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Today marks exactly one year without teaching. A plethora of versions abound. Done being a teacher. In the twelve years I was a high school English teacher, I watched people leave the profession in droves. Some hung in there for a handful of years before eventually succumbing to cynicism and fatigue. The climate is different. The culture is different. The system is breaking, and educators are scattering to avoid the inevitable crushing debris when it all comes crumbling down.
I hope you will join the conversation. To make my own decision. Actually, there are only two: They are the incredible things. You get to be your own boss. Parents are the boss of you. The administration is the boss of you. Common Core is the boss of you. Your day does not resemble that of a typical white-collar professional. Go out to lunch 5. Complete paperwork and other job-related tasks during the actual work day 6. Because you know what else is the boss of you? Everyone thinks they know how to do your job.
SVU once a week? Surely, teaching is different, though, right? Six, seven, eight hours a day, ever since preschool, everyone has seen this job, so everyone is allowed to have an opinion. But even brand new teachers can tell: You wanted to foster imagination, not slaughter it.
They deserve to gather around a rocking chair and feed their imaginations. This one is tricky. In fact, it is all they know. But, um, back in my day — look, even a decade ago — it felt a little simpler to practice using something TRULY innovative: One of my favorite lessons to teach involved a set of four philosophical questions. I typed them up and distributed them to my sophomores, who were allowed to work in groups.
Curiosity, creativity, and communication skills. All the entitlement and the trophies and the apathy and whatever. Like cigarette smoke, it gets carried in from home, rising from their backpacks, woven through the threads of their clothes and the fibers of their upbringing. It means he might not have written a perfect paper.
Brace yourself for the irate phone call in the morning. They are warm and generous and responsible. I hope I will be that kind of parent. My children ARE special. My children DO try. I do not EVER want them to feel like they are anything less than the most important people in the world.
As a parent, I understand. Teach them to earn things, not demand things. Hold them to a higher standard. Left to their own devices, the kids will be the first to tell you: Yeah, I totally forgot about that assignment. Whoops — sorry, Ms. Not to mention the embarrassing issue of content area expertise: Who knows what magic is happening in your classroom all those other days?
So in the meantime, lawmakers and district higher-ups are scrambling to figure out a way to fill in the blanks. As more and more districts begin to adopt this nonsensical practice, who will teach the kids who are struggling?
Those are the things that teach us who we are. Here are the other things that matter: Keeping everyone calm when someone vomits on the floor. It is tying shoelaces and distributing Band-Aids.
It is showing teenagers how to debate thoughtfully, how to think critically, how to disagree respectfully. But if these are the reasons you might leave, here is the reason you might stay: I was up at 3am thinking about work today and stumbled across this … all 7 are spot on. I will be writing my new four part rubric for all 5subjects and doing my atlas protocol which summarizes all the standards assessed in the star and how I will differentiate and improve scores for each student.
In addition, I have to change my bulletin boards and add authentic rigorous student work with individualized goals, rubrics, I can statements that are all level four on the danielson wheel and contain I can ……by doing x y and z.
In addition, all student work must have one positive and one critical note attached for each student. My students are questioned by administrators about their smart goals, the level they are on depending on the star and what they need to do to improve. My students are kindergarten kids. They are not allowed to draw other than to respond to questions and are expected to read non fiction and respond to comprehension questions.
I feel exhausted and some days I feel so sorry when I look at these little faces that are so tired and frustrated. Sorry… your words just touched this dormant monster of discontent. Keep the blog posts comin Melissa, you have me entranced! I must say this is an amazing and funny blog. And thank you for staying for all your reasons. You made high school more fun everyday. I hope your career is a complete success.
So thank you to both of you! I hope that came across in the post. I miss it every single day. I hope things are going well! So nice to hear from you, and please keep in touch!
Happened across this article of yours! What you say is so, so accurate. Teachers really do have no authority, everybody does think they can do your job, kids are too often praised and elevated just for existing this is really one of my pet peeves! Everybody remembers their favorite teacher — and they can tell you why!
