1. “Telephone Lines” -ELO
I listen to this song like three times a day. It’s about calling your ex and I’m not doing that but I love the vibe and the very high vocals. Further, it reminds me of the scene in BIlly Madison where Adam Sandler calls Steve Buscemi’s character to apologize for the former’s treatment of the latter in high school. As a result, we see Steve cross Billy Madison’s name of of his hit list and then apply lipstick, all to the tune of this song. I dunno, it just makes me laugh and my drummer George Harrison also plays thing song though the PA during band practice. Oh yeah, and Jeff Lynne is awesome.
I have started my new job and it is nothing like last year. Because we are spending some time developing a new alternative education program and curriculum, we don’t have assigned kids yet, much to the chagrin of many classroom teachers. Let me be forthright in saying I agree and empathize with them as much as I am excited for this opportunity. Most teachers are coming around and see that this is what our admins want us to do and that’s just how it is, but I’d imagine some will never see our viewpoint and will forever view us as slackers. I will have to live with that and try to kill them with kindness as the Elder J has advised me many times.
In a last reference to the above song and movie scene, I had a former student with some serious mental health issues who is now in high school e-mail me and say how happy he was I got the job and to thank me for sticking it out with that rough group the previous spring. He said he had a good summer, hoped to see me sometime in the school year, and left a post script that said “I’ll be watching you”. The student was a major challenge for me and after coming to a truce on behavior last year, I never expected to hear from him, nor when I did to be praised for what I see as a incredibly difficult time in my career. I don’t think any names were crossed of lists with lipstick, but I do feel a weight I was unaware of lifted from my soul.
2. “Cortez the Killer”- Neil Young
For the first day of school, the principal gathered a few of the teachers together that he knew played an instrument and we learned this song and a few others to play in front of the entire staff and student body. I guess the sound was bad and you only really heard the principal’s guitar and a little saxophone. Some other teachers also questioned this song choice since probably no middle school age kids knew it. I for one enjoyed it and was stoked I could spend a little time playing music with some co-workers on the first day of school. I also got some brownie points for saying I’d like to use this song in a unit about European conquest in South America.
I’m quickly learning through action about the politics of education. Truth be told, one of the reasons I always wanted to work in a school was that I thought you didn’t have the backstabbing and drama of an office of some kind or even worse, the service industry. I was very wrong, especially in the small communities in which we live out here in Maine. It was naive of me to think this and now I see that almost every job can have this shit and the best you can do is keep your head down and make all effort to be a good person. A new friend I’ve made in the same wing I work in gave me this solid advice, also adding “In the end, people will judge you by how good a person you are above all else”. I can deal with that.
3. “Wrapped around your finger”- The Police
This was another song we played in front of the whole school. It fits to some degree in that Sting was a former school teacher and it sounded pretty good up on stage even if that didn’t translate to the rest of the gym. Many teachers questioned the three song selection, these two I’ve mentioned along with a Jason Mraz tune which I can understand. I was just psyched to be a part of it and to be able to connect with my new boss through music because it’s a real thing and not something I have to fake to get ahead. The man can nail Neil Young vocals and I find this impressive.
It is very interesting to be back in the school I attended. One of the other guitar players is a dude who shared rooms with my mom, a special educator in the district for years, and who saw me come up through the grades almost a decade ago now. At first, the fact that everyone knew me was a real turn off and is the reason I never applied to work in this school. Now that I am there, I love it. I know everyone, most people know me, and I am pretty much kept in the loop about everything even if it’s negative feelings towards my new position. Good or bad, it’s nice to feel part of a community.
4. “”F**kin Problems” A$AP Rocky ft. Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar
My students often played this last year and I always turned it off. Now I hear it on the radio frequently and I really like it. It’s totally not politically correct and surely offends many who hear, but I love the aggressive beat and I find Lamar’s rhyming interesting, like Dr. Dre in some weird sense. I’m going to be watching this guy.
Everyone’s got problems and just the fact that I have a job makes me happy. It’s too bad there’s some animosity towards my position and the other many inner political workings of a school. That’s reality though and there is not much to be done, The kids who remember me from last year keep coming up to say hello which makes me feel very much at home. My co teacher is very cool and I am continually impressed with her various skills and look forward to working with her more. Sometimes, you just gotta put your head down and work hard until you finish the job. However, teaching is a continuous thing and every summer classes will end and the students will leave, but the job is never done.
5. “Truckin” Grateful Dead
You just have to keep trucking on. Along with the trials and tribulations of the new job, I have had shows almost every weekend with the band and keep meeting new girls. The shows have been in places we haven’t played before and the girls are ones I’ve never met before, so it’s a mixture of excitement and trepidation. All in all, I’m feeling pretty lucky and really have no complaints except I wish I’d seen my brother on his birthday. Fortunately, with more secure employment and thus more money and flexibility, I’ll be able to visit him more. Time is on my side.
6. “Time is on my side” Rolling Stones
A gratuitous use of the Stones I know, but is it ever a bad thing? A good friend who was also a long-term sub last year and is now the official art teacher where I teach gave me the Stones poster that is just the lips and I rocked it all year last year in my classroom and it was the first poster I put up this year. I have a good feeling I will bring her poster to ever room I occupy as a teacher from now on and I am pretty excited about it.