My Personal Teaching Experience

    After the newness of the first week of school wore off, the students put up an almost unbearable challenge.  A girl flat-out defied me and sicced her mother on me.  Someone set off a stink bomb during a test.  Students from the hall would come in and disrupt the class.  I was bombarded by paper projectiles.  I got an obscene and insulting note.  A generally quiet girl kept hurling her judgment of "You're a bad teacher."  I don't know of any job that entails being so reviled as that of teaching in the public schools these days.  Classes ranged from nothing to bedlam.  I recently saw an esteemed teacher from there who could only say, "This is a tough year."

    At what cost was I taking this abuse?  I had no extra time, so my life came to a standstill — no reading, no computer time, no keeping up with the news, no midweek church attendance, no knowledge of my son's schedule, no volunteer work, no housework.  Stress was ruining my health and making me not be able to eat more than a spoonful of yogurt for breakfast.  My weight was dropping.  I'd stay late doing administrative duties, stay up late doing school work, and wake up before dawn, dreading going back.  Psalms 42, 56, and 80 about tears became very meaningful to me.  Once I got out of the car a strength came over me, and I never lacked for courage or ability, but I was being used up.  Someone else came along that wanted the job.

    Granted, I had no idea what I was getting into.  Public school students typically are tyrants who treat the teacher as an enemy unless they get what they want.  They want to pass the class (but not learn), do as little work as possible, and not have to pay attention.  They make their own fun.  The ones who don't fit that description, and there are some, need to leave the public schools.  With no recognition of authority, true learning is necessarily in shambles, to say nothing of decency and order.

    A excellent book on child training by J. Richard Fugate shows the increasing effectiveness with age of self-control versus a lessening effectiveness of being forced.  Public high school kids have the self-discipline of toddlers, but are too big, loud, sexually driven, and old to make them behave with physical guidance.  They should be able to make themselves listen in class, work the problems for homework, and study for tests.  That would be effective, but no self-control has been developed in epidemic proportions.  This dilemma requires a personal touch, which happens individually, in relationship, and over time.  I'll go that route where I see it and do what I can there.

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Created February 12, 2007.

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