Back to School

While writing is my passion, it doesn’t pay the bills. Perhaps one day. Until then, I’m still going to enjoy teaching. I absolutely love being a teacher. I enjoy youth and learning and the subjects I teach. I dragged myself through the summer with a few more dents and scars but I survived another and being back to work feels great.

This year I am really going to focus on helping students really try to find motivation and drive to improve not only in the classroom but in their lives. Too many kids graduate high school completely unprepared to deal with anything outside of their controlled and heavily supported environment. We coddle too many kids and prop them up and drag them across the finish line only to let them collapse on the track when they should really be getting started on a much larger challenge.

We are setting babies loose in the world and expecting them to succeed but didn’t bother weening them and helping them feed themselves before we do so. So they starve and look for sustenance anywhere they can get it and often times they feed themselves junk.

So this year I’m going to try to build some adventurers who can handle themselves in the wild.

I had this thought while ranting on the first day of school, something I do frequently. I was talking about being realistic about where students are with regards to their study habits. Most kids believe they are good students even if they failed a class. There’s something wrong with that. Even though I got good grades in high school, I was not a good student. I stated that we should have a belt system like martial arts does. Everyone starts off as a white belt and everyone in the school knows that person is new to martial arts and they seek to teach them things that help them advance based on that level. In the military we wear rank on your collar or sleeve so everyone can see the achievements of that soldier and how high they are in the military hierarchy. In schools we hide achievement.

The result is that most students believe they are doing fine. Plus we’ve become hyper focused on self esteem and building students up. So they seem like they are really confident and that they feel great about themselves but the problem is, there is no reason for them to feel so good about themselves. They often times haven’t accomplished anything and they have nothing to defend their confidence so when it is challenged they fall even farther.

If you bully a person who has accomplished many things and is able to defend their achievements, that person is less likely to actually feel bad. I know for me, when someone criticizes me and I know they are wrong, it doesn’t bother me in the least. But if you get criticized and there is nothing to defend yourself, you crumble. It would be like putting on the black belt without earning it and the first time you spar your get your butt kicked. You didn’t earn the belt. When you lost it felt bad and your couldn’t defend the belt. The loss hurts deeply.

So rather than building paper tigers who think they are great but in reality can’t defend their confidence and have no real achievements to support their esteem, I’m going to try to help students be realistic about where they are and how they can improve. There’s nothing wrong with being a white belt when you start, or a private in the military. But growth is important and knowing where you are and how to improve is fundamental to successful life.

Anyways…teaching goals.

Sarah’s School

Sarah shifted in her reclined chair, suddenly aware of cramps in her neck, arms, legs, back. Her eyes hurt and it was difficult to see the screen in front of her, gripped in her hands. She tried to look around the room and get a better sense of her surroundings. She could see other people but could not see much beyond the glow of other screens and the reflection in their users’ eyes. She whimpered like a puppy as she wiggled to try to get free, but the chair did not allow for much movement and was designed to keep her, and those like her, seated and in the best position to use her phone.

Before long an attendant strode up to her chair. “Is something the matter Miss?” the attendant asked in a high cheerful voice.

“I just don’t feel right,” Sarah explained.

“Oh I see. Do you need something to eat or drink? Perhaps an energy drink? Some more lava chips perhaps?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah whined. “I just don’t feel right. I feel like something is the matter. I just don’t know what’s wrong.”

“Is there something wrong with your phone? We just upgraded it to the latest model. Isn’t it pleasing to you?”

“No, it isn’t my phone. I don’t know. I’m just not right.”

“Hold tight then dear, I’ll call someone who can help. Please remain seated. School isn’t out for a few more hours yet.”

“Ok, thank you,” Sarah murmured and watched as the attendant walked away from her. Sarah thought for a moment. She looked around but that didn’t seem to help her. She looked down at her phone. There were already dozens of notifications scrolling one after another. She saw a notification that Diego sent her a text. She opened it.
Hey! You there? it read.

Sarah read it a few times. It didn’t quite make sense to her for a moment. It was as though she had fallen asleep and just woke up from a dream. Then she remembered, Diego was her friend.

She texted Diego:
I’m here
What’s going on?

What do you mean?

Where are we?

In school
Where else would we be?

What are we doing here?

Are you ok?
You’re acting weird.
Hey, it’s your turn on Battle Words, I’m still crushing you lol

Sarah stared at her phone. There were constant notifications about messages and games and updates but they seemed suddenly overwhelming. She didn’t quite know what to do with them all. She began breathing rapidly and her heart was racing. She tried to get up but didn’t seem able to sit up in the chair, reclined as it was, and couldn’t seem to move her arms or legs enough to gain any leverage. Worst of all she didn’t seem to be able to put her phone down. She twisted her head left and right and screamed.

Just as she started screaming a technician arrived at her chair. “Miss Sarah, please calm down. Here, take this,” the technician held out a pill and a glass filled with a colored beverage. “It’s sweet, it will help you swallow and this will help you relax. I’m sorry you got so upset. I’m here to help,” he assured her in a soft and soothing voice.

Sarah took the pill slowly and examined it carefully before placing it on her tongue and swallowing. Already she began to breathe a little slower. She closed her eyes and everything was black for a moment before her senses returned and she was confident that she was indeed at school. The technician noted her breathing and knew she would be fine.

“There. Much better now,” he began. “For the report however, I need to ask you a few questions. What is your name?”

“I’m Sarah.”

“That is correct.”

“Do you know where you are Sarah?”

“Yes, I’m at school.”

“That is also correct. Very good. And what were you feeling when you had this short attack moments ago?”

“I’m not sure. I felt very strange. I felt like I wanted to get up. Or that I should be somewhere else. I didn’t really even know where I was for a moment and I didn’t know what I was doing here.”

“That must have been terrifying for you.”

“I was.”

“But you know where you are now? You know what you’re doing here?”

“Yes, I’m at school.”

“Yes of course, we covered that, but what are you doing here? What is your purpose here?”

“I’m here to play and use my phone.”

“That’s right. Very good. Is everything ok with your phone? We recently upgraded you to the newest model after all.”

“Yes. I like it very much.”

“And is there anything you are dissatisfied with? I see here,” the technician was studying from a tablet he held in his hands, “that you have downloaded several apps that you haven’t used yet.”

Sarah looked at her phone. The notifications continued to scroll by. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll make sure I use those. I just got confused for some reason and didn’t know where I was or why I was here. I remember now though. I’m at school, and I’m here to use my phone to play games and chat with friends.”

“Very good. All is well. I’m glad you are ok now. Continue to relax and please go back to using your phone. The country needs you at your best you know. A break in usage could mean a break in our economy or heavens forbid, make us vulnerable to attacks from foreign governments.”

“I know. I’m very sorry.”

“No worries, Sarah, everything is back to normal. Enjoy the remainder of class.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Sarah settled back into her chair and gripped her phone with both hands and began to pound the brilliant touch screen with lithe fingers, desperate to catch up with the missed messages and neglected games.