The second week of a new semester is almost here and we are well into the grind again. I only put in nine or ten hours left work early daily this past week and it was wonderful to have a life. I think I preserved some of the precious energy reserve I gathered during the short break. But now I must work today — Saturday — or have misery and gnashing of teeth next week. Frustration! I’m sure the other educators out there can relate to that from your own experience.

Sometimes I feel I’m getting too old for this. There were two fights this week in my hallway (one involving some blood) and all four boys are in the SAME class together: mine. Oh bother! as Pooh would say. I’ll just have to try to keep them apart on the seating chart.

I must say, it was strangely gratifying to work with a little boy, one on one, tenderly care for his wounds, help him quit hyperventilating (he was literally trembling with rage and fear), and stem the tide of blood streaming from his little nose. Maybe it’s the mother in me. Maybe that’s because my little boy, the one I single-parented for two decades, is now twenty-one, grown, married, and shortly shipping out. Maybe it’s because we’ll live in separate states for the first time since he was born. Maybe I miss him…. But I digress in the extreme. I really do think that puny, impulsive, and sweet 12-year-old felt better because of my ministrations. Thank God that I was on my plan time and could leave my classroom. And thank God that fights are normally rare on our campus.

One of the fighting boys is 15 years old and in 7th grade. His story is fascinating in a sad way–he just got out of two years in prison and was raised in the gang life from birth in another state. He has essentially lived as an adult since he was very young. He’s moved here to a foster family because he’s really trying to go straight. I very much admire his efforts and he’s doing quite well, considering. But it’s extremely hard for him to follow our rules, as you can imagine. He’s dangerous and I’m not fooling myself about that. But even though he’s one of our most difficult ‘cases,’ I’m reminded that this group of kids (the ones struggling against all odds to get a better life) is one of the reasons I like the work. Most of the time. Sometimes. The rest of the time it’s the geekery and the gadgetry that keep me interested. Laughter.

All that being said, believe or not, most of my classes look to be far less difficult behavior-wise than last quarter. It was the worst on record. It seemed that only about 10% of them wanted to learn. Okay, I admit that I was less than thrilled to teach them some days, too. I am hopeful that this quarter will be better. I am grateful. Onward and upward!

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