Posts Tagged ‘Teaching stories’

Years ago I had a junior high kid named Carly who didn’t like me very much.

Not Marley's mother.

Not Carly’s mother.

For some reason there was a personality clash between us and I don’t really know why. Hey, it happens from time-to-time.

Anyway, her mother called and asked for a conference and I said sure, come on in and we’ll try and figure this out. Well, mom shows up without Carly and she was angry. She was really worked up, man.

And then she said this:

You two had better work this out, and soon. I want you to sit down and talk with her immediately.”

I don’t know, something about the way she was ordering me around maybe, but it didn’t sit well with me. Plus she hadn’t been real respectful from the minute she walked in. Anyway, I responded thusly:

“Number one, I’ve already talked to Carly. Several times. I’ve praised her, cajoled her, been stern with her, everything I can think of. Nothing has worked. Number two, ‘we’ don’t have to work out anything. Carly does. I have 160-students to deal with, and students only have a few teachers. I can’t adjust to every single one of them. Students have to adjust to their teacher, just like they’ll have to adjust to their college professors or their bosses someday.”

For a few seconds, silence and and a cold stare. And then, this:

“You know what? You’re right. I never looked at it that way. I’ll have a talk with her.”

Then she got up, shook my hand, and walked out.

Well hell, that went better than expected. And you know what? I never had a problem with Carly again. I guess reason sometimes does work.

And having an open-minded, understanding parent helps too.

So I was at school the other day and walked randomly into a class, as I am inclined to do. Some 220px-Rye_catcherteachers enjoy my visits, others seem to dread them as if I’m upsetting the delicate chemistry of the educational process or some such nonsense. We usually just talk about current events or whatever is on the kid’s minds, and the they usually ask my opinion on one subject or the other. They do this partly because they’re interested in my opinion, but mostly because they know I’ll be honest about literally anything with them.

Anyhoo, as I shot the breeze with some 7th graders one of them asked me about the book The Catcher in the Rye and what all the fuss was about. I explained that it was about teenagers and the alienation they often feel, about all the “phonies” in the world, and about how it was really controversial for the early 50’s (now that I type this I recall we were discussing the book because it was John Lennon’s birthday and his assassin was holding the book when he was arrested. I refuse to type his name).

At one point I said that the book was about questioning authority, about questioning society in general, about asking and why things are the way they are. While most of the students just looked at me quizzically, one little girl stared at me and whispered this:

“I do that every day.”

By her look I knew she was dead serious.

Some kids get it and some kids don’t. What can I say?

Before I left one of the kids asked to borrow The Catcher in the Rye from me. Want to guess which one?

9875789So I was subbing again today and was making an attempt at conversation with a shy little 7th grade girl, emphasis on the word “attempt.” Here’s what happened:

Me: “Hey Carly. How ya doin’?”

Carly: “Good.”

Me: “How’s Archie these days?”

Carly: “Who?”

Me: “Archie. Your grandpa.”

Carly: “He died 2-years ago.”

Me: “Oh. Sorry Carly.”

Carly. “S’OK.”

Note to self. Don’t ask about grandparents unless I’m sure about their status. Never too late to learn I guess.

Here’s an example of why they pay me the big bucks as a substitute teacher.htugj

Today I was walking through the hallway when a little kid ran up to me holding a pencil and a notebook. He was evidently working on an assignment and was facing a serious deadline. Here’s the exchange:

Kid: “Mr. Shoe! Mr. Shoe! What do birds eat?”

Me: “I don’t know. Worms and stuff?”

Kid, walking way and writing furiously: “YES! Thanks!”

What can I say? That’s advice only 18-years of education can provide you. I can only assume he aced the assignment.