About Me

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San Clemente, CA, United States

Saturday, February 25, 2012


When the bell rings, when students are in classes, no one in the educational system matters other than the classroom teacher. The secretaries, attendance clerks, maintenance crews, janitors, and the entire district office staff could be munching on potato chips and watching reruns of "Dance Moms" for all it matters. When the bells ring, there is only one person who has the eyes and ears of 40 students waiting for him or her to motivate and educate them; the classroom teacher.

So why when I go to the office because I need something am I made to feel like an imposition? Quite the opposite should be true. I should have a couple adults waiting outside my door to sprint down the halls if I need anything. I'm the one trying to teach these kids. Without me, no one else is working. Without me, there is no school.


About 4 years ago, I was walking through the halls during passing period behind a group of three or four boys. A couple of them were just walking to class, but 2 of them couldn't seem to keep their hands to themselves. There was arm punches, mini-shoves, rough neck hugs, etc. All in the span of about 50 feet. The 2 aggressive kids were big. The 2 boys bearing the "good natured" brunt were smaller. They got to there classroom and one of the bigger boys grabbed a smaller boy in a rough headlock and pretended to bring his knee up quick for a knee shot to the face. He came pretty close.

I'd seen enough.

I barked at him to stop and told him and his rough buddy to come with me. First they just stared at me while the smaller boy said they were just playing. Another bark to follow me and the boys joined me privately in my room.

I ranted at them pretty good that this is a high school not a playground. I told them that what they were doing looked like bullying and it will not be tolerated. I accused them of acting like children while we are insisting on them acting like young men. I told them I would not tolerate this nonsense in my school.

Two days later a mom contacted me. She wanted to talk to me about how I spoke to her son. I agreed to meet whenever she would like, and she suggested a Starbucks near school.

She started by telling me that she thought I was too rough on her son. My tone, words, posture, facial expressions were all too "something". She tuned me up pretty good for awhile and I just sat there and took it. Finally, I interjected. Probably went something like this,

"You son did something wrong, got yelled at, and you are hear to cry for him? Your son made a mistake and got talked to roughly and you are here complaining about it? He wasn't suspended, expelled, written up, taken to the office, ... nothing. Nothing happened bad to your son and you are here going to bat for him? He will continue to do the wrong things until you let him serve a consequence. What the heck are you thinking? You should have grounded him and taken away every bit of his technology for acting the fool at school. You should have made him come to me an apologize like a young man but INSTEAD, you think he was spoken to "meanly". Are you kidding. Ma'am. I know your son. I've watched him for 2 years. He is absolutely capable yet getting bad grades. He is always out of class, always violating dress code, always disrespectful, and you are coming to school to complain that I was mean to him. You should be mean to him. You should be furious with him....."

Something like that.

Then, she just started crying. Horrible racking sobbing flailing crying. She blubbered that he was out of control, on drugs, drinking and failing. She didn't know why she did what she did for him.

She started apologizing and told me she didn't know what to do. Inside, I knew this kid was an entitled punk who owned his parents. Nothing she tried to do now would change him. Still, I gave her my best advice.

"They don't need friends, they need parents. They need parents that insist on good character and great work ethic and they need parents that model that behavior. Can't tell a kid to read if you are watching Teen Mom on TV. Kids don't need to be given everything they want and they are begging for structure, rules and consequences. Quit worrying if they like you. Start worrying if they will learn what they need to grow into hard working citizens of good character.'

The rear view mirror

The crap that people hang from their rearview mirror makes me laugh.

The tassel from your high school graduation. Really? Ok, props to you for doing what everyone else has done. You just go ahead and keep that tassel there so you can remind yourself, and others, how very average you are.

The tassel from your college graduation. Loser. If you graduated from college, go get a great job, work hard for a bunch of years, and carve out a nice life for yourself. But hanging your tassel screams, "this is the best thing I've ever done!!". Lose the tassel and grow up.

The crystal. Come on. I get it; its pretty when the sun hits it. So is a puppy but I don't hang one from my mirror. Move to Sedona, Arizona, sit under a triangle and gain you mystical powers, but leave the crystal at home.

The cardboard evergreen tree air freshener. "But it smells good." Shut up. You have just transformed your $40,000 BMW into a car that looks like it should be driven to the trailer park. Nice going idiot.

Parking pass. Wow, you are so cool that you get to park in the parking lot. Take the damn thing off when you leave and put it on when you get there. Could you be more lazy?

Fuzzy Dice.   The 80's called and want their dice back.

Beads.  We get it.  You've been to Mardi Gras and showed everyone your breasts. Might be time to rethink your character.

To be continued


A five foot nothing, 94 pound, high school sophomore girl stopped me in my tracks the other day. 

She's a student in my Accelerated Algebra 2 w/ Trigonometry class and she earned a B (87.35%) for the semester.  Good student.  Always on time, always on task, always pleasant to be around, and she performed very well in the class.  Tough class.   Logarithms, conic sections, exponential growth and decay, etc.  

She stuck around after class and when everyone was gone, she asked if she could talk with me about her grade.   I said sure, sat down, and listened as she told me that she felt she deserved an A because she "tried her best" and "worked her butt off".  

I think the conversation went something as follows;

HER:  I know I finished with 87%, but I feel I deserve an A.   I gave my best effort and worked my butt off.  I want to know if you will round my grade up to an A. 

ME:  That would be a heck of a rounding... 3%.... No,  I'm not comfortable issuing you an A.  You had a very good semester and should be very proud of that B.  My class is fast and complex and rigorous and I agree you made a great effort.   But, at the end of the day, your grade is determined by your performance, not by your level of effort.   Grades are a microcosm of life.  If you become a salesperson after school and you try really hard, do your best, work your butt off and still don't sell anything,  your family doesn't eat.  Again, at the end of the day, it isn't about how hard you try, it is about what you ultimately accomplish. 

HER:  Is there anything else I can do?  Extra Credit?  I really need an A.

ME:   No.  You earned a B.

HER:  You know you are a hypocrite right?

ME:  Excuse me?

HER;  All year long you harped on us about putting forth great effort.  You said things like, "Great effort is always rewarded"  and "In this world all you can really control is your effort and attitude.  If you put forth a great effort, maintain a positive attitude, good things happen"   Well, I guess you didn't mean any of that.

She left, and I just sat there stunned.  Now, a week later, I'm still shaken.