Do the math: If teachers were paid like babysitters, we would earn $200k+ per year #teacherproblems

At the risk of sounding like Rodney Dangerfield, teaching really is a job where I get no respect.

Not from the kids—the kids respect me plenty. Mostly because I talk to them like they’re actual people, have high expectations for them, and really care about them. Which is also probably why most of them call me “mom.” But that’s a story for another day.

So where does this lack of respect come from? Well, the answer is society.

We’ve all heard variations of the expression, “Those who can’t do, teach.” This is the single most condescending thing you can say to a teacher, because there isn’t a successful person in this world who would be where they are without their teachers.  

Does that mean that all teachers are wonderful and deserving of Michelle Pfeifer to play them in a movie? No. There are some terrible teachers out there too. Remember those ditsy girls who twirled their hair around their fingers and said, “I’m going to be a teacher when I grow up”? Yeah, they are. But there are also some pretty amazing people in schools today, and let me tell you, we’re not doing it for the money.

Let’s do some basic math here. (And yes, I understand that I am an English teacher, but I can still do basic math. But I’ll use round numbers to make life easier for everyone.)

A babysitter earns about $10-$15 an hour to watch 2-3 kids as the little darlings watch tv, pick their noses, and play with Legos. (Side note: do kids still play with Legos or is everything digital these days? Because my kids are definitely going to play with Legos. If for no other reason, they’ll play with Legos because they need to understand the pain of stepping on one in their bare feet. I’m not raising soft-footed wimps in my house!) Which works out to about $5 per kid per hour.

I watch 30 kids an hour. But my kids aren’t watching tv and stepping on Legos in their bare feet (although that would be an AWESOME punishment for misbehavior. Hmmm…). No, my kids are learning, and I am held accountable for that learning. If I just plopped all 30 of them down in front of a tv every day, I wouldn’t have my job much longer, tenure or no.

But let’s assume for a moment that I was paid babysitter rates for teaching my students. This would mean I’d be making $150/hour, which at eight hours a day, 190 days a year translates to roughly $228,000 per year.

We can quibble over some finer details of that, as I do have two planning periods in my day and don’t actually clock 40 hours in the building at school every week, but I do spend more than eight hours a day working when grading is factored in. But a babysitter isn’t actively involved with kids during the entire time either assuming that the children have a bed time, so using round numbers, the $228,000 a year model still applies without having to add in extra days for the summer, winter break, or spring break.

Living large, huh?

Hah.

In reality, I’m making about $1.50 per kid per hour. And I work in one of the highest paying school districts in the country.

Starting salary for a teacher with a master’s degree in my district is $51,128. Ending salary for that same teacher working 25 years or more in the system without obtaining additional degrees is $96,966.

This means that a 25-year-veteran teacher with a master’s degree in education is making less than half of the per-kid, per-hour rate that the 15-year-old girl who watches your kids on a Saturday night, then raids your fridge while watching pay-per-view movies on your account with her boyfriend, is making.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Now I understand that even teacher salaries follow the laws of supply and demand and therefore know that parents are willing to spend extra money to gain the freedom that comes with paying a babysitter to put their kids to bed so they can go to the movies and feel like normal people for an evening instead of just “Mom and Dad.” But if you want to know why school systems around the world are consistently outperforming American schools, that de-prioritizing of educational necessities is a huge factor.

And while there are many extremely gifted teachers who are slogging through the meager-salaried days to do one of the most noble and thankless jobs out there, there are an abundant number of people who would be just as or even more amazing, but who opted out of anything resembling teaching in order to make a more comfortable living.

The moral of my story is simple: If you want to complain that teaching is for those who can’t do, then start paying us what those who are out there “doing” are earning. Because I can promise you that if you raise teaching salaries to even just those bare bones babysitter rates, you’ll have one of the most competitive job markets around.

