Despicable Me

I’m a bad teacher.  I’m rounding the third term bases, rallying the troops for the “home stretch,” and quite frankly, running out of steam. I’m dusting off my white flag…just in case.

I face my 8th grade minions with all vim and vigor of a Ford Prius in a NASCAR race. Defeated with their low term achievements (don’t get me started on grades), defeated with their lack of passion and self-caring, defeated with the overall morale ditches that budget scares and uncertain “next years” create.

White flag in hand, I confess to my minions:

I care more for your educational success than you do. I will stay after school and get you caught up if that’s what it takes. I am contacting your adult units to share my concerns about your apathy, your disorganization, your lack of self-respect.

My white flag is now with blazing hot streamers flowing from it.

Deflated, I go home.

I get on my bike.

Eighteen miles and over an hour of soaking in the hills and simplicity of my Wisconsin homeland allow me to I ponder and think and scheme and cajole myself into believing that nothing is ever as good as it seems and nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Screaming through tight corners and climbing steep inclines, songs of random inspiration burst into my head:  “There’s Always Tomorrow” (of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer fame), “Eye of the Tiger” (big-hair 80’s favorite), and “Dreamer” by Chris Brown…and no, I do NOT wear an mp3 while riding my bike.

Drenched in sweat, I return home.


Today, the same ears that listened to my ranting confessions of frustration the day before showed up, some even smiling.  They came back. I hadn’t scared them off.

I apologize for airing my ills to them. I share my goals for last term and encourage discussions about theirs. We take a deep collective breath and refocus. We talk about realities and dreams and steps it takes to get where we need to go. We get serious about choices for research papers. We debate appropriately over our arguments.

I gain some believers. I renew my faith in youth.  I remember why I have loved this awful, excruciatingly painful, mind-draining, heart-breaking career path I’ve chosen for the past 20-plus years.

**Sigh**  Maybe I’m not as despicable as I thought. Maybe I’m just human.


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