At 12:00 p.m. on January 19th I will have officially completed my first half of my first professional year of teaching. It’s been pretty insane. Had a kid drop a smoking bowl in my room. Had a few kids never show up. Had some kids really put the pieces together and learn some cool stuff. I’ve learned things too.

Allow me to let you know a few things that I have learned over that past 4 or 5 months.

It wasn’t and will probably never be exactly what I expected. You experienced teachers could read this sentence as “I’m totally a noob.”  I’m trying to get better at this job and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. The good news is, as long as somebody is willing to hire me in the future, I’m going to be willing in trying to get better.

My first group of kids can only be described as “ecletic”. I’ve had kids that are wonderful and introspective toward the material. I’ve had kids that are apathetic/not awake through out my classes. I’ve have some kids who are a handful, but mean well. I’ve had kids who are quite and obediant but are probably wishes terrible things on me.

I’ve had kids who didn’t show up but a few times in the 90 days of class. I’ve had kids that haven’t missed a single second. There were even some kids that I really felt great hope for our future knowing that they will be the decision makers for important companies and organizations. There are some kids that I really feel concern about them being able to function in open society.

My coworkers are awesome. I have been given so much help from them it’s almost a crime. They are super nice and easy to get along with. I really feel comfortable there, as compared to the other schools I have worked at.

I think the leadership at the school is solid as well. I really enjoy working for the people who hired me. I think they have a vision for the school and really want these students to succeed, and yet they still do their best to stay out of a teacher’s hair if they can help it.

Not having a faculty restroom really sucks. This point really explains itself.

Science is hardly any student’s favorite subject. This hurts my feelings as well as affects my kids grades.

I remember when I was in high school, it wasn’t my favorite subject. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I had a favorite subject… I think most kids don’t see science for what it should be and have been led astray in their comprehension on how to perform it. This causes many problems in terms of their understanding of the material.

Eating at the teacher cafe is hardly ever worth it. While the food is sometimes surprisingly tasty, the fries are almost always soggy and cold. $5 for this is really not motivating me to spend any more money there.

Planning periods bipolar. They are both a tranquil escape from the daily grind or a terribly stressful ride on a rocket ship of frustration. On the days when you have planned most everything for the day, you can really take 15 minutes to just breath and enjoy the silence. You can even feel a smile spread across your fact.

On the days when you have 12 things to get done in an hour you can feel your heart rate match the rate of a fighter pilot in battle. You may even feel the sweat drip from your brow onto Timmy’s paper where he kept writing the response “IDK” on the homework from last night. As the bell rings at the end you let out a holler of frustration that sounds like Chewbacca squatting in the woods after a night partaking in the all-you-can-eat buffet at the local Taco Del Rio.

A failed plan is better than no plan at all. If you walk into a classroom and have a plan, more power to you. Even if that plan fails, at least you tried and you can at least try to salvage that. It’s okay, that kind of think happens to everybody.

If you walk in with no real idea what you want to accomplish, then you will have a painful experience. It will be a hard experience to shake off. You may even get that thousand yard stare for a few hours there….

Yelling is always an option. It’s just never a good one. Once you’ve done it, you’ve lost the game.

Pick a time when you’re available after school to help kids/allow them to make up tests. If you tell them, “I’m here everyday after school. Just let me know when you will make it.” two things will take place. 1. They will never remember/lie about when they are going to come in. You will wait. You will hope. They will never accomplish this. 2. They would rather be told when rather than decide for themselves.

Assign lab groups. Don’t let them pick that crap. Because you will get crap from them.

Find a way to keep kids informed of their grades/missing work. This one is tricky. I know there at 1000’s of different methods to figure this out. I know you may have some awesome suggestions (Honestly, if you have one, please let me know what you do) but you need to find one that works.

So far, I haven’t been lucky enough to win the battle on this subject. It’s just a messy situation.

Grading and scoring directly proportional to the work they turn in. If kids aren’t turning stuff in, it doesn’t matter how you grade papers/assignments, they will still get a bad grade. It’s okay to use your own grading system, the trick is being consistent with whatever you pick.

