Monday, May 24, 2010
The sea, the wind - the endless horizon: thoughts and dreams have but to spread their wings and there will be no limit to where they will go
As the peak of our melancholy from the lack of sun begins to really gnaw on our desires and motivations to do anything, nature comes at us with the medicine: fair weather and sun. Glory to the great mother who caresses our frostbitten cheeks with warm, soothing windy kisses!
As I regale her gift, so I am trodden upon by the attendance record of my students. I have the pleasure of teaching a class which I see three times a week for the last period of the day, I also have the despair of teaching 2/3rd of them. I have some students who do College Now from 7:15am to 8:15am; these same students have to stay until their last class which ends at 4:15p, if they also have Robotics, Track or Basketball, they do not get home until at least 7pm – then there are chores, homework, a bit of relaxation and hopefully some sleep. I’m sure you can imagine which of these gets the most attention, and I am not sure I can blame them. 12 hours is a long work day; to be fair I work no less, indeed I work more, but I am also not representative of most High School teachers. Of course they want to cut out early, of course they want to even skip in the middle of the day, because that way when I am collecting homework they think I will take pity on the because they were not there that day. How wrong are they! And how sad am I that they missed out on so much instruction. I want to desperately for them to learn, particularly the skills that will serve them well in college. Jesus, my whole course is oriented to improving their chances of getting into, and succeeding in, college. But it changes nothing; not the motivational speeches, not the second chances, not the focus of the course… nothing.
On the other hand I have a handful (out of 140) of students who… I don’t know if I want to use the word “amaze”, they are doing what they are supposed to, but in context that is amazing. They come to class, they turn in their work, they engage their frontal lobes, they do not disrupt the learning of others or the class process… they are students, in every meaning of the word. For them I feel worse than anyone else; they are committed, they are ready, but their efforts are deterred by those who force me to slow down or stop, to re-teach, not because of them not understanding, but because they were not there or did not pay attention. But I cannot just focus on them, I cannot let the other slip away, because when they come to me, as late as it may be, my desire to teach flashes at an instant and I want to do nothing but share with them the knowledge that the other students already received. I just can’t help it.
In this way I am like my mother, certainly not one of her good traits. After they fuck up, I still want to help them at any cost, and as a result all they learn is that they CAN fuck up and still get all the benefits as those who worked their ass off to do the right thing in the first place. So I end up spending time I could have used to study, lesson plan, see my girlfriend, or god forbid get some sleep, on catching these kids up, with abounding promises on how this will not happen next marking period. I have heard these promises before I think… oh that’s right, it was last marking period.