Tag Archives: Southern Belle

Disheartened


I really need to start posting on here in the morning (as I always intend to do, but somehow never quite get around to) because, quite frankly, I just can’t be bothered writing anything at this time of night. I’m just too bloody tired. Back in the “good ol’ days” (2006-2008) when I had my other blog, I used to enjoy staying up late writing blog posts way into the wee hours of the morning. I was probably more lonely back then, and needed to feel that there was “somebody out there” listening. Now, of course, I’m married, so I don’t stare into the black void quite so often.

Right now I’m not in the best of moods as I’ve spent the last couple of hours contacting people to give me a reference so I can reapply to the godawful teacher training program I had to drop out of this year because I didn’t have a work permit. I still don’t have a work permit but as I wouldn’t actually start this program again until the fall of next year, it won’t matter, as it will have turned up long before then.

Why am I re-applying to this program if I hated it so much? Well, simply because beggars can’t be choosers. I would much prefer to go to grad school in another state to get certified in a proper university setting, and not some stupid alternative certification program, but I really can’t afford to go off to grad school next year. 2011 probably, but not 2010. There are, of course, university teaching programs here, but I’m loathe to spend lots of moolah and time in this town when I want to leave. I just don’t want to be tied to a graduate program for two years. I’d stay here for that amount of time if I actually had a career, but not just to be a bloody student again! Besides, I’ve looked at the main university’s teaching program, and it’s just not that good. If I’m going to go to grad school, I may as well go somewhere good.

Also, as good old Magnús Magnússon himself said, “I’ve started, so I’ll finish”. Yes, I know that reference is probably completely lost on non-UK readers but, ach well, you’ve got fingers, haven’t you?! You can google him if you’re interested. He’s a wee picture of Magnus in all his glory, though:

magnus_228x303

[Noooooo! When trying to find the above picture, I found out that Magnús died in 2007! I had no idea!!!! Noooooo! Why is everybody dying in Britain? First, there was Wendy Richardson (I’m a huge Eastenders fan so this was a blow); then there was Jade Goody, and then there was that bloke from Boyzone (well, OK, he was Irish but, still, close enough to the UK)…and now I find Magnús is gone, too?! Who next, I ask? Who next?]

Why did death have to claim all of these people when he could taken the old crone in the certification program?! Seriously!

I’m going to make a prediction: despite the fact that I did great work during my time in the program; that I have a Master’s; that I’m really passionate about helping “high needs” students, I predict that this Southern Belle Bitch will not accept me back into the program.

I predict that she will probably invite me for interview just to have the sadistic pleasure of being able to reject me. Just for the simple reason that she, personally, doesn’t like me. I’m just not blonde, bubbly and fake enough for her.

Oh well. To be perfectly frank, I won’t be all that bothered if I don’t get back into the program. I’ll just file a complaint about the way that woman treated me, and then I’ll move onto bigger and better things.

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The grass is always greener?


Yesterday, just after I had spent ages writing a post bitching about that evil Southern Belle bitch of a teacher, I received an email from her which was actually nice:

I hope you will continue to pursue your dream of teaching, and that you are doing well. If you would like to reapply to the cohort, don’t forget the deadline is October 30. Let me know if there is anything you need.

As soon as I read that, I actually thought to myself, “Oh, that was nice…Maybe she’s not so bad after all!”. The funny thing about me is that, even though I am capable of experiencing extreme anger, I calm down pretty quickly and sometimes even forget all about the person/situation that made me so angry. In many ways, this is a nice quality to have as I’m not the kind of person to harbour a grudge (God, I hate people like that!) but, on the other hand, my amnesia means that I sometimes fail to protect myself from unhealthy people and situations just because I’ve forgotten the pain they caused me in the past!

Take my former Master’s thesis advisor, for example…Readers from my former blog will remember that she said she would give me a good reference when I applied to the teaching program, but she then purposely sabotaged my chances by giving me a bad one, and sending it off without telling me. I wouldn’t say she was directly to blame for the problems that ensued with Southern Belle Bitch, but her bad reference certainly set up a situation whereby Southern Belle Bitch was looking out for me to slip up. I was extremely angry with my advisor – and I still am – but I’ve filed the anger away in a little compartment that’s so deep inside me that it’s hard for me to access it now. And because I find it hard to access that anger, I never wrote a letter to her telling her exactly what I think of her.

Part of me wants to, but would it really even do any good? Her actions show that she’s clearly a self-righteous bitch, and morally superior to others, so would she even stop to ponder my words?

Throughout my time in my teaching program, I swore that I would complain about Southern Belle Bitch at some point. I believe that she emotionally bullied me (as well as a friend of mine who left the program because she was so demoralized and broken down), and I saw her play the favourites game shamelessly, and let her ego and personal prejudices affect her teaching at every point. There is no doubt about it – this woman is a bad teacher, and an even worse person. How strange then that one little email can make me better disposed towards her!

