Saturday, February 12, 2011

Things I've Learned about High far.

Yes, I am aware of the huge pile of blogfail currently sitting at the top of my blog as my header. I wanted my blog to look more fancy and less like I write it in my pajamas at 5 pm on a Saturday and don't know the difference between HTML and a hyperlink (ps. I kind of don't).

So anyway I made what I think is a super cute header collage and tried to affix it to the top of this page, and ended up with what you see above. I don't know what the black chunks are on either side of it and I don't know how to get rid of them. HALP me, plz.

Since I last wrote, I started full-time student teaching English I to seven blocks of 189 ninth graders at a local high school. I have made some discoveries about 9th graders and about my sad excuse for a life in that time.

1. High school students think that Jersey Shore is more important than Martin Luther King, Jr.

True story: When my coaching teacher asked our students if any good specials/celebrations had been on TV the day before, my students responsed with: "Yeah! Jersey Shore!"

The day before that was MLK, Jr. Day.

2. No matter how close in age you may be to high schoolers, if you are not in high school anymore, you are automatically an old loser who is a lot less intelligent than said high schoolers.

My students have tried to tell me that "Smirnoff" is a brand of gum, that the "real" bell actually rings at 8:15 and not at 8:00, and that college couldn't possibly be as hard or boring as 9th grade English.

they pretty much see you like this. even if you are only 23.

3. High school students do not have it in their physical capacities to maintain possession of a piece of paper you give them from one day of high school to the next.

4. High school students will pick up on even the most minute, obscure sexual innuendo you have the misfortune of accidentally uttering, and will take this innuendo and ruin the next 30 minutes of your life with it.

*Note: They will forget every scrap of information you share with them on Animal Farm, but they will remember this accidental sexual reference until the end of time.

5. If there is one tiny detail you forget when teaching any given subject, high school students will ask you 17 questions on that detail during that lesson.

6. At least a few students in the class will take
literally almost everything that you meant sarcastically.

One day, when trying to get students to raise their hands and participate, I made the mistake of telling them that it's a special talent among teachers to be able to just stare out into a room of silent students for as long as it takes for someone to produce a response.

Next thing I knew, a student in the back row was encouraging all of his classmates to "test Ms. Townes' talent," and all of my kids went mute. Teacher fail.

7. High school students think you are really stupid.

My students think I really don't know that they ask to go to the bathroom so that they can roam the halls for 5 minutes instead of sitting in class, that they act confused and ask questions to which they almost certainly already know the answers just to waste class time, and that if they tell me their name is "Elmo" that I can't simply go to the roster book and discover their name is actually John.

8. High school students may hate you, but they hate substitute teachers more than you.

This results in a very weird camaraderie on days when your coaching teacher is absent, and you are there alone with your students and a substitute. Suddenly the ones that despised you yesterday are your best friends. The ones that already liked you have clung to you like leeches and are your staunchest defenders in the face of a foreign invasion by a substitute.

9. Although I'm sure they possess them, high school students do not use their inference skills very effectively.

My students were having quite the heated debate about how old they thought I was one day.

Student: Okay, so are you old enough to buy alcohol?

Me: Yes, I am.

Another student: WAIT, but are you old enough to buy cigarettes??

Yes, Bobby, I'm at least 21 years old, but somehow not yet 18.

10. High school students will make fun of you at ANY and EVERY opportunity you give them.

I recently made a mix-CD for my students for a lesson on theme, and they scoffed at the fact that I had NINETIES music on this CD. As in, the 1990's. This prompted me to ask what year they were all born and subsequently experience my first "I feel so old ballz" moment when they all responded they were born in 1995 and 1996.

My students have also exploited my fear of roaches and love of Star Wars, and flat-out could not put their little brains around the fact that I go home at night and plan lessons and activities for them to do in class the next day. I guess they thought the magical lesson plan fairies deliver their material to me when I get to school each morning. If you don't have a thick skin, I wouldn't recommend venturing into the minefield that is a 9th grade classroom.

All that being said, it is "so far, so good" in my student teaching experience. Maybe I'll go watch Clueless or High School Musical or Bring It On and reflect on how wildly unrealistic they are in their depictions of what goes on in high schools.

"Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves." -Virginia Satir


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