Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In "Honor" of Mr. Rodriguez

I have finally become that teacher. You know, the one you shudder when you think back on. I've had a few in my day, like the afore mentioned Mr. Rodriguez, who had students he liked and students that he made wear a sign reading "Estudiante Estupido." His dislike was not incurred by lack of effort or linguistic ability. He was like an animal or a schoolyard bully. If he smelled weakness in you, he attacked. I should clarify. That's not the teacher I'm becoming.

Rather, like poor Mrs. Brookshire, I'm becoming disillusioned by the lack of effort students seem willing to make. I didn't like Mrs. B, because she was a bit rigid and had little tolerance for humor. She had a job to do and she was going to do it. I felt like she never took the time to know me and recognize what was special in me. Now that I'm in her shoes, I hate to admit it, but I'm finding sympathy for her.

I am fighting a battle against apathy and a false sense of entitlement. (Boy, that sounds so grandiose!)Apparently, these children have gotten the impression that school should be convenient to them and not entail anything challenging or unpleasant. Wow. If I had only known.

Today a student told my aide that he shouldn't have to take the writing assessment, because he wasn't here yesterday for the pre-writing activity. She sent him to me and the conversation went something like this.

Student: "I can't take this because I wasn't here yesterday for the planning lesson."

Me: "And you weren't here why?"

Student: " I didn't get out of bed."

Me: " Sounds like a personal problem to me. Here's the thing. When you miss school, you miss stuff. Sometimes it can be made up, other times it can't. It's not my job to get you dressed and to school. That's your job. If you can't do that, please don't expect me to compensate for that, because I won't. Sit down and start your writing assessment."

Student: " But..."

Me: "Sit down. Begin writing. Now."

Student: "I..."

Me: " Now. And I do mean now."

He looked ready to cry. I wasn't moved. I am fed up with this idea that school is tailored to their desires. If you can't get up in the morning, tough.

Then, to top it off, I passed out a vocabulary exercise and a young lady whimpered, "But I don't like these."

"Hmm, well I don't like whiny 7th graders, but I have to deal with them every day." I shot back.

Boy, I'm really moving toward that teacher of the year award, aren't I? Scarring, er, shaping young minds. I'm totally okay with the first exchange. He deserved a little reality check. Telling the student I was sick of whiny 7th graders? Out of line. A) It was rude. B) It was in front of the class, which is humiliating. I could rip out my tongue over that one. Yes, I'm tired and sick of the laziness. But these kids deserve the same respect I demand from them. Maybe this is my reality check. I don't want my name on some blog ten years from now as a teacher whom a child hated. Let me be like Ms. Niemeyer, who inspired me to try harder and work to my potential, instead of coasting. Let me be like Mrs. Boyette, who healed my third grade wounds with a dose of loving kindness. Let me be like Mrs. Brandt, who inspired me to try poetry and stretch my writing beyond where I was comfortable.

I guess I need a " 'tude check" as Drama Queen would say. Or some time off. Or to just have this baby and get rid of the crazy hormones. Whichever comes first.

And a few hours later, I've discovered a reason for student lack of effort. The same young woman who whined about the vocabulary exercise tells me in front of the whole science class that her mom doesn't get why I send these exercises home since they don't really help her and they're just pointless. Oye. I confess, I told the student that if her mom had questions about the work I send home, she should call me and I can show her research that supports word puzzles and exercises as beneficial for thought process and analytical skills. But perhaps she shouldn't give her daughter the message that school work is worthless and I don't know what I doing, since that undermines the student's respect for me.

Oh, yes I did.


Blogger theshellieshow said...

yes, i know those students! I find myself sometimes mouthing off a little more than what i should.
my pet peeve: When i am giving directions such as,"yes, you MUST show your work!" and i hear,"ugh!"
And, did you know Mrs. Boyett won teacher of the year for our district and the county...

9:48 PM  

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