The Watchers on the Wall.
Being back on campus after the Homecoming Dance was pretty odd. For one thing, the student that I was worried about didn’t make it to class today, which was troubling. Tomorrow will find me looking into the matter, but in truth, it is possible that things are Way Out of My Jurisdiction as the English Teacher. If that’s the case, I’m a little saddened.
One of the administrators thanked me for my efforts, which was nice, but odd. I was signed up to supervise, so I supervised. I stayed until the job was done, until all the students were home and the campus secured. I suppose that only one other teacher went to that length, but still, it seemed like being thanked for coming to work. I generally like the Admin Staff at this location, they work hard, and generally seem to appreciate people who work hard in turn.
The students seemed to think that this was the kind of thing that “could happen.” They expressed a sort of sober concern that this might affect future school activities, and went about their business as normal, perhaps a bit subdued in tone. As the day wore on, other supervisory considerations rose their heads, that hadn’t been very pronounced before this, and I realized that we were successfully at the Eight Week Mark.
At every school that I have taught at, once you hit Week Eight there is a sort of “stepping up” of the students’ conduct, in terms of misbehavior. It is almost like some sort of Hive Mind approach to testing limits and guidelines, where the Collective Unconscious just decides it is time to see what will fly, and what won’t. To that end, it’s clear to me that in part the administrators may in fact have to deal swiftly and harshly with my student from Homecoming in order to send a message to the Student Body, or Collective Mind, as the case may be.
At my old school, we did NOT do this. A rapid result of that was the proliferation of truly negative conduct, resulting in the Plague of Haters that became the last months. Like a Zombie Outbreak, you need to respond to the initial crop of Haters with a strong Impulse of Main Force, a show of strength that cannot be easily countermanded…and then, you need to construct a sort of Wall, to keep the Haters out.
Obviously, this is what the art is about. Somebody has to man that Wall, to keep the Haters out. Yesterday’s art showed another section of the Wall, this one a more symmetrical one. I feel bad for that poor rube of a watchman, with his noodle cloak…his armor lacks Tenurite, or even real armor…just sort of a quilting, and he seems as naive as he is “vincible.” I couldn’t say that he has any obvious superpowers, except for the ability to consume large quantities of lunch at a rapid pace. He’s the kind of “wet behind the ears” recruit that tries hard, and is earnest, but not really bringing the thunder like Achilles on the battlefield.
There are a lot of them in education, to be sure. Late in my own career, I wonder at the similarities in the things that discourage me, and these “newbies on the Wall.” I know for a fact that its the students that you invest in, seriously, who make a seriously bad life changing decision, that are a “game changer for many of them. As I think about Homecoming, and today’s events (which were NOT that bad, by the way) I find myself in the same train of thought. Considering the investment of my time, my mental energy, my caring in young people with their whole lives in front of them…
…and the impulsivity to theoretically toss it all aside in one moment. What makes this a big deal to me right now is teaching High School, versus Middle School. Middle School is lower stakes, it is the Land of Second Chances. In High School, a bad ten week report can bench you from a team for ten weeks, a bad decision or grade can change whether you go to college or not. It’s weighty, and a hefty responsibility. It makes the need to keep the Haters out all the greater, since the stakes are so much higher.
The newer teachers seem to get that point, strongly, in a way that I’ve lost connection with over the years. The reconnection Idealistically is important to me, because it seems to mean that I haven’t gotten jaded, haven’t separated from the students like other educators. The connection of thought is hard to process though, because when I speak with my junior colleagues, who are one or two years into their careers and significantly younger than myself…I find little common ground to speak to. The personal relationships at the professional level just aren’t coming forth, and that makes it hard to find a true common ground.
A lot of heavy thought, for this post.