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i never wanted to be a teacher, but here we are

I've taught English for almost a decade.  For a while it was 8th and 9th grade, but for the last six years I have taught strictly 9th and 9th grade honors English.  I've also coached cheerleading and been the student government advisor, which means that over the course of the last nine years I have worked with the best this junior high has to offer.  Don't get me wrong, all 15 year old kids can be squirrly and obnoxious, but for the most part--if you smack them around a little--they are so fun. Those elementary teachers, though? They are the real heroes. If you screw up a kid in elementary, they are screwed for life... at my job, they come already screwed up.  Way less pressure that way. I'm obviously kind of kidding.

My days are mostly the same.  Instruction, grading, a hormonal girl crying, pulling two kids away from each other as they try to make out in  the hall--my kids know my rules on PDA: 1. you must be good looking and 2. you must be good at it, and they are neither of those things so they aren't allowed to participate--and choking on AXE or country apple body spray.  Sometimes, though, I encounter a gem of an experience.  Like this morning when one of my students handed me her new perfume and said, "Mrs. Hodges, smell this.  It makes boys like me." or last year when I got the following email from a student:

I've pulled pranks like "breaking" a kid's cell phone in half.  I did a solo dance in front of the entire student body,  I've endured the pain of having students leave this mortal life, multiple times.  I've even dealt with llamas in my room, eating my breakfast donut.  I can't make this stuff up. I've even cried--don't tell anyone--falling asleep because I was concerned about where a specific student was spending their night.  And over the course of these years I've discovered something concerning.  When I was in school and I got in trouble in class--usually for talking, obviously--and I got home, I got in trouble.  When I didn't do my homework or was unprepared, I was again in trouble.  Now, when my students get called out in class for being a dufus or come with unfinished assignments, I'M STILL THE ONE GETTING IN TROUBLE.  I cannot seem to figure this out.

Why are parents so quick to bail their kids out of hard situations? I'm a parent three times over.  I hate to see my kids struggle, but I have yet to walk in and save them from a mess they brought on themselves.  Last week, I had a student walk in to class and hand me their cell phone so their mom could tell me that they didn't finish their assignment because of soccer practice.  Are you kidding me? I did seven loads of laundry, swept and mopped my floors twice--I'm basically Monica Gheller on steroids, hit up soccer practices that overlapped for two kids at different locations, had family dinner, made out with Dewy, got kids in bed, worked out at the gym, and I showed up, wearing a bra, prepared to work.   I'm having a hard time with sympathy here.  Why are my students getting brand new Iphones when they shattered their screen on their current one because they were playing baseball with it outside?  I see it so clearly every single day, and yet I still hear people wondering why our kids are becoming more and more entitled.

Nothing drives me nuts like someone who can't own up or admit fault.  No, Susan, it isn't your dad's fault that your homework isn't done.  You were the clown talking to Denise all night on Snapchat.  No, Paul, it isn't my fault that you failed your vocabulary quiz because you were too lazy to look up the definitions of ten words over the course of seven days, but I can't wait for you to tell me all about the levels you reached on Fortnite.  Come on people, wake up.

The state is threatening to pay me based solely on how well my students perform on end of level exams.  Can I hold them accountable on those exams? Nope.  It is actually illegal for me to give them a grade of any kind--even participation for showing up--on those tests.  So if Stewart wants to hit "C" on every question until the end, he can...with no repercussions.  But I'll probably be expected to clean out my desk.  As teachers we get preached to about not teaching to the test, differentiating our instruction because everyone learns differently, scaffolding so that kids are learning at every level.  Why then are we not treating teachers the same way? Why is this a one size fits all? You want to renew your license, Jan? Here is a standardized test that everyone has to take.  Don't test your students like that, though.  What a bunch of baloney.  Oh, and stop opting your kids out of end of level exams.  I've got strong opinions on this, but that's another post for another day.

I love my job, which is weird because I always said I would never teach junior high.  And yet, I am completely in love with what I do.  I'm a part time teacher, for crying out loud... I'm clearly in it for the pay check.  I go to work every day to rub shoulders with the future.  To watch as they learn both in the classroom and in life--and the best is when it's the hard lessons.  I love to laugh with them, joke with them, talk with them, listen to them.  I love that they aren't afraid to say hi to me when they see me at chickfila with my family.   I hope my students recognize that if I'm tough, it's because I see how much better you could truly be.  I hope my students understand that I don't feed you because I have to.  I have oatmeal waiting for you in the morning because I don't expect you to care about your grades when you haven't eaten or slept in a bed for four days.  I hope my students remember punctuation and grammar and how hard we laughed when Romeo told that dirty joke in Act II, but more importantly, I hope they remember that I cared.  And even on the days when I was grumpy and tired, I wanted so badly for us to connect so we could take that learning to the next level.  To my students who are married with families and the ones I have yet to meet, I adore you.  Some more than others, but regardless, I think you're pretty fun.  Now, go take a shower because some of you still think deodorant is optional.


Comments

  1. You are amazing in so many ways-I hope my girls get a teacher like you one day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s very sweet! Who knows... maybe I’ll still be here, and you will live in the boundaries!

      Delete
  2. If you’re still there I will make a point to move within the boundaries!

    ReplyDelete

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