Friday, June 10, 2005

I just don't have the stamina

I'd like to take a moment to admire a colleague of mine who teaches at the same school I do. Every school has a teacher like this, and he's ours. He's been with the district for something like 15 years (which is, like, 75 Oakland-teacher-years). He's the music teacher, and he devotes a great deal of time and energy into keeping music in our school (in a district where most of the schools have lost their elective programs). He has an annual fundraiser at, I think, Yoshi's jazz club. He spends extra time before and after school rehearsing. He sponsors several student concerts throughout the year.

But above and beyond that, he is the backbone of our school. He spends part of his conference period cleaning up garbage, since our school is down to one evening custodian. He will repair anything and everything that needs it (he climbed up onto the roof of my portable classroom a couple of months ago to clean out the drainpipe so the big pool of water up there could drain outside instead of into my classroom, a trick the district repair folks have not been able to duplicate or fix). He chases down students who are wandering around out of class, writes referals, and will even call their parents - These are kids who are not his students, mind you.

In other words, he makes the rest of us look bad. But he has the energy and commitment to do all of this, even after being flogged by the district for all those years. (Working for this district is kind of like being beaten by a large rubber fish whilst simultaneously being rubbed down with sandpaper)

I admire him and wish that I could muster and sustain that kind of drive. But I've found that I just don't care that much. I've only been rubber-fish-flogged and sandpaper-rubbed for four years and I'm all out of caring. As a fresh-faced student teacher I would have been horrified at my current attitude. I would have shouted, "Goest thou far from teaching!"

What I need, I explained to my colleague today, is a district/school where there is a heck of a lot more parent and student buy-in. Where I'm not just an extremely cheap daycare. Where the rubber fish aren't quite so large and the sandpaper is maybe a little finer?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Why Oakland isn't so bad

1. Good ethnic restaurants.

2. Ethnic diversity.

3. There's a lot of stay-at-home dads in the area who can hang out with my husband.

4. I'm really trying, here!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Shiva Rea annoys me

We decided this evening that what my pre-natal yoga video is really missing is the toddler crawling all over Shiva Rea, Britta, and Poppy.

Said toddler will follow through about half the warm up before she gets bored.

So, like, hello Shiva Rea! Who is likely to be doing pre-natal yoga? Mothers! Many of whom already have kids! You're missing the "Downward dog while toddler is tugging on your hair" pose and the "Table with toddler on your back" pose. Not to mention "Baby pose with toddler underneath" and "Triangle while toddler tries to steal your yoga block."

Right now I am "typing while toddler tries to lick the screen" so I guess it's time to go read books.

Why Oakland is Bootsie-town

1. Serious lack of public parks. Unless you want to buy drugs or have your children play amongst the needles. Or you don't mind garbage. Or you never have to go to the restroom.

2. Dr. Randolph "I make Satan look like a choir boy" Ward, state-appointed destroyer of public education.

3. Too many (*&%$^%^! freeways.

4. Too many self-centered, cell-phone chatting ignoramuses (ignoramii?) clogging up those freeways in their Lexus SUV's.

5. Miserable excuse for a lake, AKA "Dam that estuary anyhow!"

6. People completely ignoring that there is a vehicle code. You think the person in front of you is waiting too long to take that unprotected left-hand turn? Go around him on the left! No, you don't need headlights in your car! Don't want to wear a motorcycle helmet? Don't bother! Ride your non-street-legal dirtbike on the sidewalk (after all, it's not street legal!)! Don't want to make a u-turn? Drive in reverse!

7. Did I mention garbage everywhere yet?

8. You don't need to go to the dump. Just take those five bags of garbage and dump them under an overpass. Public works will do your work for you!

9. Kids who are completely off the hook. Lots of them. And the parents (or grandparents) who defend them. "No, my granddaughter didn't steal that sweater out of your house. I bought it for her."

10. Clogged up freeways in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday.

And to those who say, "If you don't like it, then leave," I am. I have one more year, though, before I can.

Coming up next: Reasons why Oakland isn't so bad. I promise.