“One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough.”

I have loved the introduction to John Dos Passos’ USA trilogy from the moment I first read it.  It is striking, literary, feverish, obsessive, expensive, lyrical.  The quote above is merely one sentence that is mine.  Every sentence is mine to treasure, but that sentence is mine to hold onto.  I feel it, I think about it, I reference it, I idealize it, and I have now memorialized it in the most unholy and banal of places: my blog.  (Previously held in high esteem on my facebook profile.)

And now I’m living it out, but in reverse; I am unhappy about it.  I have been all-consumed by work lately, unsatisfied with my own performance, leaving work knowing I have not done enough to make everything work, knowing enough hasn’t been done to make changes for the students.  They are still pitifully behind where they should be, and it seems that no amount of magical happy time or two hours in my classroom will change that.  Who can say.  (Period purposeful.  No question there.)

I have taken to working at home more than usual lately.  I make phone calls to students.  I make phone calls to parents.  I make worksheets I don’t use.  I make powerpoints I only have time to use half of.  I ineffectually worry.  I pace.  I race my mind through series of useless, effortful, pointless imaginations of the next day and the day after.  I wonder how/why/when/where things will happen when the next day comes.

It was like that last year as a first year teacher, but this year is not marked by the worry of the scope of movement in class.  I am too confident to worry about that this year.  This year is also not marked by the dread of last year.  I have no class I truly am unsure I will be able to control during the day.  I have longer periods and shorter periods but that is only because of the schedule of the day. I have easy classes and trying classes.  Those things never change no matter the situation.  (What would suburban teaching feel like?)

What also never seems to change are the students who fell behind years ago and never seemed to make progress towards academic success again.  Those boys are what I worry about now.  Those are the ones I cannot forget.  They are taking all my time and energy.  I have lost all focus.

Well, they don’t take up all my time.  The guys on the other end of the spectrum take up a lot of energy as well.  On top of my two preps, the independent reading tracking, the lesson plans, the alignment templates, the unit plans, the tests, the assessments, I am now asking for more work in concern that the smartest we have are being dumbed down by my teaching to the middle (and sometimes lowest) common denominator.  Thus, those guys and I will be reading a book all our own.  I hope that goes well.  It’s going to be Slaughterhouse-Five, and I’m hopeful.  There are only four or five guys I’ll be doing it with.  I am excited about it.

It will be very low stress, as long as the proper amount of prep is put in ahead of time.


I’ve been surfing Dave’s ESL cafe.  I’ve been thinking about Alex.  She has her certification in ESL now, and why don’t I try that track.  It might be a nice change.  There are so many questions about what will happen next year, and where I will go, and I am only keeping my options wide open, thrown open, easily available.

Life brings on that most difficult decision The Clash knew so well.