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Days Like Today - 948 words (1 Viewer)


When I was still teaching 7th grade English, I had just had it by the end of this particular day and sat down at my computer for a cathartic release in writing. I am hoping it might still be slightly entertaining.

Days Like Today

Thank goodness the day is over. My health has a lot to do with how well I take the students misbehaving, but today I feel well and they still are driving me to the brink of premature hair loss. One must understand that the middle school student is a weird combination of Jim Carey, Bambi, and Rambo. As 160 students march their energized adolescent bodies in and out of my classroom each day, I can’t begin to comprehend how 4 minutes between classes is enough for teachers to catch their breath and adjust for the incoming onslaught of NEED.
I had thought before I was married that it would be nice to take my husband’s name as my last name. It’s not a popular change to look forward to in this day and age, but c’est la vie. I couldn’t wait for my students to begin calling me “Mrs. Bauer”. I was a married teacher, an adult to be respected, a nurturing presence in the classroom, and my life held such optimism. That was until I heard Mrs. Bauer echoing against the white cinderblock walls approximately 3000 times a day. The only comfort is that it comes in varying tones and volumes. Some “Mrs. Bauers” are high pitched and whiny, some sweet and shy, others come from students whose voice is heard so often it feels like a 9” drill bit creating a logic-free zone through one’s brain. It’s only my strong love for my students, and patience only Job can understand, that keeps me from saying what I’m thinking some days.
So today, just for a moment, I thought it might be interesting if Mrs. Bauer, the name I looked forward to for so long, would suddenly become holy. Of course, my husband was surprised to find his surname was not holy and he is not a god. But, as you know ladies, we were not the inventors of the “fish story”. I don’t mean to sound sacrilegious, but there are several advantages to this. Foremost, it would mean that my students could no longer call out my name. In the Old Testament God’s real name was so holy that men were not allowed to say it. God, as usual, knew what he was doing. This shrouded him in mystery and inspired great respect and awe. Yes, awe. If you’ve seen a teacher walk to the front of the classroom lately, I doubt you will see much awe in the students’ eyes. The mere thought of looking to the front of the classroom to begin the lesson is foreign to the average student. So, actual “awe” is light years away.
I can’t be the only teacher who has had frequent dreams of a well-prepared lesson being eagerly received by students whose main concern in life is learning. They would be seated all neatly aligned, books open, and pencils or pens held in midair above an exemplary notebook full of information written in handwriting that would rival the best of the medieval scholarly monks. Above all, they would be quiet as mice. Not a sound would be heard at first. Then, as my lesson progressed students would confidently and quietly raise their hands to give answers to my questions; therefore, allowing me to gain valuable feedback about their competence with the material assigned. They would be kind to each other as they wait for their turn and never disrespectful toward their classmates or me. By the end of class I could say that the lesson was over and I would hear numerous groans. The groans would not be a sign of an enormous homework assignment, but a true disappointment that class had ended and they must leave my pedagogical presence for another day.
Alas, this utopia does not exist. It may never have existed. Instead, it’s “Mrs. Bauer, he hit me” - “NO I DIDN’T”. “Mrs. Bauer, do we haaavvvveee toooo havvvve homework.” “Mrs. Bauer, can I go to the nurse? I bumped into Jennifer in gym class.” “Mrs. Bauer, do we get bonus points for sneezing.” Okay, I’ve never heard the last one, but it could happen. In all the mayhem though, I must admit I like the feeling of being needed. Weekends and summer vacation are certainly necessary to regain some sort composure and resistance to the sometimes crushing amount of NEED, but without it, I think teaching would bore me to death.
The utopian scenario above would be devoid of the main reason I love to teach - the human aspect. I enjoy helping my students solve their problems with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. When a two-week relationship seems like an eternity there’s bound to be heartbreak. I like being the one they come to when the pressures of “fitting in” create a bad day for them. They arrive at my desk early before the bell rings to tell me about their weekend, or their bad day, show me pictures of a vacation or to pass on a joke. I often forget when trying to clear my mind for the next lesson that teaching them consideration and respect begins with me. So, I must vent a moment in writing, and begin again to show them that I like them, despite their actions sometimes. I even occasionally allow myself to laugh at their adolescent jokes and find it brightens my day somehow. How could I not laugh when they seem to be in a competition to make me laugh first?
Middle school is a place nobody could pay me to go to again as a student, so I will try, again and again, to be the kind of teacher I would have needed.
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