Never Dull!!!

Teaching 15-year-olds is never dull, and I think you could teach for 30+ years and still be surprised. Though I've only taught for 3 years, here are 2 semi-funny, semi-inappropriate for the classroom, yet true, stories that happened this past week.

The first comes from my own classroom--between classes last week, a student wrote an anatomically inappropriate word in huge letters on my chalkboard. (And when I say written on the board, it was in 4 foot letters across the entire chalkboard). When I walked into my classroom and saw it, I tried to remain calm and just casually erased it as the class was slightly snickering. When I stepped out in to the hallway for a moment later that class and came back in, the word was written again, this time spelled in smaller letters, but still spelled incorrectly! I just tried to ignore it and continued the class.

After finding out who wrote it, I talked with the assistant principal about the kind of funny, but still inappropriate word for a Spanish classroom!! The principal laughed and told me to just ask the student why she did it, and then the principal told me this similar story that came from a recent biology class...

The biology class was doing group presentations, and one group (of nice, but boisterous students )chose Tourettes Syndrome as their topic. Their opening statement, and their opening Powerpoint slide said, "Tourettes Syndrome: What the F*** is it?"

Nice, eh? Ah, the life of a highschool teacher - - - sometimes, a little more boring would be nice!

More to Life...

Sometimes my classroom becomes larger than life. In the daily-ness of working with teenagers, with all of their drama and issues, sometimes teachers can begin to think that their one class is more important than it actually is. I can quickly become irritated with why students don’t have their homework done or why struggling students don’t come in to my tutoring times for help. I can easily become cut-and-dry with classroom guidelines and policies and easily justify my firmness. I can easily see my students as just “my 3rd period class” as a whole instead of 30 individual teenagers who are each struggling with their own identities, their own families, their own lives.

Occasionally, though, I get a chance to step back from my classroom and am offered a glimpse into the life of a student. Sometimes it will come in the form of a note from a parent or a visit with the student’s counselor. Today, however, 2 students gave me a glimpse into their lives by just being themselves.

This morning a sweet, though slightly immature student from my 7th period class came to talk with me before school. I really like this student—his sense of humor is sharp and his easy laugh keeps the class interesting. (I did have to tell him recently, though, to stop throwing paper airplanes into the ceiling!) This student came in and just talked with me, and I could tell that he wanted something from me. Well, he suddenly handed me a card and said, “Senora, this is for you,” and quickly left. I opened the card to find that he had written me, apologizing for his grade the past 6 weeks, telling me that he liked my class, and asking if there were any way his grade could change. He than thanked me for “considering the request.” Right then I realized that here was this sweet, though boisterous teenager, who couldn’t quite figure out Spanish, but was nice enough to hand write me a letter pleading his case.

The second glimpse into my students’ as individuals came today between classes. A student of mine, who moved to Dallas and entered my class only a month ago, saw me in the hallway and stopped and said hi. I had no idea what he would then tell me: a month ago today, his mother passed away for sudden heart failure. He and his brother had to move to Dallas to live with their aunt, their only surviving relative.

I was once again reminded to look beyond my classes as entities and to try to see my students as true individuals, some with more serious life issues than I could ever dream. Though I can often do little to help, I can pray, and I can also try to create a warm, caring, safe environment where my students learn a little Spanish along the way.