November 27, 2008

Saying My Peace

My last class of the day happens to be the last period of the day at the alternative high school where I work part-time at night--and for those of you who have read this blog for a whole know that the last class of my day is over 12 hours after my first class of the day. In my experience, last period classes at any school are always a little more rambunctious than other classes, and my last class is no different. In fact, they are off-the-hook. Let's throw in some expletives there, too. Just not off-the-hook. Worse.

I don't talk about it much here, although it makes for some good stories. I'm rather embarrassed that I have such a slippery handle on these kids, and I try to forget about it as soon as I leave the building.

On Wednesday night the students simply had to finish the rough draft a piece of writing I assigned on Tuesday night. For some it would be a stretch, and for others, they would be finished early in the class period, but for most it would be just the right amount of time. Typical classroom, right? I hate to have time wasted, so I would normally have a sponge activity for students, but on Wednesday I did not bother.

I know I set myself up for a riot or something. You know, the whole idle hands being the devil's playground thing. Amazingly, though, the students were calm and quietly entertained themselves in the last hour before our long holiday weekend.

And I was able to casually joke and talk with a few of them that normally do not give me the time of day.

One of the boys who is new to my class this quarter said that my class is the only class they ever have to do work in. I didn't believe him, so he corrected himself, "Well, we have to do book work, and take notes, but that's easy!"

"I told you that sometimes this class is hard."

"Miss! It's too hard!"

"Because you have to think?"

Several of them agreed that thinking was just too tough.

I was feeling bold enough at that point, because we were all being civil to each other, to remind them how patient I have been with them.

Another student, who also came in during the second quarter agreed: "Ya'll are tough on her!"

You know it, girl! They make me want to cry when I leave here sometimes.

Feeling even bolder, I continued, "You know, a lesser teacher would have quit already." I know a better teacher would not have my troubles, but that's not my point here.

Several of the students agreed. There was a moment of silence as they reflected for a few seconds on that. I hope they weren't plotting was to get rid of me because a revolving door of teachers would be much more entertaining, but I hope they saw a different side of me. I'm not the fool teacher they think I am. I'm the patient teacher who isn't going to let their antics keep her from helping them learn.

I might be making more of this small moment in time than it is really worth. Next week I'll be back to contemplating how peaceful my life would be without them, but for now I'd like to think that we experienced a turn in the road together. Maybe not a turn. Maybe a curve. Or even a smooth patch of road instead of the bumpy one on which we travel together. Anything to keep us going.

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