            

                

Advertisements

You know you’re a teacher when… this post makes perfect sense! #teacherproblems

 There are days when I know that I have the best job in the world.
And those days typically fall between the middle of June and the middle of August.
 
Which is how you know that I’m a teacher.
 
 Because I am a teacher, I know that everyone brings his or her own set of experiences to the table.  We are all a unique part of the rich fabric of society and all that crap.

  

But the reality is, when you’re a teacher, you’re living a very different life from people who work in the “real world.”*
 
*Their term, not mine. Anyone who tells me that they have a “real” job when I tell them that I’m a teacher can expect a swift punch to the face. Seriously. Can you read this? Thank a freaking teacher. You’re welcome.
 
For those of you who are also in the trenches, I salute you. Enjoy.
 
For those of you who aren’t, use this as a guide to identify teachers and therefore know which individuals deserve your respect. Long gone are the days when teachers were required to be single women of virtue, but even without the schoolmarm dress and hairdo, there are certain tells that will allow you to spot a teacher in the wild.

 

You know you’re a teacher when:

  •   You have the strongest bladder of anyone you know. 
  • You know that yelling isn’t necessary. The power of your eyes alone can silence even the worst class. Looks may not be able to kill, but they can certainly tell you to sit down and STFU.
 
  • You think Michelle Obama’s side-eye is impressive… for a non-teacher.
  • You are an expert at hiding things in Facebook pictures. When scholars and historians look back at the social media revolution, they’ll think that standing with a hand behind your back at a bar or concert was a popular picture pose, such as the Napoleonic hand-in-the-coat stance.

Not so. It just means we’re held to a higher standard than normal people and are not allowed to be photographed near anything containing alcohol, even though we’re legally allowed to consume it.

  • You use more acronyms than a covert government organization. “Oh no, I can’t make the pre-BTSN IB/AP PLC during STEP because my RT booked me into a T2 MYP training with my AP and SDT about whether PARCC has BCRs and ECRs on it like the old HSAs and what the MOD looks like for IEPs and 504s.” THAT SENTENCE ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE TO TEACHERS! 
  •  You develop an ulcer from all of the coffee you need to keep you alive. Crippling pain in your stomach and sixty more Huck Finn essays to grade? Oh well, make it a venti, please!

  • You know that there is no hell worse than grading. Dante had no idea what he was talking about. The inner circle of hell is an endless stack of essays filled with grammatical errors and helicopter parents arguing every point with you.
  
  • You have an intimate relationship with at least one Xerox machine in the building and feel it should buy you dinner after the amount of time you’ve spent with your bodily appendages inside of it.
 
  • Any unlabeled food in your department office is fair game. It doesn’t matter if they’re stale, cookies are cookies. 
  • People who let you cut in front of them to run off 30 quick copies are gods. People who say they don’t have a lot to copy but actually do deserve to be thrown in a dungeon. People who jam the copy machine and leave it jammed deserve execution.
  • You get WAY more excited about snow days than the kids do.
  • You start hoping for snow in September.
  •  Back to School ads over the summer are scarier than horror movies.
  • Your signature has morphed into something completely unintelligible from the number of passes that you’ve signed.
  • You have become a human lie detector. “Oh your dog ate your homework? Nice try.” “Your grandma died? If I call your mom right now is she going to tell me the same thing? No? Didn’t think so.” “Your leg is broken? No way, that’s a minor fracture, I don’t care what the doctor says!”
  • You tell adults to put their phones away out of habit. And they do it. 
  • You have a Pavlovian response to bells of any kind. They aren’t the knell that summons Duncan to heaven or to hell—they mean you can run to the bathroom or that you have 45 minutes left until you can run to the bathroom.
  • You got the Macbeth reference above. 
  • Why yes, Diet Coke IS an acceptable form of currency. 
  • You have been exposed to every germ known to man and several that aren’t.
  • You spend more money on hand sanitizer annually than the GNP of many mid-sized nations. 
  • You ask a question and the entire class freezes, leading you to wonder if they secretly think you’re a T-Rex and can’t see them if they don’t move.
  • You can type without looking at the keyboard or screen. The computer has autocorrect, the kids do not.  
  • You’ve been called “mom,” even if you don’t have any kids.  
  • You have a preternatural ability to sense what’s happening behind you. This would make you an excellent driver, if you weren’t so sleep deprived.
  • You never sleep well on Sunday nights, even when there’s no school the next day.
  • You have students who tell you that they want to teach and you have to fight the urge to yell, “NO! Do something where you’ll earn money! Save yourself while there’s still time!” 
  • You understand that Murphy’s Law dictates that as soon as you are out in public someplace where seeing students and/or their parents would be disastrous, you will see students AND their parents. Who will post that they saw you on social media. Sometimes with pictures.
  • You despise light neon pen colors with an unabashed hatred. 
  • Calculating tips at restaurants is easy because 15% is the amount you take off for a late assignment. 
  • You know that taking a day off is much more effort than going to work sick.
  • You are the subject of someone’s dinner table conversation every night of your life. 
  • You love your kids, even on the days when they make you want to tear your hair out.
  • You make a difference every single day. 

