Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I’m sitting at my desk, reeling at the fact that school is almost over, that summer has arrived, that at this time next week, I’ll be 2 days into summer vacation. Yesterday we took our end-of-year trip to Seven Peaks Water Park. Because I have this dumb chest cough I can’t shake, I just lay in the sun and watched everyone’s stuff. Well, half of the sun-laying was because of the cough, the other half was that I’ll be damned, double damned, and triple damned if I will ever wear a swimming suit in front of my students. Even if I was skinny—that’s just a little more self-exposure than I’m ok with. Other than having to break up a little back-of-the-bus making out, things went surprisingly smoothly. Today we had a cook-out and signed the year-“booklets”that I ended up making, myself, at home, because my yearbook editor dropped out. Tomorrow is check-out and graduation, and Thursday and Friday are teacher work days. This year has been my hardest yet as a teacher. The kids just really struggled. The numbers we lost to detention, suspension, and dropping out were much higher than they’ve ever been.
When you work at an alternative high school, you just have to care about your kids. They come in so raw, so bruised by whatever system or systems they have been pushed into and out of. They won’t let you teach them anything until they believe that you truly give a shit. And because so many haven't (given a shit) they don't make that easy. But teaching is your job, your "thing." So you do--give a shit that is. You find out about them. You listen. You look for clues about what they like—other than getting high—so that you can try and talk to them, connect with them. You give them a ride if you see them walking in the rain—fudge that F into a D- because you know their mom’s an alcoholic and they’ve been taking care of their little brothers and sisters. You read their poetry about dead roses and bleeding souls and the black cauldron of pain and dispair and find something authentic to say about it. Then they break your heart by running away, getting pregnant, failing UA after UA, blowing off the last big assignment, calling you a bitch, not capitalizing English when they sign your yearbook, and spelling “a lot” as “alot" even though you’ve told them over and over and over and over again that “a lot” is two mother fucking words for Christ’s sake and in the name of all that is good and holy!!!!
Ok. So obviously I’m ready for a break. MAYBE 10 weeks will be enough to begin to consider doing this again next year.
Today’s best thing about being a teacher:
June, July, and August
Today’s worst thing about being a teacher: