Things I’m tired of: Teacher Edition

As an educator, I am really tired of both conservatives and liberals who try to tell me how to do my job, or who try to tell me what’s wrong in our schools.
Get your credential, spend a few years in the classroom, then you can tell me what’s going wrong. Until then, you’re just talking out your ass.
I’m also tired of people who want to generalize an entire profession based on one or two examples of their own past. It doesn’t work like that, Sparky. I’m sure Mr. Mosier was horrible to you, but that doesn’t mean all teachers are horrible. Stop assuming all teachers are like the worst examples you ever knew.
If you’ve never actually attended a public school, please just shut the hell up. You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to make me listen to it.
Finally, if you’re going to seriously try to tell me my job is “indoctrinating” kids in whatever direction you think is happening? Please, just save me the trouble and punch yourself in the face.
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10 (mean) Things I Wish I Could Say In Essay Comments Today

Dear Students:

The following are the things I WISH I could say on your essays, but I can’t, because they are 1)mean and 2) not helpful.

  1. How is it that you’ve gotten through 11 years of education and you still can’t write a coherent sentence?
  2. You’re a senior.  Shouldn’t you have figured out commas by now?
  3. How can you be so arrogant when you make so many elementary errors?
  4. What is WRONG with you? What part of you thought that was okay to say in an essay for school?
  5. I feel like I could understand this sentence if I was drunk, but as I’m not, it makes no sense at all.
  6. When your professor next year asks who your English teacher was, please lie.
  7. Why do you hate me?
  8. I used to believe that most students were basically decent people.  Your story has convinced me I was wrong.
  9. You just crossed one of the “Things nobody has ever seen a student claim before” off my list.  That’s not a good thing.
  10. Your argument reads like a kindergarten fight.
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How’s Michael Doing? Some Good, Some Bad.

I had kind of a meltdown last night.  More on that later, but first, let’s do the categories…


Work is work.  I just came back from two weeks off for the Winter Holiday Break, and yet I feel like I didn’t get any time off.  Kids are both delightful and irritating; some of them are amazing and some of them make me want to quit.  So it goes.

I’m taking an online course to revise my Hamlet unit, which will mean that next year I’ll make more money, but that’s about it on the job front.



In early November we put our house up for sale.  We got an offer in about a week, and it was a good one, so we took it.  We also bought a house, and moved in early December.

We’re finally settled in, and I still sometimes look around and realize “This is my house.”  It’s a nicer place than the old one (which was a great house), and best of all we have a pool.  So summer will be freaking amazing, but winter is kind of a drag right now, because we can’t really use the yard at all.

I’ve also got a balcony off my bedroom, which is going to be a really nice thing in spring and summer.


What began as a restructuring of the first few chapters is turning into a major rewrite.  Some plot elements have been thrown right out, and others have morphed into unfamiliar shapes.  But I think it will be a stronger book when I’m done.  There’s an agent waiting for the final version; I’m trying to get it ready by the end of this month, but I’m not sure it will work out.  We’ll see.


Here’s where that meltdown comes in.  Sometimes, I feel like I get so lost in my job, and my family, that I start to lose myself.  And when that happens, it adds to my stress levels.

Here’s the problem with that: I have a health issue that, while not dangerous, is exacerbated by stress.  And here I am with a stressful job, and a willful ten year old, and I’m feeling pretty much highly stressed out most of the time.  I’m very bad about getting what I need, so I tend to lose myself in my various roles, and find I have no time for writing, or doing things I love, unless I end up with the time, but in a messed-up mindspace that doesn’t allow me much creativity.

I’m working on it, but it’s an ongoing process.

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Rewrite, Work, Home


Work proceeds.  I was done with chapter one’s rewrite, but then something occurred to me and I had to add a scene or two, so I’m doing that.  It’s going to radically change the end of this chapter and the beginning of the new one, but I think it will go a long way to making the book better.


Teaching is a weird profession.  I love the time with students but I hate the grading.  I hate the endless stack of papers, and I hate the tendency of so many of my students to listen to me, but do precisely the opposite of what I am trying to teach them to do.


