Posted by: joha5 | April 8, 2010

Pee Party Patrol

I run the after school study hall for 7th and 8th grade students every Monday to Thursday.  In fact, I am here right now typing to you while they are (pretending) to quietly work.  I actually really enjoy doing it for the most part.  Some days they are just angelic and they want to learn and they want to do work. 

Today, however, is not that day.

I know this sounds absolutely insane to my students when I teach them but I actually do remember what it was like to be 13 or 14 and be completely unable to focus and have so much expendable energy that it was impossible to get rid of.  I don’t want top say that I feel sorry for them because I certainly don’t.  What I should say is that I can commiserate with them on how tough it can be to sit and do work when it is the last thing you want o do.  I most recently posted on how tough it is now 15 years later.  Little do they know, it doesn’t get any easier to sit and focus on stuff that you don’t want to focus on.  As a consequence of my commiseration, I find that I am more than fair with them when it comes to discipline.  I have never been strict and I probably never will be.  When it comes to rules, it isn’t that they are made to be broken but they certainly are made for testing.  I tested the rules 15 years ago and in some ways I feel like I test the rules of society today in my own petty ways.  I’m hardly a rebel.  Just somebody who likes to stand on the other side of the line, albeit for no real reason that I can articulate.

Today my students seem to be infatuated with penises and vaginas.  Seriously.  This is what I have to deal with today.  I have managed to dampen their enthusiasm for the inappropriate today and have navigated the situation so that they are no longer out of control.  This makes me feel like a great teacher.  I guess they are just at the age where they had their first sex education course and everything is awkward and hilarious and unexperienced.  I understand this.  Ironically, this was my life until I was…oh, 24.   Even on late night talk shows, stand up comedy bits, adult cartoon shows, or what have you, penises and vaginas always mange to get a cheap laugh from the audience.  I guess people never really do grow up.   

As I have just finished the previous paragraph, a handful of students decided that it was okay to leave the room to go to the vending machine without asking.  In normal adult life, I see no problem with this.  But in awkward teenage life this is truly a recipe for disaster.  It isn’t like they are going to do anything to detsroy school property or whatever but if you give them an inch of freedom they will do anything to get a mile out of it.  Why do you think students always ask to go to the bathroom together?  It isn’t because they want to have a big pee party or anything.  It’s just the sense of escape and the sense of being in an unstructured environment that is hilariously fun for them to share with somebody – even if it is only for a few minutes at a time.  They can have their few minutes for all I care.  Besides, I hate the idea that I am being relegated from the position of teacher to Pee Party Patrol. 

See?  The boys have returned and all is well in the world.  I feel like a good teacher again.  But this is how my day goes in the classroom.  One second I feel like I am an incredible teacher and that I am God’s gift to education and the next second I wonder why the hell I ever got into this whole thing in the first place.  Neither emotion lasts too long and it usually balances out over the day, week, and school year.  Today I literally have like 30 kids in one classroom.  Thirty.  Is it any wonder that I have good days and bad days?! 

All in all, even my worst day isn’t bad.  I am very fortunate to be working with these kids and, as clichéd as this sounds, everyday is an adventure.   Now if only I could get them to stop talking about penises and vaginas.

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