This was me on my first day of teaching High School. Spare the jokes please. I know I look like I should be a high school student myself.
|I look at this picture and want to smack that naive grin off my excited little face.|
Full Disclosure: Two months ago, I almost quit my job. The first month was such exquisite hell–students testing me at every turn, students forcing me to make a thousand decisions a minute, students requiring constant nagging, and heavens–oh heavens!–the whining. Students Students Students!
I would yank myself home feeling like I was pulling myself out of a pit where I had just battled the Balrog. My students seemed to morph together into one giant monster of hellfire–and sometimes I felt like the loser of the battle. I would go home, filleted and charred, and all I could do was cuddle Jeremy and hold Hufflepuff and then stare catatonic at the Parks and Recreation while waiting for relief.
…And then the next day would start.
And then I learned names. And I saw smidgeons of backstories. And I saw impressive strengths and crippling vulnerabilities. My students became a little less faceless, a little less composite, a little more individual.
And I learned too.
“No Steven*, you may not use the bathroom. Why? Because it’s the eleventh time this week, and your pocket just lit up, so I assume you just want to send a text.”
“Yes Breanne*, I am so sorry to hear about your sister’s miscarriage. Take an extension, turn it in on Monday.”
“Katie* this is not your best work. You and I both know you can do better.”
“Fantastic work, Rogelio.* What progress you’ve made.”
I used to think that a good teacher could get each and every student up in their seats, riveted, learning, scoring well on their tests, and laughing along the way. I used to turn up my nose when teachers moaned about their students not turning in homework assignments. I would be a good teacher. My students would turn things in. My students will LOVE English.
When these things didn’t immediately pan out the way I hoped, I internalized appropriately, mathematically.
Time for a transition: Harry Potter Time. I am pleased to announce that, just like Dumbledore, I have an army of students who will now back me up as I head into battle. A literal army. I suppose that should have been on my bucket list before now.
I am not sure what their function is besides to buoy up my self-esteem. My prayer is that they never have to head into actual battle on my behalf. But right now, the occasional love notes that they slip under my door are more than enough to remind me that I don’t want to quit my job.
I want to be a teacher. Because even though I know very little, I know Daniel* and Bethanne* and Rochelle* and Kiley* and Tanna.* I know individuals now, and they make teaching worth it. They even make me feel like Robin Williams in The Dead Poet’s Society. And sometimes, they even make me feel as cool as Dumbledore.