OK ... it's March already. I realize I haven't been blogging much lately, and I apologize, and I thank everyone for checking in anyway, and I promise to get back in the writing habit, but winter is winter, which isn't an excuse, but a fact; I get cranky during the long, harsh, dark, gray winter, I sleep more, I care less, and quite frankly, I dream of escaping. Chicago. My job. Students. Responsibility.
Here's an example of a not-too-good day. Today:
Towards the end of seventh period, the principal interrupts classes with an announcement over the intercom. One of our students, a freshman, died last Friday. No further details. But there is a collection for funeral costs. The family wants to send the boy's body to Honduras so that his mother can see him one last time and can bury him. Local charities are involved, but could teachers and students help out, donate? The school treasurer will accept donations in the main office during the next few days and pass the money on to the family.
In my room, silence. Every student, no matter how usually uncaring, can show respect at a time like this. Well, almost every student. All of a sudden, one jackass, a kid in class for the first time in three weeks, says out loud, as if to the principal, "Sorry, I gave to the AIDS in Africa fund."
A couple of kids snicker. Most look at him like he's a big idiot. I notice one girl, who is possibly a friend of the deceased, look absolutely stunned, ready to cry. I have to think fast, say something, tell this kid to shut the hell up, show that certain things just cannot be mocked. But it's been a long, harsh winter, so I have nothing intelligent to say. Instead:
"Why don't you shut the hell up?" I say. "If that's all you can think of saying after hearing about a death, then why don't you just not come back to class tomorrow?" I'm getting worked up, so I continue. "The boy that died, he was only a freshman, but I bet he accomplished more in his life than you will in your entire life!"
When I stop, the entire class is quiet. Everyone this time. I continue with the lesson, reading from Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild the part where a mother explains how her son's death has affected her forever. Yes, what happens in books we read in English class do relate to life.
As the bell's about to ring at the end of class, I notice the obnoxious kid looks upset. I feel a little bad about my reaction. I ask him to stick around. He glares, then gathers his things, marches out of the room, grumbling something how I don't know anything about him and what he has and hasn't accomplished in life.
The last to leave class is the girl who had looked stunned. She asks, "What would make him say something like that?"
"I don't know." It's a chance for me to redeem myself. Instead: "He's just an idiot. Try not to let him bother you."
And so another day ends. And I'm left wondering how to approach the next lesson in the unit: What is the meaning of happiness?