Tag Archives: teaching

They Don’t Teach Teachers This Stuff


Teaching is such a strange job.

You can be going through a perfectly ordinary day, doing perfectly ordinary things, and then, suddenly, at 2:37 PM, something un-ordinary floats through your door and turns the entire day on its head. And you can’t push this thing until tomorrow, because it has to be dealt with right now. And you also have the rest of your day to get through and you have to pretend everything is still perfectly ordinary even though it’s not.

Okay, that sort of thing can happen in any job, I guess. But for teachers there are kids involved.

And, okay, okay, that sort of thing can happen to parents, too. But for teachers, it’s somebody else’s kids.

And you want to help them out, and you want to do the right things for them, but you can’t because … well, because you can’t, and the best thing you can do is hand them off to somebody else, somebody hopefully better equipped to help them than you. But you feel a certain kind of way about that because this kid came to *you* for help, they trusted *you* enough to come to you, and all you can do is send them on to somebody else, somebody they didn’t *want* to go to.

And you feel sick inside, tearing yourself up with questions like “did I do the right thing” and “was there more I could’ve done” and “have I made things worse”, but due to the nature of these things there will be no answers forthcoming right away or, maybe, ever.

And for obvious reasons, there’s very little about any of this that you can share with anybody, to say nothing of a webpage that’s available for anybody anywhere to read.

We are supposed to have all the answers, but I feel as useless as a square tire.


I Know Things


I had a student ask me to fill out a psychiatrist’s evaluation for her. (Psychologist? I know they’re not the same but it’s not the point of the story, so we’re moving on.) Feedback on her performance in class, that kind of thing.

So I sent it in, and the next time she came in to class, she had this shocked look on her face. I had apparently marked that she has feelings of guilt and blames herself for things that are out of her control. This was shocking to her. “I never told you about that,” she said. “How did you know?”

Well, for one thing, isn’t that part of the human condition?

And for another, kiddo, you’ve been my student for three years now … of course I know some things about you. (For better and for worse!)

We have this disconnect with the people in our lives, and students — and all young people, really, but students especially — have this pressure to be this better version of themselves. It’s weird, I guess, when they learn that the mask can’t stay on all the time, no matter how hard they try.

It reminds me of when I was in school, the first time I saw one of my teachers out “in the wild” at the grocery store. It’s so jarring to see a person out of the context you build around them. I mean, of course they’re a real person who has to shop at stores … but you never think of them in that way. You don’t see the real person, you don’t consider them in that way.

But they’re real.

And I couldn’t possibly know this thing about her, but I did.

Makes you wonder what people know about *you* that you don’t go around telling them.


Impromptu Geology


I had to step out of the classroom for a moment today, and when I came back in, there was a cluster of students gathered at the front of the room.

Any teacher knows that when students crowd in like that, there are likely shenanigans afoot, so I hopped over to break up whatever it was and discovered….

Rocks.

One of my students had brought in her rock collection, and the other kids were delicately, respectfully, excitedly passing them around. Quartzes, opals, tiger’s eye, amethyst, and a healthy smattering of geodes and fossils. They murmured and thrilled with excited questions and exclamations.

These are not elementary kids. These were high schoolers. Not jockeying to get the best picture for the ‘Gram, not taunting each other over their “dumb rocks.” Just literally passing rocks around with childlike wonder.

I typed “childlike wonder” before I remembered the phrase was redundant. We’re talking about high school children, after all.

Sometimes the simple things really are the most delightful.


We Has It


COVID has come to my house.

Wife had symptoms at the beginning of the week, felt bad enough to get tested by the end of the week, and last night got her positive diagnosis. Meanwhile, I started feeling … ehh, not great about on Friday, and that’s developed into full-on yuckiness by today.

I got my nostrils roto-rootered out this morning, but that feels like a formality at this point. We have the bug.

And the big surprise about it is not that we have it, but rather how long it took for us to get it. Wife and I both work in schools, which — here in the South — have taken a bit more of a “we’ll take our chances” approach than schools in other parts of the country. Masks are optional. Social distancing is enforced “where possible”, etc.

But we — my wife and I — have tried a little harder than most, I think, to keep ourselves and others around us safe. And now we are forced (by our own sense of conscience more than anything else) to grapple with some tough questions. Who did we see in the past week? Where did we go? Did we really need to do those things? How many people might we have exposed, and how much responsibility do we bear?

This is a lot to think about, and for anxious sorts (like my wife and I — more so my wife than I but I, too), it snowballs pretty quick. So now we’re sitting at home with some unexpected days off, feeling gross because of this bug (though none of us, thankfully, are having any serious symptoms), but also feeling gross out of guilt and worry.

A plague on our house.

I’d love to bring something creative or insightful out of this, but I’m too cloudy-headed to think clearly about it.

Stay safe out there. Wear a mask.


We Got Some ‘Splainin To Do


I just got done speaking to a couple of students.

Things are a little … tumultuous right now; in this country, in our school, shoot… in *life generally*. They hung around after the bell just to talk, to ask some questions, to vent… and I’m happy to be that for them. They obviously needed to talk to somebody. Heck, *I* needed to talk to somebody.

I came away from that conversation shaking my head. The older generation has so much to answer for with these kids. They have been robbed of so much, and yet they’re weathering the storm with so much more resolve and level-headedness than so many of the adults in their lives.

I often joke with them about how I’m glad I’m not a kid like them in the world we’re living in (even though it’s not actually a joke).

But the truth is, many of them don’t even get to be kids anymore. They got yanked out of that and plopped straight into adult problems, starting a few years ago, but especially here in 2020.

And even adults don’t know how to deal with 2020.

These kids have it worse.


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