Greetings and salutations readers. Welcome to Tales from The Red Pen. First and foremost, you must know that I am a teacher. An educator, a molder of young minds, dissenter of information, and at times, an overpaid babysitter. The stories you are about to read are all true. I will be blogging all that is good, bad, sad, and glad about education, as well as musings about life as a teacher. The Red Pen is like a metaphor…wait…no that would be a simile!
A simple red pen was always the palatable choice of a marking instrument for the teachers I had growing up. Knowing the type of kid that I was I should have bought stock options in Sharpie and Bic when I had the chance! It seemed like my teachers, with just my papers alone, exhausted their red pens to the point that I could have retired before starting my own career.
In modern education, the red pen and its usage is certainly an area of division. Some teachers believe that using a red pen causes violence to the psyche of children. Enablers, as I like to call them. These teachers, typically born after 1983, argue that using red stresses kids out. They would rather use a safer, lighter hue….like green! Here child, I will mark everything you got wrong in green so that you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. It is okay to feel safe in your own stupidity.
Then there is the opposite perspective. Those of us lucky enough to be born before 1983. You know…. us old folk! I prefer the phrase “seasoned.” These people are typically the product of free range parenting. You know those who had to create and invent their own fun out of thin air because as my mother and father said to me numerous times, “I’M NOT YOUR ENTERTAINMENT COMMITTEE!” You know these teachers did not wear a helmet, chest protector, knee pads, elbow pads, hockey mask, and Kevlar to go ride their bike around the block when they were a kid. These Spartans of old are the ones who favor the red pen and were highly skilled in its deadly implementation. Not merely to highlight what was wrong but also to make notes, possible corrective choices, and positive comments about what went well. This is what The Red Pen is going to be about. Green in my experience means go. Correct. Systems normal. Red? Red means stop. Red means: look what is going wrong. Red means: here is how we can correct it. Red means: look what fun we are having. What about me you must be asking? What choice of marking instrument do you use, Mr. Critical? Well…I use whatever color I can pull forth from the infernal regions of my fucking desk…that’s what color I use!
Like a Red Pen this blog will be safe, tough, and perilous. It will be abrasive yet gentle and heartwarming; Comedic yet depressing social commentary. I will write to lift your spirits so high you would have to look down to see heaven. You may also feel so low to the earth, you can hear the sounds of the Hells Bells through the creeping and crawling of mother nature. The Red Pen will often times be political. This is due to how we work being decided by the winners of the electoral college…but NOT THE POPULAR VOTE! Sorry, couldn’t resist.
The Red Pen will be amusing, confusing, whimsical, fleeting, irreverent, methodical, factual, hypothetical, disconcerting, destructively fair, and elegantly vulgar. Because, let’s face it, our jobs are not always the sunshine and rainbows we dreamt about while falling asleep during our educational psychology class. We came into this profession thinking we were Morgan Freeman in “Lean on Me.” Come on, we all once believed that our students would all jump up on their desks and scream out, “Oh Captain, my Captain!” Our jobs are extremely trying and difficult! Our missions often impossible, taxing our time and sometimes extinguishing our passions.
The Red Pen will not be a how too guide. Although some of my writings will feature steps that I took or decisions I have made. The Red Pen’s intent is not to help you understand how to get little Jimmy to learn to love reading, writing, and arithmetic. If you want tips on how to build good anchor charts for the classroom…look it up on Pinterest! Need ideas on classroom management? Bring a baseball bat to class and use it as pointer. I never had a single outburst when I did that! Kidding aside, there are other blogs for those needs, the Red Pen is not that blog.
Most importantly, I hope the Red Pen makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you angry, and warms your soul. After all, are these not the emotions that we go through on a daily basis? Do we as educators not laugh at how the students we teach are so much like us at their age? Do we not weep when they fail to understand that the important lessons are not the ones in textbooks, but the ones they chose to learn the hard way? Do our hearts not pound with rage at the decisions made way above our pay grade that do nothing but make our jobs even more impossible than already are? Are we not touched at the small, yellow, crumpled up, hand written note, that says, “Thank you for being my teacher and pushing me to be the very best?” This what the Red Pen is all about. Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing my adventures in education with you…Welcome to TALES FROM THE RED PEN!