About Me

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...I am a human being first.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Human Spirit

I have never been what most would call "religious."

I go to church every week, I live an honest life and God and I are definitely BFFs, but religion is not all-consuming for me. I eat meat during Lent. I can't recite scripture. After 13 years of Catholic School, I still am not sure if Mary Magdalene is the mother of Jesus, or if she was some other Biblical lass. Whatever. I know God and He knows me.

See, the thing is, I have an aversion to the term 'religious.' For me, it connotates someone who is aggressively pursuant of other followers and quick to verbally attack someone who isnt living a Christian life. My experiences with "religious" people have always been pompous and self-righteous. Obviously not all 'religious' people are this way, but it has been my experience.

I prefer to think about being Spiritual. I like to think of my spirit as a real, tangible thing - almost like my brain or heart. Something inside of me that needs nurtuted, watered and taken care of. Sometimes this can be accomplished from time talking to God, but other times, it just needs a great song or a clean house or a night out dancing. When my spirit is sick, all of me is sick.

I also believe that communities can have a spirit. Ever since I began teaching at Rogers High School, I have felt that our school's spirit was sick. We, as a unit, do not support, uplift or energize this school's spirit enough and as a result, teachers get morose, kids start not believing in themselves and the very building smells stale and boring. We have moments of fun or energy, but the majority of the time, things feel like WORK all the time. I have opted to handle this by creating my own classroom spirit - and I work very hard at keeping it upbeat, fun, laughing and sensory filled. Without tooting my own horn, I really believe that kids like coming to my room. We laugh. We learn. We love.

And then, typically, the bell rings and they go back to being submerged in the hollow feeling of our halls.

Lately, it has been so different. Our basketball team is heading to the State Semi-Final Championship game today and the energy and movement and love has been palpable in this place. The kids are smiling, the adults are proud, the walls are covered in posters praising the team and the RAMS in general... It is the best feeling I have ever experienced in my 10 yrs of teaching in this place, and win or lose, I dont want it to come to an end.

Our spirit is so nurtured and cared for in this moment, that it brings tears to my eyes. A positive spirit is contagious, and now I can only hope that we are proud enough of this feeling that we continue to give it tools to grow.

I dont know about tomorrow, but Ram Spirit is alive today.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teacher Funnies

As a high school teacher, I suppose it is no secret that I love teenagers. I mean, you kind of have to in order to do what I do. Most people who find out I am a high school teacher say one of two things: "Why?" or "God bless you."

The truth is, I absolutely love this age. Yes, it has its drawbacks. There is nothing quite as nauseating as the smell of high school boys coming straight from gym class (*vomit*), or a student with very little regard for personal space asking you one million questions while their acne-filled face lingers inches from your own.

But for me, the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks. For instance, teenagers love to laugh, in between all of their morose brooding. They love a corny joke. They still think farting is funny. One good "Your mom" or "That's what she said" can have an entire class reeling with giggles. This might annoy some people. It does not annoy me.

The truth is, I am generally annoyed by adults who have forgotten how to laugh, so I appreciate the youthful benefits of a day spent enjoying, laughing, energizing... even when they are laughing at me!

Throughout the last decade I have been a teacher, I have kept a journal on my desk of the funny things my students say or do. I write in it whenever a 'funny' happens and I take it out to read on days where I have had ENOUGH of teen angst and drama. It is the perfect antidote to a bad day and I still laugh at the entries.

A few samples:

1. *after having trouble reading out loud in class*
Student (genuinely frustrated): Dang! How many brain cells does smoking pot make you lose? Don’t they ever grow back?

2. Me: (in hallway between classes) Excuse me, sir.You need to tuck your shirt in.
  Kid: Huh? I never received a recommendation of that.
  Me: (pause) What?
  Kid: I didnt use that word right, did I? I just learned it today.

3. Me: In Chapter 2, what does Jack keep doing that demonstrates he has a violent streak? (Answer: He keeps taking out his knife and stabbing the trees)
   Dushon: Uh... he keeps ... drowning the fish?
                        * LONG PAUSE *


4. Boy:  This calculator be dumb. The numbers are,
         like, invisible.
   Girl:  Turn it on.

5. *overheard by me at the end of class*
   Boy 1:  Mrs.Peters should be a Dallas Cowboys
   Boy 2:  She's missing two very important