Saturday, April 16, 2005

Why I’m pleased it’s the end of term

Apathy Jack writes:

“Hey Sir, guess who came to see me over the weekend?”
“I think we both know that the answer is going to make me either sad or angry, so hows about you just tell me?”
“Oh spectacular. Because things always go really well whenever he resurfaces.”
“He’s not as bad as you think.”
“He’s a car crash on legs!”
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about him, Sir.”
“I know he destroys everything he touches! Which is something I don’t think I’ve ever actually been able to say about another human being.”
“You can’t blame him for Danielle.”
“I can blame him for some of Danielle. And all the rest of it.”

People are always telling me I should blog more teaching stories.

But here’s the thing – there’s too much.

I mean, I have the perfect story, has all the elements: Me and a student sitting in a corridor, talking – doesn’t that image just belong in your Boston Public or something similar? The conversation is perfect angst fodder – a smart student who has gone off the rails in the last year due to family problems, and has started running with a bad crew. She’s smart enough to know that she is messing up, but doesn’t know how to stop. The hint of just enough personal issues to get the audience good and emotionally involved. With my gift for spin, I could write out the salient pieces of this conversation - accompanied by some pithy thing about my lack of coping mechanisms – in such a way that could tug a heartstring or two with no back story required.

But there is a back story. All of my kids have a context.

That discussion in the corridor is pressing on my mind, and I sort of want to write it down, write something about it, get it straight in my head (and that’s why I do this – none of my teaching stories are presented for your entertainment – they’re all to help me process something). But that specific user friendly perfect-for-the-camera scene isn’t what I’m worrying about. I’m worried that we’ll lose this kid. She’s spiraling, going out of control, and too damn many teachers have written her of as “a naughty girl” (to quote one of them one the subject). How the hell can I save someone who isn’t even sure she wants to be saved, when no one else wants to save her either? I’ve lost too many this term, and I don’t want to lose any more.

I mean, obviously, there are the amusing little anecdotes, which I could throw up and be done with it, like this one from last week:

Me “So, how did it go with Nurse? Did she give you drugs?”
Unwell Student “She was really grumpy at me. When I told her I was sick she yelled at me. I don’t know what I did.”
Me “Yeah, Nurse doesn’t like sick people.”
Unwell Student “But... she’s a nurse.”
Me “Hey, if you were around sick people all day, you’d get pretty fed up with them too. Y’know, the same way that I hate everyone under the age of about twenty.”

But then there’s the girl who came to me a few days back because she had gotten a pxt from her ex-boyfriend – a photograph of him with deep lacerations on his chest that spelled out the message: Look what you’ve done.

In my life, this sort of stuff runs the gamut between amusing and faintly irritating; I’ve known enough cutters in my time to recognise emotional blackmail when I see it carved into some dickhead’s chest. My girl, on the other hand, is terrified out of her wits that he’s going to kill himself and it will all be her fault. My kids are, well, kids. They don’t have the experience to deal with this sort of thing, and they damn well shouldn’t have to.

I need a holiday. All of this will be waiting for me when I get back.


RSJS said...

Did the cutter actually carve in an apostrophe in "you've"? I mean, at least the kids are learning punctuation...

Anonymous said...

Come off it, the kids can't spell. Jack was just using dramatic license. The message actually said "Luk wot yuve dun 2 me."