While I'm on the theme of bat-shit crazy teachers, please allow me to tell you a story from my mom's year of student teaching. Her initial semester of student teaching was spent in a sixth-grade classroom and was with a teacher who, at the very least, nominally had both of her oars in the water. Teaching sixth grade, I've been told, doesn't bring out the best in most people, my mom's master teacher was never known to pick her nose in public or to go into a funeral home and impersonate a mortician. In short, she was probably about as normal as any sixth-grade teacher. My sixth=grade teacher, Mr Thatcher, was the exception to the rule about teaching sixth grade bringing out the eccentricity in those unlucky enough to find another grade to teach.
The semester in sixth grade was only half the year. For the second half of the year, my mom was assigned to third grade with a teacher we shall call Mrs. Delphine. (It's close to but not exactly her name.) My mom thought it was a bit strange when the school principal and the university's student teaching supervisor walked with her to the classroom to introduce my mom to Mrs. Delphine. The principal first knocked, then, hearing no response, used his master key to let himself and the others into the room. Mrs. Delphine was seated behind her desk, but not in her desk chair. She was atop a porta-potty that she had delivered to her classroom through some private company. when the porta-potty was not in used, she stored it under a counter. She swore to the principal that she never used it in the presence of the students. Throughout the semester, my mom saw evidence that such was not the case. My om was dating my dad at the time, and he told my mom that whether or not the unit was used in the presence of the students, it was a health department violation. He phoned the violation in, but the health department must have had more important fish to fry.
Mt's. Delphine was frequently a odds with the custodial staff because she expected them to empty her porta=potty. Their union officials stood firmly behind them in insisting that such was not a part of their duties. Mrs. Delphine offered extra credit to any student who would take on the task. There were no takers. Mrs. Delphine even tried to coerce my mom into emptying the sludge pot, but my mom is squeamish. She barely survived changing her babies' diapers a few years later, and had both of us out of diapers before we were a year old. She couldn't have stomached toting Mrs. Delphine's private sewage.
One of the books Mrs. Delphine read aloud to the third-graders was something called The Funhouse by Dean Koontz. I never read it and only know what my mom told me about it (when I was much older than the third graders had been), but it apparently featured a young woman who ran off to follow an man to the carnival or circus or something of that nature. As things turned out, the man was demonic, ad he impregnated the woman with a demonic offspring. The demonic offspring attacked his mother at one point, I believe, and the woman killed her baby in self-defense. It was a bit like Rosemary's Baby on crack, as I recall.
Mrs. Delphine used to ask my mom to read that book and others equally inappropriate for third-graders but my mom always ignored her and read books of her own choosing. My mom instead brought along novels by Beverly Cleary, Andrew Clements, Ellen Conford, Louis Sachar, or similar authors. Mrs. Delphine didn't like my mom's choice of reading material. but since her main objective was to give herself a break to drink her Kool-Aid (which everyone suspected was spiked with something potent) and eat peanut M & M's.
The school at which Mrs. Delphine taught was slightly lower middle-class. It certainly wasn't skid row, and the students were mostly children of working parents. Most of the parents had little time to devote to volunteering or otherwise hinging around the school, but one would have though at least one or two kids would have mentioned some of the goings on in the classroom. I might have been afraid of being blamed for lying or being a trouble-maker, but not all parents are as supportive of school personnel as mine were. I don't quite know how Mrs. Delphine got away with all that she did.
Each day when the kids had physical education, they just played in their school clothes. Mrs. Delphine changed into a T-short and sweats or yoga pants or something like that, and she did it right in the classroom with the children still present. She even changed her bra and panties.She told my mom that she, too, could change into something more comfortable for physical activity if she wished. my mom declined. my mom ended up rushing the kids out of the classroom and onto the playground before Mrs. Delphine peeled her clothing off, though it wasn't easy because the boys dragged their feet, taking as long as possible to get out.
