Being always close to Science in a sort of snuggly cosy hug i used to feel often during the days before the innocent veil had lifted and i had discovered Math was necessary to proceed with science , i still like to analyse whatever happens during the days and see if i could have predicted it.. and realise there was no way i could predicated the events that had occurred in school today.
Yes, there was the issue of sleep deprivation but the curly haired Humpty Dumpy who walked in and out of the 8th grade classroom screaming at me that i am a bad teacher because i had told him for the 20th time to put away the mobile phone and stop playing games , had brought me to tears and then there were fears as his father was making his way to school after i had told the boy he is acting LIKE an idiot.
Not poetry fans, my pupils also failed to understand my comparing their behaviour of beating each other up in class to dog fights and took it as a profound insult worthy of a parent calling school to complain i had compared her son to a dog, a boy who had not spent a moment sitting at a desk writing but was constantly running around in frenzy cursing like a sailor.
A boy recovering from a serious car accident on crutches then said that i deserve congratulations for attempting to teach them despite all the interruptions and the class then applauded me, which made me cry even more.
The boy’s father was a huge version of his son, he was angry with his son but also with me and the boy crying caused me to cry again as i had apologised for telling his son he is acting LIKE an idiot .
Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger and so after crying, i had continued to try to teach 9th grade, was told by a pupil he did not want an Ashkenazi -European Jew-teaching him , he was obviously of middle eastern jewish origin, wonderful, this what our ancestors had escaped antisemitism for, more racism in our ancestral home.
The only way to deal with wild pupils is to wear my British mask and show no feelings and after the crying in the morning , i had run out of tears, and was now beyond anything but the will to teach those who had wished to learn.
I chose to teach a text about the Williams sisters , the African American tennis champion sisters, hoping to encourage my Ethiopian students who seemed unimpressed and to also stop the racism that came their way..
I had spent the past 20 years living in Europe dealing with antisemitism and anti Israel sentiments so this new experience of the auto immune disease of hating whoever is not of the same Jewish ethnic origin as you by young Israeli pupils in my class who also come from a rather challenging background frustrates me to say the least. I can not tolerate racism and had sent a pupil out , against the rules which say not to send pupils out, because i could not stomach racist remarks aimed at an Ethiopian boy by an angry dark skinned pupil, probably from middle eastern origin.
Truth is i do not know how to deal with racism at all. I had lived in Queens , New York as a teenager attending public school with children of every country on earth and then in central Tel Aviv where racism is frowned upon and never showed its ugly head in school .
In the army where i had met young women from less progressive areas in Israel i had encountered different attitudes but still never anything that came close to the ethnic hate amongst those pupils, a hate that sadly went unattended to by the principal or teachers.
I am recovering from today’s ordeals determined to do better, i prepared the lessons better, printing in large letters key words ,and deciding not to allow a few disturbing pupils to ruin it for the ones who actually seek to learn.
I found myself comforting a pupil who had felt overwhelmed by English and had confessed he hated English.
Tomorrow i will inquire which topics are popular with the teenagers and will attempt to add topics they like.
Whatever does not make you resign from teaching high school makes you strong.
I will try to accept i can not mold the pupils into being angels who love everyone regardless of skin color, ethnic origin etc. but i will try to express a strong disdain for anyone treating anyone else badly for any reason, and then try to keep it together and not shatter into small pieces …after all i have made it this far, two weeks and i am still going back and learning from this more than i had learned in my life, that there are people who think completely different and who raise their children in a completely different way than i had been raised, not liberal, not tolerant, not loving education, not reading “The new yorker”, not attending piano lessons or classic music concerts, not seeing shows on Broadway. I was lucky, not everyone is but everyone deserves an opportunity to grow.