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• Teaching 8th and 9th grade at an all-girls’ institution in Brooklyn since September 2011.
• Mastering the art of discipline and the craft of self-preservation afloat the tides of adolescent rage and idiocy.
• Taking refuge in episodes of HBO’s Enlightenment. Seriously, Laura Dern is the goddess of quotidian hardship. Am I right?
• Numbing my battered pride with wine, hard cider, the feeble “Will they? Won’t they?” potential in Dan & Blair’s inevitable coupling on Gossip Girl.
• Discovering that scotch tape is at the root of most of the discipline problems I encounter.
• Discovering that I can be, in fact, perceived as the “b-word” by others, that I can set limits, that I can convey high expectations to stubborn minds. This feels good, but doesn’t necessarily take the sting out of overhearing a student exclaim that she “hates that lady” when referring to yours truly.
• Hearing the same obnoxious part of Drake’s “The Motto” escape the mouths of preteens for an interminable span of 5 months, praying that they will find something new that doesn’t reference Sir Mix-a-Lot in a way that lacks creativity. Hoping that they will stop asking you what “Tunche!” refers to even though you went to urbandictionary.com and think you now have a pretty good idea.
• Crying. On the inside. On the outside. Crying just because that room full of faces never shuts up. Just because they demand that you re-direct them at every turn. Just because they’re utterly exhausting.
• Breaking up my first fight, but not my last. • Hearing stories of pain scrawled in journals. Attempting to respond to them sensitively but not insincerely. This proves quite easy.
• Learning what my students listen to when enduring the purgatory that is adolescence. Here is the shortlist:
*LOTS & LOTS OF K-POP
*30 SECONDS TO MARS
• Learning the highest compliment a teacher can receive from her students is the proclamation that she has “mad swag”.
• Learning that it’s difficult to pinpoint what is more insulting: a student throwing a chair while exiting your room, a still unidentified vandal defacing your office photo, a yawn, an eyeroll, a student remarking on your chapped lips to her snickering sidekick, a student exclaiming “What the fuck is this?” in reference to your midterm, a student who writes her name on an assignment giving you that ephemeral buzz of false promise and then writes nothing else.
• Smugly realizing that you really identify with Mrs. Coach on Friday Night Lights. The W.G. Snuffy Walden theme swells in your head as you roam the empty hallways that are about to be filled with 8th graders just released from lunch, the same 8th graders who will enter your class with atomic-level braggadacio and chaos. You silently repeat your new mantra: What would Tammy Taylor do? while thinking of Tim Riggins’ smile. This cures most 5th period ills.
• Carrying the lives of countless students on your conscience at all times.
• Talking to unwilling participants (friends, significant others, etc.) about every minute detail of your day, every witty exchange you had with a student, recounting every moment of that day’s lesson in vivid detail as if you are painting a Proustian scene of transcendent revelation . Readily ignoring the fact that to anyone who is not an educator, these anecdotes are both repetitive and tedious.
• Learning to love those that once detested you. Realizing that you have a soft spot for the rebels, the naysayers, the ones that shrug, curse, scoff, yell, and find it all futile and pointless. You realize that this is because they are sort of right. This unsettles you.
• Being consistently awe-inspired by the stories and art shared in students’ journals. There is one young lady you herald, without hesitation, as a genius. She wants to be a tattoo artist, but you think she could start her own movement. Her most recent drawing involved an octopus with a frosted donut head eating Five Guys fries with its tentacles. She also wrote a short story about grilled cheese clothing and Fran Drescher. Her heroes are Earl Sweatshirt and Lil’B. She is consistently dumbfounded that you know who these people are.
• Proudly observing that students can read the New Yorker without realizing it when you make them read a very slightly modified version of Sasha Frere Jones’ Drake piece and answer comprehension questions you created about Drake’s place in the annals of hip hop. Students work in reading discussion groups and you overhear such rich exchanges as Student 1: “Well…I think it’s because he stands out when he tells everyone about his life, wears his heart on his sleeve. Lil’ Wayne doesn’t always do that.” Student 2: “Yes, but he learned everything from Lil’ Wayne. He basically stole his style and added things here or there to it. Not that cool.”
• Teaching students that Drake totally owns that new literary term: the “likeless simile”. To them, this is mind-blowing. Delfonics.
• Voraciously reading The Hunger Games due to student recommendations.
• Brushing up on algebra, slope, y-intercepts and other confusing math concepts that I cannot confidently teach even after thorough review.
• Candidly and thoughtfully discussing Trayvon Martin with students. Candidly and thoughtfully discussing the issues of class and race with students and realizing that this conversation is truly enlightening for all of us.
• Masquerading at Starbucks’ pretending that I will fully revise my children’s book and get it published before middle age sets in.
• Working diligently after work at Starbucks, revising my children’s book and being dead-set on getting it prepped for inevitable publication.
• Feeling painfully incomplete because I have no time for writing anything besides my infinite to-do lists. Hoping, hoping, hoping that this will change. A co-worker likened me to a candle dimly flickering. This image is apt, but depressing.
• Feeling pathetic for feeling incomplete because I have no time for internet perusal, i.e. Facebook.
• Feeling hopeful because it’s Spring Break. Time for me to quietly re-enter the Tumblrverse.