     
     
     
     

    Do teachers get detention for being late too? I hope not…

    It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have a problem with chronic lateness. I know that the psychological explanation for this is that I value my time more than the time of others and therefore am just a horribly rude individual who has no regard for anyone else.

    In other words, psychology just called me a giant jerk.

    Which might be the direct result of me skipping all of my psychology classes in college, then acing the tests. Well played, psychology, well played.


     But in reality, the answer is far more complicated.


    Actually, it’s pretty simple. The universe hates me and conspires against me to make me late, no matter what I do.

    Case in point: my resource teacher sent out a very tactfully worded email just before spring break warning the English department that if we were going to be out of the building for more than 15 minutes, we needed to take leave. Which included leaving early if we were off seventh period (guilty last year… unfortunately, I teach seventh period this year, so no more sneaking out at 2:09 to beat the onslaught of student-driver traffic) or arriving after 7:25, even if we are off first period.

    Which, I’m pretty sure was aimed DIRECTLY at me as I have had to slink past my administrators in the front hallway more times than I can count at approximately 7:27. They’re very nice about it and usually just laugh at me, while I hang my head in self-inflicted Jewish guilt and shame while whispering vows to arrive on time the following day.

    Or at least sneak in another door of the building.

    But after that email went out, I knew I could NOT be late anymore. My leave days are FAR too valuable to be wasted on my chronic lateness. Well, okay, OFFICIALLY, they’re not right now because there are no US Bruce tour dates on the horizon. But those days carry over to future years. So I still plan to hoard them like my mom is hoarding baby clothes in the desperate hopes that I will soon become impregnated by my perfect (aka Jewish) boyfriend. So being late is NOT an option! (You hear that mom? I meant that as a double entendre! It’s not happening any time soon, so there’s NO reason for them to know you by name at Buy Buy Baby! I’m on to you woman!)

    So for the first day back from break, I had a foolproof plan: I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than I would normally wake up, knowing that I would need those full 20 minutes to arrive at school two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Because arriving at 7:27, the parking lot is as empty as the shelves of a DC area grocery store when a single flurry is in the weather forecast. Any time between 7:03 and 7:25, however, it’s like the world’s worst game of Mario Kart as every horrible teenage driver and angry, late-for-work parent drives the wrong way down one-way lanes to get the kids in the building on time.

     So using math (for the first time since high school calculus—don’t let your math teachers lie to you kids, you’ll NEVER need math in real life!), I calculated that it would take me ten times as long to make it through the parking lot, ipso facto, waking up 20 minutes earlier was a definite way to arrive at school on time.

    Except that math failed me when I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and woke up at 7:02. EPIC FAIL.

