Circus Monkeys

Although perhaps the saddest realization I’ve had since titling this post is…I’m not sure if I work with circus monkeys or I am one of the circus monkeys.

Let me explain my thinking. The following little scenario should explain why I think I work with circus monkeys.

Last night, before leaving school, I placed my carefully completed report cards in a folder on the table in the front of my room. Don’t be fooled, completing report cards is no small feat. First, I must convince myself that someone is actually going to look at them and give them thoughtful pause. Then, I must convince myself that despite the fact that the report cards aren’t actually aligned with anything we do during the year, that they can somehow be manipulated to accurately reflect each child’s progress. And lastly, after thirty minutes of relentless bubbling (yes, they are scan tron) I must convince myself to not give in to the temptation to just make up a little pattern and bubble at will. You know, a little 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. (In case you’re wondering, we no longer give the traditional A B C D and F letter grades. Someone downtown was “thinking outside the box” and revolutionized teaching by switching those little letters to numbers. Groundbreaking, I know.)

So I do the report cards. And then I relish picking up a new, blue Sharpie and boldly crossing “report cards” off my colossal To-Do List. At the end of the year, my To-Do List has birthed little baby to-do lists and it feels like everything is spiraling out of control. So you can imagine my nerdy-nerds-a-lot satisfaction. Ah, I can almost smell the Sharpie now….

Anyway, I put the report cards on the table, lock my door and skip home.

OK. I didn’t skip. But I did have a smile on my face as I carefully stepped over chicken bones and made my way to the bus.

Fast forward to this morning. I drag myself out of bed (not so smiley), and get my behind to work. I open the door to my room and….

…all the chairs in the front of the classroom are knocked over…

…there are huge black boot prints on the desks….and….


They are gone.

But, in my zen state of calm that only comes when your professional life is in such utter disarray that you internally just give up, I decide not to panic and ask around. After being repeatedly told that “I don’t know nothing but you should ask so-and-so”, I begin to realize that they might truly be gone. A.K.A. someone stole them or threw them out. I can’t quite wrap my head around why anyone would want to steal scan tron report cards, so I now believe that they have been thrown out.

I go downstairs to talk to our custodian. (Have I mentioned that I have a billion other things to do?? Yes? No? Well, I do…and those things do NOT include solving the Great Report Card Mystery). The custodian tells me that she didn’t sweep my room or vacuum yesterday (sweet, right?), but she did take away my trash and no she did not throw anything out. She also is unable to explain the big, black boot prints.

I may sound calm now, but at the time, I was literally seething. Who are these circus monkeys dancing around my room and stealing report cards?!?!?!???? WTF?

And now, why I think I might BE one of the circus monkeys….

Basically, I do all kinds of shit that I’m told to do that has absolutely no educational (or rational) purpose. I told one of my friends what happened and she said, “Are you going to have to do them again?”

And I thought, “Um, Hell no!”

I went to the computer guy (who scans the scan tron) and he said, “No problem, we’ll just print you out some more.”

Just like that. “No problem, we’ll print you out some more.” Like I was some kind of circus monkey that would nod my head, scratch my pits, dutifully grab a pencil and get ready to bubble.

But why wouldn’t he think that? I get told to do all kinds of crap without any reason or purpose. And the saddest thing is, I DO IT. Out of guilt, out of obligation, out of responsibility, and out of a perverse need to prove to everyone that I can do it all (dammit) and better than anyone else. (Are you secretly thinking that I deserved to get my report cards stolen….?)

So there it is. I am one of the circus monkeys who was screwed by a fellow circus monkey.

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