23 April 2007

Crumple. Smile.

Last week was a week of misnomers and emotional juggling with my students: smile, camera on, camera off, crumple everything.

On Monday, V. broke down crying, apologizing for lying to me about her Science midterm. Then I broke down crying and then the mother broke down crying and the three of us stood there, a mess in the hallway, because this is all going to be okay and it's all a part of growing up.

On Tuesday, I did a journal check and discovered that E. sometimes thinks about committing suicide because his parents are often out of town and he's lonely and wonders if it's worth it anymore. I sent him straight to the counselor and he was full of apologies for making me worry.

On Wednesday, I had a great job interview, smile on, but all the way there and all the way back on the subway I couldn't stop thinking about V. and E., both of whom are glass-fragile. Crumple everything. And I wanted to be back at school with both of them and all I could think was- whatamIdoinginterviewingIshouldbestayingwiththemalwaystomakesurethey'reokay- We had a moment of silence at school in memoriam of the Virginia Tech shootings.

On Thursday, I conferenced with kids and broke mostly good news about letter grades and somewhat bad news about conduct grades. Rumors about major bullying in one of my English classes started to be confirmed, ticked off a list, statements filed, counselors and administrators brought in. Another bangin' job interview (smile), this time with me not knowing if I want to be around children because they can be like chickens that peck on the back of one chicken's neck until the head falls off (crumple).

On Friday, major group therapy for the one class, statements from my other class (my homeroom)- horrible news surfacing about assault videos distributed that never made it onto YouTube, about organized bullying clubs with recruitment and goals and an agenda, about a group of kids that didn't feel like they were accountable. It was hard because what can you say? "They were perfect for me. They were great in English class. The problems were small: someone talking too much, the occasional cut down." That's hollow.

American bullying + Chinese indifference = psycho situations like this.

On Saturday, I worked with my local students and that was great because I don't know them. There's a little classroom bonding with the journal shares and talking, but there's not the same level of intimacy of a regular teacher with a classroom of students day after day for the whole school year. It was an emotional relief because every moment I wasn't on stage (teaching, as it were), I've been obsessed with last week, Hell Week, and trying to figure out solutions and how I feel about humanity and what uncertainties will come with the next job.

I spent Sunday trying to get my mind off things. They caught the Columbia University rapist, but I don't think I feel any safer about that school or this school or any school right now.

It's Monday again and I'm ignoring the fact that the school newspaper is due to the printer in the morning. I can't deal with the fact that E.'s mom isn't taking it seriously. I'm worried that the one class really doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. I'm glad that V. is smiling - bright smiles! - again because she's barely done that all year. I'm going to the candlelight vigil my students are holding in half an hour.

Crumple. Smile.

betholindo at 17:53

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