On my Facebook status earlier this week, I posted about being on spring break and limiting the work to a maximum of three hours, which turned out to be a total lie. I spent three hours yesterday browsing bookshelves, doing research, typing up my quick start power point, and planning out lessons. I still have to grade some things, enter the grades onto the online system, find a decent Othello clip, create the Othello summary sheet, and type up my lesson plans. That could easily take up all of today and half of tomorrow. I don’t know that I’ll dedicate that much time, but I’m definitely dedicating the rest of the afternoon today.
So before I get back to school and life gets all crazy, I want to spend some time remembering one of the reasons I went into teaching.
I’ve always been one of those people that will bend backwards for friends and family. I mostly do this because it makes me feel good to help out others. When I was in high school, I had a friend who used to get to school really, really early. The band room didn’t open until 7:30 AM so a lot of times, she was left sitting outside for a long time. So me, being me, would get there really early, too. It also worked for me because I hated being seen walking to school on the other side of the canal and I really hated crossing the four lane street during morning rush hour.
We used to meet by the rock wall/bench in front of the hallway where most of our classes were. A lot of times we sat there doing homework or reading. When the chill of fall started to greet us in the morning, I’d often arrive to find the rock wall/bench empty. A few minutes later, my friend would come out of Mr. Hinz’s class, our Algebra teacher, and invite me to his class.
Mr. Hinz was this very tall and loud man. He walked with a limp and wore a brace on one of his knees. He once told us that he’d been injured while working on the Panama Canal when he was in the military. He had tons of toys and knick-knacks displayed throughout the classroom. He often wore vests and khaki shorts and a button that said “He with the most toys wins.” And he always, always had his radio tuned to the oldies station The Fox 92.3 FM. I loved going into his classroom because it was a place that I felt I could work.
My friend and I had the same exact schedule all day long. So of course, we would go everywhere together. When Mr. Hinz would see us walking down the hall, he would announce, “Here come the Bobbsey Twins!”
We would always giggle. It never bothered or embarrassed us. We just took it as one of the things Mr. Hinz did.
We had our blocked algebra class with him. He would teach his lesson, show us a couple of ways to find the answer, and give us time to practice. During the practice time, he would always turn on the radio to the oldies station. Sometimes, I would misbehave by talking or laughing too much during practice time. Surprisingly, he only kicked me out of his class once.
For Christmas, the class decided we wanted to have a gift exchange. We were an uneven number, so he threw his name into the hat. When the day of the exchange came, he gave me a box wrapped in the comics. I thought it was odd and he laughed at my face. When I opened it up, there was another box inside wrapped up nicely with post office paper and raffia bow. Inside was a beautifully crocheted white stocking. His wife had made it for me. It was something I hung onto for years. I’d never really had a stocking before that.
The next year, we had moved onto Geometry, so we no longer had Mr. Hinz. He had however nominated me for Honors Geometry since I had a consistent A average in his class. When he saw my friend and I in the hallway, he still continued to call us by our nickname. Sometimes he referred to us as “slothmores.”
The day of my graduation, I was elated to be done with high school. The future was chock full of potential. When I was walking around the grounds afterward to find my family, I ran into Mr. Hinz who gave me a hug and said, “You’re super kid.”
Such a simple little phrase that looks so cheesy on paper, but it’s something that’s stuck with me all these years. In a place where one could easily get lost in the masses, he made sure my friend and I were someone worthy of announcing in the hallway. He gave us a place to hang out and made sure we moved on with some knowledge of Algebra. He also made sure I knew what I was worth.
When the teaching worm starting working its way around my brain, I thought back to this experience. Mr. Hinz was part of this superhero teacher crew at our high school. The superhero teacher crew that cared about kids and wanted us to make it, and I owe it to him to pay it forward.
For the last couple of months, as a means to maintain my sanity, I’ve taken to putting myself to sleep with a Podcast. I usually listen to Latino USA or recently, This American Life.
The other night, I was listening to This American Life #350 Human Resources. One of the segments was about The Rubber Room. In New York City, when a teacher can’t be fired because investigations are still being done they are sent to an office off campus where they wait, and wait, and wait until they are either terminated or reinstated. During this time, they are paid their full salaries and there are some who have been there for years.
When Dan the Man came to bed after a few rounds of Madden, I slurred the facts of the story to him. “What?”
More slurred, blurry facts.
“Whatever, you’re lying. You’re just dreaming and making this up.”
“No, I’m not. It’s true.”
Then, as quickly as I woke up, I passed out again. When I woke up the next day, I remembered the conversation and thought I must have been sleeping. So I listened to the Podcast again, and sure enough, I was right.
Since then, I’ve been having nightmares about work. These nightmares come at night or during my daydreams and I zone out while cleaning or showering. I doubt anything like that would happen to me, but it’s sad to think that it does happen.
I know some of those people are to blame and they probably did something ridiculously obtuse—something children should never have to witness. However, I know there are some in there that don’t deserve to be there, but because they used their voice, they got on someone’s crap list.
It also makes me wonder, is there such a place in Houston?