April 7, 2006

Yo! Punt!

This has nothing to do with football. It's about the game of education.

Suckas! That's what I say to all of you who spend hours writing the perfect lesson plans. Well, unless you work at a school where nothing ever goes wrong...well then... I am the sucka!

While I'm photocopying the vocabulary quiz at 6:30 am, I advertantly copy wrong parts. Half of the quiz is for last week's words. I don't discover this error until halfway through 1st hour. Do I cancel the quiz, although we are getting ready for spring break? They wish! Nope.

I punt.

At my night school class I plan an activity that requires that students have their assignment from the previous class. Half of the previous night's students don't show up. Eight students who weren't even at the last two classes show up. Twelve students know what's going on. Eight students barely even know what class they are in. (No wonder these students can't hack a regular school.) Do I storm out of the room and say, "This shit is f---ed up? I quit!" No. I sigh and grunt.

And I punt.

For some unexplained reason a fire drill lasts 25 minutes. Tick tock. We're waiting on the field. The students in one class miss most of the lesson. Not to mention they are all wound up. Do I go ahead and set a real fire because I'm so irritated? No.

I punt.

A field trip leaves 3 out of 4 classes half full. The other class only had two students absent. I didn't figure this into my lesson plans. It's two days before spring break. Do I blow off everything for the day? I wish.

Instead, I Punt.

The connector from the LCD projector to the computer does not fit my students' laptops (although it fits mine...go figure.) and we are ready to begin several days of Powerpoint and imovie presentations. In fact, eight students are staring at me wondering why I'm so technologically inept on the day they are ready to present. Do I fall to the floor and throw a tantrum? No.

I punt.

I am ready to get rid of the class from hell. Five more minutes. Then the school goes into lockdown for 90 minutes. Do I try to slit my own wrists with a paper clip? No.

I punt.

Sometimes I think that being a good teacher is really about being able to punt. All day. Everyday. Without tears or bloodshed. It's all about problem solving. Sure, I have to solve the great problem of how to help my students learn content in the way that they will understand. That's the big picture. The rest is every little thing I have to troubleshoot to keep the day running smoothly. Sometimes I just want curl up under my desk and have the breakdown I deserve, but I don't. Instead...

I punt...
because I'm a teacher.

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