Saturday, August 3, 2013

Walking the Floor

I stood outside, fully dressed, at 7:15 in the morning.  A line of cars led to the school as others whipped in, boot kicking their kids into the parking lot and roaring away. One car barely stopped moving as an eight year old jumped out through an open door.  

The first day of school.  At least the parents seemed pretty excited about it.

I had felt like crying.  I was strangely homesick.  I missed Alec.  I missed my dog.  I did not want to be back at work.  I wanted to be home.  I was relieved that the presence of the students had actually made me feel better.

"See there, she funny," the mammoth sixteen year old called to his friend while we reviewed the syllabus, "we be alright in this class".  I was glad one of us felt confident.

I looked into the familiar, little face of one of my 5th graders.  He looked exactly like his teenage brother that I taught last year, minus the air of assholery.   I never thought that I would see that face and find it sweet.

I analyzed my instructional hours.  An elementary assistant principal had literally walked up, handed me my schedule, then bolted.  School was starting in three days.  I had been begging for a schedule from the elementary since May.  Between my mornings at the elementary and afternoons at the high school, I would be teaching a ridiculous number of hours.  I felt my stomach start churning.  It wasn't fair.  I would have two completely different age groups.  I would be driving between two schools, daily.  I would float into five different elementary classrooms and four different high school classrooms, daily.  Why would I also have three additional instructional hours, literal TEACHING KIDS hours a week, than any Spanish teacher at either the elementary or high school campus', for the same exact pay as the rest of them?

Well, I decided I wouldn't.  Six hours and multiple master schedules later, our hours became much more commiserate.  I stayed nice, but was simply not going down that road again. 

"Ms. Wagner!" a kid from one of last year's classes yelled down the hall, waving.  I was flattered; it was nice to be greeted.  Last year, he told me that a hand motion I was making to describe a vocabulary word looked like a male jacking off.  I knew at that moment that he and I would get a long well.  

"Maestra!"  the little girl called as I entered her classroom.  I couldn't believe it.  I had taught her for two years at my last elementary school.
"Mia!"  I answered, "It is so good to see you.  Did you move?"
"Yes!"  she answered, smiling.
"Well, it looks like you can't get rid of me for Spanish!"

"So, um, just chill with your bad self for a second until the others finish the pretest" I commented, picking up her paper.
"My bad self.....?"  the pretty teenager asked, smiling. 

"SWEET!"  one of my cohorts from the June classes exclaimed when I walked into his classroom.
"We got you for Spanish?!  SWEET!  I can't tell you, seriously, how glad we are".
Are you talking to me?  It was nice.  The elementary had been hurting me, but this was nice. 

During pre-planning, two fifteen year-old girls had busted into the area where I keep my desk.
"We have you for Spanish" they stated.  I didn't want to talk to them.  I was busy.  I started bitching to them about the weirdness of our classrooms this year.
"One period, we are way up on the third floor in a Social Studies room.  Then, another period, I am in some strange conference room thing.  And then!  Oh my God, the last period I have to teach in like a computer lab, it's crazy....I'm surprised we are not having class in the cafeteria...,"
"You nice....she seem cool...," one of the two fifteen year olds stated.  I was surprised.  I knew that my 'coolness' probably would not last for long, but at least they had a good first impression. 

"Hey, Darrius, what are you doing in here?" I asked my bobcat from last year.  It was the middle of class; I was trying to do my thing and I had a random student just walking in.
"Just sayin' hi to you..."
I decided to go with it.
"Alright muchachos, if you don't know Darrius Collier, you are about to".
He whispered in my ear.
"Oh, she, SHE bad.  Cell phone all the time"
"He, he bad too.  Hey bro!!"
Trayvon laughed and waived back.
"Oh, he, leGary, he..."
"He seems cool to me"
"Oh he is.  He a good guy".
Darrius decided to make his exit.
"Whoo!  You got some pretty white girls in this class!"
"No, no Darrius, no.  No sexual harrassment here"
"She!  Bonita!  he said pointing.
"Bonita, bonita, bonita" he continued, pointing at various white girls.
"Suck it, Darrius!"  the black girls yelled, as Elvis made his exit.

"Me llamo Aidan and me gusta fat cats".
So sweet, so earnest.  I could tell he was an Aspy.
"We have three cats and only one of them is fat.  He is my favorite.  He is sick.  He has been at the vet for three days".
"I am so sorry.  You must be so worried.  This must be very stressful".
"Yes, it is".
He finished his "¿Quién soy yo?" little man writing assignment.
At the end, they could decorate themselves.
Instead of a human face, he drew a cat's face with ears.

"Oh...oh, I like this one.."  Emma stated, flipping through my elementary papers at the high school while she waited for me to get my shit together so that we could go home.

"I know.  I think he is going to be a sweet one".