Ink & Paper

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Just another day that went on too long.

Went to skool yesterday, for two reasons really. Reason #1 ws that I had to try to adjust my grades for the G12 Boys class in an effort to save the skool's face. I sat with my principal and basically created a BS "Classroom Participation" mark. I gave everyone 100% in it, and by doing so bumped the lower kids up about 5%. The marks for the upper kids didn't change that much (don't ask me why, the computer was doing the math, not me) and the lower kids only saw themselves move from the "for sure failing" area to the "by the skin of my teeth" area.

In the end, this will not affect their final grades, as there will be plenty of marks ahead of balance things out again, and it is only the first semester. But I sat with my principal and made two things very clear. Number one was that while I understand the position the school is in, I think it is rather unprofessional to ask me, a teacher who has given out legitimate marks, to adjust them to save the teacher who not only gave out all A's and one B, but told the kids that they would get marks like that back in September. I told Alice that this would be the last time I compromise my grades for Susan's ass.

Number two, I made it clear that I wanted Alice to come into my G12 class and explain why some of their marks jumped almost 5%. I don't want the kids thinking I am a pushover and that whining will work. She agreed to do this, which hopefully will negate any issues.

And Alice told me that Susan has a meeting with Madame Raja, who is the #2 person on this totem pole, higher up than Paul, the guy who hired me. So I would suspect that Susan might be in bit of hot water, and rightfully so. Alice's daughter is in the G12 girls class, so I think Alice also has a personal stake in the outcome of this whole scheme and year. Frankly, and I said this to Meg and my parents, that what they ought to do is can Susan, hire someone else to teach her class, and make me Dean of English. But that is just my insane desire for power speaking, I don't expect it to happen.

Reason #2 that I went to skool was to be part of a very small committe that is trying to save the "School's Without Walls" trip. The only trip going overseas is to Malaysia, the rest of the kids have to stay here in Kuwait. So the problem is that we have to plan a weeks worth of out of school activities for a few hundred kids, keeping in mind that boys and girls cannot mix due to cultural issues. So that took an hour and a half, but it seems promising. But this has now trickled down from Paul to Alice to the VP Dr. Husam to a small group of volunteer teachers. Shit flows downhill I guess, but I don't mind, I am just really not wanting to teach that week. So we'll see how it comes about, the administration seems to want to kill the whole thing, the only problem being that they already made a non-refundable deposit for the Malaysia trip, so their hands are tied. It's called planning people!

But anyway, that was my last few days, a couple of days that, frankly, made me look pretty good in the eyes of the administration. I hope your week ends quickly and that this finds you well. Mind you way...

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:20 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Oh my. I am sitting in the staff room today, somewhat pleased with myself, as I have just finished my report cards, an activity that seemed to drag on for far too long. So I am a little tired, kinda staring at the wall in a vacant way, when my principal comes in and motions me to follow her. I obey.

We sit in her office and she asks me about my G12 boy's marks. I pull out my computer, show her the grades and the class average of 74%. She nods and says that is a problem. Hmmm, I grow confused. "Oh not with you, no no, that is a perfectly acceptable class average." Hmmmm, okay then, what's the problemo?

Well it turns out that Susan, my Dean of English who is quickly becoming infamous on this blog, has given her G12 girls class all A's, save for one B. And on top of that, she apparently told the girls back in September that they would all get A's.

Big deal, you say? Probably not in the overall existential meaning of it all, but in the immediate future it creates a bit of an issue. You see, the marks from the G12 boys and girls classes ought to be somewhat similar, and perhaps had Susan actually organized any common planning meetings, they would have been. Problem two is that Susan's girls all know they are getting A's, so to lower the grades would create a shitstorm of parent phone calls.

My boys all know theire grades too, and while some aren't happy with them, at least the range is solid, from 89% to 54%. So I am fine, my principal is more than happy with me, something she has mentioned a few times in the last couple of days. But whatis likely going to happen is that I am going to have to artificially inflate my boys grades to stem the tide of phone calls from parents of boys in my class. Parents won't be too pleased when they find out that while Mohammed got a 73% for busting his ass in Mr. Jay's class, while his sister Suha got a 95% in her English class.

I am not happy about this, and I made it pretty clear that I wasn't when I met with my principal today. I am meeting with her tomorrow, on my day off, to try to figure out a way to save the English department's ass. I will make my point of view known again. But this will mess the entire next quarter up, as I'd suspect that my boys won't take my marking as seriously. I am going to ask that my principal, whom I quite like, come into my class to explain the marks to my boys, just to make sure they know the scoop. But I was pretty pissed off, Susan is now not only annoying me on a personal level, she is managing to affect my classroom activities.