After retiring, I discarded almost everything from my teaching days. Everything except my well-marked Senior English text and the notes from my students and, later, teachers. You were such a good teacher! Though I realize that comment may not mean much, considering reason 7: I remember enjoying every visit to your classroom. Hope to see you in the movies someday soon. How wonderful to hear from you, Joyce!
Your kind words mean a lot, naturally, and I enjoyed your visits, too. You were never afraid to participate which was always entertaining for the students , and your thoughtful feedback helped me to become a stronger professional.
We always remembered you fondly! What a full, beautiful career you had — you certainly deserve rest, relaxation, and some good wine. Three more years until this English teacher can retire with 30 years. Time for bouncing creative ideas off colleagues is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I am limping rather than inspiring. You hit the nail on the head, and with amazing wit and insight.
Interesting that you barely mention the summers off. So nice of you, Shawn. Miss you all so much./p>
During the first ten years of this HOWTO's life, I reported that from a new user's point of view, all Linux distributions are almost equivalent. But in , an actual best choice emerged: While other distros have their own areas of strength, Ubuntu is far and away the most accessible to Linux newbies. Beware, though, of the hideous and nigh-unusable "Unity" desktop interface that Ubuntu introduced as a default a few years later; the Xubuntu or Kubuntu variants are better. You can find BSD Unix help and resources at www.
A good way to dip your toes in the water is to boot up what Linux fans call a live CD , a distribution that runs entirely off a CD or USB stick without having to modify your hard disk. This may be slow, because CDs are slow, but it's a way to get a look at the possibilities without having to do anything drastic. I have written a primer on the basics of Unix and the Internet.
I used to recommend against installing either Linux or BSD as a solo project if you're a newbie. Nowadays the installers have gotten good enough that doing it entirely on your own is possible, even for a newbie.
Nevertheless, I still recommend making contact with your local Linux user's group and asking for help. It can't hurt, and may smooth the process. Most of the things the hacker culture has built do their work out of sight, helping run factories and offices and universities without any obvious impact on how non-hackers live. The Web is the one big exception, the huge shiny hacker toy that even politicians admit has changed the world.
For this reason alone and a lot of other good ones as well you need to learn how to work the Web. This doesn't just mean learning how to drive a browser anyone can do that , but learning how to write HTML, the Web's markup language. If you don't know how to program, writing HTML will teach you some mental habits that will help you learn. So build a home page. But just having a home page isn't anywhere near good enough to make you a hacker.
The Web is full of home pages. Most of them are pointless, zero-content sludge — very snazzy-looking sludge, mind you, but sludge all the same for more on this see The HTML Hell Page. And that brings us to the next topic As an American and native English-speaker myself, I have previously been reluctant to suggest this, lest it be taken as a sort of cultural imperialism.
But several native speakers of other languages have urged me to point out that English is the working language of the hacker culture and the Internet, and that you will need to know it to function in the hacker community. Back around I learned that many hackers who have English as a second language use it in technical discussions even when they share a birth tongue; it was reported to me at the time that English has a richer technical vocabulary than any other language and is therefore simply a better tool for the job.
For similar reasons, translations of technical books written in English are often unsatisfactory when they get done at all. Linus Torvalds, a Finn, comments his code in English it apparently never occurred to him to do otherwise. His fluency in English has been an important factor in his ability to recruit a worldwide community of developers for Linux.
It's an example worth following. Being a native English-speaker does not guarantee that you have language skills good enough to function as a hacker.
If your writing is semi-literate, ungrammatical, and riddled with misspellings, many hackers including myself will tend to ignore you. While sloppy writing does not invariably mean sloppy thinking, we've generally found the correlation to be strong — and we have no use for sloppy thinkers.
If you can't yet write competently, learn to. Like most cultures without a money economy, hackerdom runs on reputation. You're trying to solve interesting problems, but how interesting they are, and whether your solutions are really good, is something that only your technical peers or superiors are normally equipped to judge.
Accordingly, when you play the hacker game, you learn to keep score primarily by what other hackers think of your skill this is why you aren't really a hacker until other hackers consistently call you one. This fact is obscured by the image of hacking as solitary work; also by a hacker-cultural taboo gradually decaying since the late s but still potent against admitting that ego or external validation are involved in one's motivation at all.
