I'm teaching some "alternative curriculum" now, in a class we call SUCCESS. This means that instead of social studies or study hall, six boys who haven't found success in regular ed classes or typical special ed classes come to me for lessons in anger management, communication, job skills, etc. One of my goals is to get them feeling like they are important parts of something; the class, our school, their community. Part of this experience means that we are out and about in the school together, helping out on school-wide projects, or just together because I can't trust them to walk down the hall without talking loudly, shoving each other into lockers, forgetting to get back to class, etc.
They are a motley crew, for sure; baggy pants, over-sized t-shirts, sullen looks. A friend and colleague commented recently (smiling), "Barb, whenever you're walking down the hall with your students, you look like gang." That's right; it's me and my"crew." To me, they aren't really scary anymore; they are more like unruly puppies; barking, chewing on stuff, and wrestling very chance they get (which is never, if I can help it.)
One thing we're doing to raise money for field trips and such is selling concessions at the girls' basketball games after school. I usually only take one student at a time for this (one is plenty), but we all work together to pop the popcorn and set up the table, etc. in the last hour of the school day on those days. It can be very stressful accomplishing this task with six boys, at least three of whom who are hyper, loud, impulsive, and/or oppositional.
The other day, when we were setting up, the local "milk man" came to fill up his vending machine near the table we were setting up. He was very friendly and introduced himself to me, because he was new and would soon be filling my Student Council ice cream freezer. The boys were fascinated with the workings of the vending machine and asked all kinds of questions (including the predictable hint, "What do you do with the extras?" and the bold, "Do you have any extras?")
Two days later, who should I see at the freezer outside my classroom but Dave, the milkman. As he handed me the invoice for the ice cream, he said, "You sure have your hands full." It took me a minute to remember what he was talking about. I smiled. He added, "Seriously, I don't know how you get out of bed in the morning!" This cracked me up, and I laughed hard, out loud.
See, that's why I love doing what I do; people appreciate it. When people tell me, "I don't know how you do it," it makes me feel special. I love working with these kids. I know I'm doing what I was destined to do, and I consider the opportunity a gift.
But don't tell my boss that; I want him to think he owes me.