>Fourth Period

>My work day is broken up into 8 different parts. The first part I use to run “errands”, such as  calling parents, yelling or being yelled at in the guidance office, grabbing a terrible cup of coffee from the cafeteria.  Another part is used to scarf down lunch while trying to catch 10 minutes of a Glee episode I missed on hulu; when the network isn’t down, that is. The other parts are consumed with a live organism made up of 25-32 living, breathing specimens of teenagedom. They call these things “classes”.

Every class period has a different pulse.  A different rhythm.  A different personality, all it’s own.  Classes are akin to wild animals. You must respect the personality of the class or it will eat you.  And possibly, your young.  Which you do not have, of course.  Because these “classes” consume all of your time, energy and sometimes, sanity that would be dedicated to said young. However, just like those human interest stories on 20/20 where a bear and a dog become best friends, every year there is a class that I take a liking to, even though it seems terribly unnatural.  Sometimes, it’s in an “oh-look-at-that-dog-in-a-doggie-wheelchair-isn’t-he-cute?” kinda way.  Sometimes it’s in an “I-can-save-that-duck-covered-in-slimy-oil” kinda way.  Other times it’s more of a “you-drive-me-crazy-but-I-cant-get-rid-of-you” way. It changes from year to year.  Last year, it my second period full of arrogant, pranking but good-hearted, predominantly male class that captured my attention and made going to work slightly more interesting than my college biology professor’s choice of dockers with embroidered lobsters. This year, it’s my fourth period.

My fourth period kids give me a “pound” upon entering.  They think I’m funny, which automatically makes them my favorite.  Which means, they actually understand what I’m saying-most of the time. Every teacher knows how priceless it is to be understood.  They scream my name in the hallway followed by, ” that’s my favorite teacher!” They cut other classes to ask me boyfriend advice.  They come through my door, holding a bloody nose or a chin or an eye and ask me to look “real quick” to make sure nothing’s broken.  They need me to tell them to ice 15 minutes on, 15 off.  Basketball players cry about friends they’ve lost in the front row of my classroom.  They flood my doorway as soon as school is over, sometimes with dejected shoulders, sometimes grinning, waving acceptance letters to show off or hang on my paper “refrigerator”. They ask for letters of recommendation.  They ask if I like their new ballet flats.  They confess to me their crushes, their learning disabilities, their desires to be rock stars and nurses and stay-at-home moms. They seek words of affirmation.  They look for me at their games.  They make tasteful, decent jokes that I can’t help but laugh at.  They ask me where I went to college.  Why I got married so young.  If I ever felt all alone.  And I answer them.  I answer them all.  

Before this year, what I loved most about teaching high school was how independent the students are.  I didn’t want to be any kid’s “mom”, care-taker or confidant.  That’s the funny thing about classes.  Animals tend to change people.

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