The Kids Are All Right

The dark cloud of doubt hung over me as I drove to work.  It was only the second week of school and I had been gone for two days laid up with a cold.  My voice was slowly coming back to life, but it still lingered in the ICU.  The cough, the sniffles, and the sinus pressure still hung on.  Yet at work, the homework piled up and my curriculum materials lay dormant on my desk; if I didn’t want to walk into a total mess on Monday, I needed to go in and get everything and prevent my classes from falling behind.

Then there was the thought of the subs and my students.  I knew my students were good, but I had made some parent phone calls before I left, and sometimes there’s the fall-out of an angry student.  I’ve also seen my “angelic” students who would do anything I asked, turn on a sub they didn’t like.  Then there’s the case of the seasoned sub who lost his cool with one of my more rowdy (but good-natured) classes.  Had he waited five minutes, they would have calmed down and got to work.  Instead he flipped out, got ridicuously angry, which caused my kids to lose it some more, and then got into an altercation with one of my students.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what happened in order to determine my next steps.  While my students didn’t have model Dick and Jane behavior, they weren’t being bad or doing anything out of character.  It was the sub who flipped.

I had no idea what I would find waiting for me, nor did I know how my kids would respond to me not having a voice. What I found was both good and disheartening.  The good: two nice notes from both subs telling me how good my kids were (WHEW!).  The disheartening: the second sub was brand new and thought my detailed lesson plan (that allocated specific amounts of time to each activity) was arbitrary and proceeded to do things his way.  One of my TAs, who has a better understanding of how my class runs than I do, tried to steer him onto the correct course.  He brushed her off and said, “I got it!  It’s all good!” (which is code for “something’s going to hit the shitter”).  The warm-up he put on the board were not either of my warm-ups and had nothing to do with either of my classes.  Because of his actions, we’re all a day behind.

What made me feel better was my kids’ kindness and support.  They were all respectful, did their work and many offered to “speak” for me. When the class got to chatty, they corrected themselves.  One student said, “This activity doesn’t require talking!”. One of my students whose parents I called earlier in the week went out of his way to be helpful. Everyone worked together and got along. Two boys created a rap about my illness; one rapped that I was “fakin’ it” while the other rapped about how I was really sick.  They had me and the class in stitches. Another student showed me an app for short stories she thought I would like.   It was an amazing day.

It’s really easy to become negative about today’s youth.  It’s easy to say that they’re lazy and they don’t care and they have a grand sense of entitlement– it’s easy to say this about them because often it’s true (and I’ve had my share of them).  But kids are good, too. Most kids want an opportunity to be good and be recognized for good behaviors.  My kids reminded me of that.

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16 thoughts on “The Kids Are All Right

  1. It is nice to hear that about today’s teens. They are viewed in such a negative light these days. You deserve their respect and I’m happy to know they care about you.

    1. Thanks! It has been my experience that teens want to learn and know how to do things. Really, who doesn’t want a sense of accomplishment? They really surprised me yesterday, and I feel fortunate to have them for the rest of the term.

  2. I find that kids are generally helpful and really care what you think about them as their teacher. Clearly your classes have a great deal of respect for you and are very aware that you are open to listening to them, allowing them to be creative. 🙂 Hope you feel better soon!

    1. Thank you. I think a lot has to do with the class chemistry, too. There have been some classes where I could have spontaneously combusted and no one would notice. I do my best to create a culture of respect in the classroom– sometimes it is more successful than others. What I’ve learned from the past is to not take these opportunities for granted.

  3. I sort of think everyone is fundamentally good. Even though it doesn’t always feel that way. Glad to hear you had a pleasant return to work. Hope you’re feeling better!

    Also – I can’t believe the sub ignored your lesson plans. That’s the kind of thing that would really tick me off.

    1. OMG– My lesson plans for subs are really detailed– borderline anal. In my history class he had to have my students do a warm-up, discuss responses, let my students work on their notes, and then have my students do a 45 question Constitution scavenger hunt (ie. not rocket science). Our classes are an hour and a half long– this was completely feasible. All they did was the scavenger hunt and they only got to question 25! In an hour and a half! As you can see, I’m still annoyed. We’ve had some subs, who’ve never had their own classrooms, give us advice on how to teach. It’s really the quickest way to guarantee to never get called back.

      I am feeling better, thank you!

    1. Thank you! I’m chalking this one up to the kids. Their behavior really says a lot about them this early in the school year. Most kids try to take advantage of having a sub by not doing their work or goofing off, but they stayed focused!

  4. An interesting experience… it’s often that they donno what is the right thing to do than it’s like they don’t want to do the right thing..

    1. You definitely have a good point. There are a few kids that haven’t been shown how to conduct themselves or understand how their behaviors bring out negative responses in others. Once they learn, they do all right.

  5. This gave me sick-day memory eye twitches. I look forward to getting back to teaching when my boys are in school, but I still dread the unknown sub note. Dear subs, lesson plans are for real, and they took time to make. Use them!

    This also made me smile and remember a bad day where I too couldn’t talk. I had a student turn around and tell a rowdy fellow student that his behavior was unacceptable. The whole class fell out laughing at him speaking like a little me.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I don’t think subs realize that most teachers would prefer to just come in sick than write up the sub plans– it is time consuming! Your “little me” warms my heart– it is so nice when students stand up for us.

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