Jun 23, 2010

The Ying and Yang of Teaching: 5

Tomorrow is the last day of school. I'm ready for the break, but will miss my time with the boys and girls during lunch. They are fascinating, interesting, funny, and full of life. Yeah, from time to time the kids do press my last nerve, but I find I quickly forgive.

As you may recall from an earlier post, the school I'm in serves a community challenged by poverty, drugs, and violence. So, I spent the day talking to all the kids about how to be safe during the summer. I reminded them to:

- Go in the opposite direction of any type of fight, argument, or situation where the police are present. Over the summer we lose a lot of people to gun violence. Many victims are just at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

- Speaking of guns. I told all my kids if they hear gunshots, to go straight home and wait till things calm down.

- I'm telling the really young kids that when the sun goes down, that means it's really late, and they should be home.

- I also told the kids that I want all of them to get a library card over the summer, and spend as much time as possible reading.

The children at my school face a lot of challenges and potential for danger. Today, was the graduation for 8th graders. One of my students assigned to me was part of the ceremony. This student is living with emotional and behavioral disorders. She rarely access her internal governor and often chooses aggressive behaviors to deal with life.

She showed up to graduation today, with movie star sunglasses. She wore them in order to hide a swollen blackeye. She got into a fight with an adult man the night before! I told her to hang in there. She went on stage and got her diploma.

She and I really bonded and she will always have a place in my head and heart. She is very honest and rarely censors herself. She is also a very talented artist. I spent a lot of time talking to her about becoming a graphic designer. She is very fascinated with fonts and type. I also dig her because she is a fierce bulldyke in training wheels.

I shivered for a moment today, because a horrible thought crept into my head that told me she will not live to see her 21st birthday. I pray I was wrong and that she will positively surprise the world.


Reneé said...

I hope they all return safely to school in the Fall. As someone who grew up in a neighborhood where shots would ring out during the Crack War years,the warning was:

1. hit the ground.
2. wait for the shots to stop and the tires to stop screeching on getaway cars.
3. run to nearest house or run home and stay away from the windows until things are put on lock by the popo.

It's a damn shame that those are the survival skill some of us have to master to make it through to something better. It builds character for those who choose to let it though.

Kyle said...

Allan, I'll try to remember to have Stan come over to read this post, when he is back from Denver. I'm sure he would have some things to say and would enjoy reading a reflection from a fellow educator.

All my life I have been surrounded by educators, so I understand the Ying and Yang you speak of. It is often very hard to watch all of you go through what you do each day. You are much more than teachers now, and at a time when society seems to want you to fail on personal and professional levels, consistently educators rise to the challenge.

I don't know how often you get to hear this, but thank you for being there to guide our young people, even though often the odds seem stacked against them. In my eyes being a teacher will always be one of the highest offices anyone can hold. Thanks for being a source of light in our world.

Allan S. said...

Renee thank you for your advice connected to your experiences.

Kyle you got me emotional. If you was here I would give you such a pinch.

Xoxo to both of you.

Wonder Man said...

hopefully your words stick with these kids

Todd HellsKitchen said...