The English Teacher

December 16, 2006, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Daily Life, Future

In order for any relationship to work, there must be commitment between both parties.  I don’t think too many people realize that education and learning is the result of a good relationship between the student and the teacher.  We, the educators can only do so much to impart information and guidance.  How that information is processed and developed depends on the student’s willingness to learn. 

I have students who bitch and whine about failing my classes but when I look up their assignments, I notice that they haven’t been doing any work in my class.  When I contact their parents to alert them to this alarming behavior, they often get annoyed by the fact that I called them at home.  I called one parent to let her know that her daughter was consistently late for my class and that she would have to face severe consequences unless she started coming on time.  The mother’s reaction was simply, “And?”

If neither the parent nor the student wants to commit to securing a greater future, what more can I do?  The very fact that I’m the only one who is committed to this relationship means that we are doomed to failure.

But what is commitment?

This is something I ask myself several times a day.  Sometimes I’m questioning my level of commitment to my students and at other times I’m questioning my students’ and their parents’ commitments to their futures.   It was with a bit of a shock that I realized that I had given up on several students and that I had done so quite some time ago.

This last week was truly difficult for me.  Each day seemed to stretch on interminably and it was with a gasp of relief that I welcomed the weekend.  I groan when I think that I have one more week of the grind until I get to go on break for the holidays.  Friends of mine often tell me with a slight tinge of envy that I’m lucky to have my summers off, plus all the other holidays and winter/spring breaks.  However, I don’t think they realize how much work I actually do during the regular school year.  There were several days this past week where I didn’t get to leave until well after my contractually stated end time.  In fact, on Thursday, I was in the school for 12 hours.  12 HOURS.  That’s five hours of overtime for which I do not receive any compensation.  So why do I do it?

I’d like to think that I’m truly committed to the welfare of my students and I want to make sure that I take my time while I’m grading.  However, the real reason is that I did not want to take any work with me over the weekend.  For that, I will gladly put in extra hours during the week.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, I still have to work today and tomorrow.

I know that I’m at the low point (I’ve been saying that rather frequently as of late) and I’m fervently hoping that winter break will rejuvenate me and, hopefully, fill me with a greater sense of benevolence and commitment towards my students.


December 1, 2006, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Daily Life, What?

I am a product of the public school system of the Chicago suburbs.  For 14 years, I’ve slogged through rain and snow, never missing a day of school for a weather related reason (except once, in elementary school).  With winter approaching, I occasionally hear students and faculty talking about how an inch of snow will shut down the school system while everyone lies cowering under their covers.  These past couple of months here, I’ve rubbed the special type of toughness that is required to live in the Midwest that these weak mid-Atlantic kids do not have.  HOWEVER, during the course of our nightly telephone conversation my dad tells me that my alma mater, and all the surrounding high schools in the suburbs, closed down today due to the weather!  It’s only the first day of December and the kids already got a snow day.  Ridiculous!  Why didn’t I get this when I was in high school?  I’m a little disappointed and just a tad bitter.