Holiday Depression

I thought I would be happy today. I wrote yesterday how awful this week was but since it is now Christmas vacation, I thought my anxiety and depression would take a break too. But when I woke up last night and could not fall back asleep, I knew my problems were continuing.

I have been looking forward to Christmas break for several weeks. It is no secret that I have a very difficult group of students and that this has not been a great year. So that is what I was thinking about in the middle of the night last night. I do not know how I am going to make it through the next half year. And I am also debating about whether I want to come back next year.

And I guess it has been on my mind a lot today as well. That and the fact that I was so lonely today. The only person I talked to today was the person at the gas station. It was such a long and lonely day. But the thing is, I am supposed to go home tomorrow and I am not even looking forward to it.

I wanted to cut tonight but I managed to talk myself out of it and just used a marker to draw lines on my wrist. I was unable to participate in the Lines Project because as a teacher of third and fourth grade, I cannot be promoting self injury. So I guess I killed two birds with one stone.

I just do not understand why I feel so depressed when I should be happy. I have every right to be.

Advertisements

Halloween as a Teacher

Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays. I was always shy as a kid and I hated going door to door asking strangers for candy. It was better when I was too old to go because then I could just hand out candy and eat anything my brothers collected.

I must say I was not looking forward to Halloween as a teacher. I knew my students would be wound up even without the candy because they would be excited about the classroom party as well as trick or treating that night. My expectations were met.

Ten minutes before the party, I took the students out to recess with the hopes that they would wear off some energy before getting it all back in sugar. We were not even out for ten minutes because two of my students got into a fight. I told them they were going to the principal. I hoped the principal would keep the students for the rest of the day as a lesson to what happens when they fight. And sure enough, he did. Most people would have made an exception since it was Halloween and let the students go to the party.

When I got home, I was not in a good mood and really did not want to hand out Halloween candy. I knew my students would be coming to my house.

My students did not even wait for me to turn on the light. When I was a kid, trick or treating started at six. You also did not go to a house that had no light on. Kids came to my door before six.

Thankfully, I did not get a ton of kids. At eight o’clock, I shut the light off and then went to take a shower so that no one would see the living room light and think they could come bother me.

Why Our Schools are Failing Us

Recently, there have been a lot of changes to the American education system. We are now competing against other countries to get better test scores. As a teacher, I believe that some of the demands the government is enforcing in the education system is kind of ridiculous. When I was a student in high school though, I could easily see one thing that could be changed. And that was having better teachers.

            In high school, I took two advanced placement classes. The one class was known to be very difficult. I was ranked at the top of my class and I had my doubts that I would be able to keep my rank with this class. I was hoping to achieve an A in the class but after all the comments I had heard about it, I would have also accepted a B.

            The class involved a lot of work which was all very difficult. Everyday, we would begin class with a bell ringer. Once we discussed the bell ringer, we would discuss questions from the reading assigned the day before. Then, we would be assigned more reading and questions for that night. On top of that, we were constantly working on some kind of essay or extremely large project that was due in a couple weeks. Finally, we were also reading a book of our choice that applied to the subject and writing a long book report as well as doing some other large projects that were due at the end of the semester.

            Every so often, we would have a test. The tests were very hard. For some people, this class was the first time they ever had to study. I had been studying for years and even I was finding the tests difficult. It got so that a few days before the test, I would reread the entire chapter and then go through my review questions and bell ringers frequently. There was always a review session the morning of the test that many of my classmates would attend. The tests were difficult because he would take questions directly from old AP tests.

            Right before the AP test, we were having daily review sessions as well as going through our old tests and review questions. I was pretty confident after the test that I had done pretty well and sure enough, I had. I scored a four on the test. All of my hard work as well as my teacher’s preparation had really helped me.

            My other advanced placement class was a joke though. I had had this teacher the year before and she spent the entire class period on her computer while we worked quietly on our assignments. This AP class was no different. It fact, we probably learned even less than the year before. We would spend the first twenty minutes of class discussing various topics, none of which were class related. After about twenty minutes, one of my classmates would decide that it was time to get to work. As a class, we would read aloud our novel and discuss. Our teacher would work at her computer unless we had a question. It took us three months to complete that novel because after we read most of it in class, we watched two different versions of the movie and completed a paper.