    But I’m a survivor! I picked myself up from that catastrophe (and may have texted my work BFF, who came and snuck me in a side door. LOVE YOU!!!!!), and tried again yesterday.

    And I did it! I woke up at 4:40 (because I’m a psycho exercise addict and was more willing to wake up twenty minutes earlier than cut my 5am workout short), did my whole 5am (sorry, 4:40am) workout, got showered, dressed, prettily made up, and hustled my cute little teacher butt out the door BEFORE 7am! It was wonderful! A miracle! It was like the heavens parted and Leonardo DiCaprio himself descended on a cloud with a choir of angels to praise my ability to leave the house early enough to get to work on time! Hallelujah and praise Leo!

    I stuck to the plan exactly and drove like a demon, just like I always do when I’m running late for work, and I arrived within a quarter mile of the school with twenty minutes to spare!

    Where I then sat, for the next twenty minutes, waiting in the turn late to get into the school because two teenage drivers got into an accident and were out of their cars screaming at each other, taking cell phone pictures of the damage, threatening to sue each other, then stopping for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and smear on the side of the road, while blocking every lane of traffic.

    I finally got around all of that (they could have at least offered me a bagel!), pulled into the parking lot, ran (no easy feat in high heels, let me tell you! But I was dedicated! I would get there on time, even if it meant a broken ankle!) to the school, composed myself, and walked in the front door.

    At 7:27.

    Because I forgot that it doesn’t matter what time I leave my house. I could leave at 6:03 or 7:23 and somehow, through some vortex in the space-time continuum that I do not, cannot understand, still arrive at school at 7:27 each and every day.

    So maybe it’s a good thing that there are no impending Springsteen tour dates. Because it looks like I’ll need a little time to save up some more leave before he plays any more US shows. And if anyone wants to prop a door open for me and save me the humiliation of trying to come up with a valid reason other than that I’m chromosomally incapable of arriving places on time, I’d appreciate it.

    Winter may be coming, but winter break can’t come soon enough!

    Tomorrow begins my least favorite month of the year.

    Stop calling me a Grinch! It’s not because I hate Christmas!

    And for once, I actually have a boyfriend, so Christmas this year will not be spent sitting in a darkened room with my parents and grandparents watching Rooney Mara get anally raped.  

     
     (No, Goodmans don’t typically celebrate Christmas with voyeuristic sodomy. My family made me see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with them last year. And I had to watch that scene sandwiched between my mother and my grandmother. It was worse than the time my dog rolled in another dog’s excrement. We’re talking THAT level of bad.)


    And it has nothing to do with my complete and utter lack of understanding of Christmas decorations that have nothing to do with Christmas. (Although I still don’t get why Christians make up random characters to go with their holidays. Jews have the Maccabees and Mordechai and Esther and all, but they are actually related to the holidays they go with. We don’t let a random fat man into our house to lure our children under a tree with presents. Nor do we send our kids to go sit on a strange man’s lap at the mall. Seriously, how does no one recognize that Santa is creepy? And wtf is up with a giant pink bunny hiding eggs? Bunnies don’t even lay eggs! That’s just confusing and equally creepy if it’s the same guy in the bunny suit as in the Santa costume!)

    No, December is my least favorite month for three reasons: Hanukkah, cold weather, and school.

    Let’s go in order, shall we?

    Hanukkah is the world’s worst holiday. And the world’s best holiday because my parents still get me eight wonderful night’s worth of presents. And Sara loves her presents. (Hint hint loyal readers, my shoe size is 8 ½, Ulta gift cards are lovely, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just saying.)

    But Jewish guilt then demands that I make sure that my parents both have presents to open for each of the eight nights. Stupid? Yes. But I’m not telling my parents that it’s okay to not give ME a present for any of the eight nights, so they need something too. Even if it’s something little. And my dad hasn’t purchased a present for my mom since I was 12 (in some indeterminate year in the 1990s. I will give you no more clues to my age than that!), when he started dropping me off at the mall with a credit card and saying “buy your mother something nice.”

