I’m on a grading deadline so I need to limit my writing today. Hence, a timed prompt:
The writing prompt is to list as may pet peeves as you can for 10 minutes, and then to list as many blessings or things you are grateful for as you can in another 10 minutes. I’m not doing mine in list form because freewriting form will make me keep writing, so here goes.
Currently I’m at work, and I could write all day about the things that drive me crazy here. The teachers who call in sick too much, especially those who are shameless in taking repeat Fridays and Mondays off and breezing back in with not even a tiny cough to their name. The teachers who “mail it in,” as we say around here, or cut corners in ways that are detrimental to their students’ learning like showing lots of movies or having lots of days dedicated to “essay writing” when the students are just using the time to goof off or surf the web on their laptops. The teachers who don’t assign a lot of work because they don’t want to grade it. The teachers who give us a bad name and live up to the (otherwise crazy) perception that teachers have it so good. Yeah, I really don’t like those teachers.
Also the colleagues who have no sense of social cues and keep jabbering on and on about nothing when you’re clearly trying to work in a limited physical space that requires you be near them. Oh I’d love to hear more about your blather–please go on. Let me just turn up the music on my headphones and move my head a little lower so my nose is actually touching this huge pile of papers. Will that send the message?
Students who do no work. Students who pretend to do work but text or surf the web when they’re supposed to be working. Students who make appointments with you and don’t show up. Students who ask you what the homework is right after you’ve spent five minutes going over it in excruciating detail–and it’s also posted on the board. Students who are snotty with the peers or with you. The ones who are mean to the freshmen. The ones who don’t return their lunch trays and actually make it a point to sneak off without doing so. The ones who interrupt your point with a tangential question: “What time is lunch?” The ones who take forever to make a simple point. The ones who don’t ever raise their hand.
Road-ragers. I hate them. They are intent on ruining my day. They’re a strange breed, and I don’t see them too often, but then when you least expect it, they’re there, ruining my day.
Long lines in stores when I only have one item to buy. The inner dialogue deciding whether or not to leave. The waiting. The waiting. The waiting. I’m not a patient person.
Days when I have to post and I’m completely uninspired. Like today and everyday for the last few weeks. A dry spell. When will inspiration hit? Maybe it’s related to that big stack of papers taunting me still.
Finishing a pile of papers is lovely. Don’t think about whether students will read your comments or how many turned in stuff late or not at all. Look at how neat the pile is and think about how some were actually good and the ones that surprised you. Don’t wonder if their parents helped or paid tutors to write it for them. Plan on the next in-class writing assignment, trust a little, and praise frequently. I love that I have lots of students I can praise. I love the students who show up with smiles, thrust their hands up with ebullience to share a story or example, and applaud enthusiastically for their peers’ presentations. I love when they say “thank you” after class. I am grateful when their writing gets better, their test scores higher. I like when they show up to their appointments or make them in the first place.
Newman is my colleague, and so are some very good friends. They make me laugh with their stories and jokes, the way they mimic the teachers who drive us crazy, the way they keep me going. They show me how it should and could be done. They share ideas and help when I’m overwhelmed. They whisper gossip in my ears and add supplies to my chocolate drawer. They tell me it’s ok not to take it all so seriously. They leave early on a sunny day or call in sick to grade and tell me afterwards, making it ok for me to do that when I need to as well. They remind me what matters: teaching, being present, forgiving, connecting, doing a good job. They keep me in line. They remind me of what I have to give and inspire me to give it.
I love having a full tank of gas. I appreciate food in my fridge, a weekend around the corner, a free block with nothing scheduled–a rare but perfect treat.
I’m glad for my health, for one foot or one word following another, and for my mother’s voice at the end of the line after each day of work. I appreciate going to bed each night, the way my toes reach for the edges of the blanket and the reach of my hand for Newman’s. I love to sleep. I am grateful for day’s end and the quiet it brings.