Diary of a High School Teacher
I've been teaching high school for about 17 years now, and I've cherished every moment of it. I just love trying to re-shape young minds that are already set in their ways. I just love reliving the insignificant teenage drama that plague the halls. And, of course, the paycheck is simply more than I could ask for.
The students here are amazing. I teach mostly juniors, so 16 and 17-year-olds. I know I'm a lot older than they are, but I respect and admire them for how serious they are about their learning. And of course they have the other areas of their lives completely mastered – they're so cool. There' something about a certain moment that occurs every so often – I'll try to describe it in a way that does it justice.
It's about 20 minutes after the bell has rung. That kid – you know the one I'm talking about – saunters in, swinging their lanyard back and forth, with the keys to an expensive car attached, and a Coke in the other hand. Every soul in the classroom stares, transfixed, as they make their way, gliding like a celebrity, to their seat on the opposite side of the room. I don't mind the interruption, I'm in awe just like everyone else, thinking to myself, “They definitely...deserve...an A...” until the purposefully loud clank of the keys being dropped onto the desk brings me back to my senses, and the lesson.
Besides distracting grand entrances, I love the way students text throughout the class period. It's amazing they hold off for how much of class that they do. I know when I was in high school, my attention span was nowhere near that extent. There's also no way I would be able to hide a phone so well. I'm rarely able to notice when someone is texting during class time. But when I do spot them, I just respect the student fro trying, and I would never dream of wanting to embarrass them during class. And what if they weren't really using their phone? I mean, you can never tell with teenagers. It's perfectly reasonable that they might just like staring at their empty hands in their lap for long periods of time or that they need to keep their hands inside their bag to keep them warm or they need to prop their binder up for educational purposes. Besides, I understand how desperately important it is for them to chat with their friends – especially when they have to wait all the way until lunch time to see them.
Speaking of friends, high school is the one place where you see strong, true friendships – groups of friends that are, as a rule, the same race, social status, athletic ability, intellectual level, and level of fashionable-ness. Wow I just love to see shallow friendships that are broken up on a regular basis over tiny, misunderstood rumors. It just adds an exciting dynamic to the whole atmosphere. I wish I could participate, but no other staff member qualifies as a potential friend for me, based on the aforementioned criteria.
Besides casual friendships, there are other, more serious relationships I see in the hallways, between equally matched guys and girls (once again, based on the Official High School Friend Criteria). When I see how much that football player truly loves the cheerleader he's holding hands with walking down the hallway, my 15 years of happy marriage just seem so insignificant. Who cares that in 10 days or less they'll be burning every possession that reminds them of their former significant other? For now, they're the talk of the school. Why would you want to establish good friendships and spare yourself emotional damage when you can create a short-live popularity and shallow admiration that is always accompanied by emotional damage? High-schoolers just understand how these things really work.
Now I know it can be stressful to deal with raising a family, working all day and them going home to make dinner, doing laundry, and washing dishes. I know it can be somewhat difficult coping with mortgage payments, electrical and heating bills, credit card bills, food and clothes, insurance payments, saving for retirement, and an endless list of other responsibilities. But when I hear these poor victimized kids complaining, I sympathize completely. I forgot how truly miserable life can be when you don't have enough cash to go out to lunch, your teacher won't give you a free “A”, or someone said that someone else thought it seemed like that one girl was hinting that that other guy isn't planning on asking you to the next date dance. Of course, when I hear excuses like these, I immediately feel obliged to erase all tardies, give free full points for all missing assignments, and buy the whole class lunch.
While teaching at a public school may be an infamous career, there's no other occupation I would even consider choosing. I absolutely love what I do – it gives me classrooms full of near-perfect examples to look up to, despite their young age. It also gives me new insight on life – it helps me keep in mind the seriousness and reality of high school life, as opposed to the outside world.