My principal and I had a fairly frank discussion yesterday, before all this shit hit the fan, and she stated that she is very pleased with how I am working out. She also hinted rather strongly, like my mother "hinting" at my future marriage plans, that she was not happy with Susan, who apparently has missed a whack of administration meetings. I'd suspect that this latest incident won't help to shine a more positive light on Susan.

But I'm fine, everyone says I am doing a good job, including the people who matter, the kids. So my first quarter is done, save for this marks issue, and I'm haven't felt overly swamped yet. So thumbs up for now....

Oh and I learned something new today. As we are studying 1984 in my G12 class, we had to do a little biography reading of Orwell. Turns out one of his teachers when he was a student was Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, one of the staples of the sci-fi genre. I didn't know that, struck me as kinda cool. But maybe I'm just a four-eyed bookworm.....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:08 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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An updated version of an infamously world-altering list...

Jay's Top Five Novels

1. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
2. Tuesday's With Morrie by Mitchell Albom
3. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
4. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
5. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Honorable Mentions
(In no particular order)

-The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
-The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
-1984 by George Orwell
-The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
-Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
-The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon ­­­­­­
-Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
-The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
-The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 3:44 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Monday, November 08, 2004

This is Kuwait....

I am walking Monday last night. We tend to stay pretty close to home at night because we are both chickens. I would call us 'scaredy-cats' but she might get offended. My apartment is one of three identical ones in a row, and they are enclosed, in a quasi-compund set up, by a wall that is about 5 feet high and a foot thick. I think this wall is more for appearances than protection, as I am sure that it was built using only the finest in Sri Lankan labour.

Monday and I are walking along the back road, behind the buildings and outside of the wall, which is lined with rather skinny and sickly trees. All is calm when all of a sudden we hear this tremendous crash behind us. We turn around and see a guy who is calmly throwing a kitchen cupboard over the wall and through the tress onto the back road. This gentleman is a tenant of the building, of this I have no doubt, and he probably ripped this cupboard out and carried it down the elevator, walked it to the back of the building, where he tossed it over the wall.

On the opposite side of the back road, behind some more sickly trees, there is a rather long and narrow dumping ground for all sorts of crap, toilets to cars to various bags blowing in the sandy wind. I would think that if I were to toss a cupboard out, I might make the extra effort to carry it another 15 feet and at least throw it into a dump of sorts. Not in Kuwait though, the cupoboard crashes down through the trees and bounces onto the backroad, as it has now become a road hazard. I look at Monday, and she looks at me as if to say, "What the hell, Jay? Doesn't this fool have any sense of communtiy responsibility? Sigh." Or she could have been thinking, "I gots to pee." I dunno, but as we came back from our walk, about a half hour later, the cupboard was still sitting there, in the middle of the road, as people and cars walked by it, oblivious.

And today, as I am sitting in the staff room eating my lunch, an interesting conversation takes place. Jessica, the Gr 1 teacher, comes in a announces that one of her kids crapped his pants today. This comes as no great surpirse to us, as this is the same kid who 'did his business' in one of the stairwells the day before. And then smeared it on the wall. (This is one of the many times that Jay thanks Allah he teaches high school). Anyway, we all are sitting there, digesting this new info over lunch, when Susan, my disorganized Republican Dean of English pipes up with a gem.

"Well thats too bad. I know, only female teachers have to deal with that. If that happens in a man's classroom, he always sends it to a female to deal with."

What is that sound? Why its Jay's blood boiling. "That is the biggest generalization I have ever heard, and it is totally wrong."

"No, its true," Susan says, oblivious to my anger, "Men always send that stuff to women, I've seen it a thousand times. Never fails."

Tomato red, Jay calms himself by thinking of odd ways that Susan will someday win the Darwin Awards. "No Susan, I don't think you can paint an entire gender with the same brush. That is a huge generalization and it is flat out wrong. Maybe some guys do that, but I think you are way off when you say all guys do."

By this time Susan is looking rather confused, even more so when Brian, a nice guy but a smart ass of a teacher, lays into her, telling her that he has never done anything like that in the 30 years he has been teaching. And then he called her dumb. Not just her statement, but her. Oh I was laughing inside, wishing only that bush has lost so I could gloat that in her face too. She looked at Brian, who really could give two shits (pardon the pun) what anyone thinks. I merely got up and walked away, having made my point. I just hate random stereotypical generalizations like that. I will sit down with all of you when I get back and regal you with tales of Susan and her scatterbrained persona.

Anyway, I start my 10 day break at the end of tomorrow, so I am looking forward to that. I also have internet back up and running at the apartment, so I am feeling a little more connected with the world. Hope all is well and that your week starts and ends quickly. Cheers.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:31 AM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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