Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's been forever...

Hey... it's been a while!

I know that many of you guys are teachers so you'll totally get where I've been-- first semester is just so overwhelming, it seems. Even after all these years teaching school, I feel like I'm pulling myself through mud as I march from August (July next year) to December, and I'm dragging about 120 students with me. No, I really do like it, but teaching freshmen has a unique set of challenges at the beginning of the year. They're so sweet, honestly, even when they're being bad (many times, anyway), but we find ourselves fighting to help pull them out of the middle school mentality, and they fight right back against us because they resent the fact that we're still referring to so much of their behavior as "8th grade stuff." I totally understand why they hate it-- they've arrived! They've waited forever to be in high school and it feels to them like we're trying to rain on their parade. But the transition, like so many transitions, is one they don't recognize while they're in the midst of it and it hurts, and they don't know why they're hurting. They're just trying so hard to fit whatever molds they've convinced themselves they're supposed to be fitting into. For some of them, the transition is fairly smooth. For others...

"Total chaos" doesn't come close to describing it.

Meanwhile, the freshman teacher is life coach/counsellor/instructor/babysitter/mom/dad/bully/nursemaid,etc. So many of them fail first semester and they don't believe us, no matter what we tell them. We have older students come back to tell them-- they don't believe them. Their parents tell them-- they don't believe them. They think, Nah, she'll just pass me with a 70. That's what they always do.

And then....

Second semester, they believe us. They do much better after coming through that first tsunami of a report card. "I can fail. It can happen. They weren't kidding. Dang." They come back to school (some of them) sobered up. After the initial, "Hey, you gave me a 48," (to which I respond, "I didn't GIVE you anything. I did the math. You gave me just enough stuff to equal a 48") they seem to do so much better.

Which is why I'm glad we don't do The Odyssey until second semester.


Oh freshmen. I'm exactly like them in so many ways.

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