    The problem? My mom hates everything. Like she’ll literally pick out a present, tell me she wants it, send me all over creation to find it, then decide she doesn’t really want it and make me return it. She doesn’t return it. I have to return it.

    Add in that I hate malls, hate the Christmas music that blares in malls at this time of year incessantly (except the Bruce versions, which are acceptable year round), hate holiday shoppers, and hate crowds, and this time of year becomes the stuff of nightmares.

    This year, I came up with a solution to the What-to-Get-My-Parents problem. I sent them the following email.

    Okay parentals, we have reached the point where you need to give me Hanukkah ideas. I have one tiny present for dad, nothing for mom. Failure to respond to this email with ideas for yourself and/or each other will result in me getting a tattoo of “Mom” in a heart on one butt cheek, “Dad” in a heart on the other, and I will personally deliver and show off said presents at your respective places of business. So please give me some ideas because I really don’t want that crap tattooed on my ass. K thanks bye.

    Mom replied that she would work on it.

    Dad didn’t reply.

    And when I called my dad to tell him that I was on the way to the tattoo parlor to get his present, he said “Cool. Have fun.”

    Thanks dad. Really. That was helpful.

    Worst holiday ever. And therefore the panic attacks leading up to it when I have to come up with eight things to give my mother (she wants a grandchild, despite the fact that the boyfriend and I have decided that if we DO have a child in the future, we are naming him Jesus Nixon the Baptist III, just to piss my parents off. But that’s one present she’s NOT getting any time soon!) make December the worst month ever.

    And even worse? It’s cold out. I’m a warm weather girl. I drive a convertible. I love the beach. And I REALLY hate shivering in the freezing pre-dawn air waiting for my dog to sniff out the one and only spot that she finds worthy of receiving her bodily excretions. (As a teacher, I’m not supposed to use profanity in my daily life, so I need to find creative ways to explain the process my dog uses in finding a spot to shit. Oops. Sorry mama.)

    Is it winter break yet? OH WAIT, I still have three full weeks of school to teach in the worst teaching month. Because as kids get closer to time off from school, their behavior gets exponentially worse until even the best behaved students turn into something out of Lord of the Flies, complete with a conch shell, spears, hunting a beast, and killing a fat kid. Add the possibility of snow? You don’t want to think about that. Add in the fact that they KNOW a break is coming, that they’re getting presents, and that it might snow?

    If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my desk, rocking like an autistic child. Just 75 more classes to teach after today until winter break. FML.

    PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend, Ary!  Love ya!

    Teaching 9/11 to students too young to remember

    It’s first period and, as I do most years on this day, I’m staring at a computer screen, debating scrapping my lesson plans for the day in favor of some kind of September 11 activity.

    Some years I’ve gone with my gut and done it, some years I’ve gone with my gut and haven’t. With ninth graders, it’s usually a huge flop anyway, as they tend to have the attention span of fruit flies on acid. In journalism, you can focus on the news coverage, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t depending on what you use. I’ve found that the falling man images are a little too extreme for me, let alone kids.

    But this year, I realized something: I can’t do a “Where were you when you first heard what happened?” activity. Or one about how the events of that day changed you. Because my freshmen were three years old on September 11, 2001, and if they did know something big was going on, they certainly weren’t able to understand the magnitude of it.

    In a sense, I envy these kids. They never experienced the lost feeling of safety that none of us who remember it well will probably ever fully recover. They don’t remember the utter incomprehension of that day. The frantic phone calls. The sighs of relief when they went through. The panic when they didn’t.

