Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's half biology and half corrective surgery gone wrong...

Apathy Jack writes:

I've been in a bit of a funk recently. Work isn't great. The reasons for this are many and varied - and uniformly uninteresting to the casual reader, so nothing is to be gained by blathering on about specifics. The result, though, is that my optimism has taken a beating. And teaching at Hoodrat, optimism is the only really effective weapon. A near-mindless assumption that everything will probably turn out for the best has seen me through thefts, fights, fires, corrupt students, even more corrupt colleagues, and the fact that I am, at best, an only semi-competant English teacher.

But it's getting harder.

So one of my little Lost Ones comes to visit me today. A precocious kid, she came into our special needs unit because she had missed most of intermediate. She was intelligent, quick-witted and funny, which I see a lot, but she could translate it onto paper. That doesn't happen enough in my classes. I'm sure that a lot of English teachers have the mandate to inspire their students with a love of literature and/or expose them to the great works. My job most of the time, sadly, is to bootstrap an unwilling pack of near-illiterates into having a reading age roughly commensurate with their chronological age.

So, as these things go, she left. Her family moved, and decided (not unreasonably) that my school didn't justify an hour's commute in the morning.

She came back this morning. She hasn't been home since friday, and hasn't been to her new school in even longer. Always a smart kid, she knows exactly how many days she has to miss before Ministry regulations dictate she is taken off the roll.

She came to me for English work.

She's planning on wagging from her new school until she is removed from it; she still hasn't called her family to let them know she's okay, but she doesn't want to fall behind in English. When she left, I made an offhand comment that if her new English teacher was crap, she should come back and see me, and I'd sort her out. So she did.

I put some fifth form work in front of her - two years ahead of her age group, and three or four years ahead of where her education effectively halted in the face of her family problems. She flies through it no problem.

I give her some more, and she spends the next couple of hours sitting in front of my desk with a look of concentration on her face, working through it.

My optimism comes from strange, stunted places these days, but I take it where I can find it, and certain things still amaze me...


Blair said...

Were you being deliberately ironic in spelling "competent" that way?

Apathy Jack said...

Yeah, it's funny if you're an English teacher...

Miss T said...

Good on you, Jack. What more can we ask of great teachers, other than to give a shit.

I'd rather be a hoodrat teacher than a private academy of excellence teacher too. Because hoodrats need us more. Kids from great families are already set up to more likely succeed.

It warms the cold cold cockles of my heart to hear this story. Keep on truckin'Jack.