Late work is just… stupid.  I previously allowed for kids to turn in work late at a great penalty. I don’t think this works nor do I want to deal with assignments from 3 weeks ago. On time = full credit. 1 day late = half credit. 2 days or more = no credit.

I’m not sure if that’s fair, but I let my kids know when stuff is due days (1 week in advance actually) ahead of time. If they don’t get it done then, they usually don’t try to get it done even with an unlimited amount of time.

Most kids will look at you like they hate you. Some of them probably do. Most of them probably don’t though. Maybe.

In general, it was a mess. It was a pleasure. And it was definitely a challenge.

I have 75 new faces to learn on Monday. Wish me luck.

D.A.

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In the short period of only 3 days I have become more responsilbe and feeble than my grandparents.

Case in point. I saw my grandmother today, and she told me how she was up until midnight playing cards with her friends. She even told me how she went to a store and just browsed around…

When she said this I could only respond in a very Napoleon Dynamite-esque “Luckeeyyyy…”

Oh how my life has changed.

For the past three days my alarms has been set to go off at 5:12 a.m. 

Yes, there are no typos in that last sentence. Allow me to highlight the areas that probably concerned you.

For the past THREE DAYS my alarm(S) have been set to go off at 5:15 A.M.

I have not woken up, consistently, that early in over two years. I will now continue to do so until I die/retire/quit/have a real weekend.

Yes, I own and use multiple alarm clocks. Does that make me a little crazy or paranoid? It sure does. I have a more “classic” alarm clock that has two separate timers as well as my iPod as a secondary alarm. The iPod usually has two alarms set to go off as well. That make a grand total of four seperate alarms every morning.

Have I ever slept through the first one? Oh yeah, all the time. The second? That’s a big “Youbetcha.” Third? I regretfully say I have needed it’s graces. The fourth? I- I- I don’t want to talk about this anymore…

I should also mention that I woke up at 3:57 a.m. today. That is so early even the sun is still rubbing sleep out of it’s eyes. Why would I be so crazy to do something this irrational? I had a lab that I needed to prepare for, so I had to go shopping. At 5 in the morning. At Wal-Mart.

In a side note:

Have you ever been to a 24 hour Wal-Mart that early in the morning? Probably not, and you probably wouldn’t want to. But allow me to inform you that it is actually really nice.

The people who are working are mostly restocking. So they are just doing their work, running around the store, and getting some of the most important work done for a very large department store. But these people are rather cheerful. They actually said “hello” to me as I walked by. (It might have been the tie, people always dig a guy in a tie. Especially if he looks like a zombie that stole a normal man’s tie.)

There was an open line in the checkout section as well! I know stores are notorious for building over 40 checkout counters and only have 2 open at once, but this was a good thing. Nobody else was there, so no more operators were needed.  The customer to employee ratio was outrageous. I was easily outnumbered. I only saw three other customers in the entire store. So it was a relatively easy operation.

(This last paragraph was edited to make sure I used a word that begin with the letter “O” once in every sentence.)

Look at me know…I must have grown up. I am rambling about check out lines and neck ties…

Oh, I lament the days of summer. How I would wake up in the afternoon and wonder what I was going to do that day. Then I would eat entire meals. And enjoy them. I didn’t have so many voices ringing through my head.

It’s always the same conversation.

“Mr. Bancroft can I go to the bathroom?”

“No.”

“Please.”

“No. You know the policy. And I’ve already allowed you to use your only emergency hall pass for the grading period. So, once again, no.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Hey, spit out you’re gum.”

“Oh, okay.”

Man Alive! Why do they think I won’t notice the larger chunk of blue goo in their mouths? And why is it always some unnatural color?

Maybe I should just give in and start carrying a cane? I mean, I already sound mean a crotchety. Why not, right?

I also wrote my first referral today. Much easier than I expected it to be.

Oh man, I’m picking up that cane this weekend after that last sentence.

****

So yeah. I’m surviving. But just barely. I would love to be able to take my mind off the whole thing, but I can’t. It’s becoming a real part of me now. It’s kind of scary.

Still, I’m going to actually try to enjoy this weekend. Even if there is a slight possibility that a hurricane could kill us all. (I live in Florida, so we will be missed by Irene, but a guy can fantasize.)

