Even looking at this catsup bottle makes me a little queasy.
I hate ketchup.Disgusted, sickened. Yes these two words accurately describe how I feel about the red stuff.
Strong feelings, I know.
Yet, it is 100% true.
Let me give you some examples of how much I hate ketchup.
I always maneuver the food in the refrigerator so that the foods that I eat regularly are not touching the ketchup bottle. Don’t poison my beloved peanut butter.
I can’t eat near people who have ketchup on their food. The smell annoys and distracts me from my meal.
I mutter when it appears on the shopping list. Why waste my hard earned money on such a nasty product?
By the way, don’t try and analyze this hatred.
Yes, I like tomatoes. Yes, I like pasta sauce. Yes, I know this makes no sense.
What has caused this intense and weird (yes, I can readily admit it’s weird) hatred of ketchup?
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Courtesy of Flickr
School has begun. It’s back to work for this high school English teacher. This is how the school year starts for me.
I look out at my students. I study them. Who am I working with? What makes them tic? What challenges do they have?
I see a young man in one of my senior English classes. He’s quiet, eager to do right. Yet, he’s scared and nearly shaking. When he talks, it’s clear that there are some issues he’s dealing with. He appears alone and fragile. I’ll have to be careful with him, sensitive.
The girl in my senior class is familiar. I taught her in the 10th grade. Her moods swayed like a bridge in desperate need of repair. The boys seemed scared of her. I liked her on her good days. She participated and was willing to learn. Her writing was inconsistent. Now, she’s a mom. She’s not the first senior I had with a child. Still, I worry for her and the child. How will she have time for school and a life?
There’s a rambunctious boy in my sophomore class. Seriously. His energy level is ridiculous. He clearly can’t handle himself. I’ve been told he’s a struggling student. I wouldn’t know. He has done no work yet. He is too busy pruning for laughs. I’ve already spoken to his mother. I hope it helps.
There’s a girl in my sophomore class. She’s short. And loud with seemingly no filter button. Her work/participation has been weak so far. She seems more interested in strolling the hallways despite claims of injured feet. Then yesterday, she shared her journal entry. Her sister died last year of cancer. She could not make it to the funeral. Maybe, there’s a way to get to her.
Every student has a story. At some point, I’ll learn all their stories. I’m going to be listening, reading their journals, and studying their behavior. Who are they? Who am I working with? How can I get the students to work to their potential?
This is what I see from behind the desk. It’s time to step out.
Courtesy of Flickr
Today, it’s all in the family. For my guest, I have my nephew Jesse. He is the oldest son of my oldest brother. Jesse is an avid reader, enjoys acting, and likes creative writing. In addition, he has volunteered his time to many charitable organizations.
Jesse, who was born on February 29, and is technically 4 years old is entering his senior year of high school. Therefore, he is going through the college selection process.
I proudly present to you my nephew on navigating college selection 2013 style.
My parents and I are going through the college selection process together. It would be easy for my parents to turn this into an unpleasant ordeal.
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I teach five periods a day. In addition, there is one period where I am assigned to do something around the school. For this school year, I have been in the auditorium during “0” period (the first of the day).
My main job is to sit in the auditorium, tell students to sit down and remove their hats. It is thrilling. And fulfilling. You can only imagine. During the magical time of 7:40 to 8:24, I sit on the stage and watch the students filter in. My main hope is that they will stay sleepy and not cause any problems. I am quite content to see them calmly ease into the day. This part of my job is generally easy. There has yet to be a fight and the students generally respond when I ask them to take off their hat. So, I use the time to go on the computer (blog), mark papers, review lesson plans, etc.
Something has occurred during this placid time of the day which I did not plan for. There are a few students that sit on the stage with me every day. We did not talk about it. They simply chose to do so. We talk about school, life – whatever is on our mind. This type of banter is my favorite part of being a teacher. When students are outside of the classroom and you engage them in one-on-one conversation or in small groups, they are different people. No longer do they feel the need to impress their classmates. It’s often like you are meeting a kid for the first time. He may certainly resemble the student you have in the classroom but there are differences. Good differences.
Tyrel is one of the students who sits with me on the stage every morning. He is an 11th grader. He was a member of my class in the Fall of his 10th grade year. He did reasonably well in the class. We had occasional clashes as he could be moody and temperamental. When we crossed paths during the Spring term, we would exchange a brief “hey.”
Now, Tyrel is a regular on the stage. He walks serenely down the aisle, shakes my hand, wishes me a good morning, and then proceeds to put his backpack down and eat his breakfast. Sometimes we talk – about homework, our weekend, whatever. Sometimes, we don’t. Yesterday, Tyrel told me he was having a challenging term. He will be attending a family reunion in the Caribbean with 11 of his mother’s siblings and their families. This upcoming trip was exciting for him and challenging him in terms of concentration.
When the bell rang, he and the others said good bye and headed off to their classes. The next time I saw Tyrel he was in the dean’s office. He was explaining an incident that happened earlier in the day. The long and short of it is that he hit a fellow student, Malik, in the head with a pipe. Malik was bleeding and was ultimately taken to the hospital. Apparently Malik had stolen something from Tyrel last term, was making fun of TYREL’s family, and was acting like he was going to steal something else. I happen to know MALIK: he is immature and not overly bright.
Tyrel calmly retold this story, aware of what he did wrong. He said he couldn’t take it anymore and was tired of hearing it. Before I went back to my classroom, I spoke to TYREL privately. I told him I was sorry about all that had happened. I hoped he would be okay. And I would be a character witness for him.
While walking back to my classroom, I was shaking my head. What will happen to Tyrel? How could he lose it like that? I thought I knew him. He’s not that kind of person. I am worried for my students.
*Please note names have been changed.