I fell in love with my job and my students again today. Like any job, this one has its ups and downs, many of which are related to how personal the relationships between teacher and students can be. As lovely as it is to have a student express appreciation or show spectacular growth, there is the flip side: teenagers are excellent at transforming their displeasure into personal attacks and kids often have heartbreaking personal problems like abuse, pregnancy, poverty, and illness.
But today was delightful, and as it came to a close, I felt fortunate to do something I find so invigorating. It started when they cracked me up. In my beginning class I was reminding students of their recent vocabulary word "skill." "Ay, Miss, the hair de Douglas have a skill!" shouted Fabricio, my salty-tongued, Brazilian/Bolivian student. "Watch!" He proceeded to pull out a tissue and rip it in half on Douglas's rock-hard, spiky faux-hawk.
Then in my third period ESOL World History class, I decided to risk the flop of having students perform brief scenes depicting the collapse of the Roman Republic. I gave them only five minutes or so to prepare--I just wanted it to be a quick diversion and an interactive way of remembering the history--but one group managed to form swords, wreaths, and togas for themselves using only tape, paper, tissues, and their jackets. Their scene--the assassination of Julius Caesar--had the class rolling in laughter.
During the last block, my colleague invited me to watch the same group of students, now in their ESOL literature class, present original poems explaining their feelings on leaving their countries. Their words were so vivid and unguarded. Were it not a violation of privacy, I would cite one here in its entirety so you could see just how astonishingly beautiful a few of them turned out. .
I finished the day feeling grateful. Here I am feeling challenged by my job, perhaps not always intellectually, but certainly in the sense that I am constantly trying to solve new and difficult problems and push the boundaries of creativity. I love high school students. They are young, impetuous, sometimes idiotic, but quickly learning to analyze and make sense of the world. More specifically, I love the population of students that I teach, so unspoiled and raw. I feel like I can see into their souls--how can I not give them my best?
And the beauty of today was that I could see that they are doing so well, and even thriving, because my coworkers and I work so hard for them. It's not an exaggeration to say that there is real love here, at least of a certain kind.