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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Now I Get It!

Ah, high school students….Rowdy, rambunctious, bouncing-off-the-walls, unfocused, scattered. Serious, scared, threatened. Afraid to be seen as not knowing, they are flippant, arrogant, defensive, hiding their incompetencies with bravado, yet still wanting the adults in their world to see that they are not yet with it – they need help. This dichotomy – this set of conflicting needs – to be seen as strong, competent, independent on the one hand yet knowing on a deep, sometimes intuitive level that they have far to go and still need/want guidance, assistance, instruction on the other makes this crew an unsettled, restless, exciting one.

I have new-gained respect and admiration for high school teachers. I am teaching only 2 hours a day, four days a week, for 6 weeks with only 15 students in a class (total of 30). Of course, I spend a good 3-4 hours in the campus Learning Center – making myself available to students and reading and responding to their work. I wonder how the heck a high school teacher can deal with these kids, with this kind of energy 4-6 periods a day, 5 days a week, week after week throughout a semester.

I confess that though I love these students and this experience, I am exhausted by it. I leave at the end of my day thoroughly worn out – mentally and emotionally. Yet at the same time, I am oddly rejuvenated by these students as well. On all counts – this teaching experience is filled with strange juxtapositions.


I don’t like that word, “incompetencies.” These students are not incompetent – they are just not competent – yet. They are evolving, developing and working towards mastery – not of the subject material per se, but of themselves. Their major task is to develop an understanding of who they are, and to gain control and mastery of themselves.

Four weeks into the six-week session, and now I get it: at this level, instruction in writing and writing practice should be in service to the task of developing self-knowledge and self-mastery.


Blogger The Flabbergasted Heathen said...

See, this is why I would love to teach high school.

You have them smart enough to read (hopefully) and figure things out for themselves, but they're at that critical point where they truely learn to think and appreciate learning for learning's sake.

Ever the idelist...

July 12, 2006 8:01 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

bird, those kids may never realize how lucky they are to have crossed your path. On the other hand, they probably already know.

Even more to the point, you have discovered and reinforced some important things about yourself.

I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with you, even though we are far apart geographically. I do envy you, your opportunity to make such a difference in these young lives.

Keep on flapping and swooshing. They need your kind of role model.

July 12, 2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger Mrs. B said...

I agree that education should be about self-discovery. The hard part is "tricking" administration into believing that self-discovery meets the "standards."

July 13, 2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger Pete Bogs said...

as long as their grammar is ok... ;-)

July 13, 2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger disguised said...

Yeah, it's all about the grammar. Forget content.

July 14, 2006 9:59 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

I've never liked all this "competencies" talk, either. Competent defined by whom? for what purpose?

I salute your milk crate shed, and look forward to seeing photos of it, embellished.

July 15, 2006 2:52 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark


boyed!!! am i crazy? i insinuated myself into a poetry duel...and my rivals use flowery language from another time!!! i wrote you back at SK9 and if you have any words of advice send them soon! the time is "nigh" whatever that is - soon im guessing.

grrrrrrrrl im on a mini vacation and of course overdid it last night. funny that you and jae crossd my mind.

(don't hit me!)


July 15, 2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

thou four-footed wit, hast ethereal visions of ample busoms haunted thee? Nay, not etheral, for the busomed ones of which you speak are lewd and wild, and revel in the dusty bars and common streets whenever tis their wont.

Thou needs precious little advice from me, oh beauteous beast! Be not an affable wolf, if such manner of beast truly exist. Hide not thy poison with sugard' words, but spread thou deep,dark, steamin' browns liberally upon the flowered walls. Rock them, roll them, rap them til there is nought but the crusted batch of nature clinging in their eyes and tears stem forth from the smell of thy rottie reveling stench.

To thy own self be true! and study up quick on master shakespeare- who flung many a steamin' brown in his time! we only think his language flowery now - but tis not so!

July 15, 2006 9:58 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

yes yes that is so right on! as i have in my last post i went rappery on em urban style. and will continue on in that way. boyed, you's good! yer the teachy for the beasty! thank you thank you!


July 15, 2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

your second verse there is beauty indeed! elegant! and a meaningful praise. thank you yet again!


July 15, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger CROAK said...

Most people are lucky to be 'competent' in one area of life... so it is all subjective, methinks.

You are a marvel.

YOU are competent.

July 15, 2006 7:39 PM  
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