Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm Not a Morning Person People

I am not a morning person.

I am not a morning person.

I am not a morning person.


No, I am not a morning person. Usually, this is the very first thing I announce to any class of students I teach before the hour of 9AM. My brain is incapable of functioning rationally before 9AM. It really does not matter how early I wake up, or how much coffee I consume, my brain refuses to think or work before 9AM. I have accepted this fact of my life and adapted my life accordingly. I do not schedule early morning meetings if I can avoid it. I start my morning off with the least stressful and strenuous activities I can manage. I drink gallons of coffee. I do yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. I do all of these things in a vain attempt to appear to be human. However, it is just an illusion. I am not a morning person.

I give my students fair warning from the beginning.  Do not approach me with inane comments or requests first thing in the morning. You will not receive a rational, or possibly even an intelligible answer. I can guarantee you will not like the manner in which said response is delivered.  And, in all likelihood, you will walk away from our verbal altercation either in tears, or seething with rage.  However, it never really seems to matter how many warnings I give, my precious, pubescent pupils never heed them.  At least once a week, one of the intrepid teens will accost me upon my arrival at school, insisting that I give them my undivided attention and bow to their demands.  Inevitably, said student leaves my presence wounded and hurt, figuratively speaking of course.  Well... mostly figuratively speaking.  What can I say?  I am not a morning person.

By the end of the school year, one would think that most of my students have learned not to disturb my morning rituals, either through direct, personal experience or the experiences of friends and classmates.  However, every year, I seem to get one student who is incapable of learning that particular lesson.  This year, that student is Carol.  (Obviously, "Carol" is not her real name.  As a matter of fact, Carol is as far removed from her real name as I could get.)  Carol just cannot seem to grasp the meaning of the words "I am not a morning person".

8:05AM - I take a deep breath, open the door, walk into the high school, and begin weaving my way through the throng of trash-talking teens in the hallway to my classroom.
8:07AM - Keys are in hand, I am mere seconds away from the blissful silence of my classroom, and then I hear it...

Ms. Teacher!  Ms. Teacher!  Ms. Teacher!

Me:  (FUCK!  Maybe if I do not turn around, it will go away. I walk faster.)

Ms. Teacher!  Ms. Teacher!  MS. TEACHER!!!

Me:  (Almost there...)

Carol:  OH!  Ms. Teacher!  I've been waiting for you since 7:30 this morning.

Me:  (FUCK!!!  Carol.  I was so close.) *sigh* Carol, I know I've told you this numerous times before, but I'll try it one more time.  I do not get to school before 8AM.  Ever. 

Carol:  Oh, yeah, I know, but this is important!  And I emailed you, and posted a question on the online forum for the class last night.  I even left a message on your voice mail.

Me:  takes a deep breath.  I replied to your email last night, and to the same question you posted on the discussion forum 2 hours later.  Obviously, I have not gotten your voice mail message, as I have yet to walk into the classroom.  But, do you ask the same question in your voice mail?  The same question you posted and emailed me about, that I have already answered?
Carol:  Yeah.  So, anyway, the homework that you assigned, that is due today, do we have to write complete sentences?  Or can we just, like, write the answer?

Me:  sigh  Carol, just like I said in the email, and on the online forum, and in class the day I assigned the homework, and for every other homework assignment like this one,... You must write the answer in complete sentences.  Turns toward the door, dismissing the conversation.

Carol:  But... why?

Me:  Stops in mid-step, halfway through the doorway.  Excuse me?

Carol:  Why?  Why do we have to write a complete sentence?  Why can't we just write the answer?

Me:  Carol, the two are not mutually exclusive.  And, as I have explained to you before, I require a complete sentence because I am also tasked with teaching you how to write.  I want to make sure that you know what a complete sentence looks like, that you practice it.  Also, you are a 17 year old honors student in my 11th grade English class.  This should be a non-issue by now.  Turns away and proceeds to, finally, enter the classroom, now feeling irritated and disgusted.

Carol:  But... I just don't think you are understanding what I am asking.  Let me try it this way... As long I put down the answer on the paper, does it have to be a complete sentence?

Me:  Thoroughly disgusted.  Let me try it this way... Your answer will be worded in a complete sentence.

Carol:  But...

