With the new school year upon us, I am trying my absolute best to keep a positive attitude. Last year was a tough one, and admittedly, I didn’t make it any better with my sour attitude. If something was suckish, I expressed it. To anyone who would stand still long enough. And that’s not edifying to anyone. So I’m going about things differently (as best as I can) this year…
Not enough books? The kids can share and get to know one another! Collaboration!
SOL Prep materials older than lint? The kids are getting iPads soon anyway! There’s an App for that!
Stuck with lunch duty? Just think of all the new faces I’ll get to see!
33 kids in one class? We’ll have so many ideas to share! More brains, more better!
Mouse poop on my dictionaries? Yeah, I got nothin’ for this one either. Sorry.
So last night was Open House night… I had lots of visitors, new and old. And I marvel at how the kids that gave me the BIGGEST. HEADACHE. (read: pissed me off most) last year, are always the first to visit this year. And now that they’re not my problem, I love em. Sorry to put it that way, but, oh wait, no I’m not. Anyway, despite my greatest efforts to be Susie Sunshine about all things schoolish, I am slightly stuck on my evening’s first visitor.
Her mom entered first and introduced herself. “Hi. I’m student‘s mom. She hates school.” Wow, Hi. When was the last time you walked in to your hair dresser’s salon and said Hi. I need your services, but I hate them. Oh, and I want it for free. Weird right? But I thought to myself, some people are just bad at introductions, let me hear this out. So mom of student continued on with the story of when things began to go downhill…
“Right before student entered 3rd grade, the county changed our zone and student got sent to another school. She didn’t get treated well that year and she hasn’t gotten over it since. They picked and chose who to move, and student wasn’t with any of her friends. And so she hated school. And she still does. That’s why she fails. No one can get through to her.”
<TWILIGHT ZONE MUSIC IN MY HEAD>
Good story, mom! Tell it again! Now, mind you, I teach ELEVENTH GRADE. So we are talking EIGHT years ago… give or take a few failed semesters. (You know, since that new school and all.)
“Yeah, if they had never moved student, her bad grades never woulda happened. It’s all because they moved her. She did real good in 1st and 2nd grade.”
<NO LONGER ABLE TO KEEP MUM>
“SHE WAS 6!” I nearly shouted. Both of us looked shocked. Whoops.
I didn’t mean to. But it came out. Things were hunky dory when she was busy coloring George Washington and learning to write her name in cursive, you say? How bout that. News flash, mom! School gets harder after that! What burns me the most is the lack of ownership here. The child has struggled through school, for whatever reason, lacking resources, support, SOMETHING–And you’ve done nothing but drum up lame-ass excuses? Like school re-zoning in 2003? WHAT THE FUUUUCK???
<THANK GOD I DIDN’T REALLY SAY ALL THAT.>
What I did say was, “I’m prepared to give student all the support she needs this semester to help her be successful, even if she hasn’t always been. <TURN TO STUDENT.> But you’ve got to show up to the game, student. You’re 17. Where you went to school when you were 8 is a non-issue. It’s time to step up. And we can make 11th grade your best yet.”
…or some shit like that.
SHEW! That was a close one. So anyway, I relay this story to you for this reason: I’m nervous. More so than I was when I was brand new at this, nine loooong years ago. But why? I know what I’m doing by now right? Right? <chirp…chirp>
I have all these great ideas rolling around in my head that typically come to life in the form of lesson plans at some point or another. My brain is involuntarily generating thinking clusters and word webs in my head. Mental charts are happening. I have grandiose plans of writing stations and literature circles. Character maps and plot lines and essay diagrams, OH MY! And nothing as great as what I (mentally) have in store for my kids this semester is really on paper. What if someone (of importance) wants to see what I have planned? How can I properly explain the kick-ass activity I came up with in the shower this morning? “It’s still in thought bubbles, sorry come back later…” I feel like a disorganized mess and like everyone else already has their plans, copies, and schematics in place for the first 4 weeks. And I’m all like, “ERRMAHGERRD! BERKS!”
What if I don’t have what this student needs either? What if she gets through (or doesn’t?) eleventh grade and still “hates school?” Geez, those words hurt. What if my class becomes her mother’s next reason why she fails at life for the next 8 years?
Husband person calls this “first week jitters.” I call this terrifying, life altering, legit fear of inadequacy. Potato, pot-ah-to.
…at least I get new school supplies. Bring on the Lisa Frank pocket folders and mechanical pencils! Shit’s about to get real.