Specifically, hackerdom is what anthropologists call a gift culture. You gain status and reputation in it not by dominating other people, nor by being beautiful, nor by having things other people want, but rather by giving things away. Specifically, by giving away your time, your creativity, and the results of your skill. The first the most central and most traditional is to write programs that other hackers think are fun or useful, and give the program sources away to the whole hacker culture to use.
Hackerdom's most revered demigods are people who have written large, capable programs that met a widespread need and given them away, so that now everyone uses them. But there's a bit of a fine historical point here. While hackers have always looked up to the open-source developers among them as our community's hardest core, before the mids most hackers most of the time worked on closed source.
This was still true when I wrote the first version of this HOWTO in ; it took the mainstreaming of open-source software after to change things. Today, "the hacker community" and "open-source developers" are two descriptions for what is essentially the same culture and population — but it is worth remembering that this was not always so. They also serve who stand and debug open-source software. In this imperfect world, we will inevitably spend most of our software development time in the debugging phase.
That's why any open-source author who's thinking will tell you that good beta-testers who know how to describe symptoms clearly, localize problems well, can tolerate bugs in a quickie release, and are willing to apply a few simple diagnostic routines are worth their weight in rubies. Even one of these can make the difference between a debugging phase that's a protracted, exhausting nightmare and one that's merely a salutary nuisance.
If you're a newbie, try to find a program under development that you're interested in and be a good beta-tester. There's a natural progression from helping test programs to helping debug them to helping modify them.
You'll learn a lot this way, and generate good karma with people who will help you later on. Another good thing is to collect and filter useful and interesting information into web pages or documents like Frequently Asked Questions FAQ lists, and make those generally available.
The hacker culture and the engineering development of the Internet, for that matter is run by volunteers. There's a lot of necessary but unglamorous work that needs done to keep it going — administering mailing lists, moderating newsgroups, maintaining large software archive sites, developing RFCs and other technical standards.
People who do this sort of thing well get a lot of respect, because everybody knows these jobs are huge time sinks and not as much fun as playing with code. Doing them shows dedication. Finally, you can serve and propagate the culture itself by, for example, writing an accurate primer on how to become a hacker: This is not something you'll be positioned to do until you've been around for while and become well-known for one of the first four things.
The hacker culture doesn't have leaders, exactly, but it does have culture heroes and tribal elders and historians and spokespeople. When you've been in the trenches long enough, you may grow into one of these. Rather than striving for it, you have to sort of position yourself so it drops in your lap, and then be modest and gracious about your status.
Contrary to popular myth, you don't have to be a nerd to be a hacker. It does help, however, and many hackers are in fact nerds. Being something of a social outcast helps you stay concentrated on the really important things, like thinking and hacking.
The term 'nerd' used to be used this way back in the s, back when 'nerd' was a mild pejorative and 'geek' a rather harsher one; sometime after they switched places, at least in U. If you can manage to concentrate enough on hacking to be good at it and still have a life, that's fine. This is a lot easier today than it was when I was a newbie in the s; mainstream culture is much friendlier to techno-nerds now.
There are even growing numbers of people who realize that hackers are often high-quality lover and spouse material. If you're attracted to hacking because you don't have a life, that's OK too — at least you won't have trouble concentrating. Maybe you'll get a life later on.
Again, to be a hacker, you have to enter the hacker mindset. There are some things you can do when you're not at a computer that seem to help. They're not substitutes for hacking nothing is but many hackers do them, and feel that they connect in some basic way with the essence of hacking. Learn to write your native language well. Though it's a common stereotype that programmers can't write, a surprising number of hackers including all the most accomplished ones I know of are very able writers.
Go to science fiction conventions a good way to meet hackers and proto-hackers. Train in a martial-arts form. The kind of mental discipline required for martial arts seems to be similar in important ways to what hackers do. Western fencing and Asian sword arts also have visible followings.
In places where it's legal, pistol shooting has been rising in popularity since the late s. The most hackerly martial arts are those which emphasize mental discipline, relaxed awareness, and precise control, rather than raw strength, athleticism, or physical toughness.
