After several hours worth of writing quotations on posterboard and cutting them out in preparation of getting my classroom ready to go, I headed into school today at around noon to start taping. I caught up with a friend in the department, and when I told her that I was getting my classroom set up, she got a sheepish grin on her face.
"Uh, Epiph, I've seen the department schedule, and I don't think you should go about doing that."
Yes, this year I'm "floating," going from classroom to classroom on a cart with all my materials. It's clearly my turn to do it, after four years of having my own classroom, but it was still a surprise. It's going to make things a lot different for me, but after the initial shock, I'm okay with it. My laid back personality is one that would seem to mesh with floating more than some of my more highstrung colleagues, and I like hanging out in the room that will double as both my office and the lunchroom.
Now I have all these quotes and no place to put them, but other that that annoyance, it's sort of nice to have no classroom setup to finish this week. I'll just have to develop an entirely new style of nomadic teaching, that's all. I'm telling myself that this will make me a better teacher because it will force me to grade more quickly and be more organized.
I'll try to forget about my much-sharper-than-I-am colleague who swears that floating last year was a huge factor in her decision to leave the teaching profession this year to go to get a Master's in Library Science.
With my afternoon suddenly free, I gave Bobby a call. I had promised him last week that I'd take him out sometime this week and get his summer reading books. I actually found both of them - the curious incident of the dog at night time and The Things They Carried - on my shelf and gave them to them, so I just decided I'd take him to Staples and foot the bill for some school supplies for him. He's going to be a senior this year and is taking advanced courses for the first time, and he's a little nervous.
This week is the one-year anniversary of his older brother's murder on the streets of Baltimore. Since that time, he went through a spell when he looked like he would be following the same dealing and hustling path as his brother. He was looking to escape, though, and, seemingly, he has. He would hide money for his addict sister last year when the heating bills were looking like they'd be turned off, and he wasn't proud about where he was getting the money. He was arrested and put on probation, the best thing that could have happened to him at that point. It's worked. Now he's got an after school job, he made the Honor Roll last year (including a 98 in my class), and got back into wrestling. In the spring, Bobby was talking about going to College Park, and had been told he was a candidate for a conditional wrestling scholarship to go there (conditional on his wrestling performance his senior year.)
It's also the week of his birthday, so I wanted to see him. The kid doesn't really have anybody, and I've known him now for going on five years, and feel closer with him than with any other student I've ever had. So I picked him up after the short drive from my house - he's practically my neighbor, even though the world of his street is far different than the mayoral world of my street - and we headed out to Staples. But I had to take a detour to the restaurant first to get my tips from Sunday, and talked him into going in and getting a fancy lunch. He had a salmon club and a piece of cake with a birthday candle, and he tried to pay but I refused. We then headed out to Staples, where I told him he had a $40 spending spree to get whatever he thought he would need for the year.
He asked me why I was doing it for him. I told him that this is what this day is about, getting him ready for school and celebrating his birthday. What I wish I could have told him is the following:
Because, Bobby, no one's success will mean as much to me as yours. Because, Bobby, you wrote me a teacher-gram last year that was one of the most moving things ever written to me, and I have it on my refrigerator right next to my Emerson magnets so that I see it every day. Because, Bobby, you've had to go through things that I could never have imagined when I was 16 and 17, and you may not know it, but you're a special, smart kid, and deserve every small leg-up you can get, even the modest help I can give from time to time. Because, Bobby, I want you to see that there's a world outside of Baltimore and want you to get there somehow. Because you're the walking embodiment of why I became a teacher, and of why I teach where I do.
The View From Your Window - Brooklyn, New York, 6 pm
12 minutes ago