Saturday, September 13, 2008

in the den of lions...

This morning I attended what is known as "Committee Day" for my state's teacher union where we come together and put together a general direction and more of a focus of priorities for the office for the upcoming year. Well I have been to a couple of these in the past and it was always a joke how I am one of the few Republican union members (I am actually fondly known by our lobbyist as the "token elephant boy" which is a badge I wear with honor). Well I found that today, not too many people were laughing at the joke. It never dawned on me in what this meeting would be like a couple of months before a presidential election.

The board room was plastered with "NEA for Obama" posters and various placards for other ONLY Dem candidates. On all of the tables were packets of information talking about just how evil and bad McCain is and how Obama will totally reform and save public education single-handedly (okay, the verbiage was not exactly like that but it was close). Then every time I turned around there were people trying to put Obama stickers on my shirt.

The piece de resistance was when a US Congressman who is running for reelection came to speak during lunch. He gave a standard partisan talk but some of it really rang true so I found myself applauding every now and then. BUT he ended with something that initially stunned me and reminded me yet again just how devisive politics can be. He said:
"To be honest with you I do not know how you can be a teacher and not be a Democrat"
Well I tried to make eye contact with the only 3 other "outed" Republicans in the room and we just gave each other a knowing glance of solidarity but we soon lost sight of each other when people got up for the standing ovation from the comment.

....I just sat there and and took a slow drink from my glass of water.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

wanting to strangle children....

Today I experienced a really dark side of being a teacher. People who are not teachers really do not fully understand just how difficult it is to be "on" for an entire day. In order to be an effective teacher you really need to project a calm, exciting attitude about learning in order to coax the most out of your students. I know at least with middle school students, it is impossible to bluff being in a good mood - if you are having an off day, they know it.

So I hope I do not shatter the image of teachers being super-human beings with these mythical powers of greatness but from time to time, we have off days and are just not in the mood to teach. As much as we love what we do, there are those days that when a student justs asks a simple, valid question, you just want to scream.

Today was one of those days for me.

I am happy to say these days are very few and far between but in the past when they have crept up, I have simply changed my pre-planned lesson and my kids have just done bookwork. But sadly today, I am right in the middle of a lab where they are learning a new concept and what they are doing is very meticulous requiring very precise calculations. The questions firing at me were non-stop and I had to physically remind myself with each one that they are simply trying to learn and were not wanting to drive me over the edge. The day definitely could not end soon enough for me or for my students but I found my answers were getting a lot more terse and sarcastic.

Thankfully the day is now over and I have to believe that tomorrow will be an awesome day where I will not be wanting to strangle any children. With out a doubt, I will fully apologize to all of my classes for my bad mood today and hopefully I have not squelched any of them from asking their questions because that really is what I live for.

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