Thursday, June 04, 2015

On Doing What I Do Best

One of the things I have truly missed the past few years is the ability to work with and mentor kids on a more individual basis.  I had that chance in the past when testing and data wasn't the focus like it is today.  And damn, I was freaking good at it.

Case in point...Mr. Bluebird and I don't have biological children.  Never happened for us.  But the groups of kids I taught nine and ten years ago were amazing.  And in that group were some really fantastic kids.  Long time readers may remember Stoopid Boy, Skater Squirt and the Nursing Student, who I mentioned last year.  Two other kids round out that bunch, Paintball Warrior and Farmer Jim.  (I didn't teach Paintball Warrior, but he was roommates with Stoopid Boy and Skater Squirt and was one of Mrs. Eagle's kids.  Stoopid Boy introduced us and the next thing I knew, he was part of my clan.)  These five kids, The Chosens, are my children.  They call, they text, they visit, they come over for Thanksgiving breakfast, they celebrate birthdays, they call with girlfriend issues, job issues, just issues, we talk, we laugh, we go to church, we sometimes even cry.  Hubby and I may not be real Mom and Dad, but we're pretty close.  We love, love, love these young adults.

And it kind of bothered me that I haven't had the chance to really connect with kids on this kind of level since then, with a few exceptions.  A number of us have talked about this lack of connection and for many of us, it's an unfortunate side effect of the pressure we are on to produce test scores and to show continual growth and to test, test, test.  Dang, we're producing some real great test-takers, but at what cost?

So a few weeks ago, The Principal asked me if I would be willing to leave 7th grade science and to take over the In School Suspension position because Mrs. Angel was, finally, retiring.  As The Principal put it, "I want you to use your tough love, school momma charm on these kids."  She also mentioned the fact that since I make such strong connections to kids, "to the point that they are at your house having dinner ten years later", that I would be perfect for the job.

I thought about ten seconds and said YES!

Now for some people, the thought of being in charge of In School Suspension sounds like you get to spend all day with the "bad" kids.  But truth be told, most of the time, these are the kids I do best with.  These are kids who maybe had a lot of tardies, maybe talked back, had a cell phone out, and so forth.  They've made some stupid choices and need a soft, but stern, place to land to get back on their feet and stay out of trouble.  They need someone to spend some one-on-one time with them to get their heads screwed back on straight.

And honestly, these are my people.  I will be spending the next year, doing what I do best...working with kids.

I am, for the first time in a long time, looking forward to next year.