Why we should understand if a teacher at a run-down school has a drinking problem

There are times I wish I had a destructive habit like smoking or alcoholism. Not to relieve stress but purely for aesthetic purposes. Honestly, since graduating I barely have one alcoholic drink a month. I will not actively go out to get said habits since that’s…well… dumb (dumber than most of my posts even), especially since alcoholism actually runs in my family.

Every time I look at a glass of vodka or whiskey I can hear my late Dziadek yelling violently somewhere in the background. However, the only way to shut him up is to drink it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Sometimes hangovers can be fun, fun in the “god I feel like shit but at the same time I feel awesome cause I’m a goddamn ROCKSTAR” kinda way. You carry this stupid grin on your face the entire time because the pain isn’t so bad as to render you immobile so much as it numbs everything else. You also tend to walk around like Johnny Depp in the Pirates movies. Feels good man.

There were a few times I went to schools and came home realizing that if I did work there on a normal basis, I would become said alcoholic. But good sir! you say, Teachers must be the model citizen for students to embody!

Okay, it wasn't this bad but you get the idea.

Here’s the thing.

1. I’m not really a teacher in the truest sense… yet.

2. I don’t actually have a second point since that logic is pretty good. But I’m going to ignore it for the remainder of this post because I think it was a humorous train of thought.

3. Oh! Does leading by negative example count?

Anyway, one day I accepted a job for a school whose district I had yet to go to. I checked out the school and saw that it was close to 8-mile. I shrugged it off at first, after all it wasn’t actually in Detroit. The school actually looked nice from the outside, they were even building a new fancy wing of the school alongside the mile road. Yet when I walked inside I noticed metal detectors, first big tip. The classes were bare, with these tiny TVs that I think are older than my parents bolted and chained down in the highest corners. No computers in sight either. Most important to me however, were the lack of any form of lesson plans. There was a stack of worksheets so I ended up giving that to the first class. The first half of the class went well since everyone was still waking up, but by the second half it got loud.

Really REALLY loud.

These kids weren’t just talking (I would have been fine with that) but were shouting. Their actions seemed to defy common sense. If a person is right next to you there is not a reason to shout, right?

Whatever, I’ve had loud classes before but something wasn’t sitting right with me.

The next period a teacher came in and told me she was supposed to give me a movie to have the kids watch. She wheeled in an old TV that still had dials on it and a VCR player that was definitely older than myself. (Do you non-existent people remember manual tracking?) When I put the movie in the class erupted in noise. Everyone was shouting and banging on the tables. Anytime I tried to get them to quiet down I ended up with them getting louder. That was the basic formula for every class.

But that’s not all folks! My favorite moment of the day was when I threatened a student with a referral/office visit  if he didn’t stop shouting. When he continued and I told him to get out of my classroom. He got up and stared me down for a few minutes until I yelled at him some more. He left and the noise level dropped drastically. I was happy.

You see even this wasn’t so bad. I’ve dealt with students like this before at nicer schools. Once after telling a student not to talk during a test I gave him a referral. He proceeded to stare at me and kept repeating “I’m not going!” Even his friend who also got a referral was telling him to just shut up and go, but he kept staring me down.

So I called the office. The secretary happily told me that security was on their way. When they came suddenly the student didn’t realize I gave him a referral. (Funny huh?) The classroom was back to being a good one. To top it off, at the end of the day the staff members apologized to me. “We don’t let our students mess with our subs.” she said. Wow. I felt special.

But the here, at this run-down school, common sense didn’t seem to be employed. When you send the student out of the class it isn’t doing so much as to punish him, but getting him out of the classroom so that the rest of the students can have a distraction free environment. When I sent the student out, I expected to never see him again. However the office decided to send him back, “THIS GUY GOT ME A SUSPENSION!” he shouted as he came back in. He continued giving me a murderous glare and shouted twice as loud as before. I got fed up with him again and sent him down to the office a second time. This time he got real close to me, trying to actively start a fight. I didn’t give him what he wanted but he left.

Every class from that point on was like that. In each class I would see a student or two trying their best do just do what they needed to do. Be it watch a movie or do some work. And in each class I saw that kid give up; their whole bodies hung with frustration. To these kids I just wanted to grab them and scream, “IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR FUTURE GET THE F*** OUT OF HERE!”

I didn’t though, that would’ve been rude.

When I was leaving for my lunch (and debating on not returning since I had reasons to believe that student was going to try to jump me after school) three teachers were chasing down a student that was cut up and bruised all over his face and chest. His shirt was ripped and there was blood running down his cheek. He was screaming down the hallways about how pissed he was and how he was going to murder the kid who did this to him. When they got him into the office this is the conversion that followed,


“No, you don’t you’re just going to go try and find that kid.”


“And that’s why you’re not leaving.”


He ran out of the office. As the secratary chased after him I heard her say,

“I f***ing hate this place.”

Needless to say, I never went back there. I’d rather not develop a drinking problem so early in life. Time would inform me that I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and hatred for the place. Much later on  found myself speaking with someone who had also gone to the school to do presentations for the kids on sex in the media. He told me that during class time, there were students walking around the hallways as if class never started. Some were even playing craps against the lockers. Football players warned me that they were the only team you had to wear a cup to play against; they fought dirty. Other teachers laughed in nervous disbelief when I told them about the student they sent back. Still, every now and then I wonder about the actual teachers who work there everyday. How do they do it? How do they not lose their minds?

There’s only one answer I can think of: booze. Lots and lots of booze.


3 Comments to “Why we should understand if a teacher at a run-down school has a drinking problem”

  1. I’m sure they got used to it after working there a while.

  2. they go home. and they play Video games. very violent, angry video games.

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