I Don’t Dread Coming Back to Work
Don’t get me wrong, the first week back from Christmas break is always rough. The days stretch long and my brain physically aches. But no matter how wonderful the break was, no matter how many friends I laughed with:
I still love coming back to my little classroom to be with my little teenagers.
I mean sure, I groaned every morning when my alarm went off. And yeah, every day I was tired and hungry and retraining my bladder is never fun. But my students made me laugh every day, and they made it less painful to wake up before the sun. (Which really should be illegal) That being said, this conversation took place the first day we got back:
S: Miss Hardeman, did you dye your hair darker?
S: Are you sure? It looks A LOT darker.
Me: Yes, I am sure. This is what it looks like when my hair hasn’t been washed.
I wasn’t too offended because “ew” is one of T’s favorite words. Later in the week he said, “Ew. Silent letters are the worst.”
Apart from not being able to wake up in time to shower, one other problem with returning to school is that I must readjust my filter and quit saying and doing everything that comes to mind. Two of my sweet international students were the unfortunate recipients of said forgotten filter. One girl was doing her math homework when she finished her work, so without thinking I grabbed her papers, threw them in the air, and yelled, “Math?!? You can’t do MATH in here!”
Then one of my favorite boys, a quiet Korean genius, was looking back at his notes when he wasn’t supposed to so I snuck up behind him, grabbed his shoulders, and yelled, “What are you doing?!?” He may have peed himself.
Note to self: overly-dramatic displays of pretend anger do not always translate across cultures.
But by mid-week my filter was back on and I was totally normal and responsible. My students on the other hand…well let’s just say that one day I had to ask them to stop licking their iPads. Yes, LICKING their iPads. I allowed them to write with their elbows and even their noses (though I warned them they would probably break out), but I drew the line at using their tongues. Kids these days…
Here were some of the conversations from the week that made coming back to work enjoyable.
Me: That’s enough, guys. You should only be talking to your parter about the causes of the revolution right now.
K: Okay, but Miss Hardeman?
K: What’s your favorite cereal?
Me: Stop it.
5 minutes later
K: Miss Hardeman, seriously though, what is your favorite cereal?
Me: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Class: erupts into cheers
I may have earned the respect of that class period with my love of sugar cereals, but I lost it in the next class period. I had drawn a stick figure of Czar Nicholas II and he was holding two swords to represent the two wars he got Russia involved in. I had written the names of the wars on the swords and the class had to copy the picture so the following conversation took place:
A: Miss Hardeman, what does the sword say?
Long silent pause as the class stared at me with jaws dropped.
T: I just lost so much respect for you.
I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t continue with “wha-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa” like I was considering. Speaking of Russia, after reading a passage about Bloody Sunday in my Russian accent, this conversation happened:
E: You sound like an Olga when you talk like that.
Me: What do you mean?
E: You know how in movies there’s always a pretty Russian masseuse?
E: Well and then there’s also a scary looking girl with a unibrow named Olga?
E: Well, you sound like the Olga.
When teaching teenagers, one quickly develops thick skin.
Another great thing about teaching is you have a live audience all day and can teach these little sponges whatever you’d like. Naturally I taught them to speak with Russian accents- an immensely valuable lifeskill. A youtube tutorial was involved and I may have required them to practice with a partner. I also taught them how you can’t lift your ring finger off the desk once you’ve made a fist. (Try it. One girl hurt herself trying.) And of course I taught them the art of plucking a chicken:
because come July, they’ll most likely forget all about the Progressive Era and the Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal, but they will probably never forget that you must dip the chicken in nearly boiling water for about 30 seconds and then the feathers will pull right off.
The final class moment from the week that made me glad to be back happened during my study hall, a class that consists of 9 boys from all different social circles. This conversation took place on Friday:
C: Hey, is everyone in here single?
C: Yeah! Forever alone!
Me: We should all get that tattooed across our chests.
Class: looks of horror and confusion.
Apparently I’m still working on getting that filter completely back on.
What I realized this week is that if I can’t spend all my days snow-shoeing with friends, shooting guns, exploring the wild, building fires and plucking chickens, then I will gladly spend my time in the classroom with ridiculous teenagers laughing at ridiculous things.