Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Circus Monkeys

Although perhaps the saddest realization I've had since titling this post is...I'm not sure if I work with circus monkeys or I am one of the circus monkeys.

Let me explain my thinking. The following little scenario should explain why I think I work with circus monkeys.

Last night, before leaving school, I placed my carefully completed report cards in a folder on the table in the front of my room. Don't be fooled, completing report cards is no small feat. First, I must convince myself that someone is actually going to look at them and give them thoughtful pause. Then, I must convince myself that despite the fact that the report cards aren't actually aligned with anything we do during the year, that they can somehow be manipulated to accurately reflect each child's progress. And lastly, after thirty minutes of relentless bubbling (yes, they are scan tron) I must convince myself to not give in to the temptation to just make up a little pattern and bubble at will. You know, a little 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. (In case you're wondering, we no longer give the traditional A B C D and F letter grades. Someone downtown was "thinking outside the box" and revolutionized teaching by switching those little letters to numbers. Groundbreaking, I know.)

So I do the report cards. And then I relish picking up a new, blue Sharpie and boldly crossing "report cards" off my colossal To-Do List. At the end of the year, my To-Do List has birthed little baby to-do lists and it feels like everything is spiraling out of control. So you can imagine my nerdy-nerds-a-lot satisfaction. Ah, I can almost smell the Sharpie now....

Anyway, I put the report cards on the table, lock my door and skip home.

OK. I didn't skip. But I did have a smile on my face as I carefully stepped over chicken bones and made my way to the bus.

Fast forward to this morning. I drag myself out of bed (not so smiley), and get my behind to work. I open the door to my room and....

...all the chairs in the front of the classroom are knocked over...

...there are huge black boot prints on the desks....and....

NO REPORT CARDS.

They are gone.

But, in my zen state of calm that only comes when your professional life is in such utter disarray that you internally just give up, I decide not to panic and ask around. After being repeatedly told that "I don't know nothing but you should ask so-and-so", I begin to realize that they might truly be gone. A.K.A. someone stole them or threw them out. I can't quite wrap my head around why anyone would want to steal scan tron report cards, so I now believe that they have been thrown out.

I go downstairs to talk to our custodian. (Have I mentioned that I have a billion other things to do?? Yes? No? Well, I do...and those things do NOT include solving the Great Report Card Mystery). The custodian tells me that she didn't sweep my room or vacuum yesterday (sweet, right?), but she did take away my trash and no she did not throw anything out. She also is unable to explain the big, black boot prints.

I may sound calm now, but at the time, I was literally seething. Who are these circus monkeys dancing around my room and stealing report cards?!?!?!???? WTF?

And now, why I think I might BE one of the circus monkeys....

Basically, I do all kinds of shit that I'm told to do that has absolutely no educational (or rational) purpose. I told one of my friends what happened and she said, "Are you going to have to do them again?"

And I thought, "Um, Hell no!"

I went to the computer guy (who scans the scan tron) and he said, "No problem, we'll just print you out some more."

Just like that. "No problem, we'll print you out some more." Like I was some kind of circus monkey that would nod my head, scratch my pits, dutifully grab a pencil and get ready to bubble.

But why wouldn't he think that? I get told to do all kinds of crap without any reason or purpose. And the saddest thing is, I DO IT. Out of guilt, out of obligation, out of responsibility, and out of a perverse need to prove to everyone that I can do it all (dammit) and better than anyone else. (Are you secretly thinking that I deserved to get my report cards stolen....?)

So there it is. I am one of the circus monkeys who was screwed by a fellow circus monkey.

18 comments:

Arielle said...

Booo that sucks! I'd throw a major fit because I get easily pissed off. And then I'd totally do them again too. Fuming the whole way.

Fl Teacher said...

your story brings back end of the year nightmares for me...glad no monkeys came to visit me......

Charlene said...

I feel for you. When my school changed to scantron reports, they did something wrong and half of my class were given eleven percent as thier final mark. It took a whole semester to fix it.

Anonymous said...

I thought our report card system sucked. It involves a horizontal bar and a "randomly" placed X. No letters, no numbers, just an X on a bar. And a space to write a short narrative about each student for each subject. Very subjective and not at all informative...
Yet somehow it takes me over an hour to complete a report card for each of my students...four times a year!