Study an actual meditation discipline. The perennial favorite among hackers is Zen importantly, it is possible to benefit from Zen without acquiring a religion or discarding one you already have. Other styles may work as well, but be careful to choose one that doesn't require you to believe crazy things. Develop an analytical ear for music.
Learn to appreciate peculiar kinds of music. Learn to play some musical instrument well, or how to sing. The more of these things you already do, the more likely it is that you are natural hacker material. Why these things in particular is not completely clear, but they're connected with a mix of left- and right-brain skills that seems to be important; hackers need to be able to both reason logically and step outside the apparent logic of a problem at a moment's notice.
Work as intensely as you play and play as intensely as you work. For true hackers, the boundaries between "play", "work", "science" and "art" all tend to disappear, or to merge into a high-level creative playfulness. Also, don't be content with a narrow range of skills. Though most hackers self-describe as programmers, they are very likely to be more than competent in several related skills — system administration, web design, and PC hardware troubleshooting are common ones.
A hacker who's a system administrator, on the other hand, is likely to be quite skilled at script programming and web design. Hackers don't do things by halves; if they invest in a skill at all, they tend to get very good at it. The only reputation you'll make doing any of these things is as a twit.
Hackers have long memories — it could take you years to live your early blunders down enough to be accepted. The problem with screen names or handles deserves some amplification. Concealing your identity behind a handle is a juvenile and silly behavior characteristic of crackers, warez d00dz, and other lower life forms. Hackers don't do this; they're proud of what they do and want it associated with their real names. So if you have a handle, drop it.
In the hacker culture it will only mark you as a loser. When I originally wrote this how-to in late , some of the conditions around it were very different from the way they look today. A few words about these changes may help clarify matters for people who are confused about the relationship of open source, free software, and Linux to the hacker community.
If you are not curious about this, you can skip straight to the FAQ and bibliography from here. The hacker ethos and community as I have described it here long predates the emergence of Linux after ; I first became involved with it around , and, its roots are readily traceable back to the early s.
But before Linux, most hacking was done on either proprietary operating systems or a handful of quasi-experimental homegrown systems like MIT's ITS that were never deployed outside of their original academic niches. While there had been some earlier pre-Linux attempts to change this situation, their impact was at best very marginal and confined to communities of dedicated true believers which were tiny minorities even within the hacker community, let alone with respect to the larger world of software in general.
What is now called "open source" goes back as far as the hacker community does, but until it was an unnamed folk practice rather than a conscious movement with theories and manifestos attached to it. This prehistory ended when, in , arch-hacker Richard Stallman "RMS" tried to give it a name — "free software". But his act of naming was also an act of claiming; he attached ideological baggage to the "free software" label which much of the existing hacker community never accepted. As a result, the "free software" label was loudly rejected by a substantial minority of the hacker community especially among those associated with BSD Unix , and used with serious but silent reservations by a majority of the remainder including myself.
Despite these reservations, RMS's claim to define and lead the hacker community under the "free software" banner broadly held until the mids. It was seriously challenged only by the rise of Linux. Linux gave open-source development a natural home. Many projects issued under terms we would now call open-source migrated from proprietary Unixes to Linux.
The community around Linux grew explosively, becoming far larger and more heterogenous than the pre-Linux hacker culture. RMS determinedly attempted to co-opt all this activity into his "free software" movement, but was thwarted by both the exploding diversity of the Linux community and the public skepticism of its founder, Linus Torvalds.
Torvalds continued to use the term "free software" for lack of any alternative, but publicly rejected RMS's ideological baggage. Many younger hackers followed suit. Community memory of the fact that most of us had spent decades developing closed-source software on closed-source operating systems had not yet begun to fade, but that fact was already beginning to seem like part of a dead past; hackers were, increasingly, defining themselves as hackers by their attachments to open-source projects such as Linux or Apache.
The term "open source", however, had not yet emerged; it would not do so until early When it did, most of the hacker community adopted it within the following six months; the exceptions were a minority ideologically attached to the term "free software".
Since , and especially after about , the identification of 'hacking' with 'open-source and free software development' has become extremely close. Today there is little point in attempting to distinguish between these categories, and it seems unlikely that will change in the future.
