Sitting Next to My Principal on the Train
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but I am prepared to debate that it is instead despair that inspires downtrodden souls to make any attempt to better their situation.
Ok, I’m not quite downtrodden…Let’s say I’m down, but not out. Assessing the situation I notice I’ve made it in the teacher world for over three months, and have less than three weeks until X-mas break. Fabulous; at this rate I’ll be prematurely grey before I’m 25.
My principal sat next to me on the subway train after school today, and she’s new enough to not disdain chatting with a teacher while off the clock. “Ms. C, do you laugh enough?” she asked me. I pondered over the term “laugh” and wondered if bitter laughter counted. I obviously don’t, and I find very little funny about students who will spent the next 4 years in the 9th grade before dropping out, getting pregnant, getting high, getting shot.
I was having a big issue with a female student in my class: young, pretty, a great fighter and liar…and full of so much potential that I can’t help but take it personally that she’s failing. I get the sense that if this girl put an ounce of effort into actually staying in class and not promenading the halls scratching girls and taunting boys she’d be passing all her classes.
By the grace of god I got this chick alone for a minute in the hallway, and really set my mind to giving her a piece of my mind. I only had a minute because she was cutting class and her cronies were dragging her out of the school. I tried to impress upon her everything I was feeling; from taking her failure personally to my ENORMOUS faith in her inner strength and intelligence. I told her I wish I had her strength when I was her age, I told her nothing could make me happier than her success (and meant it); and all the while I received a blank-eyed stare.
“Miss, I’ll stay Thursday after school, I promise. Just let me GO!” I sighed, wished her a good afternoon and went into my classroom to collapse at my desk.
My principal’s reaction, when I came to the end of the story was very simple…To appreciate the moments when my classroom is peaceful and rest assured that eventually, over time, that sort of message will get through to the student. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
I felt, then, the true despair of youth; when you’re too new to fully know your limitations, and too inexperienced to appreciate tiny triumphs.