    To these kids, 9/11 is no more real than the Cold War was to me. I was alive during the end of it, but it never meant anything to me. I never hid under my desk in a bomb drill or had nightmares about the Soviets blowing us up. My first understanding that my world might not be impenetrably safe came when my elementary school teacher let us watch CNN when the Gulf War started—something so unheard of that we were glued to the screen, fascinated. I remember hearing the phrase “terrorist reprisals” mentioned and, in my young mind, the only image I could fathom was silent, Arabian Nights-style extremists climbing up to my window, a pirate-like cutlass between their teeth, to slit my little American throat. But when I confessed this fear to my parents and was assured that a) that wasn’t what the phrase meant and b) that I was perfectly safe, I went on with my unworried childhood.

    I don’t even remember thinking the word “terrorism” again until the Oklahoma City bombing, which only had a strong impact on me because my brother’s friend’s father died in that. And as a teenager, it was still something that happened to other people, someplace far away, even though I knew someone involved.

    But for my generation, 9/11 changed our collective social consciousness, probably in a similar way to the effect that the Kennedy assassination had on my parents’ generation. It became our “Where were you when?” moment. Maybe every generation has one of those. Maybe every generation needs one. And I’m sure that my current students, who are too young to remember mine, will have their innocence stripped away in one of those moments all too soon.

    Maybe it’s wrong to not focus on it in my classes today. You could certainly argue that I’m not doing my part to honor the memory of the innocent people who died eleven years ago. And I would agree with you. But I don’t know that there’s an appropriate English-class way to make them understand why it’s so important. I personally could write a paper on the Kennedy assassination or the Cold War or Hiroshima, but I couldn’t really feel it because I didn’t live it. And that’s part of my decision to stick to the curriculum today.

    But the other part is that while I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose anyone eleven years ago, it was still a day that changed me. It changed all of us who are old enough to really remember it. And part of me wants to let these kids keep their innocence until the world forces them to lose it. Yes, by all means, teach them what happened in history class and at home. Explain the significance. Help them to understand what happened in a way that those of who saw that second plane crash into the World Trade Center never truly will. But don’t teach them that they have to live with the fear that we never completely lost because of the events of 9/11.

    They’ll learn that lesson on their own soon enough.

    FREEDOM! (Aka the last day of school… if I can keep my mouth shut for a few hours!)

    Today is a really exciting day for me.

    Yes.

    It’s the last day of school.

    But more than that, it’s my last day EVER at the school that I’ve been at for the last five years. And while I’ll miss my kids like crazy, it’s still cause for so much celebration that I think that just speaking that sentence should be accompanied by a full gospel choir singing “Hallelujah” every single time I say it.

    Now I know what you’re thinking (because I’m psychic. Madam Marie’s granddaughter said it, therefore it’s obviously 100 percent true). You’re thinking that I’m going to take this opportunity to spell out in glorious detail why I’m so ecstatic to be leaving.

    But I’m not.

    Because as my mother keeps reminding me every 37 seconds as the hour of my final departure approaches, I have too much class to leave on a low note.

    So I’m not going to blast the people who made my life a living hell for the last 1,826 days.

    I’m really not.

    Honest.

    I hope.

    There is, however, one SLIGHT, miniscule, teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, Snooki-sized little hiccup in my plan to make a classy exit.

    We have an end-of-year luncheon/staff meeting.

    Which is where the administration announces all the people who are leaving the school.

    And as I found out yesterday, the people who are leaving are handed the microphone to say a few words.

    Now okay, I’m confident that I can make it through the luncheon without jumping up and telling people to do something that isn’t anatomically possible to do to themselves. And I’m ALMOST confident that I can make it through whatever is going to be said about me without calling anyone a liar (at best).

    But put a microphone in front of me when I have a captive audience of the people I’d like to address?

    Houston, we have a BIG problem.

    And I can’t just skip the lunch, because if I do, it means I have to go to work again on Friday, and I do NOT want to spend another day there.

    Which means that I need to go in with a plan. Because if I get up there and wing it, class, dignity, and tact are going to be a distant memory.