Depending upon a teacher's status s probationary or tenured, or also upon a district's contract with its teachers, each teacher is formally evaluated at regular intervals. Mrs. Delphine was a tenured teacher (how the hell THAT happened is a mystery for the ages) and, as such, was subject to bi-annual evaluations. The evaluations consisted of review of files, a scheduled lengthy observation, and unscheduled short-term walk-through observations (at least two per year but no more than three for a tenured teacher unless the teacher was notified in writing that he or she was being referred to peer-assistance reviews for sub-par performance; for some reason no one had ever referred Mrs. Delphine for peer assistance review for sub-par performance. I don't know if she had something on someone important or if the administrators supervising her were just plain lazy.) Administrators were free to walk through classrooms more than three times per year; the visits just weren't to be written up as observations.
A formal observation was scheduled for Mrs. Delphine 9:30 on a Thursday morning in early March.
My mom asked Mrs. Delphine what lesson she had prepared to teach for the observation. Mrs. Delphine shrugged and said she planned to wing it. At 9:29 and 45 seconds, the principal walked through the doors of the classroom with his yellow legal pad. (Evaluations are now typically done on laptops, which are more efficient. The principal greeted Mrs. Delphine, my mom, and the children, and took a seat at the back of the classroom. Mrs. Delphine stared at him as though she had no clue as to why he was there. After a few very pregnant seconds, she said to me mom, "Come with me, Miss Fitzsimmons. There's something i must show you." my mom looked at the principal. He shrugged, as if he didn''t know what to tell my mom. My mom followed Mrs. Delphine as she led the way to the faculty parking lot.
Once she reached her Ford Explorer, Mrs. Delphine opened the rear hatch and began taking out supplies. "Do you know how to change the oil on a car?" Mrs. Delphine asked my mom.
"Nnno," my mom answered. I assume she thought that was what boyfriends and Jiffy Lube were for.
"Now is the time for you to learn," Mrs. Delphine announced. She crawled under her SUV, commanding my mom to follow her.
"I'm not really dressed for this," my mom countered.
"Neither am I," answered Mrs. Delphine," but some things are more important than clothing."
"But you can afford to replace your outfit," my mom argued with Mrs. Delphine. "I'm not being paid. In fact I;m paying for the privilege of student teaching."
"Never mind, " Mrs. Delphine conceded. Just watch everything I do and listen to everything I say!"
"What about the children?" my mm asked. "We're supposed to be teaching them!
"The principal is credentialed to teach and supervise students, " Mrs. Delph responded. "Let him earn his pay for once."
"Did you leave lesson plans for him?" my mom asked
"Lesson plans, schlesson plans1" Mrs. Delphine concluded. "Lesson plans are for losers. If he has half a brain, he'll figure out something to do with the kids while we're busy. He could always do the Hokey Pokey or play Hangman with them."
Mrs. Delphine emptied the old oil into the oil pan, fastened the bolt or whatever it's called, then crawled out from under her SUV, by no covered with soot and whatever is found i a school parking lot. Her hair looked as though it was done by a blind person with tactile impairment. She lifted her hood, opened the oil cap, inserted a funnel, and opened and poured five cans of Pennzoil into it.
"Now you know what's really important," Mrs Delphine told my mom. "All this Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Pavlov, Bandura, Madeline Hunter and her Clinical teaching bullshit, Marie Clay and her crazy notions of reading, even the McCrackens and their fuck-up known as whole language, are poppycock, as are grading, classroom management, and district and state standards. What is important in life is to know how to change the oil in your car, how to change a tire, and how to pt air in your tires. It's also important to know the proper way to apply a roll of toilet paper to the dispenser, but I'll assume you MUST have learned that by now.. And to change a light bulb. You do know how to change a light bulb, don;t you, Miss /Fitzsimmons?" My mom conferred that changing a light bulb was within the scope of her capabilities.
"I've had enough for the day, " Mrs. Delphine declared. "I'm out of here! Would you care to come with me?"
