Tuesday, October 18, 2011

gloomy with a chance of hopeful

I love being a teacher.



But sometimes it feels so hard I can't help but imagine hopping a sleeper train to New York, pretending to be a fascinating incognito famous author writing poems about the scenery and short stories about the passengers while drinking wine and eating cheese, bread, & chocolate all the way across the country, where I will find a funky studio apartment to share with a Mad Menesque lover and send artsy postcards from.

Or, driving into Portland and shopping for six hours before collapsing at a Happy Hour bar with the new Chuck Palahniuk book and my iPod blasting Fountains of Wayne.

Teaching is not hard like laborious - sometimes I come up with a new way of approaching a skill or topic on the fly because what I've planned isn't working, but that doesn't make me sweat (usually). I don't pull muscles (unless I clumsily climb on a chair to make a point) or find myself short of breath (except for when I crisscross the computer lab 45 times in 90 minutes). And honestly, that would be about the only exercise I get so it would be welcomed. And these are the parts I handle pretty easily.

Hard like: After I have concocted 33 multiple-intelligence-friendly ways to say "Please use your time wisely because today is your last day to work on this assignment in class" including Pig Latin and animated PowerPoint slides (from atop a chair), at least six students will act dumbfounded and/or outraged when I ask for the assignment the next day.

Hard like: When I hand out sticky notes while explaining OUT LOUD IN ENGLISH their purpose, each individual student will ask me What is this for?

Hard like: I have had intelligent discussions with every one of my students and know for a fact that every one of them is capable of thoughtful analysis and synthesis of some sort, yet when I read a passage from a novel and ask specific questions about that exact passage within 40 seconds of reading it, I am met with blank stares. Sometimes sighs. Occasionally groans, as if I am expecting the impossible from their teenage brains.

I want to stab myself. Multiple times, every day.

But then. The most unlikely kid in the world - the one who announced loudly and with glee that he most certainly would NOT be doing homework over the long weekend thankyouverymuch - e-mails his research paper from home Sunday night then asks first thing Monday morning if I got it. Yes, thank you, it looks like you did quite a bit of work. He tells me he was up until 3 a.m. Wow. And, he read the novel but didn't finish all the questions, just 12 (out of 13). Wow again, impressive. Yeah, he says. It felt really good to do all of that work, actually.