I am stuck.

I’m surrounded by meetings that I have to attend, by deadline extension requests, by piles of paragraphs and quizzes that need to be graded, by a house that needs to be cleaned, by dishes that need to be washed, by books that want to be read, by a bed that is perfect for napping, by a windowless classroom, by bills, by shiny things I’d like to own, by my own fears…

I long for platonic physical affection. I want to spend less time on my own even though I need a certain amount of time each day for myself. I need a hug (or fifty), but I won’t ask anyone for a hug–that’s weird or invasive or inappropriate.

I want my students to really learn something new every day or to practice their thinking and communication skills every day and I really worry about the kids who aggressively try not to learn or improve. I have ten kids who are actually researching or writing; I have five people chit-chatting; I have five people on their phones in front of the computers they are supposed to be writing or researching on. This is a work day…so I’m giving them time to work. One of the kids I thought was researching was apparently looking up thinks to cut out and paste into his notebook. It’s disheartening to know I could be harsh and yell, but it would end in a series of power plays which I’ve been working on avoiding for fifteen years.

I keep reminding myself it’s a work day.

I keep reminding myself that nine kids are really working, that they deserve the time. The truth is that half of my students don’t have easy access to research or writing technology outside of school. I am helping one writer who bounces his sentences and words before committing to them—I understand and respect Bouncers. I too work best when I can voice my ideas and receive actual responses. Just the act of saying things out loud is a huge help when it comes to creating sentences and paragraphs that make more sense, that pack more punch.

I spent most of my preparation periods this week writing exhaustive notes for Beowulf and working my theory of intelligent Original Beowulf versus “never going to live up to his father’s name or legacy” Beowulf Junior. I keep telling my seniors that they should disagree with my interpretations—I’m trying to trick them into explaining themselves and supporting their arguments.

I’m stuck in a world where people make their own choices to learn or to not learn while I am trying to teach them. This is the life of a public school teacher; we have to capture their interest enough to sneak in actually skills and learning.

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