Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Monday

Weeping little girl #1 this week. And before lunchtime, too.

Where does sternness end and grouchiness begin? I'm afraid the latter had a lot to do with it. Sigh...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why I Love My Job

I'm blogging in the middle of the week. Don't tell my lesson plans; they might remember something I haven't done and leap at my throat again. Or just grow another head.

It's been a grueling couple of weeks back. Week one was taken up entirely with parent-teacher conferences. Teaching is an odd business: I, a callow twenty-something, end up advising parents as to how they should be raising their children. Or anyway, restraining myself from advising them. Or anyway, letting them know what their little stinkers are getting into these days. Samples:

  • There is the one whose daughter missed my class two Fridays running because of a hair appointment -- the daughter's appointment, I mean; and who frequently responds to calls home by saying, "Really? You gave her a detention? For that?" (Disobedience followed by defiance? You betcha.)
  • There's the one whose son got a C this semester, causing her to yell at one of my coworkers until she cried.

  • There's the one who lurks (perches?) outside the faculty office in order that we shouldn't forget that her son is St. Francis plus a genius IQ, and nothing like the illiterate little ruffian we've all come to know, not really.
Oh! But there's also:
  • The one who works two jobs and takes night classes and still finds time to sit around the kitchen table helping her daughter with algebra.

  • The one who can't stop telling us how much she loves the school, how much her kids love the class, how much she appreciates our hard work and sleepless nights, and wouldn't we like some extra composition notebooks for our classroom, because they were on sale, and do we mind if they're wide-ruled instead of college-ruled, because if that's a problem she can get some different ones?

And really, those ones predominate, and more than make up for the others.

[But one more quick one: One parent, after sweetly and soberly discussing her excellent daughter Elizabeth, informs us that Elizabeth has been having problems with bullies, and could we keep a closer watch; that Elizabeth has, moreover, been instructed in krav maga; and that she has instructed Elizabeth to use her skills if necessary. No by-your-leave, no if-you-don't-mind, just the intimation that Elizabeth can and will break bones if she needs to. The Badass Parent Award goes to her.]

As for the classes: we are undergoing a schoolwide curricular shift, which means new classes, structures, and procedures for me; and also means that the curriculum this semester is largely up to me; and also means that two weeks into the semester, I am still waiting for many of my books and still trying to figure out what we're doing next week, let alone for the rest of the semester. But, for one: I now have an hour and a half every day for Language Arts and another hour and a half for math. Whee!

We are gonna do so much stuff! We are gonna do Coleridge and Poe and London and Dickinson and Shakespeare and, and, other cool stuff. And not only that: my Math and Language Arts classes are composed of upper-level sixth graders and advanced fifth-graders. The kids who actually want to learn. Double Whee!

As for the kids: this semester I am Mr. Love-and-Logic.
  • If you are eating in study hall, I will take your microwave popcorn away and not give it back even if you bawl, flail on the floor, and throw things. (However, I will also let you borrow my personal squeezy stress ball until tomorrow.)

  • I will also leave you crying on the floor because I don't think that being two chapters behind in your reading--It's C. S. Lewis, for crying out loud--is a good reason for you thinking that your life is never, ever going to be okay again. (However, I will covertly call the school councilor and let her know to come get you. I did have a class to go to.)
I have made three little boys cry this week, and it is not even Wednesday yet. It was for their own good.

Also I am a homeroom teacher now. Being mostly homeschooled myself I didn't even know what a homeroom teacher was until about a week ago. Apparently, it means that if you lost your locker combination, or your homework, or your lunch, or forgot to zip your fly, or are sad, it is my job to fix it, or at least to tell you why it is probably your fault.

This last part -- helping them understand that they are responsible for the stupid trouble they are in -- is what Teaching with Love and Logic author Jim Fay calls "driving the pain down into their little hearts." No, really! That's a direct quote.

Ahhhh...this is why I love my job. Because I'm an idiot.

I would talk more about how much I love my kids, how grateful I am to have each of them and how happy their faces make me every morning, but (a) it doesn't make as good a story, and (b) I would get all sentimental.

I just hope I make it to summer, that's all.