The Adventure Begins

The Train Adventure Begins on Thursday

Yes, another reason not to teach

There’s a madwoman across the hall— crazier than Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre, but unlike Bertha, this one is on the loose. She should be locked in an attic, but she runs free and scars kids for life. She even scarred me, and I’m about fifty years away from being a kid.

In short, the bitch is crazy. At her best, she is manic. She exhibits pressured speech. The verbal vomit of a bi-polar disordered fool. She spews words like projectile vomiting after food poisoning and is oblivious to any cues that her victims are not really listening—just staring and gaping in horror.

Yet, she carries on. Her supervisors are afraid, very afraid. Hell, I’m afraid. And embarrassed. I have a crazy woman for a colleague. We have the same job, the same pay. Lie down with dogs; get up with fleas. Thank you, Ben Franklin. I quit.

One (More) Reason to Quit Teaching



One (More) Reason to Quit Teaching


Data-Driven Disaster


From the number of students who earned an F for the semester to the number of kids who missed each and every question on the final exam, the school administrators measure everything. They can tell you what percentage of kids ate potato wedges on which day. They can tell you how many students were tardy for any given hour. We, according to the administrators, are on data-driven school with data-driven instructions. I really wouldn’t be surprised to learn they have a chart and a graph that shows how many times I urinated on Tuesday.


I don’t deny that hidden in all those numbers there might be a teensy bit of usefulness. However, the one thing that makes me an outstanding teacher can’t be found in the data. The numbers nuts have not figured out how to graph the rapport I have with my students. I work hard to win the trust of the kids; I carefully cultivate our relationship. They don’ t just walk in the door of that classroom wanting to please me. I work hard to get them there. They know when they succeed, they make me happy. Graph that, Jack.

One (More) Reason to Quit Teaching



One (More) Reason to Quit Teaching

I Can’t Read What They Write

I went to the bank today; I had to make some notes and sign some documents. The clerk, a very pleasant young woman, commented that I had beautiful handwriting. I don’t think it’s beautiful (my grandfather had beautiful handwriting, a natural calligraphy), but it is neat and legible. I thanked her, and I told her I had been instructed in the Palmer method when I was in second grade. Obviously, this was more information than the young woman needed or wanted, but her unflappable perkiness prevailed and she said, “All the old people that come in here tell me they were taught penmanship; I never was.” This was followed by a giggle and a smile. Because I was signing things so she would give me money, I opted to ignore the old people comment; however, she did raise an interesting issue: Penmanship.

The Palmer method lost popularity, and those who attended elementary school after 1980 simply can’t write legibly, much less attractively. Handwriting is quickly, much to my dismay, becoming a lost art. Hell it’s not an art. It’s a requirement. Yes, I prefer my keyboard, but it’s not always available. The IRS still wants a signature, so does my employer. Students still turn in written work; although, most of it is illegible.

Writing neatly and legibly is like saying hello and shaking hands. These small niceties are what keep us civilized. Bring back the Palmer Method!

One Reason To Quit Teaching






One Reason to Quit Teaching

I walk into a sea of cell phones. Thumb exercises for the current generation. Please put the phones away, I ask in the calmest, most caring, warmest and fuzziest way. Two kids oblige. I step it up, and my teacher voice kicks in. PLEASE! Put the phones away. Eyes on me, class. PUT THE PHONES AWAY. All but one comply. You know the one. Every class has one of those kids. I instruct him to put his phone on my desk, and he does but appears completely and totally confused. Those cell phones are hypnotizing the kids.

This scenario repeats itself six times a day. Yes, six. Unlike most teachers in North American Public schools, I teach six, not five, periods a day. And I teach English, not math, so I don’t claim these numbers are exact, and I don’t count all the cell phone reminders I give during the day. Conservatively, I ask students to put the phones away somewhere around one-hundred times a week. That’s at least 18,000 times a school year.

I just can’t say it again. I quit. I’m done. Finito. Finished.

I know you’re wondering why I don’t just put an end to the problem. Stop the war. Well, sure I could write a detention. That’s a problem. It takes time. The form is in triplicate. I have to carry the detention to the office during the five-minute passing period when I usually use that time to talk individually with kids. The administration hates detentions. My boss prides himself on reducing the total number of detentions written. Yes, he tracks this data. Detentions are not a great idea. More importantly, they don’t keep kids off the phones.

I suppose I could call their parents, but hell, who do you think is texting those kids during class? Yes, their parents.
I could take the phone. Oh, yeah. I want to be responsible for someone’s $500 dollar iPhone 5 or whatever the current toy of the month is.

If I sound bitter, it is because I am. Did I mention I was done? I’ll stop just short of telling you what you can do with your cell phone.