I’ll be honest with you, if this post is hard to read, it’s because it was hard to write. I just wanted to get on here and feel a slight resemblance of my life from four days ago. I’m actually struggling to stay awake and the sun hasn’t even set yet.

Remember when we used to argue about Batman and I drew stupid comics? LOL, I used to think about stories to write… Good times man… Good times…

(Did I just use a LOL back there? Yeah, It’s bed time…)

Now on a farmer’s sleep schedule,

D.A.

Tomorrow at 5:09 a.m.

August 21, 2011

That time will mark the beginning of the part of my life that I never really imagined would come.

I still wish I was pretending to be a Teenage Mutant Turtle (Donatello, of course) and putting Legos together.

I will wake up, get dressed, go to work, and try to teach/entertain over 100 people. I will continue to do this for a period that spans over most of the year. I will also get paid to do so. I will also be called Mr. Bancroft all day.

I will wear a tie and my converse. I will carry books back and forth from school to home. I will grade papers. I will have meetings and sit in on teams. I will have parent conferences and emails. I will take attendance and give detentions.

Only word comes to mind.

“Blllluuuuuuggggggg-mmmmmpppph.”

Cultures around the world identify this word as generally meaning:

“Who want’s to wake up at 5 in the morning?”

If I don’t post tomorrow, it’s because one of three reasons. 

1. I’m too tired to bother with silly and childish things on the internet.

2. I really want to do those silly things on the internet but was too tired because I woke up at 5 in the morning.

3. I was eaten alive by a a couple dozen freshmen in a local high school. Check the local news for my name.

(I should also distinguish that “silly and childish things on the internet” doesn’t mean what you do on the internet is silly, it only means what I do on the internet is silly. If you read/subscribe to this blog then you must know and understand exactly what that means.)

D.A.

Why Am I So Lucky

August 10, 2011

Today I was at the county office for some more paperwork and meetings in order to make my hire “official”.

Everything went smoothly and I am all tidy with that. At the end of my entire day, I needed to do one last thing, and that involved using a computer. (A very slow and outdated one). So, I was in the front office, where the computer was located, for about 20 minutes.

While I was typing and clicking a middle-aged woman walked into the office and talked to the receptionist. She wanted to know if there was any way for her to check the status of her job application for the county. She was trying to get hired to become a custodian. The receptionist informed her that it had not been received and she may want to try the website again. So she showed her over to the other computer next to mine.

She was going along just fine but she was looking for a little small talk. So she tried talking to the receptionist despite the pane of glass between them. During her mouth diarrhea session with a glass wall (maybe I didn’t look friendly enough to talk to) she mentioned how she had been trying to get hired for a month. Money was tight and she had already lost her house cleaning business a few years ago. She really even tried to show enthusiasm for the whole idea of cleaning up classrooms during the summer.

She just wanted to work.

Then I said to myself, “Why am I so lucky?”

Allow me to tell you something that will disgust and sicken you…

The job I just received, is my very first.

:::Spits drink out all over computer screen:::

That’s right. Not only am I a rookie teacher, I’m a rookie employee of anything.

I’ve never had a summer job, paper route, or lemonade stand. I’ve never been told to get one and I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve needed one. That also means I’ve never paid taxes on “income” because I’ve never had any. I’m sure Uncle Sam has secretly worried about my economic condition but now he’ll be receiving my little bit soon enough.

I’m so lucky.

Somehow, I got hired during one of the worst national economic conditions since before my grandparents were born. Despite my lack of professional experience. Despite my lack of any experience at all. Despite my age. Despite my youth. Despite my crooked nose and eyes. I still have a job.

Wow.

I want to apologize to anybody who reads this and has gone through those weeks where you’re not sure how you’ll get by. Or maybe you’ve gone through your checkbook and don’t know how you’ll eat after Thursday. There could have been a time where you have had to make the decision to not pay your house mortgage so you can keep your car. Maybe you’re two months away from collecting your last unemployment check and aren’t sure what happens after that.

I’m sorry I’ve been this lucky.

