Thursday, October 06, 2005

Another Two Days

It's 5:45, I'm eating breakfast and preparing myself mentally for another day in the classroom. As I drive to work, I know I will give myself the same peptalk I give myself everyday. "You must try not to yell. At all. Your number one priority is your students' safety. A close second is their happiness. Try to make them laugh. You are capable of being a good teacher. You can teach them math, and literacy, and help them enjoy it."

I have a really tough group this year (including one ten-year-old student who has never been in school and who I've almost broken of the habit of standing in my face and calling me "bitch" repeatedly.) And I still grapple with how to feel like I'm doing a good job without letting my job rule my life. Whatsmore, it's hard for me to talk about my job with many people because it sometimes turns into a performance. Friends will ask for another "crazy story." And I don't want that to be the impression. There are reasons for why these children are so violent, but they are the same children who put a post-it note in my pocket that says "I Love You," tell me not to worry that I have until I'm 30 to get married, loved learning sign language so much that they greet me with a silent H-I every morning, and (during a pause in their own breakdancing) ask me if I used to breakdance when I was in elementary school.

What makes me love my students so much? Some days I'm not entirely certain, but I know there are many nights when I sleep little because of this overwhelming thought of "It's just not fair." I could care less what political views you have, what you think of people on welfare, or the people who live in government housing projects. I won't argue with you about what judgments you may have for the adults in this situation. But I am intensely angry that the children are consistently ignored.

When I first got my job in Far Rockaway, I had a few teachers and a couple of social workers tell me I was crazy, or laugh that I ended up there because I didn't know anything about New York City. One person actually said to me, "They tried to make me take an interview there, but I refused. I'd rather have no placement and work in the Department of Ed office until a position opens up." How did we forget we're talking about ten year olds? How could we have given up on them already? We are plotting their fate for them, and in a few more years, as a nation we will hold them responsible for it.

No comments: