I don’t have the time to make this one long, but I wanted to record a piece of my consciousness during its most hornet-nest state while I am here. There are some days, once the kids have filed out to sports and I close my door, that I actually think I am losing my mind. There are so many events during the day that push me to the edge of my control, and the biggest advice I have received during all of it is to keep your cool no matter what. Thick skin, the refusal to let things actually bother you and change your mood, is essential as a teacher they say. What many students naturally want is to rip the teacher to shreds, and when they eat at you until you crack, they could not be more pleased. None of them are conscious of this desire of theirs, but when the opportunity arrives they always take it. That’s why even among the worst of situations (having students stand up and defy me to my face, say I’m not coming to your lunch detention, I’m not doing your F’ing do now), somehow I have to learn to see above it all and keep my cool.
These kids are desperate for power and control of their world so that they can have some peace about chaos. To some extent, so am I. When the kids win at being off task so that I can not get them back into the learning mode, I feel that I have failed. I am not a teacher at these moments, but some man who cannot control a group of sixteen year olds. I fight a power battle with these students every day. Sometimes I win, sometimes they win.
What I am trying to remember is to keep perspective: when the weekend is over, it almost always feels like a blank slate. Despite who won last week, they have forgotten about it. Their cares change with the wind, and every week is a new chance to win them on my team. My current philosophy reads that as long as I keep things positive and show them that they deserve attention, just because they are human, that I will win this war in the long run. Some of them will never be mature enough to understand how much their teachers work for them, but some of them might. I plan to win the war by earning their respect instead of only demanding it.