I love my job.
Yet, whenever I meet folks and they determine I'm a teacher they honestly have no idea what to do with me. Many have no audible response. It's as though they never had teachers or are suddenly weirded-out by the fact that I am a walking, talking human instead of some fembot spewing nonsense up in front of a classroom. Then these awed folks are equally stunned to discover that I don't teach 2nd graders but in fact teach high school. Generally there is an odd gasp-like response. Again, how do they honestly expect for me to respond to such odd behavior. I usually ask if they need another drink or anything and then politely excuse myself. They generally nod, "No, thank you, I'm fine." At that point, I still try and move away.
Maybe people think teens are weird or difficult. At times that may be true. But hell, most adults are weirder and infinitely more difficult. This year, in particular, I'm having a blast (super disclaimer: Note: I have enjoyed each of my years teaching for any number of reasons---minus the first one---that one was more difficult than enjoyable). Things have come together again at school, I'm still teaming with a super pal, and my students are really nice kids. But the thing that is so great about working in a school, is that you never really know how anything is going to play out (This is ALSO what makes teaching such a royal pain-in-the-ass, too.). But it's the interactions with students that are so ridiculously fun.
EXHIBIT A: Trigger words
There are some words that you can never utter in a class of sophomores (I use this grade level as my current example as this has been the bulk of my course load for the last few years---but it remains true with 2nd semester seniors even!). Namely any body part. It's normally the boys who react so wildly to them, however.
I think the sentence that got me going the other day was something like this:
"I want to make sure that you're abreast of the situation with dates and all, so be sure to check the blackboard account over the holiday break."
This is what I said. Let the snickering begin.
Giggle. Chuckle. Gulp. Laugh.
Giggle. Chuckle. Gulp. Laugh.
"REALLY? REALLY? Abreast. Because it's close to breast? What is it with you guys? Have you never heard the term Abreast? That's quite different than A space BREAST."
Laughter across the board.
We get to talking and the class just can't explain why body parts are such a laugh-starter. At which point I write PENIS as large as I can on the whiteboard. Laughter spills out into the hallways.
These are the times I want a principal to come to my room. They always swing by when I'm passing out papers (so it appears that I'm just pushing papers---because at that moment I actually am doing that, alas); or when the kids are taking test (so there's nothing for them to actually see, and they seemed annoyed at me, but I'm thinking this is what we do, TEST!); or when I am collecting that test (see earlier note); or when I'm lecturing and they smile and sit for just a moment (never enough time to get a grasp anything that we are discussing---just once I'd like them to interject and become part of the conversation---it's never happened, EVER.). But I really, really, really want them to come by when I happen to drop a bomb like "abreast" or when I write the word penis on the board in 50 point font. As I write the 50 point font penis on the board I tell my students that I do in fact want a principal to swing by, right now. And I want that principal to be a male principal---to test my theory: that they will ignore the word entirely.
What are they going to say? Anything? REALLY? Or would they try to act as though they didn't see the word PENIS on the board. Which would be better, though? It really is a tough question. Do you call the teacher out and say, "Ummm Ms._____, I see that you've made a chart there about the choosing economic pursuits over mothering in "Mother Courage and Children" and that's cool and all that but, uhmmm what's with the PENIS?" Because they know as well as I do that laughter will ensue, and then what are they going to do? Am I going to calm the class down, only to have them erupt again (Ha!) when I say the word PENIS again when answering the question about said PENIS (I'm not sure why I feel the need to write that in all caps, but I do). Alas, I digress. OR---will they take the super wimpy way out, and act like it's not there at all. These are the scenarios I'm running through with my students, OUT LOUD, mind you---and yes we totally should have been working on the chart about capitalistic pursuits versus the role of a traditional mother, but really this was just much more entertaining. And who would lean their head in the door, but a principal.
It. Was. A. Dream. Come. True.
LAUGHTER. Laughter. And more laughter (myself included).
And much to my dismay, the principal took the super wimpy way out.
"How are you guys doing, Ms. _____?"
"Oh, just fine M.----------"
"Sounds like you guys are having a good time."
"Always. Always. There's nothing more enjoyable than a good discussion at 740 am."
"Well, keep up the good work."
"We sure will."
Now go back up to the picture and look more closely. And you'll see that besides that terribly ugly brown sweater up in the top left corner is the word that got the ball rolling that morning. Much to my dismay it came to my attention that some kid snapped this picture with their ridiculously expensive cell phone and it was up on facebook for all to see. Yikes. So here's my side of story.
And so the picture is really worth a thousand words.
Or in this case, just one: Penis.