Confession 49: Spring has Sprung

It should come as no shock to most of those who know me that I am not a disciplinarian. My husband is, in fact, emphatically nodding his head as he reads this. As a high school teacher, I do my best to demonstrate to my students the behavior I would like them to display. I try and be friendly with them, to not blow things out of proportion, to avoid power games and demonstrate respectful speech and attitude. However, as Spring has fully arrived in our little corner of the globe, Prom weekend has finally come, and the end of the school year is almost in sight, I have lost my patience with my students who, quite frankly, have plumb lost their minds. Snippy attitudes have emerged out of nowhere, effort is plummeting and concentration is non-existent. We have a full five weeks until Finals begin and I still have a two units, one of which is a novel, to get through. Saying that this is the time to buckle down is an understatement. There is no room in my schedule for attitude and disruptive behavior, which could explain my outbursts in class the past few days.

It all began yesterday with my third-hour juniors. My third hour kids can best be likened to a classroom full of slugs. None of them is very ambitious. School is something they show up to every day (every day) but not something they actively engage in. At the moment, we’re in the middle of a major project, a multi-genre research paper, which will be the bulk of their fourth quarter grade. We’ve been working on this project for a month now and are almost to the finish line. I decided that it was time to tackle the dreaded “Works Cited Page”. I don’t know how many of you have written an essay lately, but the rules and guidelines around citation have become a major pain in the butt. It’s a tedious process to go through and I was trying to highlight some key information for my students. Half of my third hour class decided this would provide an opportunity for them to catch up on some much-needed rest. Needless to say, this didn’t sit so well with me. So when my fourth hour students came in and started up with their “Why do we have to do this–it’s so beneath me” attitude, I just couldn’t stop myself from saying to them, “How about you all just shut up and take the notes?” Normally, I would never use this phrase in my class, but desperate times call for desperate measures. They perked up after that and paid attention through both yesterday’s and today’s notes.

But my volcanic explosion came today during my 7th hour class. I have 14 students in my 7th hour, 10 of which are boys. For those of you experienced with teenage boys, I don’t need to say anymore. We were a day behind in lessons because of an assembly yesterday, so I wanted to quickly cover the information on works cited pages and move into a discussion of word usage and verb tense. Riveting, I know, but important information for them. First came the question of whether or not I was going to check their notes, because if not, they weren’t going to take them. Then, I had to stop what I was doing to tell two boys to, essentially, shut up and pay attention. Finally, one of my students told me that Microsoft Word would automatically form a works cited page for them in the MLA format and that she wasn’t taking notes over this. Several others agreed. My blood pressure hit the roof and busted into the sky. I stopped teaching, sat down at my desk, and told them I didn’t care what they did for the rest of the hour. If they were so smart, they didn’t need me and could figure out how to do a works cited page on their own. A handful of students approached me individually and asked me to show them how to make one, which I did, but the rest just started chatting as if nothing had ever happened. Of course, this infuriated me even more and when I mentioned it one of my girls asked, “What do you want us to do? You told us to sit here the rest of the hour and wouldn’t give us the information…” I had to stop myself from screaming, “I want you to freaking care!!”

I love teaching, and I love teaching in the district in which I work. Overall, our kids are wonderful and I have few problems. I just can’t handle the absolute apathy at times. I know, as an educator, it’s my responsibility to make learning relevant to them. But, they have a responsibility to actively engage in the process as well. And I cannot abide disrespectful attitudes, especially when I feel that I go out of my way to treat my students with respect. At least Monday is a new day. Prom will be over, it will have rained all weekend, and we’ll start the week with a reading day. We’ll forget our bad behaviors of the past few days and move forward. Heck, I might even show my seventh hour how to write a proper works cited page. If nothing else, I can chock it all up to a bad case of Spring Fever!

Blessings and Peace,