Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why I puffy heart love high school students

I love my job. I love teaching high school students. The hormones, the sweaty palms, the need to fit in. The ridiculous sense of humor, the desire to stand apart and be unique just like everyone else. The different groups, the kids who try so hard to be different…and the kids who try so hard to be the same. The puppy love, the heartache (I don’t love that so much). The goofy jokes, the practical jokes. The surprising conversations and the days where everything seems to go wrong, but then ends up being just right. Andy commented a few weeks ago about my love of tv shows that deal with the school experience—namely Glee and Friday Night Lights. He thinks that they are too extreme and dramatic in their portrayal of high school. He can’t believe that students actually have lives like they are on tv….and to some extent, I agree. But I see the moments of truth in them.

I see the boy with no father, trying to help his mother and do the best he can to make her proud and to get more from life, like Finn on Glee.

I can see the girl who feels stifled by her small town and the reputation of her parents, like Julie on Friday Night Lights.

I see the boy who wants desperately to have a better life, but keeps getting dragged into trouble, like Vince on FNL.

Or the girl who wants so much to be perfect that she alienates those around her, like Rachel on Glee.

The struggles with weight, with eating disorders, with suicidal thoughts. Those are real.

Some of the relationships between parents, the torment of relationships with the opposite sex, the struggles with teen pregnancy and the fallout of sex in high school. I see all of that. Every day.

The bad decision that hurts your reputation. The hateful bullying. The power of friendship. The fight for status. All of that is real. Basically, as overly dramatic as teenage life seems on television…I think it might be worse in real life. Because in real life, things don’t always end nicely. There is no one hour limit to the drama and the pain.

At the same time, I don’t think television can accurately portray the depth of relationship in high school either. The girl who goes out of her way to stand up for someone else. The brother who fiercely loves his sister and will spring to action if she is hurt (even if she’s the only one who doesn’t know it). The care and the concern for one another when something is wrong. The rally around in the midst of personal tragedy. TV can only cover so much of that. I can even see where my kids care about their teachers. They want to help them when something is wrong. They know when something is off, and they want to help out in any way they can.

But my favorite part? As much as Mr. Schuster and Principal Taylor have relationships with students and help them, the real life is better. I can see the kids who want to change. Who want to do better. They are real, physical bodies in my classroom, asking for more. More out of life, out of themselves, out of their futures. For every heartbreaking story in the classroom (and there are many…so, so many), I cling to the hope that there will be successes.

I love the hormones, the crazy ideas, and the passion of high school students. I cannot begin to imagine having a different job. As long as I am working, I want it to be right where I’m at.

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