During our Sunshine Thanksgiving yesterday, one of the kids wondered aloud about what we'd be doing if we weren't teaching them. My colleague laughed back and said "Are you calling us crazy?"... but truthfully, I know I am. You have to be a little bit insane to put yourself in a position where you watch people you care about make mistakes and bad choices repeatedly-- and keep coming back for more.
For me, this job is a way of life. I act no differently at school than I do at home or in other public venues; there are no pretenses, no games. I think if you looked up 'tough love' in the dictionary, you'd see me smiling back at you. I expect a lot of these guys, and probably more than anyone has expected of them in years. But when they don't live up to the expectations, we address it and move on. No grudges. I react no differently to a student skipping my class than I would to Boy or Girly not doing what I'd asked them to do: there are consequences to that action (or inaction) but you are mine, and I claim you as mine, always.The consequences they are used to, and really know how to use them to their advantage (I'm sure I've told you about suspensions increasing magically in November... and how I brought a stop to that practice). What they are not used to, and what gets me labeled as a crazy woman by them, is the second piece-- no matter what you do, I claim you as mine. Whether you're making me proud or breaking my heart, you are always a Sunshine.
At Sunshine Thanksgiving, we go around the room and state for what we are thankful. There is nothing quite like hearing a room full of teenagers say they are thankful for the people that help them to warm your heart. I am so thankful for them; as hokey as it sounds, they make my life a better place to be. They make me laugh; they make me cry; they make me proud. Yes, they also make me crazy, but let's be honest here: I already was.