Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
1 comment

OpEdNews Op Eds

On Teaching

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1   Inspiring 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Become a Fan
  (2 fans)

opednews.com

         At school's midpoint I'm exhausted, frustrated, and distracted by a hundred or so fish nibbling on my lines, while papers to grade stack up like one of those illustrations for the national debt -- all the way to the moon and back.

        I comfort myself with the thought that I'll get it done. Haven't I always gotten done this teaching thing -- this half science and 100% art thing -- for going on 20 something years now?

        But every year it's the same. Halfway into it I wonder how am I ever going to reel in all these lines I've let loose in the pond of learning. Truth be told, high school teaching is an absurd calling. It's Sisyphus trying to inch his boulder up a mountain with dozens of adolescents hanging on it, all the while asking, "Whassup, fool?"

Little wonder that in recent movies, teachers come across as babbling burnouts or malevolent sociopaths. Of course, I'm ignoring a whole cottage industry of filmdom, the inspirational-teacher movie wherein said teacher motivates the previously unmotivated in time -- always just under an hour and a half -- for the big showdown. Life would be pretty if it were so.

In real life, teaching means long hours, when despite all your training and knowledge, you are often thrashing around in the dark. Then a light bulb goes on. Sometimes over the students' heads but just as likely over the teacher's head.

Oh, I imagine I have inspired some students along the way, but I'm not fool enough to believe that's all I've done. I've uninspired my share, too.

Perhaps, it's the cold but lately my failures, not my successes, keep popping into my mind. Their faces rise like helium balloons, their eyebrows curled like two question marks, perpetually asking why?

During Christmas break, my family and I were dining at a Mexican restaurant when one of the waiters sauntered up to our table and introduced himself. Turned out he was one of my students from about twelve years ago. He was pleased to see me and when he asked if I remembered him, I, of course, lied and said yes.

        After all these years, I forget their names the minute the door hits the jamb on the last day of school, but usually I recall faces. Yet his face was so different, I didn't recognize him. But he did remind me of one of my greatest failures, a student I had about the same time.

       This boy was in my newcomer class made up of immigrant students who had just arrived in the U.S. He had a face that loved to smile and was always a quick one with a quip. Though he was one of our slower students academically, he was always good at any games we played, but forcing him to write was like chaining him to a hundred-ton ball. Oh, how his face would drop if he had to sit still in his desk and write.

       To this day, I can't explain the why of it, but somehow we got crossways. And I got the fool notion that what this kid needed was some tough love delivered by yours truly. He needed to get with the program, and I was just the teacher to do it, even if I had to drag him screaming into the belly of this beast called English.

       It didn't work, my being hard on him. It clammed him up, completely shut him down. He refused to learn and later stopped coming to class altogether.

       But he was not a dropout. He was a kickout. I kicked him out. Oh, maybe he had problems in other classes. And maybe he wouldn't have made it anyway. But just maybe he could have. I've seen enough students who have come to us barely literate in their own language somehow grasp this crazy, contradictory English language.

      The last time I saw him he was a street vendor, a paletero, hawking paletas (Popsicles) near the school. I knew then that I'd failed him. Still to this day, he is like a pebble in my shoe.

        But don't get me wrong. I don't wear his memory like a hairshirt to remind me of my utter baseness. I don't dwell on my failures, but for my students I have a duty to think about them because, strange as it might seem, I like teaching -- this messy work of half inspiration, sometimes 100% desperation.

        Yet, I have to admit, it's never been easy for me. While, I guess, there are some who were born to teach, I'm not one of them. I didn't get into teaching because I had an overwhelming desire to be around teenagers. In fact, just the opposite was true. I figured I could stand them until something else better came along, but, the truth is, at the end of every school year, I feel blessed to have been around so many fine young men and women.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://kwheatcroft.blogspot.com/

I blog at "Left-Wing Tex" from beautiful Fort Worth, Texas. For the past 18 years my wife and I have called it home. Here I am a retired English-as-a-Second Language teacher. I have had poems published in a number of venues, (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Broken Government

Middle-aged Foreplay

Rick Perry's Texas: No Miracles Here!

Governor Vaginal Probe or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stupid Laws

Blowback?: Will 2012 Be Our Year of Living Dangerously ?

Lighting Up: Fort Worth, Voter-ID Law, and Willie

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

When I introduce myself as a high school teacher t... by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue on Monday, May 7, 2012 at 11:07:45 AM