AT taught elementary for two years, and now he's like a moving target. Any time those children see him ANYWHERE (school, games, the grocery store), they seek him out, tug on his shirt, hug his leg, paw at his arms. "Mr. Thumann! Mr. Thumann! Mr. Thumann!" And patiently, he smiles at each of them, delighted that they've remembered him.
High school is just not that way. High school will never be that way. The other day, I was in Wallllll-Mart (a lot of my stories are generated from Wal-Mart) and I saw a student of mine. Girl looked the opposite way and practically ran. I'm alright with it, trust me. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don't want my students to see what's in my cart. However, I think that this highlights the drastic difference between the two schools. Elementary kids love everything about school. High school kids see the building as a gateway. Pass the four years in "prison" (as one of my students so lovingly referred to my room the other day), and move on to bigger, better, brighter things.
Recently, my hallway of teachers (basically the Languages Department and a few other rooms o' people) discovered the most disgusting app I've seen in a very, very long time. It's called Yik-Yak* and I kind of wish it would die a slow death. Everything is anonymous. EVERYTHING. It doesn't matter what you post, what you say - whatev. As long as it's less than 200 characters, anything goes. And y'all. ANYTHING GOES.
I sat at my desk and the app searched for my location. And then? I was inundated with the massive cyber-bullying hot mess that is Yik-Yak. Just when I thought my eyes couldn't open any wider, another Yak would pop up and I'd be mortified all over again. Students weren't safe. Teachers weren't safe. Parents weren't safe. No one was safe.
I went from being mortified to just being sad. Sad for the kids being called out. Sad for the kids behind their screens without the courage to stop what they're doing. Sad for the people that created the app. Just ... sad. Words have such an impact - and I truly believe that if this much social media would've been around when I was in high school I would've made my mother homeschool me. I wouldn't have been able to handle it. I would've passed on all of that hoopla and peaced out right to my own dining room table.
I see kids every day. I see kids shuffling down my hallway late to class. I see kids with bleary eyes, dirty jeans, lost homework, hungry tummies, and broken families. I see kids that have everything (seemingly), but still are lost in the chaos of the cliques. I see kids that keep their heads down, their eyes averted, their hair in their face, their coats zipped, their lips thinned. I see boisterous kids. I see introverts. I see it all. I see everything. From my perch in my hallway, I can pick out the kids that are struggling every single day. And you guys, it is about 90% of them. And I'm not saying they all have a huge struggle, either. It doesn't have to be dramatic or crazy bad. The kid that never gets included after basketball games, the kid that is failing Pre-Calc, or the kid that has to watch his little brothers at home struggle, too.
[I can't help myself here: #thestruggleisreal ... Poor timing? Probably.]
And that all sucks a whole heck of a bunch.
Today, I gave my seniors (shout out to those of them that read this blog that think that I don't know they read it, but I just don't say anything about it ever because ... awkward) an elementary letter template page. It had stars and a place for them to draw and it said YOU'RE AWESOME across the top. They had to write a letter to someone that they felt was struggling every day at school for some reason. I'm not going to say it was their favorite thing (the drawing, maybe), but they did it. And now, I have 30 letters to send out to 30 deserving kids on Monday.
So here's the deal - my job every day is the same: 1) Give the kids a routine. 2) Teach them how to function beyond my classroom. 3) Listen. 4) Teach them to advocate for themselves. 5) Teach them to pick up their trash (for real. FOR REAL.)
And I've added a number six: combat the shitty.
If I have to make each of my classes write a letter to support another kid in their school until the shitty is gone? I'll do it. If I have to hand out 500 stickers to kids in the hallway everyday? I'll find some and I'll do it with a smile. If I have to hand write a dozen notes a day to kids? I'll do that, too.
Because it's worth it.
The world has enough shitty. And for the four years that they're in our "prison," perhaps we could cut some of the crap.
And that's the truth.
*If you're a parent, then you should be monitoring your child's school district on Yik-Yak. The broader the parent/teacher/concerned adult scope? The better.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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