As I write this, there are just 10 academic school days left. Translation: 10 more days I have to wade through the steaming pile of garbage that is my students’ laziness, undeserved self-entitlement and indignation.
I returned to my classroom on this fine Tuesday after a fabulous Memorial Day weekend spent with my friend Z, stellar shopping, and grilling with my husband, only to be faced with lemon-soured teenagers. They walked into the classroom complaining about the quiz saying that they “didn’t bother reading because [they] had better things to do.” They barely passed the quiz, most of them through guessing on multiple choice answers. When the quiz was finished I opened up the room for a discussion, asking them what parts of chapters 1-5 they found worthy of further inquiry. The conversation that ensued was between me and ONE other student. Yes, you read that correctly: one. Why just one? Well darlings, that’s what happens when no ONE reads!
And there you have it, the English teacher’s conundrum. How does the teacher lead a class when the students have not read? If no reading of the novel has occurred, no proper discussion can be had, thereby rendering the class period virtually useless. Useless, because I refuse to carry on the discussion with just one student while the others ride on that student’s coattails, gleaning bits and pieces of information that they’re bound to confuse anyhow because they simply did not read.
10 days. Why does English as a course even exist? If students aren’t planning on going to college, then why does such a heavily involved course that requires brain sweat, independent thinking, struggle and work—exist? The more I teach English, the more jaded I become. The more questions arise for which the answers do not follow.
10 days. I just need to get through these last ten days and then I’ll never have to teach English again. Next year I begin teaching a creative writing course of my own design, a lovely little nine week elective. The rest of my schedule gets filled with a course titled Post Secondary Prep 1 & 2. PSP (1 & 2) is a class designed to help fill in the gaps between high school and college, not to mention help students get into college. It’s real life kind of stuff like balancing checkbooks, keeping a budget, filling out applications, taking a closer look at career paths, getting ready for the SAT, and discussing current social topics. I think these two new classes are better suited for me as a teacher. While I’ve always enjoyed English, I don’t love it the way I think a true English teacher should love their subject. And I’ve always said that I’m the least “Englishy” English teacher you’ll ever meet. I enjoy writing, but I love creative writing. I enjoy having class discussions on characters and plot twists, but I love getting students to think about life outside these walls.
On a brighter note, I’ve started reading a new book called, The Happiness Project. I’ve been invited to join a book club and this was the selection for the month of June. Maybe I’ll have to start my own happiness project—one that involves no students. Oh wait. I’ve already got one on deck. Yeah, it’s called summer vacation.