Monday, September 08, 2008

Attack of the ROUS-es

Two and a half weeks into teaching I have already been thrown to the mercy of the ROUS-es (Ridiculous Oratory and Uncomfortable Shoes). The first encounters happened quickly. School began on a Thursday, and by Friday afternoon, I had broken blisters on the backs of my heels. Lesson learned: Do not break in a new pair of shoes at school, no matter how comfortable they may have felt in the store. As for the Ridiculous Oratory...well, let's just say I've heard it at length from someone whose job it is to deliver it, and, no, I'm not speaking of any of my administrators or colleagues. Of the two, I would endure the broken blisters any day. Lesson learned: There's a perfectly appropriate time to lock yourself into the French teacher's room and engage in unauthorized multi-lingual...expression.

The teaching is a mixed sort of experience. I teach 7 class periods a day, three of which are the same course. This means I have five different classes for which to prepare, and herein lies my struggle. I am a depth person, a person who values quality over quantity. In the past two and a half weeks it has been becoming abundantly clear that this is a path to sure burnout when it comes to a teacher's job in the public education system, at least for the first one to three years (the time estimate is based on input from other teachers). I stay late most nights, go back to the school to plan on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, and most of the time I hit some point at which my mind balks and simply closes down at the sheer amount of information I'm expected to convey and the information I absolutely must assimilate, myself. This is the bad news, the struggle.

Teaching does have its upside, too. My personal upside the past couple of weeks has been the debate--actually a communications--class. I didn't expect this, but the five students who are in it are more good natured and willing than I ever might have expected or even hoped. They don't strike me as particularly likely to hang out together in a general social setting, but they work (and banter) well together in class and with me, and I am very, very grateful for them. The creative writing class is usually fun, again good natured, and is small, also, which allows us to do more experimental types of things like going outside to write or watching the kindergarteners' very first gym class for character sketch material. I'm hoping the small size will allow us to workshop as a class, as well. The folklore class at 8:30 in the morning is more of a challenge due mostly to the time of day. We've covered fool tales and riddle tales and lying tales and story tales so far, and I think we're going to dive into fairy tales next. Because we live in the Ozarks, I would love to look at some specifically Ozarks folktales, but the only ones I have acutally studied were in a course at MSU entitled "Bawdy Ozark Folktales". The course was a hoot; we used Vance Randolph's book, Pissing in the Snow and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I don't think that would fly for a high school class. Maybe I can get my hands on a copy of Who Blowed up the Church House instead.

Some of you reading this are familiar with the kind of stress related issues with which I tend to deal. If you are, let me just say that prayer would not be inappropriate at this juncture. I'm dealing, but barely. Enough said.