I just got spanked by October.
This was no friendly swat on the rear as October happily waltzed by. Oh no. We’re talking much more along the lines of “head out to the backyard and pick your own switch ’cause you’s gonna get a whuppin'” flip- me-over-its-knee kind of spanking. For all its pretty leaves, sparkly weather, and spicy pumpkin recipes, October hides a nasty mean streak.
Just ask my tutor. I have an honors student who is a saint. She volunteers to come into my classroom after school once a week and help with a group of freshman boys who struggle.
“How’s it going?” I asked her this week, after hearing howling laughter from her corner of the room.
“DUDE, he drew a cat that looks like a sausage!” screamed one of my boys.
“Sausage! Sausage, sausage, sausage!” sang referenced “dude.” “I’m a sausage, and I like cats!”
The third boy threw his hat at the window. Five feet above his head. On the other side of the room.
“I’m running out of ideas…” said my tutor calmly, looking at the limited vocabulary on the Spanish I sheet. The hat fell out of the window sill and dropped two inches in front of her on the floor.
“…and patience.” She looked at me sweetly.
“It’s cool,” I told her. “You’re working for free. Why don’t you call it a day, and I’ll take over the hooligans.”
“WE’RE NOT HOOLIGANS!” Dude-boy bellowed, grinning.
“ClickTHWACKowdearGOD!” “Señora, wait…I don’t get this..” “I”m done!” “Psst, señora, I kind of need to talk to you.” “I remembered!”
That was, in chronological order:
1. Fourth freshman boy launching himself through the door, shoulder-slamming into a desk, bouncing off the wall and into a chair where he was supposed to be finishing an essay.
2. Sweet and very confused girl attempting to complete an exam I had given her class six weeks ago.
3. Darling boy who must pass my class to graduate completing the practice problems I had assigned him.
4. Spectacularly shy boy attempting to get my attention to discuss how he felt he was drowning in my honors section.
5. Frequently absent girl arriving for her exam make-up 30 minutes after we had agreed to meet.
A stunned silence reigned as even the students realize that they had exceeded the neediness quota for any 3.5 seconds of a teacher’s time.
My reactions, in chronological order:
1. “Good god, man, what do your parents feed you for breakfast? Caffeine laced with sugar?! Park your butt. Double-spaced. Now.“
2. “Nora, it’s the same as the practice sheet I gave you. Present tense, not past.”
3. “Jack, take a 5 minute breather, then I’ll check your answers.”
4. “Ivan, let’s talk in the hall. Meet you out there.”
5. “Jenna. Test. Table. Go.”
My sweet tutor made a move for the door. Can’t say that I blame her.
And it’s somewhere between booting out my hoodlums, (“You guys ready for the test tomorrow?” “Yeah.” “Prove it.” “We can explain the difference between ‘your mother is a fat sausage’ and your mother is the fat sausage.'” “Ok. You’re good. Now get the heck out.”) reassuring my honors kid that it’s ok to struggle, and praying to Allah, Buddha and any number of other deities that my borderline students whip out a passing grade, that I become reflective. More than a decade in the classroom, I muse, nearly two-thousand students taught, and countless professional lessons learned, so why, after all this time…
have I still not learned to avoid assigning nearly 500 pages of assessments in a span of two weeks?
Oh, right. Silly curriculum. Then there’s the non-instructional stuff.
“Hey, was wondering if you could pop in and do an observation…”
“Staff meeting time on Friday, cover a workshop?
“Got any resources on your instructional lead position that you could pass my way?”
“Was hoping you could lend a hand to a colleague..”
“Three presentations in one week too much?”
It’s the administrave equivalent of launching oneself through a doorway and shoulder-slamming a desk. While shouting about sausage cats.
“Ah, right…” one admin had the decency to acknowledge which involved a conflict getting me into another classroom due to the fact, oddly enough, that I needed to be in my classroom, “you teach, too.” Though I’m pretty sure that if one could smirk via email, she was.
Ok. To be fair. I do bring a bit of it upon myself.
But gosh durn it, when a student actually brings me an apple after ten apple-less years and hands it to me with a goofy grin, I’m done. And when a colleague sends me a note about my meetings being a bright spot in her week, I’m just a full-blown glutton for punishment.
But punishment is one thing. Full on physical abuse is another. So I’ve had about enough of you, October, you sneaky first semester February disguised in sexy leaves. I won’t miss you. November’s on his way. He may not have your hot bod and swingin’ fall style, but you know what he does have?