Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teenagers, Entropy, and 26 days to go...

When you spend as much time in the same room with the same teenagers as I do some pet peeves are bound to pop up. They vary from year to year, but this year I have some new special ones.

Here is a list of teaching pet peeves (and things that make me an old crunchy teacher not a young mid twenties cool guy):

1.) Students in my teacher desk area touching my things without permission (I have put up a line of tape delineating my space and theirs since things have been going missing lately)

2.) Students touching the smartboard and the computer that runs it (a student pressed the F7 button and ruined an entire lesson as I tried to figure out how to fix it)

3.) Water/Bathroom breaks 5 minutes after break or before class ends

4.) My students say "Sooooooooo" but then nothing after. They say this all the time. Not "This is so stupid" or "This so lame" just a long drawn out "Sooooooooo" which is a fragment of a thought and is "Soooooooooo annoying"

5.) Students who jump up and hang on the basketball rim even though they've been asked not to about 300 times. In fact students who go to the gym and play with the balls during their passing time even though they've been asked 400 times not to.

6.) Students who stream music off of the internet and slow our server down to a snails pace.

7.) Students that randomly lay on the floor for no apparent reason and completely pointless times in very irrational locations like the hallway.

8.) Top 40 music...what is wrong with America? I wonder if we will look back on Akon and Linkin Park in 15 years and think, "man, they were really talented, that was the golden years of expression and art"

9.) The Macintosh Program "Photobooth" who knew that a simple program that allows you to take your own picture would eventually be the educational downfall of Eskimo teens. Countless hours are lost everyday to students taking their own pictures, many capable of 40 to 50 photos per 55 minute period.

10.) School lunch. Not only is it rubbery in texture, metallic in taste, devoid of any semblance of nutritional value, it also causes explosive foul reeking flatulence and gas for all my students right after lunch when all 16 of them pack into my tiny room for ecology class. May God have mercy on bush alaska teachers on Chili and Rice day. Not to mention these kids have their very own special brand of native farts that smell awful, not worse than lower 48 kids farts, but distinctly different that is for sure.

11.) Heads down on desks. I just want to dump a bucket of freezing water on them.

12.) Students taking all the caps off of my white board markers and mixing them up so that I never know what color they are when I use them.

These observations and irritations lead me to come to one conclusion. There must be something about the developmental processes of teenagers that force them towards creating disorder in their environment. My most common complaint is that they constantly are touching things, messing with stuff, taking things apart and putting things all over the place. I organize my room every Sunday and by Thursday it looks like a cyclone has hit it. I'm not talking about obsessive compulsive disorder where one book is out of line in a row, I'm talking about calculators sitting in a bucket of pastels, scissors in the fish tank, rulers rammed into cracks in the wall. Its insanity. No its entropy.

Teenagers, if left alone, will randomly disperse towards chaos unless some force acts on them. They must want to learn about life, I mean its that time in human experience where they are figuring out what it is they are going to do with themselves. You have two major growth spurts in your brain's anatomical development, the first being around the age of two when your brain grows rapidly (the consequence bringing the behavior usually referred to as the "terrible two's"). The second major brain growth stage is in teen age years when the frontal lobes of the brain increase in size and mass (this area of the brain controls, among other things, reasoning and decision making). So teen agers are thinking something, I know this to be true, but why must it be to not finish things, to not put things away, to not stop doing things when asked, what is it about the human condition that makes teenagers so FREAKING annoying to adults? Why are teenagers so incredibly lacking in common sense or as my father us to say "the sense you were born with." Its like it is coded into our genomic sequence that at around the age of 14 we need to start doing the stupidest of all possible things repeatedly until we either get arrested or receive blunt force trauma to our heads.

I've often wondered what would happen if I taught a class called "Nothing Class." Where my only function was to take role and intervene if violence should occur. I wonder what would happen if you gave kids an entire semester of freedom and as a teacher you just try to become a wallflower, simply observing, keeping peace, and taking notes. I bet we could learn volumes of valuable information if students were left to their own devices.

Would the students ask you questions, would they leave, would they figure out that they were being experimented on, would they actually use the time for something, would they just "hang out" as they say? Of course then you could start changing variables on them. One week you place only information of one subject area in the room. After a couple of weeks, on a weekend, you change out all the material and put new stuff in. Just manipulate the room and see what they do with it. Or you could repaint the room over the weekend different colors to mess with them. Or you could play an artist or song over and over again. If you want to see a teen ager squirm play jazz with out vocals.

All I know is that who ever scheduled us to go 7 weeks in the fall without any extended breaks is an extremely evil person. Even for a bearded hippie teacher guy full of peace and love and rainbows and lolly-pops, yes even I'm starting to get pissed off and awnry. Teenagers have so much potential and so many moments of intelligence, but why do they have to be so incredibly stupid the rest of the time? I love the little guys but christ alive their wearing me down.

26 days actually in school till Christmas break.
5 and a half weeks till sweet release.
1 more period to go till I go home.

Grey hairs in my beard...priceless.


ms. cugno to some said...

Maybe you should play a practical joke on them. I don't have any ideas off hand but I will work on it. And also, don't hate me for this, but number twelve is actually a little bit funny, don't you think? Go with it.

Anonymous said...

the whole desk thing, i'm there with you. i've rotated mine so there is no way they can get into it...um, the whole touching, or bball rim thing. i know we used a spray bottle with cold water in it for our cat, when we had one, and didn't want him to do some thing or get into some thing... it would work for the heads down on the desk thing too...you can get a really good one that shoots quite a distance...the whole sooooooo, yeah, i hate stupid things like that, sooooooo i've gone down to chris's level and then repeat the, 'so, suck your toe to mexico, while your there cut your hair and stick it down your underwear...' kids got sick of hearing it, sooooooo we don't have an issue with it...my all time hate/loath, is 'teacher', i address them as student...even first graders get it....just because their bodies are big, doesn't mean their brains have caught up. they still cannot rationalize (sp??). seriously treat them as though they are elementary kids. see the whole bathroom break and class in a mess, i can take tangable things from them, like recess....sorry about that one. they just like messing with you...good luck. keep fighting the fight, its worth it...hope to see you at xmas. loves!

Vicki said...

I established a fart-in-the-hallway rule. Could help after lunch--you know most the kids here are lactose intolerant. With winter weather, I'm not allowed to open the windows, and it's too loud in the hallway, so I can't open to door for ventilation. So I solved the odor problem by kicking the kids out when the time comes a calling for a little flatulence release.

One kid embarrassed himself by abbreviating his commitment to the hallway. He just stuck his butt out the door and farted, then heard disgusted reactions from a couple "cool" junior high girls sitting out in the hallway right by my class... oops!

Apart from that, the success of the hallway rule comes and goes... there are weekends during which I come to the class and can still smell a slight hint of something fowl, lingering in the air.

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