Paul Graham has written an essay called Great Hackers , and another on Undergraduation , in which he speaks much wisdom. I have written a paper, The Cathedral and the Bazaar , which explains a lot about how the Linux and open-source cultures work. I have addressed this topic even more directly in its sequel Homesteading the Noosphere. Rick Moen has written an excellent document on how to run a Linux user group. This will help you seek assistance in a way that makes it more likely that you will actually get it.
If you enjoyed the Zen poem, you might also like Rootless Root: The Unix Koans of Master Foo. If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, you are already a hacker. No two alone are sufficient. The first test is about skills.
You probably pass it if you have the minimum technical skills described earlier in this document. You blow right through it if you have had a substantial amount of code accepted by an open-source development project. The second test is about attitude. If the five principles of the hacker mindset seemed obvious to you, more like a description of the way you already live than anything novel, you are already halfway to passing it. That's the inward half; the other, outward half is the degree to which you identify with the hacker community's long-term projects.
Here is an incomplete but indicative list of some of those projects: Does it matter to you that Linux improve and spread? Are you passionate about software freedom? Do you act on the belief that computers can be instruments of empowerment that make the world a richer and more humane place? But a note of caution is in order here. The hacker community has some specific, primarily defensive political interests — two of them are defending free-speech rights and fending off "intellectual-property" power grabs that would make open source illegal.
My bastard brain is unbalanced Thanks, brain, for sucking up all the serotonin as fast as you possibly can! Thank god for SSRIs. I will never, ever give them up and go back to the bleak existence your post so beautifully describes.
Love and hugs to you, Allie. So happy to have you back! It's less pointless bullshit if you made me crack up laughing about your hatred I think I've covered all the emotional bases. I realize I'm just a stranger on the internet but this post means a lot to me, so thank you for creating it.
You expressed this journey so well and much more eloquently than I've ever been able to. Thank you for being so honest about what you have been going through. Depression is not an easy thing to talk about, and those who have never experienced it can't possibly understand.
I have felt this way many times.. You are loved and supported by this crazy internet community. Be patient with yourself. Thank you for this. I will try really hard not to do that positivity-thing with a depressed person again. I get it now. Also, bizarrely enough, I kind of get it about the corn. It is pretty absurd that this little shriveled up, not particularly valuable object should just sit there, persistently surviving on its own, without anyone necessarily noticing until you did.
It's kind of its own ridiculous, sad, funny commentary on the nature of existence, in a weird way. Every morning for weeks i'd wake up and just be like crying for no reason as I ate my cereal. Anyway i'm glad you're back Allie. In all of my 15 years of depression including severe suicidal thoughts at times this is 10 times better than I could have explained.
I also love the, "trying but failing to be helpful" girl. I think everyone who has tried to say helpful things looks like that girl. This is one of the best explanations I have read about how that place feels. It feels like nothing.
But you are aware of it. I am very happy for you that you are creating again. Your feelings will never be the same, but maybe you will be able to appreciate the difference and appreciate having them at all? Thank you for communicating it. It seems a completely inadequate response, but there it is..
I just got to work. I couldn't get up today and face the world. For no really good reason. Thank you for making me not regret my decision today. I cannot begin to tell you how much I can relate to every word you wrote. I am going to go straight home today and hope to find my piece of corn. Your dead fish metaphor is so much better than the way I tried to explain my depression and other issues to my friends.
And I, too, remember trying to explain to people that I didn't want to kill myself; I just wanted to stop living, but it didn't really matter. I'm still in a weird place with my meds, but things are better now. I'm really glad they're getting better for you, too. I feel you, Allie, and I'm glad you found that piece of corn. Yep, you DID make me laugh inappropriately, as you predicted might happen. Sorry I laughed when your fish died You also made me think. About what it all means.
Fortunately, I landed on the side opposite the wasteland, the side that still had green grass and hope. Thank you for your honesty, it means something to a lot of people. Glad you're feeling some better, and hope things continue to improve. You've really helped a lot of people, not only with your past delightful blogs, but specifically with this one.
You'll never know the number of people whose lives you might have saved with this. Good luck getting better. That's what it's like. You know that scene in Neverending Story where the horse just dies because it's so hopeless and sad? Only you don't die. You just stand there in the mud up to your chin and wait for something else to happen. I've been through it. Actually tried killing myself.
