High School Teachers have the Clark Kent/Superman complex. You must be one thing in front of your students, another when you’re not. When you are most afraid, you must be fearless. When you find something wildly, though inappropriately funny, you must over compensate by being a hard ass. So on and so forth. However, even Superman had his Lois Lane moments where his nature seeped through no matter the circumstance. So did I. This post is the first of a series of secrets I’ll reveal about the truth about teaching High School kids. I won’t tell you when the others will come…..you’ll just have to keep reading.
1. I have cursed in front of my classes over the last 6 years of teaching during occasions of amusement, frustration and anger. I don’t take it back. They were genuine, honest and sometimes necessary.
2. I have had to return articles of clothing I purchased for myself after seeing some of my students don the exact, same, thing. Some would question my taste, but I would like to think that it was influence of style, not theirs.
3. I straight up told my students not to eat lunch from their own cafeteria. Cut lunch and buy elsewhere if you have to. Teenagers have enough hormones to go around, they don’t need to get extra doses in their Sloppy Joes.
4. I’ve told kids they were out of line. Lazy. Inappropriate. Acting like a __fill-in-the-blank_. A know-it-all. Pretentious. Whatever you can think of, I’ve probably said it. To inspire them. To wake them up. To get them angry enough to prove me wrong. I was not afraid to use whatever I could to get the best out of my kids. I hope, looking back years from now, they are able to see that.
5. I was meanest to the kids I loved the most. We can’t have favorites, you know. But we do.
6. I have taught a book that I didn’t read myself. There. I said it. I only did it once. I’d never do it again. And I’ll never tell you which one it was…:)
7. I used material in class that I loved myself. A Ben Harper song. A documentary. New York Times articles. If kids can’t seem pieces of you, they won’t invest. It’s not worth it. That, and, teaching Macbeth for the 4th straight year gets boring as hell. No joke.
8. I once gave an assignment that was so ridiculously difficult that I’d never be able to do it myself, but automatically gave an “A” to the kids who attempted it. Bravery should always be rewarded.
9. I forced them to read some of my favorite books. That’s my right.
10. Whatever you think your teacher doesn’t know about you, you’re wrong. That penis in pen and ink underneath the desk in the fourth row? I know you did it. The party over the weekend in which 2/3’s of the school population got so drunk they couldn’t show up to class on Monday without Dunkin Donuts cups and sunglasses? We know what went down. We know what part you played in it. The book report you wrote on a book you didn’t read but got a B anyway? That was my gift, from me to you because you would have failed the marking period because of one dumb mistake due to your pain over a break-up you’ll forget by the time you get to college. You’ll actually get to college because of me. You’re welcome. Who’s the baby Daddy? We all know. We know when you’re lying and when you’re telling the truth, and we believe what we choose to believe in order to help you the best.
That’s a real teacher.
More to come!