Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falling


In the early mornings this time of year, the Peruvian Apple cactus is still blooming from the night before, when it pulled back its red outer petals to reveal the snowy white nectarfest for bats and moths. Now that school is back in session, I don't get to spend much time poking around in the early morning, waiting with my camera for such creatures. I do come home in the evenings, however, to good light and evening creatures.

 


In our family we have a scientist cat named Reggie who checks every day to make sure that the concept of gravity still holds true. Every day, he jumps up to some elevated surface and finds something to bat at—a fork or pencil, say—until he knocks it off the table or desk or countertop and down to the ground. Once he's satisfied that gravity still applies, he'll jump down and immediately roll over to be petted as a reward for his scientific discoveries.

Lately, I feel like that fork or pencil that Reggie knocked off the table. I fell into the school year this year with a solid and painful splat.


I wrote a whole draft of this post in which I complained about the difficulties, sustained and new, that this year brings. And then I erased it all. My complaints won't get me anywhere. They don't help me feel better, and they don't help anyone else feel good either. I know that Sir Reginald Newton is going to metaphorically knock me off the table every day. Every day. 

Yet, in my classes, there is a kid who raises his hand before thinking, and many who think and never raise their hands. There's a girl with teeth too big for her face, and the sweetest little laugh; she's decided she's my shadow and she follows me everywhere. There's the angry boy who is whipsmart and practically growling. The girl who laughs too loud, but man, she's really funny. The kid who comes by every day after school to make sure he's doing his homework correctly. The one who emails me to remind me daily to update my class website because he was looking at it and it was already out of date and he wanted me to know so that no one would fall behind. And the one who needs to be reminded why the dress code exists. Why freshman English matters. Why English matters. Why anything matters. 

Each of these kids walks into my room and I love each one of them. I can't help it. I'm hardwired that way.




These kids deserve, and more importantly, need the best out of me whether I can give it or not. So, I'll give it. I'll rally, every day. I'll prove gravity wrong. 

Just a warning though: my fist shaking is on the trembly side.



When I'm not rallying for the classroom, I'll be sucking up the peace of the soil, the unclutteredness of the sky, and be comforted by the way neither the soil nor the sky need anything out of me.




14 comments:

michelle said...

Thank you, this is such an inspiring and thoughtful post. Nuf said.

wholelarderlove.com said...

stunning. I'm a little inspired by you this morning. xo

altadenahiker said...

Touched, I'm genuinely touched. And trying to figure out which one of these children I once was.

Fran AmenĂ¡bar Ch. said...

Incredible pictures. Here in Chile it's starting the spring-... the trees have some flowers and the bees are looking for them

bandit said...

Shake it, baby, shake it . . .

bandit said...

. . . and goldang! That's a portrait.

Christina said...

Michelle: Thank you.

Wholelarderlove: That is nice to hear. Thanks!

AH: Each of them?

Fran: Thanks! Happy spring to you!

Bandit: Thanks for the props. My hubs wanted to take it with me and our truck and the rainbow. He did a good job.

Jessica said...

As a teacher, I loved this post! Beautiful....

Sophie said...

What a beautiful post. I could picture every child you described and loved them all too.

the good soup said...

Beautiful, Christina. I often wonder if any of your students know you blog? and if they did, what they would do with that knowledge... or do you manage to stay anonymous?

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Just lovely. Your students are fortunate to have you.

I think it is good to write the rant to get it out. No one else need see it, but it is cathartic. Wishing you all the best.

say what? said...

I recall the year we reduced an English teacher to tears. The moment was a revelation of the power we suddenly had, and the shame most of us felt after he fled the classroom. He survived us and became a better teacher, though he never regained control over our class. To this day I regret the incident, and many others. Hang in there. Good teachers make good impressions even if the students don't realize it until decades later.

Christina said...

Jessica and Sophie: Thank you.

TGS: I don't know. I don't tell them about it. They don't ask me about it. I have shared it with former students who have now graduated and become friends.

WCGB: Thank you, and I agree with you. But, that rant sure is not going to go up here.

Say What?: Thanks for the pep talk. In my first couple years of teaching, I definitely experienced those feelings your teacher experienced. However, I've been doing this for 15 years now, and it is never, ever the kids who make me frustrated with my job anymore. Nope. It's all adult based: politicians, administrators, parents, coworkers--these are the people who make my job hard.

say what? said...

Years after I escaped the school systems I'd been condemned to suffer in I managed to make friends with some of the teachers who had been my jailers/tormentors. They told me pretty much what you've expressed. One young teacher lamented that the state would not allow her to teach as she'd been taught to. She struggled for a few years before deciding she was going into administration as she felt she might accomplish more there. I can't help but wonder how many good teachers are lost in such ways. I know I had some that were bitter and others that were indifferent. Only seeing them from a child's vantage I always figured they'd burned out dealing with the likes of me and others much worse. I'm glad you survived and hope you retire sane and content to have done your best.