Ms. Trook the crook

Lyon Keating:

It is a common misconception to believe that the problems in teaching have only to do with your students.  Often, teachers and administrators prove to have unmovable egos, power trips, and various other personalities that far surpass any challenge a student could bring to you in the classroom.  I’m sure in my career I’ll be fired multiple times for not getting along with these people that hold back the educational experience for all.  It seems only appropriate given that my mentor was Mr. Kraus who experienced a similar fate at the hands of corrupt educators.

Oh Ms. Trook you do suck a big one.  Ms. Trook is the principal at A.P. Giannini Middle School and is currently involved in bringing down one of the only beacons of light in the San Francisco Unified School District.  I’ve never dealt with a principal before who made it a point to come into classrooms and yell frantically at kids without holding back, thus displaying the kind of behavior that is frowned upon and disciplined in students when they display it in school.  This has happened on multiple occasions and I never knew who this woman was.  I thought she was some bossy, bitchy campus supervisor so I never gave her much credit and then I found out she was the principal.  It’s a shame that people like her exist in the educational field, but I guess there are shitty people that exist in every profession.  Who am I to get off on the ideal that the educational field only harbors people and personalities of those that are selfless, rational, level-headed, etc.  I’ve come to realize that it’s about 50/50 with great educators and complete psychos, non-sociable people who have no business being around other people.  Oh well, you got to take what you can get, and with teachers making the bottom of the barrel salaries that they do, and expected to do the work of six figures, this is the kind of person it will attract.

Ms. Trook barged into my classroom one day and instantly starting barking at my students who had ipods on and cell phones out or other electronic devices.  I know that electronic devices should not be the emphasis of education but when they’re used as bait to get kids to do their work then why isn’t it okay?  Or why isn’t it okay anyway?  Kids, students, adults, will have a million decisions to make in their lives that cater to either spending time with short term pleasure devices or long-term meaningful critical thinking related content.  It is wise to lead kids in the direction of the long term but understand that there is also a need for the short term pleasures.  If kids really don’t want to do the work then that is their choice and at least when they occupy their time with these short term pleasures in the classroom they will only allow themselves to delve into this and not distract others (and don’t even get me started on the absurdity of the no child left behind).  There are people who will be left behind.  That is nature.  Everyone has choices to make and if they don’t make the better choices then that is their own fault.  Anyway, Ms. Trook comes into class and belittles, degrades, and pumps fear into the hearts and minds of my kids for the day for two minutes.  There is no way I am going to allow any person come into my classroom and perform such hateful nonsense.  After she is done barking and is observing other kids, I explain how happy I am to my class that they did their work and behaved so well with me today.  Thank you class for following directions, I’m sure Ms. Trook loved me for that one.

At the end of the day, Ms. Trook stopped me in the hall and said that it is school policy to not have any electronic devices at school.  I explained my reasoning that whatever gets kids to do their work is what I’ll use in my classroom and in this sense I have the kids at the focus of how I teach.  They do the work for me and I reward them for doing it by letting them do whatever they want after their done.  Ms. Trook explains that rules are rules and if I want to keep subbing at A.P. then I need to follow those rules.  I asked why this was a school policy.  She stated again that those were the rules and she hoped she wouldn’t have to take measures to not have me here again.  I would have been open to any reason whatsoever, but nothing was provided.  What a good example of insightful, critical thinking thought process to help kids learn and teachers teach.  I’m glad that rules are just rules and nothing can ever be changed about them.  Way to go education.  I know now why people hate going to school.

The worst part is that kids and teachers don’t take this woman seriously.  She rules with an iron first, looks like she is going to have a panic attack at any moment, and actually motivates all parties to go against her in any way because she is corrupt and has no cerebral reasons for her actions.  She reminds me of the teacher who freaks out in the Pink Floyd album “The Wall.”

After this situation I decided that it was okay to give a little with this woman and that having a job at a good school was more important than allowing kids to use their toys.  I told the kids what was up and they understood tremendously once again proving that communicating with students, expressing where you’re coming from allows them to feel respected and in turn they respect you more.  I didn’t have problems with this situation much after this point.

One situation when I did have a problem was when I intensely enacted my new no electronic device policy.  The kid in this situation was a complete shit disturber.  He would do nothing in class, walk around and bully other kids by taking their things and intimidating them and I was looking for a reason to kick him out of school.  This is one of those kids that is destroying the fabric of the classroom and the school because of the “no child left behind act.”  When he whipped out his cell phone this was my big opportunity to act.  I grabbed it out of his hand and he proceeded to freak out in front of me and the whole class.  He was on the verge of tears and kept calling me names and verbally was threatening me to give him back his cell phone.  He even threatened to beat me up and I challenged him to punch me and see where that led him.  He was all talk, even though I was secretly hoping he would lay his hands on me and after a while of following me around he did lay his hands on me as he tried to grab inside my pocket and get his cell phone.  I pushed him off of me and said it was a huge mistake that he put his hands on me, called campus security and had him taken away.  I don’t think this kid was used to teachers standing up to him.  Teachers don’t realize that if they don’t follow through and enact their discipline and do what they say they’re going to do then they are actually doing a disservice to themselves, the kids, and the school.  I’ve seen so many kids talk awful shit to teachers only to have the teachers turn around and walk away thus giving the kids the “go ahead” on how they need to interact with people to get what they want.  An access to power was just granted to the student when he should have been stopped in his tracks and shown that he should never do this again, and if he does then extreme consequences will come or his life will be very difficult for doing things as such.  Education is more about teaching skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.  It is more about teaching appropriate behavior, life skills, ways to interact with people, how to treat people, etc.  Kids don’t understand this but I regret to say that teachers don’t understand this either.  How are kids expected to learn things when their teachers don’t even know how to teach it?

That same week I had an even uglier situation arise that was very similar to the one I dealt with above.  I was done teaching for the day, was walking through the halls to leave and heard a “no, no, no” by a female student.  I was wondering what was up so I turned around and saw a male student dwarfing and holding the female student with his arms around her face and upper body.  I asked if everything was alright and the response I got was “why don’t you stop being such a faggoty ass bitch and step back before I beat your ass.”  OKAY, it looks like there something IS going on here that I should be concerned about.  You’re not even trying when you respond like that.  A simple yeah everything is okay here would have made me go away.  The kid continued to talk shit to me and I told him that I wasn’t leaving until he had a decent conversation with me.  He refused tried to run away and I grabbed onto his backpack.  He let his backpack go and ran off.  What a dumb kid because now I could just turn his backpack into the office, file a report, and simply wait for the kid to come get his things, or have a teacher report what student lost their things and the kid could easily get caught.  I did turn his backpack into the office, filed a report and sure enough the next day the kid tried to claim his things and was identified as the kid.  I had to pick his picture out the next day and situation was solved.  This kid got caught for being an asshole and expelled and the necessary action was taken.  I feel I did my duty as a teacher expertly that day as I didn’t put my hands on the kid but still stood up for what was right and found the kid responsible for his actions.  True teaching is such.  It sucks to feel like you’re being a cop but teaching nowadays caters more to positive attitude development than it does anything else.


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