Her email also made me wonder – and here’s where the title of today’s post comes in – whether I should re-apply to this program again and stay in this town where I’ve never really felt happy or settled. I’ve been thinking about applying to graduate schools on the East and West coasts, and the idea of that is filling me with excitement. I’m someone who gets bored very easily, and I need constant stimulation and “newness” to keep me going. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I do spend a lot of time feeling unhappy wherever I am, and believing that I’d be happier elsewhere. I’ve lived in four countries at this point, and you’d think I would have learned by now that a change of locale is exactly that – a change of locale. Changing your physical location won’t really do all that much in the long-term to change your emotions. Sure, in the beginning you’ll have a regained sense of joy and excitement, but slowly and slowly, your old bad habits and negative thinking patterns will creep back in.

I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will be disappointed no matter where I live or with whom I associate, as I’m far too idealistic and have far too many expectations; but there are, nonetheless, many things I don’t have in this town which would make me happier, if not happy, if I had them elsewhere.

I know that life on the other side of the fence might not be what I’m hoping for, but this time I really do believe it would be a good idea to try that grass out…

“Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century”


Besides getting married, the most significant thing which happened to me during my long absence from the blogosphere was applying to and getting accepted in an alternative teacher certification program. Yesterday, however, I made the difficult decision to drop out of the program.

This was not a decision I made lightly, as I am more than aware that I, since graduating from university, have had an abysmal track record when it comes to starting a project and following through. First of all there was my Master’s program, which I did eventually complete but only after sinking into a deep depression when I realized that academia was not the career for me. Since the age of twenty-three (and I’m now in my early thirties!), my life has often lacked focus and direction, and this is quite a depressing fact given that I’m not getting any younger. I spent many years swearing that I would never become a teacher – it just seemed like the most boring and predictable thing to do – but this time last year I realized two things: (1) that working full-time as a sex worker was slowly eroding my soul and not very fulfilling, and that it would be nice to “rejoin society” by having a normal job and having a salary and (2) that I really wanted to help underprivileged kids. I realized that the reason I had failed so miserably in academia was because I found the work so abstract and pretentious, and completely unrelated to reality. As interesting as it was to do research on obscure late eighteenth/early nineteenth century poetry, there was always a voice inside me screaming “Who the fuck is reading what you’re writing?! How the hell does your work change anything or help other people?!”.

When I decided to become a teacher, I vowed I would never set foot in a university again, so it made sense to me to apply to an alternative teacher certification program, which would be cheaper than a university program, and would also have classes at night and at the weekened (so I wouldn’t be a full-time student and could still work as a masseuse to pay the bills). The application process did give me some doubts, though. First of all, potential students were not interviewed or required to teach a mini-lesson, which I know is the standard procedure for being admitted to a teaching program in the county where I’m from. Instead, the whole application process was online, and they required you to do an online “interview”, which was basically a series of multiple choice questions in which the correct answer ranged from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. I don’t see how this test can possibly predict whether a person will be a good teacher or not and, indeed, when I finally met my fellow students, there were many people in the class with either weird attitudes (e.g. lack of compassion for the kids; a narrow-minded viewpoint etc.) and others with introverted personalities whom I just couldn’t imagine being able to engage a class full of unruly teenagers.

Much to my disappointment, I also soon realized that the vast majority of people in that class were there purely because they were bored with whatever job they were doing, and wanted a career change. I found very little passion for teaching, and I never once had a conversation about teaching the whole time I was there. There was only one other person interested in teaching poor kids in high-needs schools; some weren’t necessarily against the idea but I overheard so many people turn up their noses at working with troubled kids because they would find it “too difficult” or “too stressful”. I also heard lots of little barbed comments and judgements about troubled kids.

The worst of all was that when I arrived for the first class, I found that our teacher (our only teacher…how fucked up is that? We only have one teacher for the whole duration of an eighteenth month program?!) was a woman I had met at the information session and found incredibly insincere and fake. I disliked and distrusted her immediately even then and all my instincts were telling me “She’s trouble!”. As the months went by, I discovered that I couldn’t possibly have found a teacher whose personality would have clashed with mine more. She was a Southern Belle type who went to church regularly, and who was yet one of the most biased, prejudiced people I have ever met…not in racist way, or anything like that, but it was clear she judged people who didn’t fit into her idea of what a teacher, or even a human being, should be.

I was essentially a marked woman before I even entered the program because of the bad reference my bitchy Master’s advisor had given me. I could sense that this teacher was observing everything I said and did, and just waiting for me to trip up..and, well, of course I did because it made me paranoid, anxious and insecure to be so judged and watched.