Me:  Oh good grief, Carol!  I do not know how else to explain it so you will understand it.  Do you not understand the words I am saying to you?

Carol: It's not that, I just...

Me:  YES or NO?  Do you understand the words I am speaking?

Carol:  Yes, but...

Me: holding up hand  Yes?  Okay, good.  So, you understand that your homework should be answered in complete sentences?  Yes?

Carol:  Well, yeah, but...

Me:  holds up hand again  Yes?  Okay.  Glad that is settled.  Please close the door as you leave.

Carol:  But... that's not the answer I want.

Me:  stops dead in tracks, glances back over one shoulder  Well, I apologize for that, but that is the answer you got.

Carol:  I don't want to write a sentence!  stamps foot

Me:  Did you really just stamp your foot at me?  cue hysterical laughter

Carol:  stamps foot again  Don't laugh at me!  I'm serious!  I DON'T WANT TO WRITE A SENTENCE!

Me:  wiping tears from eyes  That is a shame, since the assignment requires it.

Carol:  Well, I'm just not going to write a sentence.

Me:  sits on corner of desk, sips coffee, and drawls out Well, sugar, that is your choice. (It should be noted that when I lapse into a Southern drawl in class, bad things are soon to follow.  For some reason, I tend to use a Southern accent to chastise my students.)

Carol:  mollified  Oh, so I don't have to write a sentence?  Whew!  Thanks!  Turns to leave.

Me:  No, darlin', I said it was your choice.

Carol:  What does that mean?

Me:  in a Southern drawl and with a smile that doesn't reach my eyes  The directions require a sentence.  If you choose to not write a sentence, you have not followed the directions, and therefore have not correctly completed the assignment.  As such, I will be forced to deduct the necessary points, as you failed to accurately complete the assignment.  So, we are back to it being your choice.  You can choose to do the assignment correctly and completely, or you can choose to half-ass the assignment.  Either way, your grade will reflect accuracy, completeness, and effort.  The choice is ultimately yours, as it always is.  Sips coffee

Carol:  But, but... stamps foot, AGAIN THAT'S NOT FAIR!

Me:  drawls  The fair only comes to town once a year, princess, and it looks like you missed it.

Carol:  But...

Me:  NO!  Let me tell you what isn't "fair".  It isn't "fair" that for some unknown reason you seem to think that rules do not apply to you, that you do not have to do the same work, put forth the same effort as your classmates, or follow the same directions.  You are not special.  You are not above the law.  You do not get to do what you want simply because you don't feel like doing what is required.  It isn't "fair" I am forced to have the exact same conversation with you week in and week out.  It isn't "fair" that I am forced to endure the spoiled antics of a pampered princess who refuses to listen to anything that is said to her if she does not want to hear it.  It isn't "fair" that my morning is ruined at least once every couple of weeks because you decide you do not see the merit in completing an assignment, and want my permission to not do it.  It isn't "fair" that I am forced to tolerate your presence before school even starts because you want to question and debate every single assignment and direction given to you.  Let me enlighten you, sweetheart.  I'm the teacher.  You are the student.  That is how things work.  I create meaningful assignments that usually serve multiple purposes to try not only to educate you, but also to mold you into some semblance of a decent human being.  Granted, at least on that front, in your case, I seem to be failing miserably.  But, I am going to continue to try.  I will give the assignments and directions, and you will follow them.  Or not.  The choice is ultimate yours.  But, I guarantee that if you fail to meet the requirements, follow the directions, put forth the effort, or live up to my expectations, your grade will reflect your failure.  And trust me, it will be YOUR failure.  You can suck it up, accept life as it is, and pass the class on my terms, or you can be stubborn and obtuse, continue to rail at the wind about how "unfair" life is, and fail on your terms.  Choice. Is. Yours.  Now, I am done with this conversation.  For. The. Last. Time.  Get your things, turn around, and walk out the door.

Carol:  Stamps foot But...

Me:  Stamp that foot at me again.... 

Carol:  does not stamp foot, grabs belongings, begins walking out the door But... UGH!  This is SO NOT FAIR!

Me: can't resist, yells after student  Ah, sugar, maybe you'll catch the fair the next time it is in town! 

As I close the door behind her, I can hear her ranting her way down the hallway.  I sigh, turn back to me desk, shake my head, and repeat... I am so not a morning person.

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