Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day as a Middle School Teacher

I left home early. Really early. Rush hour hadn't started. Got to my classroom, fixed myself some coffee, was so excited I forgot to drink it.

I was dressed up. White shirt and tie. I had early morning duty. There were kids everywhere. Some of them were probably teenagers, but I couldn't be sure. They walked and talked differently than elementary school kids. For one thing, any students with parents didn't hug any apron strings. They looked tied to them. No one cried. No one was throwing up.

I was keeping kids out of the school building until time to enter. Only one argued with me and she didn't act hurt. No trembling bottom lip. She just looked like she knew she wasn't gonna get in and calmly walked off. Middle schoolers don't play on a playground. They aimlessly drift around in no hurry. Wait a minute. I just realized there IS no playground. Hmph. Some of them stood in small groups or alone, just gazing into space. Somebody'd spot someone they knew and would run up to them in obvious relief and shake hands (boys) or hug (girls).

The bell rang. I went to my room. Twenty-four kids showed up. I was strict. They behaved, pretty much, and are a real good group. The bell rang. Second period.

A new group came in. Bad News Group. I had to separate some of them. A boy and a girl played "footsie." You know what that is, don't you? It's what you do when you are young. You are feeling so frisky you actually get a huge thrill out of having your shoes touch a member of the opposite sex. No Viagra. No nothing. Just your normal body functions and you get a huge thrill out of touching shoes, and if you're really lucky, an ankle. I smelt the phernomes or hormones or whatever they are in second period. I was choking. Gasping for air. After twenty minutes I wanted out. Too early to give up. Too late to quit. The bell rang. Third period.

Prep time. That's a luxury elementary teachers are denied. Nothing to do except be thankful second period only lasted one sixth of the day. The bell rang. Fourth period.

Another new group. Low math students, a remedial class. If they had just been skeletons I could have picked them out as academically low. Every backbone was bent and curved and slumped. If they had only been eyeballs I could have picked them as the remedial class. Eyes rolled. A lot. If I had been deaf I could have picked them out as the remedial class. Ask them a question? No lips would move. No one spoke, except to each other. All the worst academic behaviors concentrated into one class. I was hard on them, and that means high expectations. They didn't like it. They didn't like it one bit. They didn't like it at all. They didn't like me, and not only that, I didn't care. What do they know. I'll encourage them to excel by promising if they make incredible progress to promote them out of my class. Hopefully, they'll fall for that. They'll get promoted into my second period math class. Suckers. The bell rang. Lunch.

I ate my lunch in the Teachers' Lounge. Microwaved myself some rice and gravy. Yogurt, grapes, cherries. I met and talked to a substitute teacher. He seemed OK. He bought a carne adovada burrito in the school cafeteria that looked damn good. To hell with leftover rice and gravy. The bell rang. Fifth period.

A very different new group. Acted normal, and they understood most of my jokes. That's a good sign. Nothing out of the ordinary, though. This class slipped by me. They could be sleepers, underrated. I'll be more alert for them tomorrow. The bell rang. Sixth period.

I met the accelerated math class. The top notch students, you know. Every eye was open. Every eye paid attention (except for two). They did extremely well on the formative assessment (pop quiz to find out what students know in order to guide instruction). Every other class had difficulty with it. One example: "To get your age, subtract the year you were born from today's year, 2010. How old are you? Show your work." The average answer was about 102. The bell rang.

After school duty on the west side of the building. It was a terrible mess. A city police officer quickly described the problem to me, and he had sized it up correctly. He told me the city wouldn't put in any crosswalks except at the major intersections. He had warned them of the danger, and the city wouldn't listen to him. I told him I'd get results 'cause I'll be a really squeaky wheel with howling wheel bearings dried up from a lack of grease. I'd get results 'cause I wouldn't tell them I'm a school teacher. I'd tell them I'm just an average joe concerned for the tragic consequences of a lawsuit that will come when a child gets hurt or killed due to a lack of a crosswalk where it is needed. It's a dangerous situation. No crosswalks on a major street at a middle school, fer cryin' out loud!

The traffic died, I climbed in my car, drove home, and I ate dinner with my lovely wife. The forecast calls for an early bedtime with a chance of nightmares over the second period class.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are going to fall in love with these students, we can't wait to hear. How do you think you will like teaching one subject?