I have really enjoyed my new desire to blog lately. However, as I walked in today to my sister and brother in laws house , my sis in law said that I should forget about blogging on politics and tell about what life was like to be Vince today.
I subbed today in a school district that in my opinion needs a lot of work. That is not to say that every other district is peachy and perfect, but this district, from the top down, seems to have some major flaws. I can also speak about this district because a very close relative of mine use to be employed by them for a handful of years.
Anywho, I had a tough experience at one of the middle schools in this district and I took a few week break from subbing with them. I took up todays job because 1) it was an English class which seemed somewhat do-able for me and up my ally and 2) I didn’t have a sub job lined up yet for today.
I drove in to work and chatted with my Dad on the phone about the recent mid term elections, his work, the Bush tax cuts, and our weekends. He was planning on going to his plan B for work today; it was windy out so instead of doing leaf clean ups, he would cut grass.
I parked in the assigned spot for the teacher I was covering for. I walked in a bit early, before all of the commotion and noise of a Monday high school day began. I made my way to my room and was even escorted up by a boy I will call Arman who knew I was not fully familiar with the school’s layout. He made his way along my side, saying “hey” or “what’s up?” to mostly everyone we passed. He even made little connections with teachers and other students based on the t-shirts they wore or that they packed a lunch. As we pulled up to my classroom, I thanked Arman and gave him a pound (handshake) and turned to Mr. H, the teacher I covered for. He was glad to see me and explained to me his already clearly laid out plans for the day. We were to read chapter 6 in To Kill a Mockingbird and complete a worksheet for homework. A simple day.
I had to teach 4 classes today. Each had trouble to their own degree with starting. How do you start your class up on a Monday and read To Kill a Mockingbird? How do you convey to your visual students your name when the chalk and markers are locked up by the teacher so that no one can steal them? How do you give the simple and brief instructions when some of the students are turned around and speaking street Spanish? Well, I try and take my time, pausing where I have to and waiting for at best a mostly undivided class.
Each class had a handful of students who didn’t have their books. They either had to share with one another, boringly listen, or fight off putting their heads down to sleep. The ones who did read along were often attentive and wanted to read a few paragraphs out loud. I would interject here and there, asking questions about Jem or Dill, just to check that they were following along and connecting some dots. I would even stop the reading and break into mini-lectures on racism and privilege after Dill and Jem contemplated taking a risky walk at night or delve into the definition of a cherub (description of Dill’s face).
Some classes provided more fertile grounds for discussion. I believe only one class didn’t have me throw out a cursing student. It wasn’t until 6th period, my last teaching class of the day, that things went very wrong.
This class seemed tough to get going and in order. I don’t know if they had just come back from lunch or were ready to go home. One student, who I will call David, came in to class loud as ever. His voice towered over his normal sized body and really carried a lot of disrupting power. He wore a pair of nice glasses and within 30 seconds of entering class, they were taken from him twice. As much as he may seem a victim already, he dished out jokes and cutting comments to anyone within breathing distance of him. It came to pass that he lost his glasses for the third time and thought someone was hiding them. I tried to start class regardless because I couldn’t find them. He continued to disrupt class and made that plan of me starting fruitless. I told him to take a breather outside and he just stormed out, mad and distraught that he possibly lost his expensive glasses which his grandmother had bought him.
As David was gone, I encouraged a few students to read a bit of chapter 6. Most of the time, students would read fine but would be talked over by a fellow student. David returned and knocked on the door. He knocked because I locked the door from the inside to prevent random students from disrupting the already uncohesive class. I stepped outside and he asked if he could come back in. I asked him why I should let him back in. As he and I continued on this conversation, I partly had to keep control of class as I was halfway out the door. I told David to go downstairs and get someone to come up to class and get back his glasses.
As I went back into the classroom, a boy in the back of the room had a pen thrown at him by a girl sitting caddy corner to him. He threw something back at her and they then started off cursing at each other. Then then stood up to curse at each other and then pronounce the detail penalty on one another. I told them both to leave the class. I told the boy, who I will call Ephren, to go downstairs first before Shannelle (the girl he was fighting with). Ephren walked to the front of the room and sat down in a desk. I asked him to leave but he refused. I walked up front and tapped him on the shoulder and pointed towards the door. Again, he refused. I tugged on his arm and told him to get out. He spoke next, looking at the class, that I shouldn’t f*****g touch him. I equally responded by telling him to get the f*** out of the room. He got up, stood eye to eye with me, and asked me at least 5 times “what are you going to do?” He and I were about 8 feet from the door and I gently pushed him towards the direction of the door, to get him out of my face and towards the exit. He caught his balance and cocked back and swung at my face. He first connected with my cheek and I instantly grabbed him and slammed him up against the door. As I held him, I looked around to see a boy come up and neutrally break us up. I asked for someone to open the door and as it was opened, Ephren exited, swung, and connected with the side of my head. He ran out and from what I gathered left the school building.
David was just coming back up the stairs with an administrator to help find his glasses. His glasses just happened, beyond my knowing, to of been on my desk the whole time. The admin he was with took over as I talked with my neighboring teacher and had him call for assistance. Instantly, hall monitors and the principal arrived and walked me downstairs. As I was in the nurses office icing my face, the fire alarms went off and we received a report that a bomb threat was just called in to the school and administration building.
I am thinking to myself: how slim is the possibility for these circumstances to align in one single school day? I begin walking towards the exit with the principal as they evacuate the entire school. We walk by special education students who needed to be wheel chaired out into the cold. We walk up the stairs of the front of the building and into the office. The principal and fellow staff coordinated plans for tracing the call, sweeping the building, and following procedures for terroristic threats. In comes the superintendent. She sees me icing my face and apologizes for such things happening. She implores me that such things should never happen to teachers and she again apologizes.
I sit in the office for roughly an hour, sitting and listening to the rhythm of the fire alarm, watching new faces come in and out, and seeing how a school works together in the case of such a threat. I eventually make my way through the school and am all but done for the day. I contact my employer and have faxed to them a medical report. I pack up my things and get ready to head out for the day.
I walk across the busy street and head towards my cars direction. I parked in a specific spot assigned for the teacher I covered. I reach the row up against a wall and do not see my car. I wonder: do I have brain damage or is my car really not here. I double check the number and finally connect the dots: my car has either been stolen or has been towed.
I head back in to the high school, the very place I want to leave completely for the day and just head home. I ask if they have towed anyone today. I eventually realize my foolish mistake. I had parked across the street in a lot that was divided between government parking for county and city workers. I had parked there before and received a warning. This time, I was towed. I didn’t remember to not park there and just somehow forgot about that simple fact. I get the number of the towing company, call up for directions, and miraculously hitch a ride with the same admin who came up the steps with David to help find his glasses. This admin was heading in the same direction and was willing to help me out.
I arrive and am slammed with a $125 towing fee. Ouch. Thankfully, they had a handful of left over Halloween candy in a basket and I loaded up. I get my 1994 Toyota and turn the key in the ignition. I find my way back home, call up my Dad, and hear his support and comparison to having a car of his towed in 1977 that, adjusted to inflation, cost more than mine did today. He and I are very alike; we tell some stories with an overkill of detail for no reason.
I get home, finally, and am greeted by my wife and the warm house and residing family. They don’t ask how my day was because they knew from me telling them bits and pieces earlier. All they say is to forget about blogging about politics and to tell about the day in the life of Vince Giordano. And while I am at it, enjoy some light beef soup and grilled cheese. All of those ingredients – family, warmth, and food – heal my wounds.