I never realized when I first started teaching a year ago that my idea of what education and the classroom looked like would change but it did. While I am realistic by nature, I could helped wanting to inspire like in “Mona Lisa’s Smile” or “Dead Poet’s Society”. Knowing the type of schools I wanted to work at I changed my idea more “Freedom Writers. But still I wasn’t prepared to how that kind of teaching would look like or how it would play out.
In college, they show you have to present a lesson that engages everyone. They show you how to differienate the lesson to reach different levels of students. They show you have to present theme and literary analysis. They show you have to set rules and routines so that you have better classroom management.
What they don’t show is how to deal with a student who has lost all respect for women because of his relationship with his mother and proceeds to call you the N Word, knowing full well you are part black.
What they don’t show you is how to deal with a group of students who are bullying another students in your class. While your first instinct is to separate them to diffuse the situation and report it, administration doesn’t alway approve those actions. So you mange to keep the students from verbally saying those things in your class and have them put their phone away so they don’t bully but then bullied student comes crying after school saying it’s still happening.
What they don’t show you is how to help you student, and their family, who is being harassed by another student and their parent both in school and outside of school and admin can’t do much but say keep the peace till end of school year. So you offer you room as a safe space to that student to wait till the harasser passes by. But then that isn’t enough because your student ends up being pepper sprayed by the harasser on the way to your class.
What they don’t show you is how you instincts will kick in when pepper spray or any kind of weapon or fight emerges and you will jump into action to protect your students.
What they don’t show you is how your heart will break for students who so desperately wanted to pass the state test but could not.
So while I am in the position to educate all these young minds, my education didn’t prepare me for all of this. Funny thing is, while my job is to educate them, they educate me more. I learn so much about how to do my job and be a better person form them. Every day is a new day. Something new to learn. I like to think that not all of my students will remember Of Mice and Men but they will remember the lesson and love and that emerged from my class. And hey if I educated them enough to not be so much of a dumbass about the real work well my job is done.
Teach with humor.