Back to school and butcher knives

So, I went back to school today. Since I’m a high school teacher, I never graduate. I told my students the story of my first day teaching high school, which happened to be in Imperial Beach (lovely kids there, all of whom are no longer kids…) Anyway, that first day, I looked up from taking roll and saw a kid standing over another kid, holding a butcher knife. He wasn’t just showing off his culinary hardware. He intended to inflict harm.

I realized today while telling this story that teachers really do have to deal with a lot of stuff that no one prepares them for. I was telling someone the other day about our regular lockdown drills, how we all have to get down on the floor, away from the windows, and we have to wait for the sheriff’s SWAT team to come in and give us the all-clear. People are horrified that this is de rigeur in high school. I am too. But it is what it is. Nobody teaches you how to deal with lockdowns, butcher knives, or other assorted horrors.

If you think about the miracle of public high school, you realize that everyone in the country should be thanking God or Buddha or the Great Cheezit that somebody wants to teach. It’s harder and harder every year. I’m not whining. I’m stating a fact. As someone smarter than me once said, “you don’t have to take books away to get people to stop reading. They’ll do it on their own.” I’m probably paraphrasing Ray Bradbury from Fahrenheit 451

Nancy Pearl, super librarian action figure. My hero.

. But it’s true. Only a handful of kids in my classes today (out of 195 kids) actually like to read. Most confessed to hating it. Many confessed to never having read a book at all. How to do deal with that butcher knife?

If you have kids, buy their teachers some kleenex or pens. And every once in a while, say thank you. And remember that in a world where reading has become as fashionable as the plague, and about as onerous, teachers are among the last people who will require your kids to think about or read things they don’t want to read or think about.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jon ( know who!)
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 01:14:21

    I noticed you left out the part where you pulled out your Glock and said to the butcher knife wielding brat: “Go ahead. Make my Day” in your best Clint Eastwood growl.


  2. Stacey
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 02:17:24

    Thanks — I loved this, and was feeling very much the same (only aimed at 2nd graders who act like they’re 5th graders — what the HECK!).


  3. Darla
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 18:00:39

    I was lucky to be part of that Mar Vista Crew you taught, not the knife part, but the regular crew. I have to tell you that with out teachers like you who care it could be so much worse.
    Thank you for being wonderful you and I feel blessed to have not only been your student but to be your friend all these years later.


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