Friday, August 28, 2009

As the Dust Settles...

... things are falling into place.

I've been back at school since Tuesday. The first two days were inservice; all of the beginning-of-the-year stuff we need to know about, as well as getting my classroom ready for a new year's worth of kids. Wednesday I spent the morning at the elementary school, hoping that they had figured out what it was I was supposed to be doing there every afternoon. They hadn't yet, and told me to come back Thursday and maybe they'd have figured it out.

Thursday was the first day of school for kindergarten through ninth grade. My morning was spent doing paperwork and such (since I don't teach freshmen). I ate lunch, and at 11:00 I arrived at the elementary school.

Oh. My. God.

Let me begin by saying that I don't dislike children. I really don't. I just don't know how to deal with them. I've never been around little kids, so I never learned the appropriate ways to deal with them. It never was a problem, because when was I ever going to be around little kids? I'm only certified to teach grades 7-12, and since I won't be having children of my own, this was never a problem. Until yesterday.

Everything started out great. My assignment, which they gave me yesterday when I entered the building, is to help with first grade math and writer's workshop. Since it will be several days before they begin those routines, for now I'm just supposed to help out where I can. The kids trooped in from lunch and sat down on the carpet while I sat in the back of the room. They're cute little buggers (including one that is a tiny peanut with a mohawk!), but wow, they were full of energy. None could sit still, even when the teacher called for their attention.

The first part of the afternoon I didn't have to do much. They had share time, then went to music class. Terrific. I had a bit of a breather and spoke with both first grade teachers about what I will be doing, who I will be helping, and what that will be like. I am going to have to learn to be very, very flexible as things change in the elementary classroom way more than they do at the high school. High energy has never been something my high school students suffer from.

After music, Ms. P had the kids start an art project to bring home to their parents. Two red school houses that they had to cut out and glue together with glue sticks, and some other embellishments to add. Sounds simple, right?

"Mrs. Kinne, I can't cut this part. It's too tricky."
"Can you help me?"
"Did I cut this right?"
"How do I fold this?"
"What do I do next?"
"Uh-oh, I ripped it!"

Seventeen first graders were suddenly all clamoring for my attention. All at once, right on top of each other. My poor high school brain was almost immediately overwhelmed. I wanted to have a meltdown right there, but kept it together as best as I could. We got through that okay, and as the end of the day approached, Ms. P asked kids if they had to go to the bathroom. Several did. One little boy came back and looked at me with big eyes. "I can't get my zipper. Can you help me?"

Seriously. I had to zip up a boy's pants. I have NEVER done that before in my life. EVER. I felt like Arnold Schwartzenneger in Kindergarten Cop. Suddenly I knew what that kind of get-me-out-of-here desperation felt like. And yes, I zipped his zipper. My face was probably flaming with embarassment, but I did it.

After that was story time - kids could pick a book and read it on the rug while they waited to be dismissed. No less than four kids wanted to be read to, and others wanted "help." I tried to get them started and leave them, but they kept coming back, like waves, each one more insistent than the one before.

When they were dismissed at 2:05, I was exhausted and sweaty. I'd had two kids on my lap at different times (I don't even know the rules about that!) and left feeling more overwhelmed than ever. I have no idea what I am doing there. None.

And at 11:00 today ... I have to go back.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fragments (a la Alice and Hallie)

Alice and Hallie both do Friday Fragments, so I thought Id give it a whirl.

*I do not now, nor will I ever, forgive Michael Vick. People seem to think that because he went to jail, because he said he was sorry, he should be forgiven and we should forget about the dogs he tortured and killed and get back to watching him play football. In his interview with James Brown, Vick said he felt sick about the things he "allowed to happen." He didn't allow them to happen; he did them. I am disgusted that he got another NFL contract, even though I am unsurprised by it. I'm starting to wonder if there needs to be a change in the NFL. Maybe convicted felons should lose all contracts, monies, endorsement deals, and any chance at the Hall of Fame. There are thousands of talented athletes out there that don't break the law, that don't electrocute and kill harmless animals. That aren't assholes. Why don't we let them play and boot the criminals out of the league?

*My husband never ceases to inspire, humble, and impress me. Last weekend, we went to the Maine Highland Games. He has Scottish ancestry, and we went to see if we could figure out which major clan he belongs to. While taking a break from the heat and sun, we watched some of the actual athletic events. They are terrific, really, in their simplicity. Throw a rock as far as you can. Throw a weight as high as you can. Toss a sack over a bar. I thoroughly enjoyed them. I had the stray thought that my husband would be marvelous at these events. He must have had the same thought or read my mind, because he has registered as an amateur as a Highland Games Competitor. He will compete next year at the games, and has already begun training. I am awed by his drive and desire; by his courage in going after what he wants. He blogged about his decision on his blog. I hope you'll go over and give him some encouragement!

*I am running a 5k race in September, on the 19th. I wasn't going to race this year, since back in March I couldn't find any events. Bear came through for me and even paid my entrance fee. He is always encouraging me to run, and knew I needed a kick in the pants. Two more days and I'll be at 30 minutes of run time again, something I was nowhere near two weeks ago.

