Friday, March 10, 2006

Paranoiac Demands

This news item caught my eye the other day: "Former Teacher Surrenders at French School."
It struck me for the simple reason that we are inundated, sadly, with stories of students turning on their peers and bringing a gun to school to settle things. In the dark places where my mind wanders after a day like today, I have wondered why more teachers don't seek some kind of revenge or retribution. That kind of thing is relegated to "disgruntled postal employees." Maybe teachers, like George Lucas' Jedi, aren't the "revenge type."
Nicolas Vilpail apparently was. He took twenty-three hostages, mostly students, and held them for four hours. I usually hold my students against their will for five to ten minutes before I can no longer stand their mewling and panting. I suppose it could be argued that I hold them hostage for six and a half hours every day (minus recess and lunch - with the occasional trip to the bathroom or assembly). To hear some of them tell it, I might as well have them at gunpoint. One of two teacher's aides taken captive said Vilpail appeared "calm and terribly depressed." Listening to me through the door to my classroom might provide the same assessment of my demeanor on any given day.
The solution occurred to me obliquely today as I filled out a fourth health care referral (headache, stomach ache, twisted right ankle - or was it left?, bruised ego): Mister Caven needs to go to the nurse's office. He is "Emotionally Exhausted and Morally Bankrupt," a la Major Frank Burns. I promise to come back after I call home, an ice pack, and my spirit renewed.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's some harsh realities in your job and mine. You can't save them all. Those you touch and help will probably NEVER show it to you because it won't turn up in an obvious manner. ALL of them are making decisions about their outcome.

Your job, and mine, is to chip away where and when we can. It doesn't matter if red or blue states control things. The people we work with control themselves. If some of our influence rubs off in a day, then it's been a great day. Most days, it's been a day.

Fortunately, I don't have a union trying to convince me that they're "helping" me. One is trying to organize, but it can't be legally recognized. I'm treated reasonably well.

I guess that the real best days are those that happen because you toiled well and something worked out. Yeah, it had a lot to do with you and the school or the organization looks great now because you played some, or most, of the part of facilitating the outcome.

I always remember the final scene in Patton when the general walks away recalling the warning of the servant to the returning, victorious centurion. It's something like "all victory is feating" or something like that. Makes perfect sense.

You listen to Bruce. There is iron in his words: "Glory Days, yeah they'll pass you by."

Anonymous said...

The biggest impact you have on your students - and the one that's most invisible to you - is consistency. You may be the one adult figure in many of their lives who shows up *every* *day* and takes an interest in them (even if it's not always for their positive deeds) *every* *day*. Simply by being present and doing your job week in, week out, you are exposing many of these children to a way of life they may not see at home. The impact of your work may not always reveal itself in your classroom, but it's having a lasting impact on many of your students.

mrs. id said...

Great, thoughtful, supportive comments; here's a stupid one.

I just want to type "vokdonav" for the word verification.

Vokdonav. Some kind of Russian dessert, perhaps?

Here I go.

Anonymous said...

Our jobs are tough, but some think it is easy and a luxury. I say come walk in my shoes and you tell me. Yes we are consistent and we care. That is what the politicians count on and that is what the kids need. We are making somewhat of a difference.

PJ