Simons Family said...

Ohhhhhhhhhh... I am so sorry. Ugh.

But on the bright side-- new Sharpie! Office supplies rock.

Anonymous said...

Our report cards are computerized and then someone else has the task of printing them out. This last round (after spending hours getting the right number for each category per student) this person printed all the report cards with the wrong semester on it and even printed the first quarter for attendance. When I complained I got yelled at for doing it incorrectly. Finally, when it became clear that EVERYONE'S was wrong instead of an apology I was sincerely asked why I hadn't brought this to their attention before! To top it all off, I had scheduled meetings with a social worker about a student having 40 some absences and nearly 100 tardies and wasn't given a correct form in time, so this child's family got off as I had to be mistaken. I see now it was my fault-I was trying to rise above being a circus monkey!

Emily said...

I'm trying to think of a whitty comment to leave for you, but I'm just in such shock that someone would TAKE your REPORT CARDS!! YIKES!! Sorry you have to do them again, but I would too...we're all circus monkeys.

Profesora de español said...

I really hope you only have one class and did not have to redo grades for 5 classes! Goodness. I'm glad we enter our grades onto the computer and don't have to deal with the scantrons. Someone oughta hunt down those monkeys and send them back to the circus where they belong.

Sara said...

I feel your pain. I once typed marks in for all four kindergarten classes. Then the computer crashed. Then I retyped them. During teaching time because we were on a deadline. While my para sang Old McDonald repeatedly and then showed a Disney movie to distract the children. Then, when I finally sent the last one, my principal commented that she got the email stating that they deadline was extended by three weeks. Circus monkeys indeed.

Krissy said...

At least it's summer now!

Michael said...

Why didn't you put them in a drawer instead of leaving them out?

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, my long, worktable covered in organized stacks of papers ready to get filed into my end of the year cumulative folders was taken out of my room while we were at the playground, papers stacked in piles on my tiny juck-covered desk. Why do they think they can do this? And, how do you catch a circus monkey?

Anonymous said...

Our report cards are all done on the computer and linked to our gradebooks... but if makes you feel any better, one year my portable was "broken" into a great bit (come to find out it wasn't actually a break in.. but more of a window that they builders didn't secured) but anyways... they kids that broke in used to party, get high, dance on my desks, and pretty much make a whole lot more work for me.... they did leave a baggie of weed behind once..... I was pregnant and finally had a complete melt down about the whole thing....

Lily said...

Wow, that was some bad luck! I would have been so upset if that happened to me. I'm not too sure how I would have reacted, but I would be shocked at how much work I put into those report cards to only have them stolen by some circus monkey. Too bad you can't make an extra copy to keep in your records. I mean, it's not like you had expected for them to go missing. Right now, I'm a senior in Elementary Education, and I'm not looking forward to spending hours on making report cards that will most likely be pushed aside :)

Ms. P. said...

My first reaction when reading the title of your post was to burst out laughing (luckily, it's only me and the dogs at home and I wasn't out in public!)because I know exactly the way you feel in regards to whether you work with circus monkies or are one yourself!

I'm so sorry that happened with your report cards! I know you are kind of laughing it off, but I'm sure that it really hurt to know that all your hard work had disappeared and your room had been "violated" like that. Maybe it was more like those flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, instead of circus monkies?

msdee said...

Hi Mimi- I'm a new reader here. Your blog was highly recommended by a friend.
As a teacher I feel your frustration. I taught for eleven years. I am currently not working but I remember the endless To Do List and the satisfaction of crossing a task off. BTW I love what oyu wrote about "To- Do List birthing baby To Do List" Hysterical. I had to write "progress reports" which included a page on the childs progress on each subject along with a report on the curriculum. What we did in math so far what we did in Social studies so far etc. then we had the check marks argghhh! Then we had to bring it to the director who read it and edited it,then do it over. No progress report ever came back without needing to be edited. if those were ever stolen I would have a nervous breakdown! I feel your pain.
I love your writing and look forward to reading some more.

Cierra said...

That is insanity. I'm so sorry. You are truly an inspiration with your positive attitude. I mean I can't believe you didn't punch someone.

雪花 said...

福~
「朵
語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
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