I wish I had it in me to write that “top ten things to do by the end of the year” or “keep middle school students engaged” post. I’m not burnt out or even remotely sad or irritated by my students this year — they’ve been consistently awesome, and renewed my love of teaching. With them, I felt capable. And at one point I was called the ‘rock star teacher,’ and though that moniker has gone to younger, more agile teachers I wasn’t no slouch. But this year: they truly bolstered me.
What’s getting to me is a few things, things I can’t express on social media outlets, and am not even sure I can or should here.
Two big things are happening this week, completely unrelated, and the way my brain works is I can’t keep them in their corners. This happened last time, too, when my older son was graduating, so I know it’s only a response to launching children. I am not sure what the concern or secondary worry was three years ago, but for the life of me, I just can’t seem to be NORMAL and feel normal mom things and go on Pinterest and look up fruit plate ideas, or stop by the party store and pick up graduation decorations. I need that occupational therapy now. The busy-ness.
So let wrap myself in a big, soft blanket of enlightened, silver-lining downy soft bullet-points and try to keep safe from the storm.
Here’s what I learned about school from my younger son:
- Schools will ignore most or all 504 plans, and some IEPs.
- Teachers don’t know how to successfully navigate ‘extra time,’ and will fail a student even if they have these protections in place.
- Teachers are sometimes unimaginative. If there are too many unimaginative teachers in place, it’s potentially catastrophic for those who don’t color in the lines.
- Schools will not provide any or much actual real world experience — the field trip, the excursion, the trying on roles or identities. There are no possibilities touted except “college.”
- Schools are a business. They produce products. Their products are graduates.
- The best teachers will always be beloved by their students, and will always be the ones who do everything different from the rest.
- Students who have other supports will survive. And kids grow up anyway.
So to take my mind off of the onslaught of mixed emotions: one arm around hugging while the other one pushes him out the door, I do the stupid thing and follow politics. I just can’t go vacuum something or cut melon balls? What the heck is wrong with me?!
Here’s what I’ve learned about politics from the current election:
- My beloved news agencies will report with bias. I never noticed bias before when I felt they were on ‘my side’ but now that they’re not, it’s so clear. Painfully and emotionally clear. Now I know what others feel–that self-righteous indignation, that ‘take my ball and go home’ feeling, rusting empathy and decaying social justice. Loss of hope. Cynical lenses of others humanity, or lack thereof.
- People follow their fears. Including me. They follow authority, wealth, justice, revenge, redemption, identities and allegiances. We may not be aware of our deep-seated fears. That those fears to someone else are laughable, weak or misguided.
- I really want Bill Clinton to shut up.
My mom’s philosophy is to never apologize, never explain. I can’t say I’m sorry, and I can’t explain what’s going on with, save to say it’s a chemical imbalance, stress, and apparently too much Pinterest and NPR. There will be happy posts about the graduate later this week when all is pomped and circumstanced. I am incredibly proud of that kid, and all I can do is be a better teacher for the students I have. As far as politics go, well, I’ve done all I can do for now.
But seriously Bill Clinton should just shut up.
*My son went out and bought a lengthy plastic pipe and makes himself didgeridoos. And plays them pretty damn well, I might add.