Lesson learned- wrong mix of pills will damage your heart forever, but not kill you if you're laying in the right position. And I'm actually crazy happy to be alive.
I love my life. Not that that actually helps anybody else- and it took more than ten years, but there you have it. All the feelings come back. Even the super shitty ones. Only then you'll be better prepared for them, and you will make them hilarious, and we will all laugh with you. I don't know if this helps I'm not sure which is more amazing, this post, or that you're back, or that you're getting happier or healthier again A couple of people really close to me have had or still have depression, and while I've had a pretty good idea of what this must feel like, you can never really know just by someone explaining.
Definitely showing this to all of them. Thank you so much. So glad to have you back! Depression sucks, it's hard and it lies. Platitudes won't help but I'm glad you reached out! I have never read anything I related to as well as this. Everything, from the trying to explain to other people to the slightly scary laughter at corn. I laughed so much and so hard.
And good luck with the depression. I've been there and it sucks hard. So glad you're through some of the darkness. I work with youth and will be sure to share this with them. I will remember not to tell them to feed their dead fish too.
So so sooooo happy you're back. Thanks for this description of what depression feels like, it's so hard for people who've never felt it to understand. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. Thank you for existing. And thank you shriveled piece of corn for helping.
I still like you, though. I hate that you've been suffering. I was in a mental institution for depression and suicidal thoughts, and you summed up exactly what I went through. It never really goes away, I just learn to control the crazy bitch suicide and depression bitch better. Great to read your blog again. As someone who deals with clinical depression myself, I totally understand. And I'm glad you're coming out of un-feeling-land, as bizarre as it feels to feel again.
We love you just as you are. Thanks for sharing your story. Just knowing you're still on this earth made my day. Thank you for all the joy you have given me.
If you never write or draw again just know that someone appreciated everything you did. I wish I could have sat in a dirty sweatshirt with you. I totally get the corn I grok too much. And I'm going to go home and look under my refrigerator for some shriveled corn.
A pea would be okay, too. Only my friend can know for sure, but I think this exactly explains her recent behavior.
It's been upsetting to me, since I couldn't really understand it, and I can't say this really makes me understand IT, but it makes me understand her a bit more, I think. Good luck with things! This post is going to be epic. What an amazing way to describe such a debilitating illness.
Major props to you for this post. Allie - please keep creating, keep writing, keep expressing all this crazy stuff, your experience. And take this to heart: In a good way, not a creepy way.
This post is quite beautiful and personal. A journey that proves you are alive. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so similar to how my depression went. People just don't understand. I was that sweatshirt girl sliding off the couch. My moment of realization was when I was sitting in a Wendy's drive through and thought "wonder what would happen if i drove into that brick wall.
LOL I got 2 tickets in one week, the only ones I have ever had, after my meds started to make me feel better. But thank you so much for doing it, you will make a huge difference for so many people out there. I hope you put that corn in acrylic and make it into a paperweight! What you write about I've had shades of between my parents' passing and my son's neurological issues.
You know, when you find yourself in a bathroom stall at the store and not wanting to come out sounds like a good idea? But I'm not going to pretend I have been there. I've been in the vicinity, though, and it's not a lot of fun. This sounds like my depression story. Scarily like my depression story. What a full, beautiful career you had — you certainly deserve rest, relaxation, and some good wine. Three more years until this English teacher can retire with 30 years.
Time for bouncing creative ideas off colleagues is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I am limping rather than inspiring. You hit the nail on the head, and with amazing wit and insight.
Interesting that you barely mention the summers off. So nice of you, Shawn. Miss you all so much. I hope you enjoyed the first year in your new role! This should be required reading for every legislator in Lansing and in every other state Capitol. Well done, well done. I still sub in my old school because like you, I miss the kids and the co-workers. It is crazy the direction education has taken, and so sad. You speak for every frustrated teacher out there.
I have seen the dramatic swings over the years in the vastly different approaches to teaching and the pendulum never seems to rest in one direction for very long. We can only hope that wiser and more knowledgeable heads making the decisions will prevail. Thank you for a spot on analysis of the state of the classroom. Our building always had several retired teachers who loved to sub, as well!
