Thursday, August 18, 2005

the first day

This morning I was so nervous and anxious I felt nauseous. I kept remembering October and February of last school year and felt like I was going to be walking straight into an attack. I forgot about Chantelle's warm smile and her kind hug. I forgot about big Vernon the bear and serious Jonathan and Yvonne full of life. I also forgot that I'm in a different position this year than I was last year. I now know what's up, at least to some extent. These children are just children. They want what everyone else wants, to be happy, to succeed, to be loved, to be safe. I know they want to be looked up to and admired and they want to be admirable people. I know that they want people in their lives they can admire. I didn't realize how much I'd learned and gained until they walked in the door this morning and I looked in their faces, even into a face that had a sharp dare in it. I felt right. And good. And not nervous anymore or afraid that I'd forgotten how to be a good teacher. I look at their wanting. It's going to be a great year. I also realize that I have the extra good luck to be dealing with the brand new. I don't have to deal with Malcolm, for example, who has the reputation of a mean clown to live up to. Even if he wanted to change he almost couldn't now, or so he believes. He's Chuckie (which I refuse to call him) and he's made his bed. But I don't have to deal with him. I don't have to deal with a kid who isn't being real and so takes it out on everyone around him. I get to deal with the unjaded, the unreputed, the fresh and the closer to the true. I get to give them a chance to be whatever and whoever they want to be. I get to open the door for them to intellectuality and to the posssiblilties in and of their minds. I am so grateful.
Third period. This is a rowdy class. Thank God it's small. It's the post-lunch class. It'll be a challenge. Corey is used to being a bad boy, I can see that, and has that to uphold, unfortunately. I wonder how old these boys are? I guess I should find out. Corey and George. They can't seem to stop talking. I guess I should mention to them that fear will create stupidity which will keep them silent and/or foolish where it counts. People are so afraid of the pen. It's crazy. I think it means they're afraid of themselves, of their thoughts, of their realities. They're afraid to start maybe because once they start they open something up that they may not want to open up.
I feel an unruly cantankerousness in here. If I can get this chaotic energy directed, held into something rather than into the ether... I feel that these people have power but it's not going toward what they want. I think they're out of control in their minds. And I also see that a lot of kids in this class already have a reputation.That's the hard thing to contend with. They think they have something to prove. They think they're supposed to be bad. They are locked into something. It's sad I think because they're trying to please and satisfy the world, not themselves. And it'll end up lasting a lifetime, this sense that what the world expects of them is more important than what they expect of themselves.



Blogger Nancy McKeand said...

Short of teaching pre-school, you aren't going to get many kids who don't have some sort of reputation that they either have to (genetically or physically) or think they have to live up to. But ninth graders have potential to become new people in a way that doesn't present itself very often. You may just be the catalyst some of them need to begin the transformation.

It is going to be a great year!

6:17 AM  
Blogger leslieg said...

Hey Melanie,

I love the sound of this post. Did you write it while you were in class? It sounds very calm, beautiful, and clear. I'm looking forward to reading more this year, and I still want to figure out how we can get your kids to Delgado.

I hope to hear your voice soon.


6:55 PM  
Blogger Clay said...

"People are so afraid of the pen. It's crazy. I think it means they're afraid of themselves, of their thoughts, of their realities."

Most people avoid instrospection.

The Zen folks point out that we are afraid to "just be", instead clinging to the world around us (to "attached" to it.) it's almost as if we fear we'll just disapear in a puff of introspection if we dont' mentally anchor ourselves.

I keep trying to medidate, just sitting without thinking of anything. I can do it... for about 10 seconds.

8:44 PM  

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