Back in June, I requested September 1-3 off so Simon and I could go dove hunting, but life had other plans–well, sort of.
We traded our second car for two small motorcycles at the beginning of August. One needs an oil leak fixed and the other needed a gas leak fix, so the money we’d saved up went to them instead.
I figured I’d just cancel my vacation days but then I got hired at Bowie USD #14 (If you read last week’s blog post, you know the whole story behind that).
At first, I offered to teach on Monday, since I have Sundays and Mondays off with the Courier. I figured we could hunt locally. However, I put in 10 hours on Monday, saw how badly the staff/school/students could use an extra hand and decided to put in a full week. I thought of covering games, too, but when I passed out around 8:30 Monday night, I decided against it. I need to stay up to around 11 p.m. for the paper. I needed more than five hours of sleep between shifts.
Monday: The highlight of the day was one of the students telling me I looked like Mary Poppins. I think I did the slow, dumb blink. I couldn’t figure out how said student arrived at that conclusion, but I went with it as much as my slow, sleep-deprived brain could manage.
Tuesday: Oh, the grogginess. I got to know individual students and they got to know me a bit more between bouts of helping them with their online classes. They’re a good group of kids that have been through the ringer. I’m determined to help set them up to succeed.
Wednesday: Just the day before, I’d explained to them that they’d get to answer my phone if I forgot to turn off the sound, and same went for me if they forgot to turn off theirs. Well, of course I had to be the first offender.
The call was out of Michigan, so it definitely wasn’t anything important. I dutifully handed it over to the student to reach me the fastest. After a few questions, said student told the caller, “She is deceased.”
Thursday: Day four saw two breakthroughs. The first was with one in regular class. On Wednesday, he’d told me just about nothing during my getting-to-know-you writing assignment, saying he didn’t feel comfortable with sharing much. On Thursday, I tried helping him with some math, but I could tell he was getting more confused and frustrated. When I told him as much, he confessed to not being proficient with multiplication or division. He’d just skip the explanations and click on random answers in the multiple choice tests. And fail.
That had to take guts. I thanked him for letting him know and told him I’d ask other staff about how to help him catch up. There was no point in continuing where he was supposed to be.
The second breakthrough came at the beginning of gym class. I met one of the students often perceived as a chronic troublemaker. He tested the other teacher’s patience by whipping around his laniard, and suddenly it was my job to get him to behave.
Well, my gut told me he wasn’t just going to hand it over, so I bent my towering frame to eye-level with him, asked him his name and what his favorite sport was.
Okay, I had his attention. Now for the hard part.
I decided on a bargain with him: he could tuck away the laniard in a pocket for the duration of gym class and keep it, but if he took it out, it was mine until class was over.
In all honesty, I anticipated having to confiscate it in five minutes but not once did he take it out. I asked other students if they ever saw it and, to their surprise, they hadn’t. Holy crap. I thanked the boy for leaving the laniard in his pocket, hoping that would subliminally encourage him to keep doing that more often than not.
I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. The majority of the students are behind in ability in various subject areas. I hope to help them catch up as much as possible so they can survive in life beyond high school.
And either I was oblivious to it in high school, or this is a first: I’ve never met so many students disinterested in gym class. I haven’t been running classes yet, since I don’t officially start until the 14th, but I’m hoping and sort of betting that’ll change once I take over the middle schoolers. I’ve compiled a list of sports and activities to acquaint them with, and a shopping list for the school.
Wish me luck!