write on the board. 10 min. doing this. 15 min. doing that. So on and so forth. I then also write a list of what I need to do to be ready for that lesson. Print and make 82 copies of HW packet. Pull up warm-up on the projector. I am organized. I am meticulous. I am a fucking psycho.

But I have not written a “lesson plan” since the beginning of the school year. 

At some point throughout my day, I always find myself smearing my agenda on the white board with my bare hand and scribbling in edits and changes. Ok, my students did that fast, next class I’ll give them 5 minutes instead. Or… Holy shit… my students struggled with the warm up… Adding and subtracting negative integers is like rocket science in the 9th grade, add 15 more minutes to the warm up. Covered in dry erase marker, I am a hot mess by the end of the day! 

And some days, I just get up there and I fucking wing it and that’s when the best things happen. 

One day when we talked about grouping things based on similarities, my kids led the class on a productive tangent about race and the history of segregation. Another day we discussed Michael Brown and the recent explosion of news coming out of Ferguson, MO for at least 20 minutes. 

The best thing I have learned so far is to plan and plan well, but don’t get so caught up in your plan that you don’t allow for productive conversations, important questions, and important life lessons. And that my friends, is why I am now a proud supporter of the occasional “wingin’ it” day!