30 August 2009

"Miss Newman, I have a question!"

For those of you who may not have known, I started teaching school two weeks ago. It is exhausting for more than one reason. The hours alone are hard because I have never, ever, been a morning person, and I hate going to bed early. I have still found, thus far, that it is something that I mostly enjoy. It is a job that allows me a certain degree of freedom. I get to talk about books all day, which is great. I get to organize and color code and, most importantly, I get the chance to help (hopefully) some students believe a little more in themselves than they would have if they hadn't been in my class. It's frightening and exciting and fun and obnoxious and any number of things all in one day. But, like I said, I mostly like it.

There is one thing that tends to frustrate me more than other things, though, and that is the repetition. The school I am working at was shortsighted enough not to give their students planners. I don't understand this. When I was in school we were given planners every year starting in 5th or 6th grade so that we could learn to write down our assignments. It's no wonder, really, that so many of my students forget to turn things in: they have no where to write it down.

Even so, I do what I can to remind them. We have certain due dates that happen every week. We have a vocabulary test every Thursday. They have a reading log due every Friday. I keep both of these due dates on the board all week in red so that they are seen. We repeat these due dates before they leave class.

We do this repetition with lots of things. Papers I hand out. Worksheets. Procedures. We repeat over and over again because there is always someone spacing out or not paying attention.
And yet there are still questions about things we've reviewed. "Wait, what am I supposed to do with this worksheet?"/"We had a reading log due today?! You never told me! I never got one of those logs!" The impatient part of me wants to take that student to the board and make them point out where I write down assignments every day so that they can see it. I want to tell them that it is not my job to give them worksheets whenever they miss them, but theirs. I want to start charging a dime for every worksheet I have to re-give.

But then that little voice in my head that sounds like Liam Neeson says "Joni. . . how often do I have to repeat things for you?" And then, feeling both guilty and humbled, I repeat directions again because it is not fair of me to be impatient with my poor, overwhelmed brood after only a few weeks of new responsibility. They will learn to take directions better, and I will learn to give them more efficiently. And in the mean time, I will learn to take directions better myself.

(Small side note: I have also started an anonymous teacher blog that I update somewhat more frequently than this one. If you are interested in reading said anonymous blog and promise not to give me away so that I don't get sued and all that jazz, let me know, and I would be happy to send you the link.)

04 August 2009

In touch with their inner Oprah

On the flight home from England I had a plethora of time at my fingertips in which to watch some of the greatest movies currently off market including the latest Dragon Ball Z and Duplicity. Our plane was older and didn't have the handy TV on the back of the other person's seat feature so I had little say in the matter. The only movie I had even the slightest amount of interest in was He's Just Not That Into You, a movie that was funny at times, disturbing in others, and overall rather insulting to single women as every woman in the movie - EVERY woman - was pathetic and desperate and stupid.

It's something that's kind of bothered me ever since. I've realized that one of the biggest problems of being an imaginative female who likes to read is that every literary hero - or nearly every literary hero - that I "fell in love with" growing up (or heroes that my friends love) - were written by a woman.

Think about it.

(That Vampire)

Heck, even Harry Potter could probably go on that list to an extent. All the men who are held up in modern woman-dom were penned by women. And re-penned by women, because, let's face it, that kind of speech perfection is not obtained in one editing.

And the more I think about it, the more dangerous it feels. Or, at least, the more potentially dangerous it feels. Take, for example, the following links:

Normal Mormon Husband
is a favorite blogger of mine, and he wrote this post a while ago about how he's decided that women are obsessed with (That Vampire) because he is, in fact, a woman. Debate this joke as you will, but when I stumbled upon the response these girls had in a "That Vampire" lexicon, I started to get more than a little concerned. These girls defend this fictional character as though their lives depended on it. They speak about him not just out of literary admiration, but out of a kind of obsession that borders on something that seems rather unhealthy - at least to me. (For example: "lmao that was entertaining, but not entirely accurate…i would just like to point out that bella notices consistently throughout Twilight that Edward does not talk like a normal teenager; you wanna know why??? BECAUSE HE WAS BORN IN 1901!!! of course his vocabulary is more refined than your average male! he is almost a century old, and he was born in a time when men WERE generally more “refined”…tsk tsk tsk, this man needs to do his research!!!")

Granted, this is coming from the girl who has admittedly read Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables more times than I am years old (by a lot) - but I would like to think that I do know the difference between fiction and reality - between fun trivia and not letting "dreams" get in the way of "reality."

I guess, then, that this post is almost the antithesis to my previous post: dreams (or dream men) are all fine and good, but I think the female population would do well to remember that carefully constructed and edited men in breeches no longer exist, and may not have ever existed. It is not fair to the "less-fair sex" to expect the unexpectable.

It reminds me of a scene from an episode of Road to Avonlea in which the town has been half taken over with obsession over a Valentine's dance at the hotel. Background: Boy named Gus asks girl named Felicity. Felicity says 'yes of course'. Boy named Arthur also asks Felicity. Felicity says she's already going with someone else, but thank you very much, and proceeds to be happy about two men fighting over her. New girl named Suzette moves temporarily into the hotel and causes a bit of a stir because she falls for Gus.

About half way through the episode, Gus shows up to see Felicity at home and to apologize for something. Felicity brings up Suzette's flirting with Gus. Gus says "Well, she may be a lot prettier than you, Felicity, but that doesn't matter to me!"

Felicity slams the door in his face.

In the background you hear Felicity's mother say "Felicity - if you slam the door on every boy who puts his foot in his mouth, you're going to need iron hinges."

I guess, then, my point is this: I wonder at how many girls (or boys) have built up ideals for themselves that don't exist, and end up passing by perfectly good opportunities because they are too besotted with something fictional. I don't think it's fair for either side to expect perfection in their companion. I would certainly hope that, if I ever say something stupid (I know, dream big,) or don't look my best, or make a mistake, that my guy won't think less of me, any more than I hope that I would do the same for him. It's all a matter of perspective and patience - recognizing that sometimes our dreams should be altered to fit reality - and coming to the realization that, in the end, reality is often better then some kind of sterile, fantastical dream.