If you've read this blog for a while you've possibly heard this before. If some one asked me to shortly describe what its like to teach here, I would say "Like continually taking one step forward, and three steps back." Yesterday I wrote about a pretty good day at school (two steps forward) but today was school wide pandemonium erased all the positive work (three steps back). The problem is that I can't write about my kids, because, well, um...., they read this blog, they might even be reading it now. So I am going to generalize and not single anyone out.
Currently there are several things going on in our high school. We have had four new students this semester. When your high school has eleven students, the addition of four new ones (all very unique characters int their own way) has a major effect on the social network of personalities and relationships. My high school isn't like ones you can imagine. There aren't jocks, or art kids, or nerds or cheerleaders. There are just 15 or so kids stuck in a tiny school together for seven painful periods of what I can only imagine must resemble a sizable mountain of nonsensical tasks. What I'm really saying is that people are starting to get on people's nerves, students on teachers, teachers on students, students on students, teachers on teachers. Today it all kind of materialized at once. We had student crisis after student crisis today. These crisis ranged from family problems, friendship feuds, flying soccer balls to the face, and unfinished projects. Everyone one was off today. A ripple of something weary and peculiar was wafting through the air, I was lucky enough to pick up on it early and abandoned a biology lesson that I am fairly certain would have ended in disaster. Instead I popped in a Planet Earth Movie episode on the jungle and hoped it would calm everyone down.
It is sooooo frustrating to spend so much time with a student, work so hard to help them, try to figure out exactly how you can help them learn and enjoy their limitless lives, and then have to give them up to the real world for the rest of the time knowing that almost all the work that you just did trying to build them up will have to be fixed and repaired first thing the next day because the life that they live in just tore them apart and spit them out again. I just remember those teen age times when life outside of school dwarfed school so much. We seem to think or demand or expect that what we asked them to do is so important and meaningful when in reality their life experience might be more guttural, more visceral and more grounded in survival then our little worksheets, lessons, and essays will ever be. Sometimes I don't want to teach my students anything school related, I just want to hang out with them, teach them how to be happy in life, how to blow off steam, how to relax, how to chill out, how to talk things out, how to help others, how to do all these things that actually matter because, quite frankly I'm getting really sick of asking kids with much bigger problems in life than I can ever imagine, to fill in the blanks, circle the best answers and write a 500 word essay on who gives a flying crap.
So the reason I'm writing about this is not only do I need to reflect and express my struggle so that I can preserve my own sanity, I also hope that a student will read it, understand it someday, and pass it on to the other students and say, "Mr. Iverson gets it, he gets us, and he's not against us, he's trying to help." I'm not saying all teachers aren't doing their best, but I've known some who weren't, but what I'm saying is that more than not, I know a lot of teachers that are afraid to let their students know they are real people too, with problems, quirks, struggles, troubles, victories, and feelings. I don't really know where this is all going actually, I just started writing about the crazy day and I'm not even sure there is an answer in it. I'm not sure there will ever be. I don't know how to explain this unbelievable experience that I'm going through. There must be a reason, a lesson in all of this, and I'm slowly starting to realize that everyday I try to make a difference one day, one student, one period, one smile, one hope at a time and simultaneously realizing that I am a salmon swimming up an incredibly strong, raging, and clouded river.