Sunday, May 29, 2011

To quote my grandmother: "Why are teenagers so stupid?"

When I started blogging, I promised myself that I would not allow it to turn into a mock-my-students blog, and believe me, I've got enough material to take the blog down that road.

This blog is supposed to be about writing--my writing specifically. And it's been relatively easy to keep it all about me.

But today, I can't resist.

Inspired by Lana Banana's post, I must share the greatest student quote EVER.

At the high school where I teach, we are in the final stages of the senior project. It's a district requirement for graduation; an assessment of the cumulative skills of seniors. Every senior must complete it--no exceptions.

Here's what the babies are required to do within a semester: write a 6-page research paper on a topic of their choosing, take the content of that paper and put it into practice for 15-30 hours of fieldwork under the guidance of a mentor, and then present their experience to a panel of judges from the community. This project is designed to push students out of their comfort zone, make them responsible for their learning, and help them explore career paths--a cutting of the umbilical cord, if you will.

And it's an excellent torture device for us teachers; only the most sadistic (and masochistic) of us get to teach it.

I've been teaching it for 14 years.

As my colleagues who are also mothers have said, "The senior project is like childbirth: unbelievable pain that results in the greatest of rewards."

Right now, I and my fellow SP teachers are in hard labor.  The final presentations are Thursday and Friday of this week.  Tensions are high because teenagers are freakin' out, and teachers have had it. Because the senior project is so individualized, teachers are scrambling to solve a variety of "hitches" spiced up with an abundant amount of teenage drama and a barrage of parent phone calls wondering why we can't dedicate hours of our time to their lovely child who up until now hasn't done DICK.

So let me be a little more specific: senior project teachers are currently akin to schizophrenics in hard labor. Without our medication. And the anesthesiologist is nowhere to be found.

I know that on Thursday and Friday, it will be rapturous as I watch my students march off to their presentations and return glowing and elated. There will be laughter, hugs, and camaraderie. It's the type of day that reminds me why I stay in teaching (I went into it to pay bills until I got published--ha, ha).

But right now . . . the pole as a source of income is looking better and better.

Right now . . . I want to change "what I'm looking for" criteria on my online dating profiles to "an elderly, rich man with a delicate ticker."

Students are currently practicing their presentations, which covers everything they have learned and highlights the specific skills they have acquired.

One of my students did his project on rap music and poetry.  In his research paper, he justified rap as a legitimate form of poetry that adheres to the traits of great poetry as outlined by the masters. For his fieldwork, he took an online poetry class, wrote his own song, and recorded it. Overall, I thought this project to be pretty good.

But, this is how he started his presentation (and here is the greatest student quote EVER): "Poetry has been around before literacy. Ya know, back when everything was oral? Ya know, before Christ."

He finished his presentation by plugging his iPod into my portable speakers and rapping for five minutes. No mention of his paper; no mention of the skills he learned during his fieldwork. Even if I had had an Urban Dictionary on hand and several gang members to act as consultants, I still wouldn't have had any idea what he was talking--excuse me--rapping about.

At this point, I just want the doctor to come in and say, "Fuck it. We're doing a Cesarean."

So, in honor of the end of the school year, when teachers are exhausted, crawling toward the finish line, piles of students on their backs, I invite my community of educators to share those moments that justify the title of this blog series. I need the laugh.

Shit, we all do.

1 comment:

Please validate my existence.