“Are you going to be teaching English 11 next year?” Before I could answer, his classmates jokingly berated him for his word choice. The junior year course isn’t called English 11, but that wasn’t the point. His point was that he wanted to know if I’ll be his teacher again next year. “If I had an answer, I’d tell you,” I replied.
And then something dawned on the boy sitting next to him. “Are you going to be working here at all next year?” he asked.
“If I had an answer, I’d tell you,” I said again. The energy in the room lulled a little as that sank in, but not much can keep these boys down and within seconds they were joking about something else.
They were extra-squirrelly today. The cabin fever that results from an unexpected four-day weekend with “polar vortex” wind chills was running rampant through the student body. I didn’t even try to calm down the study hall when their volume rose above my normally tolerated limit. I put a stop to some physical horse-play, but that’s about it. Maybe I should have asked for more quiet focus from them, but honestly, I get it. I was restless after being cooped up in my apartment for four days, too, and that’s without a teenage metabolism coursing through my veins. All of my English 10 classes still finished the planned lessons (miraculously, I admit), so I call it a successful day.
If we’d been talking about Hamlet today, I don’t know if we would have made it. I doubt they could have handled sitting quietly and listening to the recording. Fortunately, the plan for today was to go over information for the career research project, so while they still had to take detailed notes, we also got to have good discussions about their future plans. They turned in their career choices today, and they dream big. Some of their career goals include auto design, international sales, investment banking, bio-medical engineering, and forensic psychology. Holy cow.
I’m loving it. I’m listening to the discussions I’ve been hoping to instigate. Even if their career paths look different in reality than their current dreams, the fact stands that they’re thinking about their futures, planning and preparing while they’re dreaming. We’re launching them into adulthood, instead of allowing them to drift aimlessly into it.
Everything I’ve been saying for the past year and a half is now at my fingertips. It has a tangible form and realistic possibilities. I can see it. I can touch it. I’m floored by how right this job is for me.
And then that kid asked his question, bringing me back to the reality of my position.
“Are you going to be working here next year?”
I don’t know, kid. I don’t know. But no matter what, we’re going to have an awesome time while I’m here.