Student Bonnie: Grade 8.
I got straight As, thought chokers were the bomb,
and had yet to discover the beauty of teeth whitener and padded bras.
Today I was a student. My school district asked that all of the English teachers who are "new to the district" this year spend the day with them evaluating a few of the veteran teachers.
Sounded great to me. I could certainly use the day off from being a teacher! I often envy my students when they come trudging into class with their half done homework and their cell phones a buzz. I look at them and think, "What a life. All you have to do is sit there for the next 85 minutes. Just show up, and you're good. I on the other hand have to put on a whole horse and pony show for you riff raff all day every day. Oh, to be a student again! To sit in my chair and day dream. Tis the simple life!"
So when I heard I would spend the day observing other teachers' classrooms I figured nothing could be easier. I would return to my model high school ways, (I literally never sluffed a single class, got straight As, and was president of National Honor Society. I have no idea how I did it.) and soak in the simplicity of being a student again.
Turns out being a student is a lot harder than I remembered.
We met at one of the five high schools in the district to observe some of the stand out teachers. It wasn't long before I was seated in the back that I started wanting to talk to the people around me. I knew that the "veteran teacher" was talking, and I knew I needed to be polite, but gosh the lady in the chair next to me teaches AP Lit at the neighboring high school and I needed some ideas. What a chore to be quiet! Couldn't the teacher see I had legitimately important things to be discussing? I whispered a few things to my AP teaching neighbor but she was not interested in having a conversation with me and quickly shut the conversation off. How rude!
At that point, my phone which was sitting on my desk, went off. Just a text message, but the noise was on full blast and it let out an obnoxious "CUCKOO!" to indicate a new message. I turned beet red and silenced it immediately. Had I been the teacher I would have taken my own phone away.
Next, the veteran teacher passed out a short story we were reading. I took one look at the story and said to myself, "That's way too long. I'm not reading it." I THOUGHT THIS. ME. SOMEONE WHO READS AND BEGS OTHERS TO READ FOR A LIVING. I am ashamed of this, just so you know. I don't know what came over me, it's just that the paragraphs were so long and dense, and my attention span was feeling oh so short, and I could suddenly feel my tummy rumbling. Distraction distraction distraction I wanted a distraction.
Cue digging into my purse to find something to eat. It was barely 10:00, but the gross thing is that when you wake up at 6:00 you've already been awake for four hours by 10:00. My body was hungry again. Famished is more like it. After a small search, I found an orange in my purse. I knew the scent would be a major distraction, but I was so hungry. Suddenly my future was clear to me. I had no other option- I had to eat it. I tried my best to quietly peel the orange and eat it discreetly. I was not discreet. I got many looks from students sitting around me and from the other AP teacher sharing my table. I knew I was obnoxious, but distraction distraction distraction and also starvation.
After eating the orange, the story looked to be about half way over. I could jump in now, but I wasn't going to understand a thing. I noticed my phone light up. Oh phone! Pretty! Someone somewhere wants to say something to me! Nope. It was a notification that all my lives on Candy Crush had been restored. "What a stupid notification," I thought, and decided that now was as good a time as any to figure out how to turn that notification off. I clicked on Candy Crush.
DING DONG, DING DONG the music went off immediately and at full blast. Everyone was turning around to look at me. The teacher had stopped reading. I couldn't turn the phone down. This was a disaster. In a mad state of panic, I fled. I ran right out the door into the hallway to try to shut the damn phone off. Anyone who has played Candy Crush once in their life knows the music and knew exactly what I was doing in the back row there.
In the hallway I investigated my phone. Apparently I had turned my messages off, but not the sound for games. Stupid phone. Silent means silent- just silence everything! And you call yourself a smart phone!
I was morbidly embarrassed and didn't want to show my face again, especially to the other "new to the district" teachers who were observing the class with me. How big of a clown was I? I decided as long as I was out of the class I might as well take a little freedom and explore the school a little. I got a drink. I went to the bathroom. I moseyed.
Then I thought of one of my best friends from Copper Hills who teaches at the high school I was in. I should try to find her classroom! We could ditch together!
It was at that point that I realized with glaring alarm- I am my own worst nightmare. Everything I have always been so frustrated at students for doing I had just done myself. In 30 minutes I had racked up all of their crimes:
- Not doing the work.
- Finding excuses not to read.
- Getting on my cell phone
- Talking in class
- Interrupting and distracting the class
- Leaving the class for long periods of time.
- TRYING TO DITCH CLASS WITH FRIENDS.
I went back in sheepishly and tried my best to listen to the rest of the lesson and pay attention to the reading and discussion. I left my phone in my pocket and was a good girl the rest of the day.
I gotta tell you, though, I have a whole new respect for my students. It ain't easy to sit in a chair for 85 minutes subject to whatever the teacher decides to throw on you. To any student who I have yelled at or disciplined for having your cell phone out, for not paying attention in class, for leaving for extra long bathroom breaks, I apologize. It's not easy to be you.