I am thinking about changing the name of this blog. I am terrible about updating it and it it probably in part due to the fact that I feel like I should only post school-related material. I had the idea for this blog when I was teaching high school, and honestly, high school kids just have more personality than middle schoolers. I could have written a book about my high school kids. Middle school kids just aren't as entertaining. Besides, I have pretty much decided that I'm not going to teach much longer, so I'd have to start a new blog or change the name eventually. I am tired of teaching middle school. I am even more tired of teaching intervention classes. The curriculum is terrible (it's completely scripted. I spend so much time reading from a teacher's edition textbook, because I have to read it WORD FOR WORD, that I pay no attention to what's going on in my classroom. It's awful. Since my district is in trouble, even the regular core classes suffer. We have to teach from a pacing guide in which there is NO TIME to teach even one novel. All I get to teach is short stories out of a textbook. It's terrible. When I think of the connections I made to literature, I think of the novels I read. I can't remember even one short story I read out of a textbook. There is no room for teacher creativity because we have to use all of the ancillary materials that came with the textbooks, which are BO-RING. There is no more trust in the professional educator. And I know I teach in a bad school district, but it's more systematic than that. Public education in this country is a joke and it's not going to change even in my lifetime. (Go see Waiting for Superman, seriously.)
Now, despite that, I've volunteered my time to work with a program through my school called Friday Night Live. We take basically the chronic behavior problem kids and work with them, but sell it as a leadership program. We have a curriculum from the Boys and Girls Club that we will use. We meet with them twice a month--once with just our group, and then the second meeting is with the first round of Friday Night Live kids who will now be the mentors for the current kids. It sounds like a great program, and I left the meeting tonight with such a positive feeling. One of my most challenging students, Jorge (I wrote about him before, here) is in it and despite his terrible behavior, he is one of my favorites because he is genuinely a great person at heart. He's always in a good mood, always smiling, but has no idea how to act in a classroom, and makes poor choices--he has romanticized the gang life and wants to live his life that way. He's the only kid I know in the program, but the rest of the kids are really genuinely good kids--they just have a lot of personal issues. Tonight was a challenge. We need to get them to respect each other and us, the staff, before we can even think about getting into the curriculum, but I think it will come. When Jorge left, he gave me a hug which he's never done before, and my heart soared. I really hope this program has a positive impact on him because he's such a special kid.
I enjoy these types of things much more than teaching. I'd rather talk to the troubled kids and mentor them, than try to convince them that school is fun and they should love English class. I think rather than teaching, my efforts would be better spent on intervention programs. I know I'll never truly leave the "education" field, but I can't keep teaching with things the way they are.