OK…It’s 2008 and I am two days from a new batch of students. This happens twice a year every year and I still hate it. It takes me a while to “warm up” to my students and to find the best techniques to engage them and (God help me) entertain them. And that is why I hate this time of year.
A fresh batch of faces staring up at me with nothing in their heads but questions and preconceived notions of what the class is all about, what I am all about and how they intend to behave during class. And all of them are so connected with some form of communication that they look to me and their other teachers to be just as entertaining as what is on their iPod or as informative as their next text message.
Of course cell phones and MP3 players are not allowed in school but that doesn’t stop anyone. Ever. I have had students who have not only let a phone ring during class but actually answered it. And they got mad at me when I told them to hang up.
Because of the media society we have created in this country the very idea of NOT having instant gratification for our entertainment needs is looked upon as old fashioned or “out-of-touch.” There are two things that I do just to get a reaction from my students. I start talking about cell phones and then announce that I do not own one. I get reactions ranging from stunned, glazed over looks to downright heartfelt anger. Just as I cannot understand how a teenager can feel actual anger over the idea of not owning a cell phone, they cannot understand that I have no need to feel “connected” at all times.
So I hate this time of year and I get over it pretty quickly. We come to our agreements, collective and individual, and the kids soon learn that TV isn’t rocket science, that I am not mean just because I have some rules and that learning about TV can be fun.