Friday, November 12, 2010

Shortcuts and Back Roads

I said I was going to be better about blogging on a regular basis, so I'm trying to stay true to my word.  Today was DEAR day, just like every Friday.  During English, students Drop Everything and Read.  It's my favorite day of the week, because it means I get to read, too.  It also means I don't have to talk a lot or teach a lot.  So, really, the week (kind of) ends on Thursday.  However, in addition to reading today, I asked my students to annotate two short poems.....for weekend homework.  Ugh.  That dreaded thing that every student hates.  I know.  I felt awful.  But you simply can't get everything done in class.  It's impossible. 

I made it through most of the day without many complaints, but then 6th period walked in....Don't get me wrong, I love 6th period.  I blog about them all the time.  They've got personality, for sure, but sometimes with personality comes attitude.  Today they brought the attitude.  This conversation, in particular, stands out:

Student: "Ms. Herring, can't I just circle the word in the poem?  Why do I have to explain the connotation?"
Me: "Because I want to see your thinking.  I need to know why that word is important."
Student: (Whiney voice starts here) "But why?"
Me: "Why is it such a big deal?"
Student: "'s just SO much more writing!"
Me: "Well then, why don't you just do it your way, since you obviously just want to argue with me after I've already given you an answer."
(Insert intense sighing, huffing, puffing, and muttering here)

It was frustrating for me, but also an understandable and rational complaint.  We all look for shortcuts everyday.  Why would do things the long and proper way when we can get there so much faster if we start cutting corners?  This question is applicable far beyond the realm of school work.  Think about our relationships.  How easy is it to cut corners there?  Text instead of call.  Narrow a friendship down to lunch once a month or an occassional "Hi, how are you" Facebook post.  We are always trying to cut down on the amount of effort we have to exert to get things done.

Having had a little time to reflect on this, I think there's something to be said for taking the back roads occassionally--for stretching things out and letting them dwell.  My favorite conversations with friends are the ones that start out as one cup of coffee and end up being five because we just can't stop talking.  I love those family dinners that are supposed to be an hour and last all night because we're laughing and telling stories and looking at old photographs.  The relationships that last are the ones that are grounded in the back roads.  They're an investment, so they're worth all our time. 

I know this is a far stretch from being frustrated with a student who wanted to shortcut my instructions, but it's true.  So the wisdom for today is to take a few back roads and see where they lead you.  I'm hoping to take a few this weekend, just to slow down and see where they take me.  I have a feeling they lead to a pretty great place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just a Little Bit of Catch-up Blogging

Ok, so I know I look like a total slacker for not blogging regularly the past few weeks, but I can honestly say that I have not had the time.  I'm blogging today on my prep period from school, because for some glorious reason, Central Office, in their infinite wisdom, has decided not to block blogspot at school.  Thanks for helping me out there, guys :)  Anyway, I've spent the past week having students give me a hard time about not blogging.  One student, in particular, has brought it up everyday for the past five days as soon as he walks into class.

"Ms. Herring, where is your blog?!"
"Ms. Herring, you haven't updated in forever!"
"Ms. Herring, you LIED.  I checked last night, and you did NOT blog."

Well ok, fine, here it is.  I'm not making excuses.  LOTS of blog-worthy things have happened over the past few weeks.  Here's a few.....
  1. I dressed up as the witches from Wicked/The Wizard of OZ with my mentor teacher to celebrate Halloween/Spirit Week, which involved me wearing a prom dress all day while I taught.  Check out Facebook for some pretty excellent photos.
  2. I found out that 7th grade boys really do make inappropriate comments in the hall about young student teachers and said student teacher's decision to wear skinny jeans with boots to school on Friday. NEVER AGAIN.
  3. I mentioned that I was cold one day in class, to which 6th period giftgiver responded, "I could give you a hug to warm you up Ms. Herring." (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried...)
  4. I set up a private social network for my students, taught them to blog, and graded 142 of the blogs I taught them to write.
  5. I presented their blogs at a curriculum conference, which was an exhausting and stressful, yet rewarding experience.
  6. And finally, I realized I only have four weeks left at the middle school.
Four weeks.  I feel so many emotions when I think about that short amount of time.  Am I completely and utterly drained and exhausted?  YES.  Am I ready for a job where I get paid to work all day?  Most definitely.  But will I miss the funny things that happen everyday and the kids I feel like I've grown to know so well?  Very, very much so.  These kids have taught me so much, but more than that, they've given me so much to aspire to as a teacher.  I want every student I teach to be as special as the kids I have come to know this semester.  I feel like I have built relationships with my students based on trust.  They've shared their favorite football teams and music with me.  They've given me countless silly bands.  They've told me their secrets, and they've even shared their crushes and daily crises and victories with me.  Those things are what make me LOVE this job, and they are the things that will make it SO impossible to leave in December. 

But four weeks is still four weeks.  All the major assignments are almost complete.  So I promise to blog as much as humanly possible-- to document the little bit of time I have left to gain some wisdom from the middle.  For today, the wisdom is this: Savor every last minute of an experience.  Bask in the knowledge that the memories you make are yours forever.  I feel like I haven't wasted a single minute of my time here, and I want to continue to glory in all those little moments and snatches of talk, not just at the middle school, but in every aspect of life.  It's those tiny pieces of time that I know I'll look back on and love even more with the passage of time.  So, expect me to be more punctual in my blogging efforts.  I've got lots of last moments to savor.