My house is a stack of boxes.  Hopefully we sign and get the keys to the new house Wednesday, then move some carloads of small stuff over, then the movers come and help us move the rest on Saturday 12/9.  Our goal is to be completely out of the house and the house cleaned for the new owners on 12/10, but we’ll see.  We technically have until 12/20, but we’d rather not take that long, for their sakes as well as our own.

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Fiction is Taking a Back Seat. Dammit.

I’m still working on things, but not as a primary activity.  I just have too much going on right now:

  1. Just sold my house, so I have to pack it up.
  2. We’re putting an offer on a new house. And also looking for other leads in case that one doesn’t work out.
  3. I’m taking an online course on curriculum development to not only improve my curriculum, but also to move over on the salary schedule, which will raise my income quite a bit.
  4. Still a husband and father.
  5. Still a high school teacher.

So something had to give, and on balance, it’s leisure activities.  Because I’m still writing SFF reviews of F&SF Magazine for SFF Reviews, reading and writing reviews comes first.  Since writing is still not my day job, it has to get lumped in with leisure.  I’m still working on it, but it’s the last thing I can do in a day, pretty much–I have to spend time first on the packing and raising a kid and prepping for classes.

That said, I’m making headway on the next WIP, and noodling with the prewrite on Seeking Home. I’ve taken a short break from that project so I can figure out how to drastically restructure it.  I know what I need to do, but not really how to make it work.

Life goes on.

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Stressed Out and Hating It

I’m stressed out.  Others notice it, too.  Some think it’s because of my job.  They’re not entirely wrong, but they’re also not entirely correct.

The truth is, I’m like the stress version of the Hulk–I’m always stressed.  Everything stresses me out.  I feel like I’m always on the verge of a breakdown, always ready to rage at whomever is nearby over everything that has irritated me that day.

It’s not healthy.  I know it’s not.  But I can’t help it.  And then I start freaking out that my stress is going to set off my arrhythmia and I’m going to feel even worse if I go into afib. You might guess that doesn’t help the stress levels.

The truth is, I wasn’t made for the real world.  I should be spending my days at home, writing, taking care of the house.  But instead I not only work (as is necessary), but I chose a career where I’m constantly dealing with teenagers who think they know everything, and who expect me to treat them like adults when they won’t behave like adults.  A career that is nearly universally hated in this country, where I’m constantly judged by people who don’t know the first thing about what I do but feel they have the right and the knowledge to critique me.

Okay, maybe it’s a little bit my job.

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The Rewriting, it BURNS! But oh so good!

So, Seeking Home has met with a lot of agents who liked the premise, but rejected it.  The few who gave Personal rejections almost all said the writing was good but they struggled to connect to the manuscript.

Several Beta readers liked the book, but this recurring problem was troubling.  I thought about just trunking it, but… as one of my friends put it, this book is of my heart.  It’s important to me on several levels, and I can’t just let it go.  Not yet.

So I asked a friend who is VERY good at emotional connection and character motivation to give the first 50 pages a look.  Her comments were, as she put it, “not nice.”

Don’t get me wrong–she wasn’t mean.  She was “kind, but not nice.” Which is what I need.  I need the problems identified.  She did a great job with that, and I think I get why agents aren’t connecting with this story.  She also did it with the perfect mix of humor and “Dude, you know better,” which I appreciate.

So now I’m beginning a rewrite that will drastically restructure the first three chapters, and probably will alter a lot after them.  It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll be in a better position when it’s done and I send it out again.

I’m also still working on The Year of Rage, and also beginning to noodle with another idea.  I like to imagine that all three projects are in a race with each other to see which one will be publishable first.  Meanwhile, several short story ideas I haven’t had time for are seething at their seeming abandonment in the dark recesses of my writer-brain.

The downside to all this is that I am doing that thing where I’d rather be writing/revising than doing my day job.  Teenagers can teach themselves, right?

Excuse me while I laugh all the way to the whiteboard.  Class is starting in thirty seconds.

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