06 June 2008

That'll learn 'er

Well, she made it.

As of today, my wife J- has 80 days of shore leave before she ships out back into the war zone that is a self-contained special education classroom at a junior high in a, shall we say, less fortunate area. If only she had the time, she could sure write a heckuva blog about her day-to-day experiences.

Instead, she spent the past 9 months waking up at 5 o'clock in the morning to make it to school by 7 during rush hour, and another hour or more in the car on the way home each day, frequently after a couple hours of afterschool meetings. Needless to say, there isn't much time left over, hence she doesn't figure into many of the wacky stories of my antics with the kids during the week.

I can assure you that the stories would be crazier and funnier if she did, because at times she manages to somehow be even more hilarious and more sarcastic than me, and as we all can tell from this self-glorifying blog of mine, I obviously think I'm just the funniest thing since my daughter attempted to murder me slowly via a plastic-snake-induced eye infection.

I must say I feel partially responsible for J-'s lack of involvement, because she often stayed up way too late to spend time with me, so she was even more dead on her feet each morning and in need of a nap once she somehow made it home without falling asleep at the wheel. "Shhh, Momma's sleeping" became a common refrain at our house in afternoons, on Saturday mornings, and on precious sick/personal days.

Sometimes she'd stay up too late not watching movies or playing Nintendo with me, but instead writing up Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), her required daily lesson plans (covering each kid in her class separately, since they're all at such different levels that they're each essentially a class unto themselves), and other various documents needed from time to time for her to be ready again bright and early (or dark and dreary, during fall/winter) the next morning.

So if, like I used to, you're ever tempted to wish you could be a teacher and just work from 8 to 3 and have the whole summer off, you have to realize that teachers instead pack a whole year's work, plus overtime, into 9 months of the year, and then they get a couple frantic months to try to unwind and recharge in time to do it all over again. How someone could take doing this for 45 years is just beyond me, though I can only hope it does get easier as the years go by.

One thing that most, if not all, teachers will tell you is one big thing that would make the prospect of a lifetime of teaching (at least in the U.S.) much easier is the complete repeal or tear-down-and-rebuild of the so-called "No Child Left Behind" act, but that's a whole separate story. With any luck, our new president will hire some competent, qualified people for the key policy-making positions and we can get some realistic laws in education and other areas.

But at least for the next 2 and a half months, we don't need to worry about that. And so, after being way more excited about the end of school than any of the kids, little J- sleeps as we drift on a cloud of humidity towards noon. I'm thinking of tiptoeing over to the bed and ringing a bell sharply while shouting expletives and running around the room with the kids.

You know, to help ease her transition.


Jasper Mockingbard said...

Kudos to your wife for teaching self-contained special education.

The only people who really understand what teachers do are their spouses. I worked 8 years in manufacturing and then moved into education. I thought it would be a cake walk. Needless to say, I have never worked harder in my life. The job is so much more demanding than most people realize.

I resent it when people imply that teachers are whiny or lazy. People only see one side- that of their child.

Everywhere you go, there are whiners and lazy bums.

Without teachers, where would we be as a society?

Kori said...

I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for teachers, especially special ed teachers; as the parent of four children, one of whom has needed a teacher like your wife to write up her IEP and then go the extra mile to make sure it is implemented consistently, my hat goes off. And don't GET me started on the whole No Child Left Behind act; that one is my personal cross to bear, and I hate George W for MANY things but this one is at the tope of the list.

Anonymous said...

I think that is a brilliant plan (although you might get your ass kicked.) I'm happy for her that she's all done for a while, and I hope you guys get to have a great summer...did that sound like a good-bye? Well, it wasn't intended as one. You can get rid of me that easily. Jeesh.

Danielle said...

She's amazing. Teachers do not get enough accolades for the sacrifices that they make.

Take care of her. Ya know, not by ringing a bell...


Andrea said...

Let her sleep!
Teachers are heavenly creatures on Earth, especially the SPED ones. Give her a great big hug because she so deserves it.

Being an SLP, I know the grueling IEP process. Blech.

I saw that ASHA is lobbying for some "No Child..." reforms....only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I used to teach high school so I understand your wife's situation. A nap is one of the best gifts...minus the bell!

Kat said...

Ooooh I feel her pain. I too work in IL in Spec Ed and commute from WI. These past few months have been filled with IEPs and meetings and excessive lack of sleep. So to her (and myself) I lift my glass of wine and toast us (and those that have to put up with us) "To a glorious summer!!!

Dad of Divas said...

I definitely understand what you are saying, my wife is a teracher and I work in higher education...teachers are special people and so dedicated to their students and their craft. Kudos to your wife!

Natalie said...

i've thought about getting a job when we move back to the states. i have a teaching degree so that would be the obvious choice. i don't want to teach though. my reasons are because i want a job i can leave at the end of the day and not have to think about when i am at home. and i want adult interaction. selfish of me really!

Rikki said...

My husband is a teacher as well. I am going to read him your post. You provided a nice little glimpse into how hard teachers ACTUALLY work. Good stuff!

LiteralDan said...

Jasper Mocks: The crazy thing is even if you were dedicated to being a bad teacher, you'd still have to work so hard there wouldn't be any point not trying. It's just a tough job.

It sounds cliche, but I really think teachers need to be paid much more-- if there wasn't something begging for government subsidies, it's that. It's little surprise that we've slipped in most measureable areas of our society as the quality of our education has dropped.

Kori: It's a long list for most people, but for anyone who has to deal with education in anything more than average depth, NCLB has got to be right up there.

Christy: Oh I definitely would not have been around to post today, that's for sure lol

Danielle: But bell-ringing is just so much fun!

Andrea: I agree-- I've gained so much respect for her seeing her go through all this.

MamaNeena: I can't imagine teaching teenagers-- you're braver than me, for sure.

IRISHKAT: You probably work somewhere nearby, then. A summer of wine sounds like the perfect antidote, doesn't it?

Chris: Kudos right back to you guys for keeping America going!

Natalie: You could find something where you use your teaching degree in a different way, like textbook writing/editing or tutoring. You probably have lots of options that are just as useful.

Rikki: Yeah, I don't think anyone gets it fully but the teachers themselves. And thanks

Soge shirts said...

Glad she made it. Teachers are so valuable and under appreciated.

Mr Lady said...

Make sure I read your No Child Left Behind post when it happens. Bludgeon me with something and drag me over here if you have to. I'd love to hear your input. :)

Anonymous said...

Luckyyyyyy. I'll be there soon...What's she looking forward to most this summer? Will she do any guest posting? Do either of you work in the summer? Any fun plans?

LiteralDan said...

Sogeshirtsguy: I couldn't agree more. Thanks for stopping by!

Mr Lady: I copy you loud and clear. I wonder if I'll be able to do so without popping something important in my brain.

Half-Past Kissin' Time: By my count, you're there now-- that's gotta feel pretty sweet! I'll have to try to talk her into guest-posting-- she doesn't think writing is her strong suit, but I think she's great at it.

Fun plans include going to the pool a lot and napping whenever possible. How about you?