Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Apparently my campaign for defeat was thwarted by well-meaning, short-sighted colleagues and so-called friends. Regardless of the results, I feel like we ran a good, smart campaign. I suppose there's always next year.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just a T.O.Y.

Apparently, there is some compensation for over-worked teachers. Last week I was nominated for teacher of the year. Before you congratulate me, you should know that this award is really less prestigious than it sounds. First of all, it only took one fellow teacher to write my name on a sheet of paper and place it in a box. So the fact that there are just six nominated teachers says less about the honor of being on this short-list and more about the lazy, apathetic nature of teachers in mid-April. Secondly, being teacher of the year doesn't result in any kind of pay raise or other material reward (although, I wouldn't be surprised if it came with a coupon for a complimentary Chick-fil-A sandwich). To be fair, I should mention that the winner does get his or her designated parking spot for the entirety of next school year; however, as this spot is farther away than where I normally park anyway, it would turn out to be something of a detriment. Lastly, the elected teacher of the year gets the opportunity to write a five page essay, presumably about what it takes to be the best teacher at the school. Don't get me wrong, I like writing, but as evidenced by the scant number of entries in this blog, I don't really have time for extra work. So, not unlike Richard Pryor's character in Brewster's Millions, I've been campaigning against victory, encouraging my colleagues to vote for none of the above. Because voting for someone for teacher of the year is kind of like asking a friend to be in your wedding party. It seems like a tremendous honor, but really it's a costly inconvenience. Cheer me on to defeat, friends!

This entry (and blog) is meant to be humorous and (possibly) satirical. In reality, I feel honored and humbled even to be nominated for this award, to see my name alongside some really, really great teachers. I feel like I have a long way to go just to be mentioned for something like this, and I think it would be really silly if I were to actually win. But, despite having to write a five page essay and to walk a little further to and from my car, I would be thrilled to be a T.O.Y.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

So Much for Regular Posting

I've been stupid busy with school lately. I probably averaged 14-hour days this past week, mostly reading/grading essays. As if working that much weren't bad enough already, to be reading teenager writing almost non-stop for a week straight will make a person go batty. It just sucks the soul right out of ya. And the worst part is, it's all been in preparation of the TAKS test.

I know it's important that we leave no child behind, but does that mean we should drag them all kicking and screaming across the finish line of mediocrity? Sure, for the most part, the knowledge and skills being evaluated by standardized tests are valid, but does that mean that these sort of tests should be the primary, if not the only, basis of measuring the success and failure of students, teachers, and districts? Many Texas school districts have aligned their curriculum with the TAKS test and spend most of the year preparing students for it. I've heard stories of schools that require their students to memorize a prefabbed essay prior to the test and encourage them to write it as their own. And this is called education! Creativity and free inquiry be damned. Guiding students to the discovery of truths is too challenging, too messy. Instead, pump them full of hollow facts and let them feel like they're getting smarter. That's easier to accomplish and, more importantly, easier to measure. So we'll have the kids take one day-long test, have the computers quantify the results, allow politicians to grumble over the numbers, become smarter in data, hire and fire teachers as needed, and we'll call it education.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

You don't have a date for Valentine's Day? Well, go out and find someone. You're still young. You'll be okay, Mr. Heatmiser.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who do these kids think I am?

I wish I could be even half the teacher my students sometimes expect me to be. I mean, some of the crap they expect me to know! Like why Roman numerals are so jacked up. I don't know! Or the things they expect me to remember. Like when a kid asks me what his grade is, as though I've spent the previous night memorizing the grades and missing assignments for all 172 of my students. Well, your daily average is a 72.4% because I never received your homework from last Tuesday, but fortunately, you did well on the test we took a couple of weeks ago, missing only questions #8 and #39, giving you a cumulative average of 84.7%, which, of course, rounds up to an 85. Well done!
Like this morning, three minutes before 1st period, one of my students plops down a 30-page opus for some marketing competition and asks if I have time to proofread it for her by tomorrow. Just some suggestions to make it better. Of course, anything for my favorite student! And then, and this is my favorite part of the story, she comes back after first period to see if I've had a chance to look at it. As of right now, it's still sitting on my desk and I'm sitting on my couch. I'm sorry, I just didn't have time to get to it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quote of the Week.

The good thing is I should be getting a goat because my mom's ex-boyfriend owes her a few.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mr. Heatmiser is back!!

Two and a half years into teaching, I've discovered a pattern. First semester=idealistic over-enthusiasm leads to 14-hour days with no time for anything but dreaming up better ways to educate America's youth. Second semester=too over-worked and burned-out to give a shit, leaving plenty of time for goofing off. And more to the point--blogging. So, a resurrection of sorts for Mr. Heatmiser.
I've decided to stick with shorter tales of teenage angst this time around. Nobody has time to read more than a few hundred words at a time anyways. Plus, I'm hoping this will make for more consistency. Feel free to leave belligerent comments if and when too much time passes between posts.
And while we're here, I'll go ahead and leave a little nugget of teenage angst for you all to feast on. This will transport you back to high school. It goes like this--

I found a note in my room the other day. A genuine handwritten note. Once the bane of teacherdom, now, thanks to texting, a novelty. Of course I read it. It said this:
I know you prob don't care about me anymore but I still really like you and since I'm moving Sunday I was wondering if I could see you one last time just me and you. I know you're gonna say no but I thought I would give it a try. If you want to tell me when and where. Even after I move I'm still gonna care about you. I think maybe being with you one more time might make it easier for me to leave and I won't be so emotional.
The thing that breaks my heart most about this note is not that I found it crumpled up and left on my floor. But that it contains three run-on sentences and a fragment. We spent three weeks going over that crap.