    So I came up with a list of things that I can do when handed the microphone OTHER than say exactly what I think:

    #1 Hide a bugle under my clothes. When handed the mic, whip it out and perform “Taps.” (Of course, first I’d have to get a bugle and learn to play it. But it’d be funny.)

    #2 Stand up in front of the microphone and cry. Like serious hysterical bawling. For approximately 20 minutes. Then run out of the room and never come back.

    #3 Take the mic and do the entire response to Billy’s answer at the end of Billy Madison. You know the one. “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” Then sit down.

    #4 Deliver the entire Gettysburg Address. Twice. Stop every time anyone makes any noise during it, stare them down, and start again from the beginning.

    #6 Bring a guitar (first learn to play), and perform the song “Alice’s Restaurant” in full. Same rules as the Gettysburg Address apply. Also stop if anyone tries to sing along.

    Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant by shawshawshaw

    #7 Take a cue from Bruce Springsteen’s first show in 2003 after losing the Grammy to Norah Jones (which, to be fair, only happened because he and Eminem split the vote too much). Walk up to the mic and very politely say, “I’d like to thank absolutely fucking nobody.”  (I tried to find the clip of this. I failed.  Sorry.)

    #8 Make the Jenna Marbles face until they take the mic away.

    #9 Pretend I’m accepting an Oscar and make a full speech thanking my friends, family, hairstylist, etc.

    #10 Bring Rosie with me. When they hand me the mic, hold her up to it and say she’d like to say a few words. Then keep saying, “Come on, Rosie, don’t be shy.” And tell the crowd that I don’t know why she’s being shy all of a sudden, she spent all night last night practicing what to say. Then tell her she’s a bad dog for wasting everyone’s time and leave.

    #11 Start speaking in tongues. Get someone dressed as a priest to come in and perform a full exorcism.

    #12 Prepare a 27-page, single-spaced speech, warmly thanking every single person at the school who was mean to me for their constant support of both me and the work I do. End by profusely thanking my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, just in case they didn’t get the message that I’m being sarcastic.

    #13 When they hand me the mic, just scream at the top of my lungs until they take it away. Then act like nothing happened.

    #14 Bring a lawyer. When handed the mic, have the lawyer take it and tell the crowd, “my client has no comment at this time.”

    #15 Tell the whole crowd EXACTLY what I think they should go do. In Yiddish. I’m pretty much the only Jew on staff, so if I tell them all to “Gai kakhen afenyam,” they’ll think it’s the same as number 11 and call in a priest.

    And finally, #16 decline, with a polite, “No thank you… assface.”

    I haven’t decided yet which of these ideas I’m going to implement, so if you have a preference (or better suggestion) before 12:30 today, please let me know.

    (And mom, before you freak out at this, don’t worry. Option #17, which is the one I’m going to TRY to do, is saying “No thank you” and only THINKING the “assface” line.)

    Happy summer everyone!

    Summer vacation isn’t the only benefit to teaching–you learn new profantity too!

    Whenever people ask me if I like teaching, my standard response is to make the Jenna Marbles face.

    (If you haven’t seen the video explaining the face, go watch this video immediately. It’s only like 3 minutes and hilarious. She’s my new hero.)

    That usually ends the conversation.

    But some people just aren’t deterred by the face and want an explanation of why I feel that way.

    Which means I have to explain, and the answer is super complicated.

    Why? Because there are a lot of things about teaching that are mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly awful. Like grading. And waking up in time to be there when school starts at 7:25. And teaching the same thing period after period, day after day, year after year to the kids who didn’t bother reading the books you’re teaching and couldn’t care less who Atticus Finch or Hamlet or Jay Gatsby are.

    But that’s also not the whole answer. Because there are great parts too.

    Like having summers off.

    No really. That part is awesome. It’s everything you always thought it would be. It’s like when you were a kid, but better. And it’s coming in less than two weeks.

    Be jealous.