            One time, we took a test over something we read and everyone failed. My teacher bumped up our grades and said that we all failed because the test had AP questions on it and that we weren’t ready for that yet.

            We complained to the administration that we weren’t learning anything. We said that the regular class was doing more than we were. My teacher talked to us later and said the reason we didn’t have many assignments was because we were busy with our other advanced placement class and that the assignments she gave us were bigger than the assignments she gave her other class. Sill, I wasn’t feeling very confident when I got done taking the AP test. And sure enough, I only got a two.

            Maybe American students are lacking in test scores compared to other countries. But has the government even stepped into a school to see how things can be changed? Right now, America needs great teachers so that all students can excel.

What I Learned in High School

As I look back at my high school career, I know I learned a lot. But now, I cannot remember most of what I learned. Today, I would not be able to help my brothers with their algebra or help them studying for a science test. Most of what I learned in high school made me a well rounded person but all the information I learned is not something that I have ever used so I have forgotten it.

 

In math, I learned how to find the measurements of angles and sides of triangles. I also memorized complicated formulas for solving something. Look around though. There are not a lot of triangles that need to be measured. And it is a little difficult to use complicated equations when I do not even know what their purpose is. My teacher used to tell us that we did not need to know algebra if we were going to go live in the mountains but I do not think I have used any algebra since I graduated.

 

In history, I learned about early civilizations and about important people in the world. I memorized dates and places. I know history is important so that we can learn from the past and not make the same mistakes. But there is just too much history to learn. And history is being made everyday. I would rather just learn about the most important events and then learn more about what is going on in the world today.

 

In English, I memorized lines from Romeo and Juliet. I read countless other stories and then answered long, complicated questions. I identified certain parts of speech in lots of sentences. The only time it helps that I have read Romeo and Juliet is when it is mentioned in pop culture. And it really does not help that I can identify parts of speech. I just write sentences and then edit them later until they sound perfect.

 

In government, I memorized the names of people in government even though when they appear on the news, their position is listed underneath their name. I looked at countless political cartoons and attended way more city council meetings than were necessary.

 

In science, I learned the kingdoms and orders of countless species only to forget them after the test. I made roller coasters out of folders and drew pictures of pulleys. The experiments were fun but I often had trouble seeing how they were educational.

 

I am not saying that everything I learned in high school was pointless. It all really depends on what a person wants to do with their life. And really, if schools want their students to remember the information taught, they need to find a way for students to use it in their personal lives rather than just at school. Otherwise, they will forget it just like I did after the test.

 

The Tortures of PE

I can understand the importance of PE in school. In today’s society, many kids are overweight. Also, students need a break from the regular classroom in order to get some exercise. PE is very important but for those that are not athletic, it can be torture.

 

One bad thing about PE was picking teams. Nobody ever wanted me on their team because I was going to be no help in winning the game. I remember the horrible feeling of standing in front of the teams waiting to be one of the last picked. I knew I wasn’t welcome on the team and it really hurt. I just wanted to have fun.

 

I had one teacher that did not care how athletic we were. I was ok with that most of the time until it came to baseball. The pitcher was forced to pitch it over and over to me until I was finally able to hit it. I was humiliated because I had exceeded my three strikes a long time ago and I just could not hit it. My teacher would not let me strike out and that was frustrating the pitcher as well as all the athletic students in the class.

 

Dodgeball was also a torture that I had to endure all the time. I was not a target because I could not throw the ball without someone on the other team catching it and I could rarely catch it. I just had to run around and avoid getting hit. And if I ended up with a ball, I would just pass it to someone who could throw. What I hated most about dodgeball was getting hit. The balls we had to use really hurt. It did not help when they were thrown really hard.

 

Basketball was another torture for me. I remember playing games where I did not touch the ball the entire class period. All I did was run back and fourth on the court and wish that someone would just pass me the ball once. Yeah, there was a good chance that I would miss and the other team would get it, but I just wanted the chance to play. Instead, I got the opportunity to run and look like I was participating the entire time.

