Friday, September 25, 2009

The Day the Teacher Ate the Intern

Well, I didn't mean to, honest, Spot! He was just a little bit wet behind the ears, I get that. You know, it's that pardon-the-expression-peach fuzz look that kinda does it to a girl. Here we are, early September, and we're just getting that pack of poochies under control. When...

In comes the intern. Well, it was a very under-confident walk, and that made me nervous. I like the large and in-charge kind of look. Deer-in-the-headlights is what you get sometimes. That's okay. I get it. I was once there. So I went off to my meeting and left Mr. Intern in charge.

When I got back, everything but bottle-launching was going on! I may have lost it, but only a little. After all, you guys knew what you were supposed to do. But what happened next, really put me over the top. "She's a perky one," he said laughing and pointing to a girl in the back of the room. "How do you control her?" Ummmm. Where do I begin? "I look her in the eye, tell her to get back to work, and usually that's that. Period." He looked at me and smiles.

He kinda hung around, so I said, "Bye!" It was a nice voice, really. I turned back to the troops and said, "Okay, pencils down, eyes on me." Anybody who knows me knows I'm not a mean teacher, Spot, right? But, boy am I direct. We have business to do. This is not touchy-feely hour...we need outcomes and inspiration here! After a while, everyone settled back in and brains were back to their normal buzz. I love that buzz. There was talking and chatting, but it was all very appropriate and all very connected to our writing work.

But! Forty-five minutes later, Mr. Intern (aka Mr. Glutton) returned again. "I wanna know what you meant before," he said. This time, I looked him straight in the eye, "You have to say it, mean it, and own it! There's no tip-toeing around here! Today? They became the Alphas...and you, just got a little chewed up, that's all." I patted him on the back, and told him to just keep coming. And later, when everyone was long gone and I turned out the lights, I walked through that doorway and realized something.

It is really in the comings and goings that we get better at teaching, Spot. Looking back and having the courage to return to the scene of the crime, like Mr. Intern did, is the true name of the game. It's the what's up of teaching...what went wrong and how to fix it that really makes the job so very, very satisfying in the end.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roll of Doggie, Hear My Voice

Governor Patterson says, "I didn't sign up for this." Well, excuse moi? Did anybody? I hate when leadership goes sour like that.
For me, everything relates back to the classroom. There are places where democracy reigns, and then there are places where there's a bottom line...well, most of the time. Seems everyone's got an opinion on everything these days.

In the classroom recently, the poochies have had a bit of a complaint regarding how they're being herded from table to table in the cafeteria. Petitions were being circulated, and the pups were downright 'fired-up!' They even wanted me to sign the petition. Wait. Halt! I told them if they had an opinion on a subject or cared to challenge a rule or initiative, they needed to follow proper procedure. And man, they were on that procedure, voicing their concerns to their student council rep until that poor doggie came to me. He had that Governor Patterson look on his face and was all ready with the I-didn't-sign-up-for-this thingy. I looked him straight in the eye and shook his hand, "Comes with the turf," I said.

Now, I'll be responsible to the astro-turf, the greater powers of these doggies on the outside world, their parents. Because even when we think the buck stops elsewhere, in the classroom, it only comes back to one place. They say it runs downhill too. I didn't sign up for that, I signed up for the academic part--but as with everything in life, if you don't quiet the voices in front of you, they'll wake you up in the middle of the night. So, Gov...just deal with it, there's no whining and no way out here for anyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Listen Up!

Okay, Spot, here we go again. Remember know, from last year? Charmed me all the way. She'd come in all 'What's happenin', Mrs. Lynch,' telling me all about her trips to church and stuff over the weekend. And now? I've got her male replacement! Her voice was going in my head for 183 days 24/7 last year.

Now...there's Jeeves...well, something like that. Comes in all ready to run to put that nose of his in his book, fixated to the point of tears on his snack every day (the snack he can never, ever seem to find). In the middle of class today, he has no homework for the second time this week.
Do I push it and face the melt down, Spot...or do I back-off and expect the same all year? Well, you know what I did...I pushed it, of course. And the meltdown? Well, I focused on what the Wellness Committee told me to do...I took a long, deep cleansing breath. And walked away. I went on with the lesson...and that stinker, Jeeves? He took out his pencil and proceeded to try to sneak a completion of that assignment in whilst I taught. He thought the homework alert would NOT go home. WRONG! There's no beating the homework police. EVER.