Week 18: Reflections as Writer-in-Residence

[1 ½ days in bed, 3 day hiatus from exercise = all better]
It’s a tough time to reflect on life as Writer-in-Res, as the campus is abuzz with what’s to come. This makes staying in the present even more difficult and, while my mind has been full of projecting narratives onto what other people might be thinking this time of year (my students, my colleagues), the present moment is more and more enticing.
My major insight this week has to do with teaching adolescents. How could I forget? It is not generally in their sphere to say “thank you,” even at a time of year like this. In fact, the near opposite is completely within their sphere. They have worked hard for their voices, their knowledge, and their opinions all year. Being able to articulate these things, especially in writing, is precisely what their teachers try to help them with. Funny, how those voices can be used to needle authority, to augment their own un-elucidated analysis, or even to build walls of opinion at a time when openness to exploration seems more appropriate.
All of that’s a very abstract way of saying that teenagers will be teenagers, and by and large, teenagers should be teenagers. Being their teachers, however, isn’t always easy.
I learned this at the last boarding school I taught at—three solid years burned me out more thoroughly than anything I’ve experienced to date. This weekend, I oscillated between feeling convinced I’m done teaching teens and feeling wise as I observe their teen-ness in its truest form at the close of the year. Certainly, much of this has to do with the fact that most of my students are seniors. Add to that, the fact that their tuition is $44,000 per year (yes, you read that right – for high school). Let’s just say a few carry a sense of entitlement beyond their years.
What’s a teacher to do?
Cupcakes and jeopardy for the last day of class. Without a doubt.

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