Thanks for such an insightful comment, Brenda — especially love the part about the pendulum. Just posted on my Facebook! Wow, so much to say. I teach art and coached basketball and am unhappy! Must be shared with our administration. This is the article. This demands a response.
Administrators can certainly make a difference in the direction of your day — and on a larger scale, the direction of your career. Curious to know a bit more about your experience, and I hope that situation improves for you! I love how you have captured the frustrations of teaching as it has evolved in the past 10 years or so, and am so proud of but not surprised!
Great to hear from you, and thanks again for your kind words! My daughter taught middle school and high school English for 7 years. She was enthusiastic, active in her school and district and loved her work. She worked in Missouri, which pays its teachers very poorly.
I was paying her student loans for her and half of her mortgage payment on the townhouse that I made the down payment and closing costs for her.
As a single woman she simply could not afford to teach. Sadly, she had to resign and go to work in the private sector. I found this article to be incredibly well-written and it echoes the feelings of the handful of teachers I know. While my career mathematics has very little to do with English, writing, or grammar, I recognize that you were one of the best teachers I had in high school.
It is often said that the teacher makes the class, and it certainly rings true in your case. Well, that just made my whole weekend and made me tear up. Of course I remember you, Jake! That kind of sparkling personality is impossible to forget. I think someone told me you ended up at U of M — so, so proud of you, fellow Wolverine!
As a teacher at an independent progressive school, I relate to many things in your blog. Though I do not have to follow the Common Core or state standards, those expectations are entering our school environment. The students also have less respect towards teachers as they are supported by parents and administration. It makes me sad how things are changing — and have heard the same from my friends in other independent schools.
The kids are great and I will miss them when I leave. What a moving and accurate account of what is going on in education today. I have been teaching for 17 years and turned my resignation in last week. My passion for teaching has faded away for all the reasons you mentioned. Staying for the kids is what I did for the last 5 years. Unfortunately, all the other issues shadowed over my ability to continue to be a good teacher. I am fortunate that I have the ability to devote more time to my husband, children and grandchildren.
I pray for my dedicated teacher friends and wish them the best through the ever changing educational system. Thank you so much for reading, Deb.
I wish you the best in this next stage. Enjoy all those precious moments with your family! It was one of the saddest days of my life, losing an entire career that I had worked so hard at. What you say is very true, and very sad. It does feel so good when you stop hitting your head against a brick wall. Amazing to hear from someone outside of the U.
Thank you for sharing your experience! I know leaving after 17 years must have been incredibly difficult. I appreciate your comment, your kindness, and your readership! I started teaching when I was I loved it at first. However, all that you blogged today is what I encountered. I first taught students incarcerated, then elementary school. Some of my second graders, now adults, tell me that they loved that my plants had names and so on. Would love to see you write a more detailed blog post about it some time.
Or, email me if you have a moment. Also hardware is usually not replaced in a timely way. Sounds like an interesting concept for a book, Brian! That, and the hourly battle that is cell phones. I can really relate to so much of this. On one hand we need kids know how to really use technology and on the other it is a huge beast that feeds on the resources at a level never seen before.
Most people are afraid to call it out — thanks for doing that! I know our media specialist really worked hard to find beneficial technology-based lessons the kids could try. I understand the internal battle! This is a powerful first-hand, in-the-trenches account that people like Arne Duncan would be wise to read! I loved mine, as well. I tell people who ask that I am contemplating retirement, but I still enjoy being in the classroom. I decided two years ago after receiving my first lousy evaluation based on the new state requirements that I was going to do what I was hired to do….
I jump through the required hoops, but I went into teaching to teach kids, not to please legislators. Your article was spot on. Thanks for sharing what teachers are truly feeling.
Say hi to California for me and eat an In-n-Out burger for me. Did you not understand all the above complaints before choosing to become a teacher? Sorry, but did you read the article? And, yes, they DO quit. This quitting chaos is becoming a huge issue for our future generations. Thank you so much for sharing!
