May 5, 2015
Fourteen years and way too soon ago tomorrow, my father passed away from that insidious disease, “C”. With all of my heart, I wanted my post to evolve into a sincere, yet loving, yet heartfelt tribute to my dad that would make my mother proud. A tribute for the ages! A tribute to end all tributes! A tribute…well, you get the picture.
Mom always said I was too dramatic, and sadly, perhaps it is true: I am too dramatic. And given that I am so, umm, theatrical, I intended to stage the perfect tribute. Rather, I intended to write the perfect…well, you get the picture.
On a serious note, my years of teaching parallel the number of years our family has been without its patriarch (14), which, in itself, is almost not a milestone. However, when you couple one of my greatest joys with one of my greatest sorrows, it does lend itself to dramatics, at least in my world. So, why can I not write the tribute? Something’s blocking me, and I think I know what it is.
This is my first year teaching a standard 7th grade Language Arts class. As far back, and as early in the school year, as September, I had my doubts and misgivings. Here is an excerpt from a letter I addressed to both my principal and my vice-principal:
I don’t know what it will take for these students to learn what they have to in order to pass 7th grade Language Arts. However, I fear that I am not the one to teach it to them.
This has been my best start as a teacher and I feel the best I have ever felt. Yet, my students’ academics are the worst they have ever been.
I am losing hope in my ability as an effective instructor.
Again with the dramatics, right? Wrong! Call it a bad feeling, call it a sixth sense, call it any euphemism you can think of; I knew I was in for a wild ride. And so did my principal. Here is an excerpt from her response:
Do not lose hope or confidence. We need to help all teachers of 7th graders get the message through to this group that their lack of effort is just unacceptable.
That message never got through to them. In fact, they never received even the basic of messages one expects to get through to a 12 year old. Messages such as, “Be respectful and trustworthy,” “Treat others how you wish to be treated,” and “Bullies get bullied.” No, those messages never made it through.
However, they did receive these messages: “Respect no one, not even yourself,” “Treat yourself better than you treat others because, like yolo (you only live once),” and the ever popular, “Snitches get stitches.” What a wonderful world it could be…
I mean to make the most of my last few weeks with my students; they may have given up and/or given in, I have not. I am not sure that I can salvage what has been a painful series of life lessons at the hands of a bunch of prepubescent schoolchildren, but I’m going to give it my best. After all, it’s not like a bunch of prepubescent schoolchildren determine whether or not I still have a job next year, right? Oh yeah, that is right. Hmm, gold is not good, or as Robert Frost put it, “Nothing gold can stay.” Peace, ~v.