Day 89: Yesterday was Mr. A’s last day in my classroom. The kids presented a giant piece of blue paper on which they had all written a short note (I’d been sneakily sending them out during their midterms), and then scrambled to take pictures with him. The teachers running homework lab got a little mad and asked me when the shenanigans would be over. I shrugged, which was my way of saying, “Chill, it’s his last hour here, he deserves to enjoy this.”
His tenure as a teacher ended with us sitting in the classroom, grading a gigantic stack of midterms. As we worked through the 20th-some-odd topographic map ORQ of the afternoon, we realized that Monday would find Mr. A back on the “student” side of the “teacher-student” equation. We then got to talking about just how different that would feel, compared to his teacher-gig of the past three weeks.
Mr. A explained that when he told stories about his / my kids, people thought he was being racist, until his audience realized those really are student names. We talked about how the reality of teaching poor kids is very different from the idealization of teaching poor kids. Yes, I am part of the Teach For America movement, working to ensure one day, all children get a legit educational opportunity.
But do you know what that movement looks like on the day-to-day level? It looks like AB sniffing a ball of blue yarn, because he said it smelled like blueberries. It looks like GD shouting “I love chicken!” and LG getting his back by saying this was relevant “because chicken are eukaryotes.” It looks like SE writing a dedication to me at the back of her cell picture book. It looks like JT being proud of her ability to finish the science midterm in class, and my subsequent frustration at grading it and discovering she got a 42. It looks like 30 students showing up at science lab on Tuesday to get their work done and prep for the midterm. And it looks like the large majority of 98 students giddily shouting “Work Hard, Get Smart” before a test.
Teaching makes me feel manic depressive. I can be excited, worn out, thrilled, exhausted, giddy and harried … all before 6th period. And yet, thinking about the possibility of sitting in a lecture hall for hours, I’d take teaching in an instant. Mr. A said it well – students are energizing. Even on the hardest days, I love my connection to my kids, and I love the time I get to spend with them.