Wednesday, November 22, 2006

40 minutes

That's how long it took to get home from ignition on to ignition off. Good time if I must say so myself. Dave wins!

Cookie asks "what are they like?" in reference to my students. They are nice, usually polite, teens. In a small, cozy situation like the one I described yesterday (7 people in my small office can only be called cozy) they are delightful. En mass, as in during dismissal, they can be a true force.

I have the privilege to work in a "magnet" school. Most of the kids are there because they want to be there and want to go on to higher education. In our 25 years we have turned out Doctors and Lawyers and Teachers and many other professionals from a largely immigrant population. Some of our kids are the first in their families to finish high school let alone go to college. They take Advanced Placement classes by the bucket load and most do not flinch at the high standards that we expect of them. Ethnically our students span pretty much all of the groups represented in our fair city. From Bangladesh to Poland to the Dominican Republic and tons of other places, our diversity is truly amazing.

Sally asked how I find the time to do it. I'm not sure if you mean the knitting club or my personal knitting. Since I restarted the club one week ago I have come to realize that I was shortchanging myself and my students by not running it. As an administrator I could easily go all day without interacting with a student. The knitting club brings me into intimate contact with my constituency and grounds me in the realities of our school. I do it to remain grounded and, frankly, to have some fun. If you can find ways to make your job fun, I say do it! If it means that I have to work a little late one day to make up for the hour of club then so be it. If you mean the personal knitting ... why I find the time the same way as anyone else ... at home in front of the t.v., while waiting in lines, pretty much anywhere I can get away with it.

Syl talks about how teens come to see her as a big sister and not an authority figure. I find the same thing happening with my students. They do, however, recognize my authority in the building and my relationship with them actually helps to foster it. When I walk in to a classroom that has some of "my" kids in it, the class comes to attention more quickly and listens more attentively. That is one of the things I forgot the last two years when I let the club slip almost out of existence. The side benefits of the student-teacher bond last for a long time and spread throughout the school in the form of respect-by-association.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

On other topics ... periodically we joke about the books we will write when we retire. Mine will be titled "Wildlife in the Public Schools" and will discuss the perils of squirrels, hamsters, chickens, snakes and the like in a NYC public high school. As a certifiable squirrel wrangler (not certified, just certifiable), I have several amusing stories to tell. Anyone interested in reading them?

Happy Thanksgiving All!


beadlizard said...

I love your squirrel stories!

The teens do respond well when I use my Mom voice. Actually, so do the teachers, though it startles them when I tell them that the lunch knitting group is for students, not adults.

One of the things I admire most about the knitters is they help each other. The school is rife with cliques and bullying, but those divisions disappear when they come to knit. It is wonderful to see 8th grade fashionistas sitting next to and chatting happily with 6th grade nerdboys. Cool! --syl

Dave Daniels said...

Yay! I WON! I WON!
How do you commute? (By car, public transit, bike, walk?)
Have a great Thanksgiving down there. My regards to the whoel family!

Cookie said...

Thank you. Since I do not interact with that generation at all... unless trying not to hit them with the car counts... I wonder what they are like when they aren't trying to cause traffic snarls or looking for lunch. *L*

I think it's wonderful that you are not letting yourself lose sight of the kids. I would think they are a big part of wanting to go into teaching. Yet it's easy to get busy and forget them at times.

I hope ya'll have a lovely Thursday.

Susan said...

I'm sure the fact that you really do love your job and love the kids makes a big difference. Respect can come from fear, but how much more powerful equal respect can be. Or something. I know what I'm trying to say .. sometimes it just doesn't make it to the keyboard.

And yes...I want to hear squirrel stories.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Of course we want to hear the squirrel stories!