But I promise I’m not going to take this for granted. I will always be mindful of how I got here. I will not waste my money because I can. I will not complain about not getting my paycheck soon enough. I won’t say bad things about how much time I spend at work. I will not say that the whole idea of retirement is a waste of time. I will not scoff when I see somebody use food stamps in the check out line ahead of me. I will be mindful of what I have, what I need, and what I don’t need.

I may not understand why I am so lucky but I will always keep in mind to not waste the opportunity I’ve been given.

D.A.

He was battered and bruised. Sweat was dripping from his brow. Heat peirced his mind. He was exhausted. He stopped walking and considered his future. It didn’t look well.

“This will be my demise,” he thought to himself. “No man could continue in these conditions. I pray the Lord meets me with comfort on the other side.”

The trip was a disaster. His entire expedition crew started with 36 men. Now, after nearly 7 months lost in the jungle, it was just him. His last mate had succumbed to disease, probably malaria, nearly three weeks earlier. He wasn’t in any condition fit for traveling either. He was sure he had a fever, dehydrated, and starving.

The bones in his feet felt like gravel. He couldn’t go on.

“I will lay here. Maybe the heat will take me quickly.” he mumbled to himself.

He pulled off his pack. It didn’t have anything in it but it was still a relief to take it off. Maybe death wouldn’t be so bad. It would only take a little while. He was certain the only reason he was still standing was because of his sheer willpower.

But now his will had run out. He no longer wanted to continue.

He looked out into the landscape and took one last look at what drew him to this jungle. His expedition was sent here by King Ferdinand II in order to explore the new territories his country had claimed. He would be the first to pave the way for new colonies. But from the very beginning things had gone awry.

“It would be beautiful if it were not so venomous.” he mused. “Maybe the next group will come and find my dry bones. They will then bury me at home. That is the most fitting thing I can hope for.”

In his breast pocket he felt the paper. It was the last letter he had written to his wife, Emily. It had never been sent, but he kept it close to him in hopes that, if he were found, she might get to read his last thoughts. His thoughts of her.

In his last surveying of the land, he spotted a small flicker. A small fire.

A camp?

Rescue?

He knew he couldn’t make the walk down the valley. His legs would not move anymore after he stopped. His only chance was to call out and hope they heard.

He knew he would use all of his energy to just get the words out but it was his only chance.

“Still,” he said to himself, “I must try.”

He screamed until the blood rushed into his head. Before he blacked out he remembered how Emily looked on a Sunday morning. Maybe he would see her again one day…

***

“Where have you been?” the soft-spoken shadowy figure asked him.

I- I’ve been-” the man tried coughing out the words. The figure then gave him a little water to ease his pain.

The person began, “We didn’t hear word from your journey so a rescue team was sent out. We were getting concerned you wouldn’t come back. We have been searching for your team for months. Up until today, we thought all hope was gone, but we only found you. What happened?”

“I’ve been-” he looked for the words. “House sitting.” he whispered before he passed out again.

Emily looked at her exhausted husband. He was alive but was clearly defeated.

What had happened to make him utter such strange words?

Journey’s End © D.A. Bancroft

 

I”M BACK! No more house/animal sitting.

I know….the story was pretty lame…but I feel relieved like the weary traveler.

Full internet access. No dogs. No cats. No geckos. No turtles. No frogs. No more cleaning of animal feces and urine. No more wondering how the light switches work. No more anything.

Oh wait… I got hired.

So I guess let the worrying begin!

I would love to tell you all about the crazy hiring process that I’m going through but, hey, that’s not going to be very entertaining nor informative. That’s because I just do what they tell me and hope I’m doing it right.

In short, I will have less than a week before I get access to textbooks/materials/classroom/computers before students show up. So I will have to plan my entire year in the matter of a full work week.

Still, I’m looking forward to it!

I understand that it’s going to be hard and annoying at times but at least it’s my room. My plans. My effort. It’s all mine.

I’m not trying to sound very possessive or anything but I just haven’t been solely responsible for a classroom yet. I’ve only interned and that felt like there was a lot of ‘hand-holding’ involved.

I have a lot to say that I haven’t been able to say in the past week or so…so expect that to show up on here within the next week. This is really more of a “hey, i’m back” post…

So, what did you do while I was gone? (I hope it involves monster trucks and not cleaning up dog crap.)

D.A.