8th grade Monsters

6 11 2007


It’s happened. I have reached that point in the school year where I am mad. A lot. Those of you who teach know that there is a point during every school year when the mood shifts. All of a sudden, these bright, young adolescents who come into my classroom each day become wild ogres whose life-purpose is to torture their teacher.

I just jumped all over my 5th period class. The students trickled in 5 minutes late from P.E. It took them 7 minutes to turn their attention to their bell work after they came in. I watched them laugh and jive in their seats. I watched them throw paper across the room and offer each other a stick of gum or a piece of candy. I watched them silently from the doorway, a hot anger slowly rising to my cheeks. When I finally closed the door–a mild slam really–several of the students noticed and began working, but most of them carried on. I moved across the room to my desk. The conversations around me continued.

“Hey, man. Check this out. Yeah, we did it in wood shop.”

“Ka-CEE! Stop that!” (Kacee popped a rubber bad against her friend’s arm)

“Man, that substitute in Ms. Green’s class sucks. She told Shonda she was stupid. And Shonda was all like, in her face, you know.”

I sat down at the desk. And then I just lost it. “Keep it up, guys. I’m writing down the names of those of you who have failed to begin working on your bell work. Expect your parents to receive a phone call from me this afternoon.”

10 minutes into class, they hop on that bell work like their lives depended on it. Finally. We share some of our sentences (the bell work was a sentence combining activity to get them ready for revising today). So far, so good. Maybe I actually scared them this time.

Then, we move into developing our revision task lists for the day. Okay. One group decided to put Ms. Green on their “to do” list. They marked it out after seeing my eyebrows go up and began composing a more serious list. Things are beginning to move along… until we share our task lists. Now, my students know that if there’s one thing that sends me over the edge, it’s students who don’t listen to each other during share time. Share time is serious business. Share time is sacred. Don’t mess with share time. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. That’s right. Someone messed with share time.

Right now, I am looking over my computer at a host of 8th graders who are diligently copying down their definitions for unit 5 in their Word Skills books. I know, I know. I should have given them a more meaningful punishment than copying definitions, but I was pissed. I hear pages turning, I hear pens scratching out ridiculous, long winded definitions that often times don’t make sense to me. I want to stand up and shout, “I HATE WORKBOOKS!” But I can’t. I have crossed over to the dark side. I may as well be wearing a bun and slapping their desks with a ruler.

Perhaps the 8th grade Monster is me.



3 responses

7 11 2007

Here is what has just happened in my mind: a scene from The Big Lebowski. But now it says, “Don’t f— with the share time.”
Today I told one of my classes this: “You are. Seriously. Literally. KILLING ME.” All while rubbing my temples in an agonized and surely insane-looking manner. Then I was sharp and awful with them. Then I drove home, stopped the car, took a few minutes to gather myself before departing the car for my apartment, and then I got out of the car, got in the apartment, got in my pajamas, and got in the bed to pretend the world didn’t exist for a while.
Sometimes, really, it’s far more helpful to be the monster than the friend, I think. And please remember that I DO wear a bun. And if I had a ruler, I would so be slapping their desks.

7 11 2007

Thank you, Emma, for sharing your own tortuous teaching experience. I should have crawled into my bed yesterday as well. I would have, were it not for horrid smell emanating from the kitchen. We spent our evening searching for the animal that died beneath our house. I am now rubbing my temples in an agonized and surely insane-looking manner. Let’s hang out soon and whine 🙂

20 11 2007


As an ogre myself, I can absolutely identify with your situation. Often the little #$%^%#&^s seem to be begging me to do something mean and horrible to them. And I am not adverse to complying with their requests. I really want to work collaboratively with them, but I am most often put into opposition by them. And I can safely say that my classes and I have worked ourselves to a point of mutual antipathy. I say this not with pride, but with the realization that it will make my every day with them that much harder–that much more difficult. I thank God for friends who are teachers. They understand. BTW, after over 20 years of teaching I can now check off a new reason to send a student to the office. The two words I wrote on the referral–“Simulating Masturbation.” ‘Nuff said.

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