Being a high school teacher toughens a girl up. I’ve come to believe that without some toughness, a girl can be doomed. Teenagers treat their teachers like a girlfriend they can’t dump. First they act like you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. You think everything is going along fine: they are reading, writing when you ask, talking about their literacy. Then, it’s time for checking papers and assigning grades, and BAM!!! Where did the love go?
When it first happens — not matter how long you’ve been teaching, this always takes you by surprise! — you think it’s you. You haven’t used English words. You haven’t tapped their learning style or dominant left-brain/right-brain strategy. You gave them too much freedom….You didn’t give them enough freedom. You change their seating, their assignments, their technology. Everything is wrong, but nothing works. Even your teacher friends are helpless.
Then you get mad. The students aren’t taking you class seriously. They tried to trick you into thinking they wanted a good grade; they wanted to learn. Then you yell at them, and you realize that the only ones who are remotely listening are the ones who normally do their work. You have them in tears — they don’t know what they’ve done wrong! Then you get even madder because the “bad” ones are laughing at your tirade; one of them raises his hand and says, “Hey, ain’t you acting like one of them ar-key-types you told us about? One of them shoes?” You shake your head because even though he got the word wrong (he meant “shrew” of course), he got the idea correct.
Then, being the good teacher that you are, you go on a Google search — there has to be something some smart savant has come up with to help with the little kiddoes problems. So you get an answer that looks like this:
Yeah…that says a million sites. A MILLION!!!! Now you realize that you aren’t the only teacher dealing with students who don’t feel a connection to school — the one place you could call safe when you were little. How can that be? You immediately realize this is a dumb question because there were classmates you remember from school who didn’t want to be there and who didn’t graduate. You know the problems they dealt with and are still dealing with (you have a Facebook, for crying out loud!) for not having a good education.
While you’re thinking about your students, your kid yells at the pretend class she’s teaching to “BE QUIET, I SAID! NO, WE ARE NOT GOING TO READ OR WRITE STORIES TODAY! YOU HAVE BEEN TOO BAD AND ALL OF YOU ARE IN TIME OUT! AND NO RECESS!!”
So now you know this school-hate starts from little school where we (the teaching profession) ruin little kids and their tender feelings. We have retarded their curiosity — especially if the student is male. We don’t think they can write their own stories or read books not on their “level.” We stop teaching science and social studies in favor of test prep. They move to upper grades where their teachers are trying, but aren’t able to help them get that Kindergarten love back. And we test them ALL THE TIME. AND ALL THE TESTS ARE “IMPORTANT”!
And just when you know all is lost and you start writing about your frustrations, maybe your kid sees you writing and does this:
And you think that maybe you’re doing something right after all.