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.

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