Friday, February 06, 2009


The danger of passion is that the more you put into it, the more it takes out of you. In a way, it falls in line with the Beatles. "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Well, the passion you give is the equal to the amount of life sucked out of you.

If people want to say teaching is easy, that's fine. This tells me one of two things:
1. They have never taught...ever. Or,
2. They are not a very good teacher.

This job takes passion. An amazing amount of passion. Today, I am bloody, bruised, and beaten. I truly feel like the boxer in the corner and tomorrow is the next round.

I teach five classes. Four freshmen and one senior.

All of my freshmen have started The Odyssey. This was always one of my favorite stories, and I teach the same thing four times in a row. It makes it really hard to keep it fresh, but I try to have the same energy, the same heart, on every part. If period 2 gets a funny movement, or voice, or an explanation that works, the other three get it in the exact same manner.

The hardest part, however, is my senior class. It's at the end of the day, and they just want to leave. Today I poured my heart out into e.e. cummings's poem: "somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond". Out of my 38 students, four talked. Four. The rest just stared at me or talked to each other.

And herein lies the problem of teaching: It's just too easy to personalize everything.

Kid didn't do well? It's my fault. Sure he didn't study or do the homework, but what did I do so he wouldn't do it?

That is the most dangerous part of it.

Don't get me wrong, I like my students a great deal. But I hear these kids talk about how great my class is and how much they learn, and I look back over what I saw and say, "How?"

So if you're thinking of teaching, and you're reading this, here's my advice: don't personalize. You are not there to save these kids. You're trying to get them to learn. You MUST remember that it's a partnership. To paraphrase Sir Paul, "In the end, the education you get is equal to the amount you are willing to put in." If they don't want to learn, no matter how hard you push, or prod, or cannot make them.

But I'm pugnacious (hot word), so I wipe off the blood, wait for the bell, and get back to it. Tomorrow is supposedly a new day, Scarlett.


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