 

One game I really liked to play was badminton. I was actually decent at it. But even that was taken away from me because I was not the most athletic in the class. One year, there were not enough nets for everyone in the class so I was stuck doing cup stacking with a couple other students like me. There is only so much cup stacking you can do before you go crazy.

 

Whenever I did have a miraculous feat in PE, everyone would go on and on about it. Once in awhile, I would catch the ball or make a basket and then it was a big deal. Seriously, I already got enough embarrassment in PE. I did not need praise for something that almost anyone else could do with no problems.

 

Thankfully, PE in high school was based on participation; otherwise I probably would have failed based on what I had the opportunity to do and what I could do. I understand the importance of PE, but that does not make me like it anymore.

The English Scholarship

When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher heard about this national scholarship involving reading this certain book and then writing an essay. She encouraged us all to participate.

 

I began reading the book but it was long, difficult, and boring. I finally quit reading the book.

 

As the deadline for the scholarship approached, my teacher suddenly told us that the book and essay had been an assignment for class and that it was due soon. Everyone in the class was angry. We had thought we were doing this voluntarily. We did not have time now to read that awful book.

 

Again, I picked up the book and tried to read it. It was just as bad as before. And then, I did something I had never done before. I looked up a chapter summary of the book on internet. The chapter summary was just as bad as the actual book. There were a lot of chapters and it took awhile to read each summary. I finally gave up reading the summaries and just wrote the essay. I knew my essay was horrible. I only hoped that everyone else had written essays that were just as bad.

 

As the deadline approached, my teacher finally decided that she would cancel the assignment. She had heard there was another scholarship involving a different book by the same author. Only this scholarship was for college freshmen. She found the book online and ordered a copy for everyone except me. I refused to pay money for a book that I would never read. I did not like this author and I did not want her taking up space on my bookshelf. I told my teacher that I would get the book from the library.

 

As everyone in my class said at the time, “We paid money to get out of an assignment.”

Senior Trip

My junior year in high school, we were required to sell magazines for prom. We had to sell a certain number because after prom was paid for, the extra was going to go for our senior trip. If we didn’t make our goal, individually we would have to pay more. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to prom or on the senior trip so I wasn’t too worried about selling magazines. In fact, I would have sold none but than my mom realized that there was a really good deal on a magazine that my grandma bought for both my aunt and uncle and my mom so I ended up selling a total of three magazines. No one else in my class did very well either and we got yelled at for it. We were given extra time but no one used it.

 

At the end of our junior year, we had another meeting to discuss where we wanted to go on our senior trip. A lot of restrictions had been put on the trip because the seniors that year went really far away and the trip ended up costing a lot of money. The school board was not pleased and said that we could only go to surrounding states.

 

A bossy girl in our class had been discussing the trip with the class sponsor and they pretty much decided where we were going. I would have been angry if I had had any intention of going but since I wasn’t, I went along with the location.

 

At the beginning of senior year, we had another class meeting. Right away, we were told that if we weren’t going, than we could leave. I was the first one out of the room. Several others were quick to follow. I had several reasons for not going. First, I did not like the class sponsor and couldn’t imagine working with her on fundraising. Second, I hated fundraising. I was not going to go door-to-door selling things that people did not want. Last, my mom didn’t want me to go because she had heard bad things that had happened the year before. She would have let me go if I had wanted but I didn’t.

 

One of the class sponsors came up to me later that day and asked me if I was positive about not going. I knew why she was asking me. My family is large and can’t afford things like the senior trip. But with all the fundraising, the trip is supposed to be available to everyone. I just told the sponsor that my mom and I had already talked about it and she left me alone.

 

As time went on, more and more people dropped out of the trip. The bossy girl in my class couldn’t understand why. First of all, we had a lot of poor students in our class that couldn’t afford the trip and didn’t really have people that would be willing to buy things from them. Second, most of the class didn’t have very good grades and probably wouldn’t have been academically eligible.

 

By the time of the senior trip, I think almost half the class went. That meant hardly anyone because our class was very small. Those of us that didn’t go actually got to stay home. I can’t imagine why they would let us except that they probably didn’t want to try to have senior classes with people missing.

 

The next year, the school board let the senior class go to a state that wasn’t surrounding. The next year, they did go to a surrounding state but that was the last trip because there wasn’t a lot of interest.