Thursday, February 24, 2005

Taking a well-deserved week off

This week, I've had something I never had all of last year in Marysville: a BREAK! Both districts I work in have a mid-winter break this week, and it's been wonderful. Granted, I haven't gotten a whole lot of rest, as Sylvan is still going on, and during the day I've had errands and other stuff to do (that I normally can't get done when there's teaching to be done), but at least I've had a bit of a breather. And I'm making the most of it while I can, as I don't get another break of any sort until spring break in the middle of April.

One very important job I took care of this week was to take my paperwork in and submit it to get a new continuing certificate. This is the certificate that will let me apply for full-time jobs, and not just substitute. Fortunately, all of my fears and the warnings of others proved to be baseless. I did not have to start all over again from scratch with a residency certificate, so I can carry on as if nothing happened last fall (and I wish it hadn't...)

Last week's teaching was a strange one for recognition. I had a couple of students in one junior high's language arts classes recognize me, but they weren't sure from where. It took me a moment to realize that I'd taught them at Sylvan a couple of summers ago. I had another of my Sylvan students in an elementary PE class, and as she was one of the first to walk in, she said, "Hi, Eric," and so most of the rest of that class started calling me Eric as well. I think I managed to convince them to call me Mr. G. for the rest of the class, but they weren't totally happy with it. Oh, well, I only had them for thirty minutes anyway. The second strangest recognition of the week, however, came later that night. I was supporting Laura at a meeting of her team for the 3-Day walk for cancer (find out more about that here, and please feel free to give her large, generous, and frequent donations, if you can), as I'd done the walk a few years ago myself and thought I could lend a hand and advice. Well, the son of our host came downstairs, looked at me quizzically, and said, "Eric?" Understand, I've been doing this long enough now that kids recognize me all the time, but usually as Mr. G. It took me a while to remember that he was a regular Sylvan student (but not one that I usually teach, which is why it took a few moments). It took Laura and the rest of her team by surprise. Small world, huh?

The strangest recognition of the week? I was teaching junior high math one day, and during roll call, one student stopped everything cold and went on very excitedly after recognizing me. I taught her class one day a few years earlier, when she was in elementary school. Now, how many of you remember someone you worked with for one day three years earlier? But the scary part is, I remembered her as well! I have a really hard time remembering people, and students I've worked with for months I can have a hard time remembering just a week later. And of course I can't remember the thousands of students I've ever worked with as a substitute. But her I remembered. That day way back in elementary school, she talked with a bad New York accent and tried to get me to believe that she was from the Bronx. It all sort of fell apart when I asked her what neighborhood she'd lived in, and she had no idea, but she kept it going all day anyway. So, flash forward nearly three years, and we still remembered each other. I guess I made a big impact on her.

There was also one ugly incident, which probably shows that there are still some scars left over from the strike. It was in one of the junior high language arts classes I mentioned earlier (and not the same school as my friend from the Bronx, I might add). The classes were working on debates, and their topic was whether or not student-athletes should maintain a minimum C average. It's an interesting topic, and a lot of good points can be made for both sides. Anyway, in one class, the issue of pro athletes needing backup skills came up, as they can't play forever, and someone mentioned sports strikes, such as the one that has now cancelled this year's NHL season. I mentioned that I had been on strike last year in Marysville, and told them the few bits of information that I cared to bring up. They wanted to know more, and kept asking for more details, and I finally had to say, "I don't want to talk about it any more." I mentioned this a couple of times, but they kept going. I finally had a small flare-up of anger, slammed the papers I had in my hand onto the overhead projector, shouted, "I SAID I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT ANY MORE!" and huffed off to the back of the room to calm down and collect myself. Fortunately, that's as far as it went, and I was able to calm myself down very quickly. The kids were quiet for a bit, and I apologized for my behavior, and that I didn't mean to take it out on them. They really were a good bunch, and I regretted it as soon as it happened. To their credit, they never brought it up again, and I was able to go on and finish up in a pretty good mood. But it all goes to show just how badly things in Marysville affected me last year, I'm afraid. I thought I was fine with it all, but the problems I've had getting certified this year, the long days of both subbing and Sylvan, the lack of money, and everything else seems to be taking its toll. Well, at least I have this break, and once I get my new certificate (I hope), I can work to truly put all that away by getting a real teaching job again.

I see that I've come full circle, which means I should probably wrap up now. So, I'll write again when I have something to say and time to do it, okay?

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