Monthly Archives: September 2011

Classroom for Sale

Dear Corporate America,

I think we can help each other.  See, I’m a teacher.  I’d say I’m overwhelmed with my professional responsibilities, but the honest truth is just that I’m a little lazy.  I’ve talked with teachers that stay at the school until midnight.  With no kids waiting for me at home, I could do that.

But I don’t want to.  I like seeing my wife for those twenty minutes before she runs off to her night job, so I go home.  And NHL12 just came out, so I’ve got lots of electronic hockey to play.  I love my job, but really doing an excellent job at it requires more time than I’m often willing.  Selfish?  Maybe.  Should I quit?  Not a chance.  I’m still twice as good as some of my peers.  It’s a sick sad world.

So here’s where you come in, Corporate America.  I need resources to be a better educator–mostly, I need a secretary.  I need a girl (or guy, I’m progressive) to handle all of the type-A paperwork and organization that I’m just no good at.  My lesson plans need to be submitted on time.  Parents need to be notified.  Students need to be reminded when their papers are due.  I’m no good at this stuff, so it needs to be outsourced.  This gives me more time to plan, provide quality feedback on student work, and pursue professional development on my own terms through new texts and online seminars.

What’s in it for you, Corporate America?  I’m so glad you asked.


Around 150 teenagers walk into my classroom every day.  150 relatively attentive youths with disposable incomes and impressionable mushy brains.  I’m talking about advertising, Corporate America.  Me and you joining forces to make kids smarter, but also want to buy more Doritos.

Just imagine the possibilities to integrate savvy edu-marketing (it’s a new term I’m playing around with) within our curriculum!  Whatever you’re selling, I can figure out a way to tastefully insert it into our lessons.


Ford has always been a trusted brand, but they’ve really outdone themselves with the all new Ford Focus, certainly the ________ of American automobile performance.

A. witticism     B. zenith     C. deference     D. enigma



Complete the sentence with the proper superlative:

Taco Bell’s new Slam Dunk $3 Quesa-dealio is the ________ snack for you and your bros!

(Answers will vary, but we’re looking for “meltiest”)



Shakespeare is easily the English language’s most prominent dramatist, but does he “know drama” as well as the TNT network.

Compare and contrast the instances of heroism on display in To Kill a Mockingbird with the heroism evident in TNT’s Franklin and Bash (pre-order season 1 on DVD now!)

Write a three-page paper discussing the tragic flaws of Odysseus, besides not loading his ships with Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drink (“unleash the beast!”).


For the right price, I’ll even bend the facts to better serve both our interests.  Literary product placement!

  • Suddenly, Hamlet is using Shure brand microphones to put on his play.
  • Walter Mitty escapes his boring life by daydreaming about seeing Shrek 6.
  • Poe’s troubled narrator no longer feels “sorrow for the lost Lenore” but “sheer glee in the Apple Store.”
Let’s do this, Corporate America!  You need to get the economy rolling along.  I need a little help in the classroom.  I can’t possibly think of any better solution.


Grumble Grumble Pay No Mind

I had to “post” grades today.  Beyond keeping track of the grades, we periodically have to post them.  No one has a good reason why we have to post grades–I’m not sure where they “go” when they’re posted–but it’s imperative that we do so whenever that email comes around.  Super imperative.


So, for a few hours after classes, I wrestled with our county’s online gradebook, a frustrating byproduct of bureaucratic programming-by-committee and irrational administrative decisions.  Combined with how depressing my students’ grades are,  I’ve got a proper headache.


I teach  3 9th Lit. classes, Journalism 1, Yearbook, and one period of English Literature.  That’s 6 classes.  But due to state testing changes, No Child Left Behind rules that divide my kids, a handful of yearbook scheduling issues, my gradebook has SIXTEEN different sections.  Sixteen.


Sixteen different places where my students wind up in my gradebook.  None of them are named anything helpful, unless you can make sense of 23.0610006-9, which I can’t.  Some sections only contain one student.


All of this means that I’ve got to create the same set of assignments over and over again, and maintain 16 different rosters of grades, rather than the six I should logically have.  And now, posting grades, something that takes many teachers a few minutes, turns into an all-afternoon ordeal as I try to make sense of where all of my students exist on my gradebook.


Don’t get me wrong, teachers have never had it easier, technologically.  I can Google “Middle Ages Powerpoint” and have something decent to show my seniors in a matter of seconds (I never do that, but that’s more of a personal issue than anything).  BUT my county and the company that runs their grading system could borrow a few steps from, say, Apple’s design philosophy, and make all of these bureaucratic nuances invisible to the everyday user, the teacher, whose time is valuable.


[NOTE: I feel awful complaining to this extent about my job.  A rant like this is, if anything, annoyingly self-important.  I hate teachers who whine about their pay or their responsibilities.  We’re federal employees–some paperwork’s to be expected.  Please understand I adore my profession.  It’s fulfilling, meaningful, exciting.  Every job has its down sides, and teaching is no different.  But there’s nothing I’d rather do, warts and all.]