After showing me a small beam of hope yesterday, my students returned with awful ferocity for sleeping, being off task, annoying behavior, general apathy and unenthusiasm. I did jinx myself...dammit.
My Ecology class includes the sum of the high school (17 students). Last week they said that I was giving them too many notes, so this week I came out right off the bat with an art project followed by a group activity today revolving around making and showing a visual to the rest of the class. The art project went alright yesterday and today the group project was a disaster. People were refusing to work together, massive misunderstandings all over the place, and of course the ever lovable leaving the room with out permission to go and hide in the hall. What the hell, am I teaching high school or a bunch of kindergarteners ?
You see when you teach in a school as small as this, something that most teachers take for granted like simple "Groupwork" is a major chore and impossibility here. Even though it fails ever time I always try over and over again despite the long track record of failure in hopes that one day my class will resemble something orbiting the vicinity of an illusion of a regular Science class.
Every student is someone's sister or brother or cousin or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or enemy or nemesis or what ever the hell you can think of that makes it completely impossible for them to ever consider working together on something. Something like group work that takes place in almost every class in every school around the world becomes something that is completely lost on my students.
Sometimes I think "Wow! I'm really being challenged in ways I never thought possible up here in the ol' frontier of Alaska...Gee Willickers!" But more and more lately I've been thinking how nice it used to be to just simply split students up into equal groups and give them a cool project to do without having to analyze the intricate social interworkings of people who spend entirely too much time annoying the crap out of each other, I miss teaching an average normal class...isn't that sick? They drove me to it. I liken teaching in a small school like this to what a mother or father must feel like driving their kids in a car for a long period of time to an amusement park. Eventually there is only so much the kids can do in the back seat before they start poking and pinching each other and explode. Unfortunately I can't yell at my class, "If you don't knaaaack it off right now I'll turn this goddamn class right around right now and no one is going to ECOLOGY WORLD!!!"
Its days like today that keep foiling my plans to start working out. I am simply too friggin tired to work out after a day of chasing these immature monkeys around. I work out ALL DAY as it is. The thought of running or lifting weights makes me want to throw up. And with the addition of the new tv in my life it is sooo hard not to just go home and flop right onto the couch and pass out from exhaustion. I have to find some sort of way to maintain energy throughout the day even in the face of these little bloodsuckers. It has dawned on me that I have simply just become old and uncool. But if being young and cool is acting like a complete moron with no common sense, listening to awful music, and rolling your eyes at everything, then call me and old codger because I just don't remember it being this hard...
Why when I was in school I had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow both ways barefoot and hungry...not really but seriously these kids these days, what the hell?
Its like they think that by magically showing up intermittently, doing partial work, sleeping through the first 3 periods, eating school lunch, and checking their myspace pages, the school will miraculously shit them out at the age of 18 with a high school diploma into a magical fairy world where good jobs grow on trees with ripe bundles of money and happiness and good habits shoot straight up their ass from a luminescent rainbow blasting out of a chocolate river full of gumdrop pebbles made out of confectionery wisdom.
I just never thought teaching would be like this when I made the decision to become one about 3 years ago...not in my wildest dreams could I have predicted this...mind boggling really. I don't even judge them for being teen agers really, I don't judge them for being Eskimo or boys or girls, I judge them the same way I judge everyone else...on kindness, individuality, hard work and common sense.
More importantly than all of this frustration is the fact that despite all the crap they sling at me daily I still love them and care about them. It might be because I don't have anything else to do, or anyone else to care for, but I care all the same and seeing them piss their lives away on stupid shit and hopeless attitudes will never be something I accept. Life is too short for that.
I became a teacher to show students how beautiful the world is out there and I can't do that if I can't see it myself anymore...so I'm going home and I'm gonna make a tasty little dinner involving soup, and I'm gonna listen to some Miles Davis just to feel really old, maybe play some ukulele too, I'm gonna burn some Nag Champa and wear big oversized warm wool socks and sweatpants and my favorite hoody and drink Chamomile tea and pretend like this awful awful awful day didn't really just happen.
Goodnight, and good luck future America, you can rest peacefully tonight knowing that the future leaders of this country are firmly planted in front of an episode of Hannah Montana right now getting exponentially dumber.