    But there are also the kids, who, for the most part, are awesome. Granted, I teach high school kids, who are almost like people. Almost. I mean, okay, they’re not QUITE there yet, but you can usually have a real conversation with them and they very seldom pick their noses or have potty-training accidents in MY classes at least.

    And probably the best part about teaching is that I learn something new every single day.

    Which can also be a crappy part of teaching. Like the day I had to learn that you can’t accidentally say a certain word in front of ninth graders without them running home to tell mommy and daddy what Miss Goodman said in class. Learning that one sucked.

    Although most of what I learn at school isn’t totally school appropriate. But that’s what makes that aspect of the job so much fun.

    For example, last week, I learned a new word: “asswich.” Now, as an English teacher, when a kid introduces me to a new word, I want to make sure that I fully understand its meaning and correct usage. So I made the kid define it. He told me that it’s a noun that originated as a combination of a part of the human anatomy and the word sandwich and, to the best of his knowledge, was first used by his father. I then asked him to use it in a sentence. He asked another student for a piece of gum, was refused (as he knew he would be), and said to the other student, “Come on, stop being such an asswich and give me a piece of gum!”

    That’s my favorite new one to use in traffic. I taught it to my dad that afternoon as well. And used it just yesterday when my computer wasn’t working right. (And definitely used it to describe Steve Jobs as I had to go to my parents’ house to use a PC to get my next book ready to be uploaded for the Kindle. Yes, Steve Jobs, you’re an asswich.)

    I’ve also learned some great life lessons from my kids. Like when we were reading A Streetcar Named Desire (one of my personal favorites) and I asked the kids why Stella stays with Stanley after he hits her. I was looking for something along the lines of because she has low self-esteem.

    (I would have also accepted anyone saying because, at least in the movie version, Stanley was REALLY freaking hot!)

    So I ask the question and a kid raises his hand, extremely politely, and waits to be called on. I call on him and he, very calmly and still very politely tells me that Stella stays because “Bitches be schemin’.”

    I tried to keep a straight face. I really and truly did. And I’d love to say that I succeeded. But I didn’t.

    And when you think about it, considering the end of the play, that’s not actually a terrible answer.

    Of course, then it became the answer to every question I asked in class. And as I eventually realized, that’s actually a really good answer to almost any question you could possibly ask.

    “Why do the Duke and the Dauphin turn Jim in in Huckleberry Finn?”

    “Because bitches be schemin’.”

    “Why does Lady Macbeth convince her husband to kill King Duncan?”

    “Because bitches be schemin’.”

    “Why doesn’t Daisy Buchanan have any real intention of leaving her husband?”

    “Because bitches be schemin’.”

    “Why does Rosie poop on my rug when she’s mad at me?”

    (That one works on two levels!)

    “Why isn’t the iPhone 5 coming out until September when I need a new phone now?”

    You get the idea.

    They’ve also shown me my favorite YouTube videos. Like Sassy Gay Friend.

    If you don’t know who he is yet, you’re really going to need to watch his videos. Basically, they take a lot of the classic tragedies (and some modern stories) and explain how the entire tragedy could be avoided with the help of a Sassy Gay Friend. He tells Juliet Capulet that she’s a 14-year-old idiot who took a roofie from a priest, tells Ophelia to go write in her journal instead of killing herself over Hamlet, and tells Lady Macbeth that her problem is that she needs a hobby or an orgasm right now.

    In other words, he’s awesome.

    And he’s also a character in half of the skits that my kids did in class last week when they had to take characters from different books we’d read this year and have them meet in a skit.

    Which brings me to one of the other important things I learned this year: Google is the root of all evil in our society today.

    Why?

    Because when we were watching the videos of the skits in class, one group had Stanley Kowalski standing in the street yelling. Except instead of yelling “Stella,” he was yelling “Sara” and instead of standing in front of Elysian Fields in New Orleans, he was standing in front of MY house.

    I hate you Google. I really do.  Stop giving out my address to my students.

    You’re a serious asswich sometimes.