I enjoy my job. I am told that I am a good teacher and most days, I feel relatively confident in that assessment. However I am never going to fit in to the stereotype of the denim jumpered, apple appliquéd clad, teacher who puts it all on the line 24/7 for her students. I realize that those teachers exist, but I’m not one of them.
I support my students, help them when they need it, push them to do better, and try to make class as fun as I can when I can. I’m proud of them when they do well and come up with great ideas. However I realize that I’m never going to walk away with any teaching awards because I’m just not warm and cuddly enough for students to view me in that light. I’m working with “adults” who are going out into the real world, if you can call college that, in 1-2 years. So I am more likely to respond with tough love and “well, the reality is…” than an “oh, poor baby.” I’m not going to congratulate anyone for doing the absolute minimum and being happy with that. I’m blunt and a layer of sarcasm coats my creamy caring center. Some students get it, some don’t. That’s life. Next year there will be a whole new set of students, we keep moving on.
The vast majority of my students and collective classes this year are truly likable, entertaining human beings. I don’t have a class period that I dread. My last period class is probably one of the nicest that I’ve had in my career. The day is long, but it generally goes pretty well.
Unfortunately, as Day 18 shows, the cliche of one rotten apple ruining the bunch can be true. There always seems to be at least one or two students a year who crawl into my head and whose whining voices stay there well in to bed time. Typically, it is a teenage girl who seems to live to be unpleasant. Teenage boys do plenty of stupid things to disrupt a classroom, but it’s usually something that can be easily called home about or written up for a principal. There’s little to be done with, “Your daughter is just mean.”
The nagging, griping voices are part of the reason I wear a night guard. I grind my teeth at night from stress often brought on by the replayed conversations and anticipated potential conversations for the next day. Sadly, insurance only pays for one night guard in a lifetime although my dentist says I should have a new one every three years. Given the color and smell of my old night guard, I have to agree with my dentist.
So I don’t hate my job or teenagers. I’m not a horrible hard ass for believing that I should have expectations for academics and behavior. I feel like we already do young adults enough of a disservice by catering to every cry. But as with any job, there are some days that are rougher than others and I doubt that anyone would benefit if I told them what I REALLY thought and felt about them.