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Monday, April 2, 2012

DC Days...Teach Me Patience...

This past week, myself and three other teachers took a group of 32 students to Washington, DC on a 4-day field trip.

The Washington Memorial

Now…let’s recap here. I teach 7th grade Language Arts at a primarily African-American, economically challenged middle school. Most of my students had never been to the nation’s capitol before. Several were the first in their families to go. And a few were leaving the perimeter of Atlanta, GA for the first time in their lives. To say that the trip was a bit emotional would be a gross understatement.

We visited the usual sites like the Mall of Memorials, Arlington Cemetery and Union Station. But we were also sure to include places like the Holocaust Memorial, Frederick Douglass’s House and Madame Tussuad’s. Overall, it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Getting ready to see Frederick Douglass's home--it was amazing!

Douglass's house--dope by even today's standards

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Now for the honest part! (The other part was honest but there were more feelings than merely proud).

Let me begin this tirade by saying…I hate adults!!! Yes. This is extremely backwards. Most people bitch and gripe about the children and how frustrating they can be. But that isn’t what makes me hate my job. When a dumb ass 12 year old starts acting like a dumb ass 12 year old, I think to myself, ”Hmmm…that seems about right…because they ARE a dumb ass 12 year old.” This I can rationalize. This I can handle.

But when grown ups act like dumb ass 12 year olds, I’m pretty much guaranteed to lose my mind! The teachers on this trip were utterly ridiculous. Having students wait for hours on the bus while they shopped for souvenirs. Cancelling excursions that the kids had been looking forward to in lieu of what they wanted to do themselves (see: going back to the hotel for a nap). By the end of the trip I can confidently say that everyone was feeling my wrath. A few people escaped a scathing cuss out due to the close proximity of children, but all were not so lucky.

I was beyond livid. I mean I was seeing everything in shades of red and refusing to even be so much a civil by the end of the trip.

While teaching was not my first choice of careers, I still take what I do very seriously. I love my students. Yes, I imagine myself strangling them for most of each day, but I still really want to impact them and I really do love them. For the span of one year, they are my babies. I have exactly one year to prepare them for a world that will be outside of my influence for the rest of their lives. I take this job to heart. And it really gets under my skin when I deal with people who don't understand how precious that is.

Think of it this way (note to my fellow auxiliares that may not plan to be career educators and especially those that do): If a student sits in front of you for an entire year and they are angry, hurting, neglected, or under-challenged and you do not care, act, or even notice, and that kid later becomes depressed, homeless, non-productive or even abusive/suicidal/homicidal, then you must acknowledge that this is partially your fault. I do stress partially. But there was a moment, somewhere in that year, where you had an opportunity. An opportunity to care, act, and notice. 

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington Cemetery--this was the first time that being in a cemetery didn't make me want to hurl lol

So the lesson I have learned that I hope to apply to Spain: Travel in small groups. Make sure that those you travel with have the same goals in mind or at least are willing to not infringe on your travel plans. Have an exit strategy if things start to get aggravating. Remember at all times, no matter that you are not the lead teacher, to care, act, and notice the children that you work with.

Either way… I survived and thanks to some amazing kids, I will be leaving American public schools with some beautiful memories.

Anyone else with a travel horror story laced with a happy ending?

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you posted this. I'm not an educator by trade, so I haven't given the whole "working with children" aspect of the auxiliares program, but you're so right to bring it up. I think once I get my placement, I can devote more of my brain power to obsessing about the actual job and how I want to interact with my students (hopefully I get high school like I requested). And you're also really on point about traveling in small groups; any more than 4 is too many, and it's crucial to know what everyone's goals are. For future reference, I like a solid mix of touristy landmarks, off the beaten path discoveries, and shopping (like real shopping, not junky souvenirs)