I love all the new pics of your little man. Eerie how when I passed this on to friends, they thought it was me. Here is why… 1. Left the classroom almost exactly one year ago after 15 years of teaching English 2. Moved across the country from AZ to IL 3. Have a four year old son 4. Thank you for showing people that our struggle is real, real frustrating. When will people understand that attacking the soul of the community that nurtures children into morally-conscientious adults results in opiod abuse due to national depression , intergenerational poverty due to poor local budgeting, and a generation of apathetic hate-mongers due to the discontinuation of critical thought?
Well, hello, Life Twin! Your blog is great. Written like a true ex- teacher. I did not have any of his classes but I knew who he was. I was a difficult student. I am 56 now. Although I never ascended to lofty heights in business of government I have had a fulfilling life thus far.
I often think back to the educators who, despite my best efforts, instilled the tools that has made my life comfortable. I dropped out at 17, enlisted in the Navy, worked a series of low skill labor jobs. Eventually started a small business. Became involved with local government and social interests. Nobody that special, but. So I apologize here to all those teachers I have not been able to contact in person for my behavior in your classes. You got through, I paid more attention than I would have you believe.
Your efforts were worthwhile, for me anyway. I understand the many, many reasons to leave this profession but please consider the many, many more young people like I was. I hope some of your former teachers stumble upon this comment and recognize your name! What a beautiful testament. This is the biggest bunch of BS from a person with cry baby Union mentality! Suck it up butter cup!
You only work 8 months out of the year with above avg. Think hard and I bet you can find examples. Or perhaps, you are saying that the education system is perfect, and there is absolutely no reason to even consider otherwise. If that is your stance, I would encourage you to do what a former teacher may have encouraged you to do … read, read, and read some more.
I think if you read with an open mind, you will see that there are large issues. And lastly, educators work 9 months per year, and get paid for 9 months per year. It is not some scam where they get 4 paid months off.
Comments like these make me wonder what it will be like for American teachers if there is a President Trump in the White House! It was hard enough having a teaching career during the 3 decades after the Watergate scandal, when respect for authority plummeted! This excellent piece of writing illuminates why being a school teacher was by far the hardest job that I ever had—except, perhaps, for being a parent of three!
Bless you, Melissa, in your newfound writing career! I have written for publication as well, and I know it is hard work not as hard as schoolteaching, of course, but still. Anyway, keep it up! Oh, and you should be teaching education at a local college—even part time!
If you could somehow make that happen, it could have an incredible impact on a great number of future educators. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Larry! Your hashtags cracked me up. I appreciate your Facebook share! Most people spend half their day dealing with email and responding…. I worked for 10 years in corporate America and transitioned to teaching. It is NOT what you think it is. You go home and plan and grade…and take required training…and plan for student extracurriculars you sponsor…and read articles for the teacher STEM program they signed you up for…and wake up at 3 am thinking, how can I deal with these 3 students who are behind tomorrow and then realize you have to be awake in an hour and a half so you might as well just stay up.
It NEVER stops…the hours I put in are longer in the school year oh I also plan during the summer and have meetings too than I had in a hour a week corporate job. What a fascinating perspective you have, as you worked 10 years in corporate America first! The general public needs to hear more from people like you. Melissa, I just read your article on The Huffington Post on this topic. It is SO good. Everyone needs to read it. As a former teacher, I understand everything you wrote and agree completely with you.
I have written some of the same things on my website, SmartHelpForStudents. I hope the teachers and parents who read your blog will check out my website, too. I was a teacher for 10 yrs. I have always said that I would go back to the classroom some day. I think that being a teacher is what I am best at.
Any new relationship is full of challenges. You're getting to know someone, and there's no telling when "But underlying it, if he says things like, 'So they'll treat us better the next time,' or he tired, or we're overwhelmed, or our plate is too full , and that person says, 'Yeah, I'll get to that,' and never does. But, the problem with dating someone so much like you that you agree to stagnation, especially when it comes to braving new experiences. There were quirks on his end, too. I'd want to hear “I guess I'm not used to talking to someone about my day.” Maybe your new partner wants to talk on the phone every day, and you've never been a phone talker. For example, I love being alone in the mornings so I can get my work done in peace.