The beginning of the end for me with this teacher was when I went off to get married. I had spent hours and hours pouring over the class schedule, trying to find a good time to tie the knot that wouldn’t clash with my teaching program classes (you were only allowed to miss two classes over the whole eighteen months otherwise you could be kicked out of the program!). Just when I had booked everything, the teacher gave us a new schedule, which featured an online course which was going to take place exactly during my wedding and honeymoon. I emailed the teacher to see if I could do it at a later date, but was basically told to fuck off. This angered me, and especially so months later when one of the teacher’s favourites announced in class that she would be moving house, and perhaps wouldn’t have an internet connection to be able to complete that weekend’s online course. The teacher told her to email her if she was having trouble and “we will work something out”. Wow!

After having spent nearly my entire honeymoon completing an online course, I was so frustrated and angry that I made the “mistake” of emailing the teacher to express my opinion that it was unfair to expect people to do work during important life events (such as death, marriage, birth). I got called in for a meeting after this email, and was informed that (1) “I was emotionally fragile” (huh? where did she get that from? I wonder if my advisor said on the reference she gave me that I had suffered from depression in grad school?) (2) I wasn’t cut out for the “rigours” of the American public school system, which was so much more “rigorous” than in Europe (3) I should think about leaving the program to work in a charter school which would suit my personality more and (4) I had behaved in a completely “unprofessional” manner and that she doubted I would be able to work in a school if I was going to behave in such an “insubordinate” manner and, finally, (5) even though I was clearly passionate about and dedicated to the teaching profession, and produced quality work, that that ultimately meant jackshit to her because of all my other “problems”.

A few weeks later, when we were about to do our two-week student teaching placement, she assigned me to a school around thirty miles away from my home – in an entirely different city! – which had no public transport links. She did this despite knowing that I had no car, and could not even apply for a driver’s licence because of a stupid immigration technicality. I had been looking forward to student teaching so much, and I was pretty sure she had sabotaged this on purpose, so I had to excuse myself from the class at that point to go off and cry in the toilets out of sheer frustration and disappointment. Afterwards, I was told by the teacher “See, this is just another example of how emotionally fragile you are”. She also told me I should probably think about leaving the program because I didn’t have a car, and had “visa issues”. I told her that I had made a professional connection in a school right up the street from my home, and asked if it would be OK for me to work there instead but I was informed that would be “impossible”. Curiously enough, the next morning – no doubt after she had spoken to her superiors – it suddenly was possible for me to work in this school, a fact I was told about at 11:00 a.m. I was given two hours by this teacher to find my own student placement, at a time when most principals are at lunch. Luckily, I managed to talk to the principal and convinced her to take me.

Ugh! I never meant to go into so much detail – I’m sure I must be boring you all to tears – but these are some of the reasons why I have decided to leave my program. I am hugely passionate about teaching; I really, really, really care about the kids; I’m fucking smart, and I know my subject well, and I’m good at presenting it in fun, engaging ways…I don’t mean to be arrogant, but I would be asset to any school! It’s probably true that I would be better suited for work in a charter school, but I don’t believe that charter schools – while some are good – are the answers to America’s public school problems. After my experience with this teacher, I have come to the conclusion that most public schools and the teachers who work in them are probably bland and conformist, and, yes, I will probably hate having to deal with the administration. However, I also believe that students need teachers like me who are “alternative” and challenge them to see a new perspective.

The main reason I left the program, however, was because I still haven’t been able to save up the $1,355 (!!!) I need to apply to change my immigration status and hence receive a work permit. Having no work permit means I couldn’t apply for a job for this school year. I could re-apply for the program next year, but this would mean being stuck in this city until 2011 while I got certified. Both Midwestern Man and I are ready for a change. I also found out recently that certain states (New York was the one I looked into) will not let you teach there with a certificate from an alternative certification program unless you have three years’ experience! I would be trapped, in this awful conservative state, until 2013! I’ve already been here since 2004, and my exile needs to come to an end sooner rather than later.

So, my plans? I’m looking into applying to graduate school in various states to get certified and gain a Master’s in education in the process. If anything has come out of my disappointing experience in this program, it’s that I still want to be a teacher. I think that’s very important because that awful teacher could easily have put me off teaching forever. I never thought I’d want to go back to school again, but I want to learn as much education theory and as many teaching strategies as possible before having my own class. Around 65% of 12th grade kids do not read at grade level, so I need to know how to help them. In my alternative teacher education program, we learned nothing about this. In fact, we pretty much learned nothing in general.

It was, bizarrely, John McCain who, in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, said “education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century”. I never thought I’d be quoting John McCain in my blog, but, well, there you go…The American public school system is badly failing its students, and the vast majority of them are African-American, Mexian-American and/or poor. Something needs to be done! And I, people, am going to try to contribute what I can. It will take more than some bigoted Southern Belle to get in my way!