Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another one done.



I didn't run yesterday, but my legs are sore enough that it feels like I did.  I guess that's what I get for thinking my cute black platform d'orsay pumps would be no trouble to stand in all day.   "Cute pumps" refers to a pair that are a good half a size too small, but that I bought anyway because they were too good to pass up.  And in this case, "all day" refers to a marathon that lasted from 7:15 AM when I burst through the door until about 7:30 PM when I locked up for the night.   Back to School Night.  Not my favorite night of the year.

Before you go getting angry because I burst the bubble that is your perception of teachers and how they are superhuman and love spending their time doing such things, I just want you to know that I love my job.  I love my students, and I love what I get to do.  But Back to School Night is an introvert's nightmare.  Actually, I'd rather have an actual nightmare than stand in front of grumpy-faced parents for an entire evening and try to fit my entire raison d'être into ten short minutes.  I can't tell you how carefully crafted those ten minutes are, either... they need to be full enough that I don't save any "free time" for awkward question-and-answer sessions, but compact enough so that I get through everything in the allotted time and help the parents realize what it is that they're really there to figure out: Is my child's teacher a freak?

I don't know if it's that I started off badly, when it comes to Back to School Nights, or what.  My first one was back in 2002, I was pregnant as the day is long and terrified to speak to my first class of eleventh grade parents.  The first parent question I ever fielded was this, in reference to Catcher in the Rye:

"How dare you teach that filth to my student."

(Which, I'd like to point out is more of an observation or a complaint than an actual question.  Whatevs.)

I responded kindly that this was not only a classic of American Literature, but a district-approved core novel, and that any time a parent does not feel that a choice is appropriate for his or her student, we provide an alternative novel that the student can study.

Apparently this wasn't good enough, because this parent was concerned that I not teach "that filth" to anyone else's kid, either.  Ah, censorship.  She awesomely and inadvertently provided an example of my yearlong theme with her question.  Not that I could share that with her.  Nothing like starting off on the right foot.  I plowed ahead, but it knocked the wind out of me.

Truth be told, I've never had another question like that, but there's always the feeling in my gut that someone is coming in to my classroom to attack me.  And it didn't help that in the afternoon right before Back to School Night I answered an angry parent phone call about a detention (a detention!) wherein I actually had to use the phrase "whoa, you need to calm down and listen first."  The actual talking during each ten minute session at Back to School Night isn't as bad as the empty time between classes when I have to stand and smile and shake hands and try to look busy.  But it's done.  I'm happy I got to meet a few of the parents of the troublemakers and/or lazy bums, because that's not usually the case.  I had real-time grading info to share with a few of them because I collected notebooks yesterday.  That's always nice.

So now I need to get ready and as I do I'm wondering how on God's green earth someone thought it was a good idea for us to have a morning meeting the day after such a draining evening?  If I wasn't such a do-gooder I'd totally ditch out.  But we all know I'm not so I won't even pretend that is going to happen.  Better go get dressed.


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