Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thank Ford

On the cusp of starting Brave New World.

I'm sitting with a class of 28 sophomores debating the merits of cloning.

One student is confused and thought I meant clowning. For the past five minutes his group had been discussing the ethics of Barnum & Bailey and keeping animals in cages.

I suggest that we could clone clowns for the circus, but that might be comically redundant.

My words are met with a smattering of chuckles and guffaws.

We move on to the caste system.

It suddenly dawns on me that I still don't know all of their names. This is unusual. I have periods 1, 3, 4 & 7 down. Why not period 5? I make a mental note to pick up some memory medicine... Ginkgo? Is that what it's called? Sounds like a tropical fighting fish. In this corner, weighing in at half-an-ounce... Ghengis Ginkgo!

The bell's going to ring. Not for round one of the fish fight, but for the class.

I need something to say for closure.

I need a vacation.

But first, I need to finish grading the summer homework.

I will never again assign journal entries with the directions "minimum of three pages" because some students interpret this to mean: Write 30 pages.

The bell's going to ring.

Wait, didn't I already write that?

I need to get some of that memory medicine...what's it called again?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

School Daze

Year seventeen of teaching.

Is it too early to be done?

I asked a colleague this question yesterday.

He laughed, and replied with a knowing shake of his head, "No, I don't think it's too early to be done."

Everyone looks so tired. Kids, adults, small dogs I encounter driving down lonely back roads on my way in...everyone.

"Just have to get back into the routine," another colleague said.

I suppose. I did it to myself. I'm already behind in grading. The sophomores arrived with six-page papers, summer homework on two books they were asked to read over the summer. I have sixty-three left to do, not that I'm counting or anything. I made the mistake of writing three-page minimum in the directions, and that must have sent the subliminal message that writing more is much better than writing less, hence the one cherub who decided to write THIRTY pages (I kid you not).

That's like adding five more students to my teaching load, I thought as I pored over page seventeen. How depressing.

But the kids are great.

Once the bleariness erodes and the Monster Energy drinks kick in, they come alive, laughing and joking, just being kids. And there's a desire to learn, to know more, to grow as individuals. They may mask this at times, but at those moments when you're able to connect and break through that teenage haze, there's intellect and curiosity behind those faces. I love those Kodak moments when the room grows quiet and everything you say seems to hit every pulsing synapse in their heads. Some of them nod, some smile, and some even take notes.

I love those moments.

Hmm, maybe I'm not quite done after all.