Monday, March 31, 2008

First Day Back

Somehow I knew today was going to be "one of those days." I first got that idea when I realized that I was ironing my shirt with my hair dryer. (I didn't have time for the real iron, and I had the hair dryer on hot heat...same thing, right?)

Today is our first day back after Spring Break. My husband, the firefighter, works 24 hour shifts - on for 24 hours then off for 24 hours for 10 days. Then he's off for six. (Most firefighters, like teachers, work a second job during those "off" days, but that's another story....) Anyway, when the six days are over, they all report back to the station. They call it, every time, "first day back" as in "We'll talk about that new hose first day back." It's a special day to them, but I think "first day back" in a school probably beats it.

So the fact that I was ironing with a hair dryer this morning may have been an indication of how the day would go. We must always brace ourselves when students are well rested. And they were not tired today. I heard them before I saw them - the girls all squeals and giggles, the boys all talking about the NCAA tournament.

Back to the story - I had experienced a major epiphany over Spring Break: my students are bored. Every middle school student in the US of A claims boredom 57 times a day. But as I was looking at my lesson plans, I realized that my students really are bored. There are only so many exciting things I can do in a remedial reading class. My fear is that, this late in the year, I've done them all already. So I decided to get some student imput. I got online and wrote out an interactive survey. I asked my students questions like "Are you bored at school?" and "Are you bored at home?" My favorite - "What can YOU do to keep from being bored at school?"

I was proud to have thought of this idea. The students would surely have buy-in after completing this survey. They would feel empowered. They would have opinions. We would have a life changing discussion! I started class with, "Welcome back! I hope you had a great Spring Break."

I opened my mouth to talk about my boredom epiphany when Christian said (across the room to Matthew), "Did you see Wrestlemania? Man, that dude was BIG!"

"Christian. Matthew," I said. "I want to tell you about my idea. We're going to talk about why kids are bored at school and..."

Nicole piped in. "This is boring."

"Nicole," I said. "How can we work around being bored so that we can get our educations and get good jobs in our future?"

"I want to work at Hooters," she answered.

Then Breana jumped in. "Over Spring Break, I went skating, and my brother's friend was there. His name is Damon but we call him 'Cookies.'"

"Huh?" I don't even know where that came from.

My day continued like it started. Well rested students talked about anything and everything, and we got nowhere. After the final bell, I cleaned my board thinking tomorrow will be a better day.

Then I wrote tomorrow's date - oh no - April Fools Day.

Ugh. I don't think I have the strength....I guess Second Day Back won't be any better than the first.


Jane said...

Oh Cindi!

It's reassuring to know that even in high school (I teach kindergarten) students somehow find Westlemania (in kinder it's all about what toy they are going to bring in for share day) more exciting than a well intended topic of conversation. I am not alone!

Thanks for sharing,

Pom Pom said...

I know this conversation! Every time I have a break and have time to sit in the wing chair by the window at home, with piles of inspirational teacher books beside me, I am ready to try something new. It works. It does, but I'd love it if I wasn't discouraged by the "I'm bored" comments. This is when I know the truth . . . relationships, not teacher performance are what keep me coming to work every day. Yeah, it isn't about them loving us, it's about us loving them. Whew.

Pom Pom said...

Also, yahoo for fifty-year old middle school teachers!

Unknown said...

Your blog is so funny. It reminds me why i want to be a teacher when I grow up. Thanks. <3 love ya <3

Abbey said...

Thank you so much for posting this! This is one of the first of your blog entries that I have read, but I totally relate. I am a brand new teacher (2nd career) teaching remedial reading in a middle school in Asheville. I have also been inspired, prepared for a vigorous and entertaining conversation about an important topic, and then have been met with the "I'm bored"s. Although today it was "How do I get out of this class?". Sigh. Yet I wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world.

Thanks for reminding me that there are other people out there in the same boat!!