Today after school, I walked back upstairs to my classroom and thought, "Is it already 2:15?"
Immediately after that, I thought, "What did I just think?"
I know it is only the second day back but I also thought, as I pulled out of the parking lot after tutoring, "How many weeks do I have left with my kids this year? Seventeen!" I love these kids so much. Yesterday I told someone I felt drunk on middle schoolers. A kid was walking to lunch wearing gloves for some reason and was bebopping along to his own little tune. He wasn't doing it for attention or to break the rules, but just because he was fascinated with how his hands looked doing dance moves in gloves. A few more years and the voice in his head will keep him from doing a hallway dance. There is something magical about adolescence. I am so thankful that this year I have planned enough ahead and have been humbled enough to not be about kids obeying me that I can walk around and see these little fleeting moments. I hope when they go home, their parents can see through all the busyness of feeding, disciplining and arguing with them to see these moments too. While I am sad to lose them in a few short months, I can't imagine what it is like to love and watch someone for 18 years and then let them go. I am thankful I only endure a one-year love affair and heartbreak. I couldn't handle 18.
My last class of the day, like many a teacher out there I'll bet, is the one I have to mentally prepare myself for. It could be that they are going stir-crazy. It could be that their diet of fruit punch and hot cheetos has taken them from sugar high to carb crash. Or it could be that by the 6th straight hour of following the insanely strict rules they have to follow each day, rebellion sets in and they just can't take it anymore. They are also my lowest class. Meaning that the kids have been leveled by their reading scores and are now in three distinct classes. This sounds awful, but it really for the most part is better, because I used to have a girl who reads at a college freshman level in the same class with a few who read at a 3rd grade level, and I just couldn't reach them both where they were at. This class also has 30 kids in it instead of 22 or 20 like my other classes, which makes it tougher to reach kids who are behind. All that along with the last class of the day syndrome makes it a battle of patience which leaves me exhausted every day.
But yesterday and today were so great. I don't want to think that it will always be like this, but they seemed genuinely happy to see me again after Christmas break. I also had a really fun day with them yesterday doing an activity that was challenging but fun and got them discussing grammar with each other while I just walked around taking pictures with my phone. (They now say, "Ugh! She's taking pictures again!" which means they know I am obsessed with them and that I am consistently interested. win.) Within the first five minutes of class, one of my favourites was making 'pssst' noises to his neighbor and mid sentence I just said, "Emanuel- stop 'psssting' Bruce" "How'd you know it was me????" His eyes all wide. Me frowning. Then smiling. "Oh I missed you guys!" There is so much personality in that room it is about to burst, but I am learning to ride it. Like bodysurfing. You can get crushed or you can wait and watch and then stay afloat on top of all the giggles, sideways glances, outbursts, and jokes and use the momentum to get somewhere.
Today we were reading about Urbee, a car made by being 3-D printed. I had also seen something on Sunday Morning about printing body parts - ears in particular. So I told them that. Then I said that I had also seen scientists grow ears on rats. The students' eyes got huge. Edgar says "ewww! I do not want to see that!" So of course I have to stop the powerpoint and google 'rats growing ears'. Disgust is possibly the most engaging emotion for a lesson. Anyway, the Urbee also runs on ethanol, which is corn fuel I explain. We keep reading and talking about main ideas and then one kids looks at me and says, "Do you just put the corn in the car?" It took me a minute to figure out he was still back on how a car could possibly run on corn. I said no, they make an alcohol out of it by probably boiling and then fermenting it (thank you, trip to the bourbon trail). Then we talked about the cost and would they spend $16,000 to buy that car. Several said they would. I said no because if a semi hit you, you'd be a skittle. One of my students then says, very inarticulately, that that is why you should get it for $16,000. me: You should buy it because you will die?" He tries to explain again, a little more clearly. Me: "Oh you mean you think they priced it that way on purpose because they knew that if it were $30,000 and that small and dangerous, no one would buy it?" "Yes!" I was floored. This boy had failed 7th grade and then by some process of paperwork was moved straight to 8th grade. He has an IEP which means he has a learning disability. He spends a lot of time down in the office for various behavior problems. And yet, he was the only student who spliced those two ideas together and thought about the thought process of the creators of the car and price points v. consumer fears. It was such a sophisticated thought, but even I mistook it at first for complete gobbledy gook because he is not good at explaining his thoughts. I was so humbled and thankful that I took the time to be uncomfortable and ask him again what he meant rather than just get embarrassed for him, and quickly change the subject.
I could go on all night, but you can guess where I am going. MY KIDS ARE SMART. and I am overwhelmed by the fact that I have to try and keep up with them and teach them, when in reality they teach me so much every single day. It is me who is seeing new things and being challenged.