Three or so weeks ago, I made a commitment to being unbothered.
Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” helps a ton, particularly Solo (Reprise). Looking at these students today, and thinking about the student I was at their age, the lyrics ring germane. I’ve never heard the first album, but I completely love the latest project. I hear that’s the typical response.
For the past few days though, unbothered has been a challenge.
Last week, there was a pest issue in my school. This means emergency classroom evacuation, and subsequently sharing a classroom with other classes in the school community space. A full-on inconvenience for all parties involved.
In addition to this, and more importantly, it feels like my students have regressed from last year.
Maybe it’s the pre-teen of it all. The hormones and changes in body, and mood; deeper voices, stink and harrier upper lips. Developing curves. And their distractions with all these things, all. day. is a recipe, for bother.
They talk. All, damn day.
They talk when the teachers are talking. They talk during quiet time. They talk, during independent reading time. They talk when the chime rings. They talk. Without fail, there is at least one, who will talk just because they can’t take the quiet.
And in that two minute nirvana when they manage *not* to talk, they make noise. They drum on their desks with their fists, pencils and rulers. They roll their metal water bottles along their desks, if they aren’t tossing them up and catching them.
And when they’re not doing that, they’re farting. And belching. And laughing.
Or, they’re dancing. In their seats. In line for lunch. In the lunchroom. On the playground. On the stairwell, from recess, on the way to English class. During class instruction. During testing.
If this damn Juju was on the curriculum for this year, the students would pass each and every test. Their notebooks would be immaculate. They’d LOVE to get homework, if they got this:
But they don’t. They’re getting coordinate planes:
They’re getting the types of triangles, and angles:
Any in-class educator can tell you that students give zero fucks about the model of teaching being used. They don’t care about the Common Core. They don’t care about the approach to discipline. They don’t care about the hours spent after school, and at home, in school on days when they’re at home training and meeting and planning and, trying to figure out how to teach them what they need to know, in a way that’s interesting, challenging and dare I say, fun. They don’t care that this shit is hard.
This shit, is hard.
It’s hard to walk into a building; and talk, and teach, and love a classroom of children that you feel don’t even like you, much less respect you. It’s hard to teach a group of people that daily, you try to figure out how to reach. It’s hard, to give people information, and be mocked, ignored, and disrespected.
I’ve had students say to me “fuck you”; I’ve had students yell “you get on my got-damn nerves”-
Do you know hard it is not to say “you get on my got-damn nerves, too?”
Do you know how hard it is to come back, everyday, hoping that maybe today, will be different?
Add this to the list of things that students don’t care about. What they care about, is whether or not you have their back. They care about how you make them feel about themselves. They care about being fully accepted.
If they come to you with a problem, will you listen? They care about that.
Will you tell them the truth? They’ll trust you if you do.
Will you get in their asses when you know they know better? They respect that.
Are you listening to them beyond what you think is nonsense? Are you even willing to see their side of things? That matters.
Do they feel like they matter to you? They’ll listen to you, if they do.
And some days, it is different. Today in the hallway, I asked a 5th grader, “what are you learning?” He said, “I’m learning alot about math.”
So I asked: What is a coordinate plane?
He said, “The coordinate plane is like a grid where you can tell the x axis and y axis”
So. I’ll bother. Because it’s worth it, I’ll bother. Because they hear me, and trust me, and sometimes, they love me, I’ll bother. Ready to love on and teach each and everyone of ’em. Hopeful that the day will be different.
That’s it y’all. Me and my nerve, are about to take a long, hot bath. Put on some lotions. Re-twist my hair and drink water.