Not Quite Sublime In The Schools

I don't want to always harp on the bad stuff in schools. It's just that there's a lot of that at the school from which I'll soon resign. Still, some of it's not so bad. There is the ridiculous and, well, not the sublime, but stuff not quite so ridiculous.

Nine class days remain in the school year. Two districts are sending new kids tomorrow. I'll have each kid four or five times (classes meet every other day). Imagine how much I'll help each one learn. The school just wants these kids gone somewhere, anywhere. I understand, but it's a lousy thing to dump kids that way.

A kid in my class was so passed out I couldn't rouse him for the next class. I asked another student to shake him vigorously. Last week I asked why he comes to school just to pass out. He said, "so I can pass." Oh, well in that case.

He let out a snore at one point and another kid caught my eye. He shook his head. I shrugged and smiled. We know the sleeper is stoned and hungover. We sympathize. Beyond that, I know the sleeper is sure he's a failure. He's trying to escape from that. He's not a bad kid, just in a coma most of the time.

A fellow teacher went on an adventure doing what he most enjoys and came back to school abuzz. His adventure had nothing to do with teaching. I asked, "did you tell everyone there that you hate your job?" He had. "Did you say you're looking for new work?" He shook his head. He hates his job but is afraid to leave. I felt the same for years. He'll figure it out when he figures it out. I hope it's soon.

A friend warned me about my new job: "You won't have summers off." That was my biggest stumbling block, but I stumbled no more than a few seconds. I'll endure the loss. I'm not longing for summer vacation anyway. Instead, I'm eager to dig in. I've needed summers off because I'm so burned out by teaching. Work I want to do may be better than having time off. Ain't that a kick in the pants?

A young teacher asked me about a kid's reading ability. This happens often. Most folks want to know my thoughts so they can tailor instruction for the kid, but she seemed eager to gawk at how dumb the kid is and commiserate over how tough that makes her job. The kid reads at second grade level but has high school exams soon. She wants to feel bad for herself and have me agree with her. I feel for her, but only because she shouldn't be a teacher. It's no use playing at teaching when you don't like kids or yourself. I'm getting out of teaching in part because it's harder to enjoy working with the kids due to the structure and management of the school. Any teacher who doesn't like kids ought to leave. She thinks she just doesn't like these kids, but it's deeper than that. I'm not sure when she'll figure that out.

A teacher down the hall mentioned that no one emptied her garbage Friday. It rotted and ripened over the weekend. She pulled the can out into the hall and mentioned it. Mentioned. She didn't complain or blame anyone. She sprayed room freshener while I hauled the garbage to the dumpster. No fuss, no muss, no problem. I love that in a colleague. I love that in anyone.

I wish I could point to something at school more sublime than that, but I don't believe much of that happens there anymore. It's not all bad, though. There were good kids in every class and we some interesting stuff. There are only nine days of classes left and I'm so excited about my new job, I don't need summer vacation. That right there just might be sublime. It's close enough for me.