"I think I'd better stick around, my mom answered.
My mom walked with trepidation back to the classroom. She found the principal at the front of the classroom teaching a lesson on two-digit multiplication. He excused the children to work on their assigned pages and motioned for my mom to follow him just outside the door. "I'm really sorry about this, " he told my mom, which was a relief to her. She was afraid she might somehow share the blame.
"We've known there was a problem here," the principal said, "but the principals who preceded me didn't take care of the necessary documentation. With your supervisor's permission, we've taken possession of the journal you've been required to keep as a student teacher. It contains enough incriminating evidence to at least begin the peer review assistance process."
"I'm not going to ask you to teach the class for the rest of the day with no lesson plans," the principal told my mom. "If I give you the rest of the morning, can you come up with lessons for the remainder of the day?"
My mom agreed. The remainder of the day was uneventful.
The next day, Mrs. Delphine showed up at school wearing a leather skirt and a see-though lace bra with no blouse over it. The principal sent her home to change clothing. She threatened to call the teacher's association representative. The principal picked up the phone and made the call for her. "Are you SURE it's just a bra she's wearing on top?" the teacher's association representative asked him.
"I've been married for ten years," he told her. "I know what a bra looks like."
"If I were you, I'd call the superintendent, but meanwhile, you'll get no fight from the association if you send her home to dress herself appropriately."
Mrs. Delphine left. The word on the street is that the next morning before dawn, she was in the parking lot wearing a G-string with no bra, sprawled across the hood of he SUV in a most provocative manner. When the custodian came on duty, he called his custodial supervisor, who told him to dial 9-1-1. An ambulance came. She was carted away in restraints.
My mom taught the class with minimal supervision, probably totally illegally, for the remaining three months of the year.
My mother had never seen or heard from Mrs. Delphine for the next eighteen months or so, until Mrs. Delphine inexplicably showed up at my parents' wedding in Nebraska. No one my mom knows has any idea how Mrs. Delphine even knew where or when the wedding was to take place. My mom had tried to be professional as a student teacher and didn't talk much about her upcoming nuptials, which weren't far into the planning stage at that point, anyway. A person doesn't typically travel from California to Nebraska to attend the wedding of a person she barely knows.
Mrs. Delph arrived early for the wedding. The guest book was on a small podium, and a corsage had been placed there for the girl who was to supervise the guest book. Mrs. Delphine pinned it on herself, then took her seat in the front row on the groom's side. For all most of the ushers knew, she was a relative f the groom. She would have fit right into my dad's family in terms of he overall bat-shit craziness.
The wedding was held outdoors, though was a full mass sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church and with both a priest and a relic of a saint present. My aunt Colleem sang a song -- I don't now what because I wasn't there -- during communion. During the remainder of communion, the organist (an electronic organ was move outdoors) was to play Bach-Gounod's Ave Maria as an instrumental solo. Such was not to be. As soon as Mrs Delphine recognized the tune, she stood up from her place in the front row. and began belting the hymn at the top of her lungs. By no stretch of the imagination could she be said to have a nice singing voice, but one would have to give her credit for being loud. There was a gas station - mini mart nearly four miles down the road, and people there heard it and asked what was the caterwauling. It was so very bad that there was nothing to do but to laugh. My mom had to lean against my dad because she was laughing so hard and gasping for breath to the extent that she couldn't stand. The priest turned his back. He knew it wasn't proper to laugh while facing a congregation as Ave Maria was played or sung, no matter how pathetically it was sung,
My mom heard that Mrs. Delphine did lose her credential. If rumors are correct , Mrs. Delphine is now supporting herself as a life coach. There's a sucker born every minute.
This story is extreme, but we've all had wack-job teachers. Please share some of your stories with me. Perhaps we could compile them into a book.
P.S. I may have exaggerated ever so slightly, but the vast majority of this story, unless my mom is a complete liar, is true.\