How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old/New Beginnings: Back to Kidjail

I woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m to the sound of a steady hard rain fall. The temperature had dropped a bit and the bedroom was cool. I smelled Jim's fresh brewed coffee coming from the kitchen, and then I snuggled back under the comforter and was immediately pulled back into a profound deep peaceful sleep. A sleep that lasted until noon. I need a sleep like that about once a month. Everyone does. We'd probably all get along a lot better, crime rates would drop, and anti-depressant sales would plunge. I am a huge sleep advocate. That's what's wrong with the world. We aren't getting enough sleep.

 I start a new job March 1st. Seems I am destined to teach juvenile teen boys for some reason. My life keeps getting pulled back in that direction.  I am excited and apprehensive about this new journey. I know I can do the job. I did it for eight years. And really, boys are so much easier to deal with than girls. Boys get pissed at you, blow up, and the next day it's a brand new day. Girls hold grudges. Forever.  And they have complete emotional breakdowns that I have never understood.  

I'd rather teach in a public school, but right now teaching in a juvenile facility will free up more personal hours to spend with my mom, visit my dad, and take care of other personal issues. I will get off work every afternoon and I'll be done for the day. No field trips, no football games, no parent/teacher conferences. Of course, this also means an end to my summers off (we can't just tell them to go home in May and come back in August. "See you, boys. Have a nice summer!") and long Christmas holidays, but there's a trade-off to everything in life.

My new teaching job is in a medium security juvenile facility. This means that, unlike when I worked at the max security facility, with the biggest, baddest, craziest teen offenders in the state of Georgia, there is actually some leverage for the staff. My new facility can move a boy out to the max security if the boy becomes too much of a problem. But, I am not kidding myself: my students are still going to be juvenile offenders who have been sentenced by the state. As my first YDC principal used to say, "They aren't locked up because they missed Sunday school". The boys will manipulate, they will fight, they will steal my pen out from under my nose if I don't keep it on my person at all times.  They will posture and act all bad. They will cuss a blue streak, they will write gang signs on their class folders, they will refuse to do their work in rather creative language. But I know from experience that there will be a few of them who will win my heart. They will become "my boys".  I'm a teacher. A teacher's heart is tough, but tender. That's just how we're built.  And who knows? In spite of themselves, maybe, just maybe they'll learn something from me. I know I will learn from them.

Now I have to get a haircut (I have grown rather shaggy these last two months of unemployment), buy some good stand-on-my-feet-all-day shoes (easier said than done for someone who wears a size 5 shoe), and practice getting up at the butt crack of dawn again. I guess I can't stay awake until 4 a.m anymore either. The night owl in me will have to conform yet once again to society and its ungodly operating hours.

As for my old job in the UAE, I don't miss it, except for my students. I am glad I went because I learned so much about myself I otherwise wouldn't have learned, but I am damn-skippy happy to be back home in the land of grits, front porches, occasional rain, sane drivers, drink out of the facet water, proper libraries, and actual addresses.  It's a good experience for some, but for me it wasn't.  Before I left Georgia, I was advised  to be "flexible" but they didn't say anything about being able to bend over and kiss my own ass. And they didn't say I would have NO resources, supplies, or support at my school; that the bank and internet provider would keep screwing with me; and that every time I got into the car to go to work I'd be literally risking my life. 

I am happy for the teachers who can do it. I am in awe of them, and I salute them, but no amount of money could ever entice me to that part of the world again. I'll just be an underpaid American teacher, thank you very much.  What is sad is that I was so excited about going and feel I had a lot to offer, and with a few adjustments on ADEC's part they could probably cut in half the number of teacher "runners" they have. I mean, they are spending a lot of money to get those teachers over there, so why aren't they taking care of their investment once they arrive? I personally know of nine "runners" from my group alone, and of a few more who are planning on leaving.  Poor planning, in house nepotism, top heavy ADEC bureaucracy, and no existing communication lines between ADEC and teachers in the field are all making the UAE educational reform somewhat of an educational quagmire (at least from where I stood as a rural upper level grade English teacher). Unless extreme changes are made and soon, I predict it is doomed to failure. And the ones who will lose will be the students.

But I will be so glad to meet my new students March 1st! I need to get back into a classroom where I can pass on the amazing worlds and words of Edgar Allen Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, T.S Eliot, Langston  Hughes, and Abraham Lincoln. Death of a Salesman, Of Mice and Men, A Raisin on the Sun, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Like dear old friends, I have missed them dearly.

1 comment:

  1. Those teachers that Teri says she is in "awe" over because they have been able to survive, do not have a father dying of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and a mother that needs her support. She choose loyalty to her family first, as they need her at home. Just one of the many reasons I love and admire her. No matter what she may think, she set a goal of going overseas to teach; she went to one of the hardest places, somewhere totally alien to the culture she knew, and she gave to her "girls" an awareness of life that they knew nothing about. There is no telling what little spark she may have put in one of those girls that may result in her life being a little different. Sounds like to me that she succeeded. I know many agree with me and are in awe of her for what she did.

    And now she goes back to teaching in another difficult environment. I have seen her in action teaching in the juvenile detention centers before, and saw examples of her success, where she made a difference in a few lives in a world where most of those in the system only continue to fail. And just another example of why I love and admire here.