*The sun makes me itchy. No really! Anytime I spend time in the sun, my face reacts, gets all puffy and thick, and itches fit to drive me crazy. Can one be allergic to the sun? Or am I just a baby?

*I'm thinking of entering a yarn I made into the arts and crafts section of the local fair. Im not sure how much of a dork that makes me, but I'm in love with the yarn and really want to show it off. Is that wrong?

*I need to get off the computer and get cleaning/working/doing stuff. I spend *way* too much time here!

*I saw a dead racoon on the side of the road the other day and realized that my cat is as big as it was, and nearly the same color. My mind wandered for several minutes onto the paths of parallel evolution and survival of the fittest. Then I shifted tracks and thought about red hot dogs. My mind works in mysterious ways!

*Okay, I really really need to go do some chores. Later!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I got an email from my principal today, and it's official - I'll be spending three hours each afternoon working in the elementary school's resource room.


Let's do the math, shall we?

A three dollar an hour paycut x 3 hours a day x 10 days in a pay period = $90 less a paycheck. If I cut out both unions fees by dropping the unions (what good are they doing me anyway?) I'll save $25 a paycheck. So I'll still be losing $65 a paycheck at school.

At Rite Aid, I make $8 an hour. In order to make up the difference, I will have to work an extra 4 hours a week, x the 2 weeks in the pay period.

That moves me from 20 to 24 hours a week. That's 65 hours away from the house a week.

If I work both Sunday and Saturday (8 hours each), I'll have to work 2 nights a week. If I have one of those days off, I'll have to work 4 nights that week. I can't work on Tuesday because I have staff meetings.

This is rapidly approaching ridiculous.

To save money, I can take the car to work instead of the truck. Even though I love my truck. Even though the truck is safer if I hit a moose.

I can work on selling handdyed fiber and handspun yarn. If I work diligently at this, I could potentially work one less shift a week. But when would I do it?

I can say goodbye to learning to make blueberry wine, giving fabulous gifts at Christmas, getting new running sneakers, and buying anything on my Amazon wishlist.

I can join my bank account and Bear's and only spend money on bills; he will be in charge of any and all money left over, since I would just spend it anyway.

I can apply for another forbearance on my school loans. If I have any left, that would give us a six month window of fewer bills to worry about.

This is all so much to think about. I'm not sure how we'll make it this year, honestly. But at least the loan is paid off. That will hopefully make a difference.

How do you all do it? Is money this tight for anyone else?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer's End

It's begun. As summer nears its end and the start of a new school year begins its slow approach, the ceaseless round of questions begin.
"When do you go back to school?"
"Will you be teaching at the same place?"
"Are you ready to go back?"
"You looking forward to a new year?"

The answers are August 25th, sort of, I guess so, and not at all.
*I return to school with two days of inservice on August 25th, a Tuesday. The first freshman day will be Thursday of that week, and upper classmen on the Friday. It is asinine to have students start a school year on a Friday. Why even come?
*The teaching half of my job is secure. I was un-laid off, if that makes sense, so my teaching position will be there. However, no one seems to know about the ed tech half of my job. The last three years I was a Title 1 Literacy Ed Tech Three, teaching two freshman classes and making about $18 an hour for three hours a day. At the end of the school year I was told that due to budget cuts and seniority issues I may have to give that position up to anther woman and take an Ed Tech Two position at the elementary school, in theresource room. Making $11 an hour. This is absolutely unacceptable to me. I LOATHE little kids - especially those that bite and pee on you. I have never taught at the elementary level, let alone at the special ed level. I am absolutely unqualified for that job. It frankly terrifies me. I asked my principal last week if he knew what was going on with that, and he doesn't. I probably won't be told what I'll be doing until I get there on the 25th. Ugh.
*As for being ready to go back... I guess so. I know who most of my students will be, I know what I'll be teaching, I know what specific bullshit I'll be asked to do and deal with... so in that respect I'm ready.
*Am I looking forward to it? Not at all. Usually I am excited to start a new year; I love the possibilities that come with starting fresh. This year I am more aware than ever that it doesn't matter what I teach them, because the way grades are reported suck and hurt kids. That no one cares what life lessons my students learn; they only care about what can be measured. It's disheartening to say the least.

I applied for a new job over the summer, but there weren't many available and the ones that were exist too far away to make working there feasible. When I got the call that I was un-laid off, I told my husband that I would return to my school for one more year. But I also told him that this will be my last year. I am too unhappy where I'm at to stay any longer. I'm tired of being bullshitted, dicked around, and lied to. I'm tired of the sneakiness, the underhandedness, and the drama that goes on. It isn't good for me. He agreed, and we have a tentative plan to stay where we are for one more year and next summer to get new jobs, move away, and start a new and better life. We are going to sell the house and move completely out of Brownville Junction. He will quit his job at the mill and attend college classes for the first time.

I can't wait.