I called it Spring Fever, but it’s not. It’s a kind of burn out that should not be happening to me after so few years in the classroom. I admit that I’m kind of a restless type. Five years of anything—people, places, things—is usually the limit of my excitement. I’m not saying I lose interest; they just become less important than the new craze in my life. It’s kind of manic, I know; the old folks like to say I have fire under my feet. I’ll admit to a little heat but I’ve seen folks with fire—I definitely don’t have fire. So here I am closing out the end of the semester with a stack of papers that I shoulda been done graded and realize that they’re sitting here not ‘cause I’m so busy with my exciting life (hardly), but because teaching has gone the way of last year’s trends. I’m a little sick of it, y’all. The weird part is that I really love my students. I can’t think of a better way to call the feeling. But they scare me and tire me out. They can be short sighted which I know is part of being that age. I was not too long ago.
They don’t see what I see—their potential (both the promising and the not-so promising). I feel so old saying that and I’m only piece-way down 30’s road, but shucks, the fact is that many of my peers didn’t make it this far with me. That is a reality. Many of theirs—and some of them—will not make it this far.
On the other hand, their possibility also amazes me. They don’t have to be the best student, coming to class regularly or at all; turning in high caliber work or even turning in their work, period. But I can see through all that. Notice their attentive eyes, that when they attach to a topic, they are attached to that topic, when sometimes they are stepping lively behind the eight ball even though they haven’t been given the slightest sense of direction as to where to go.
I get anxious about that and tired by my anxiety. Because that’s when I think of former students like Bo who was murdered at 21 and Calvin who is about the same age Bo would be and has graduated and is heading to Japan to teach.
Then I get frustrated and make “the faces” as they named my incredulous glares. There’s the you-cannot-be-friggin’-serious glare I give when they say stuff like, “I didn’t do the essay because I wasn’t in class last week and I lost my syllabus with the assignment on it.” Or the I’m-not-even-gonna-answer-that look for such times as when they hand me some crumpled up papers and say, “Don’t you have a stapler; you’re the teacher.”
You’re the student I want to say and this is the safest and most dangerous time of your life. You can be Calvin or you can be Bo. Even though I have to admit that neither is completely up to you, I try to tell them, you’re laying on the tracks taunting the train when you take this life thing about as seriously as well…an eighteen to twenty three year old.
See, I catch myself. I catch myself getting restless trying to anticipate the end and the next new beginning. Like I’m god, a parent, or someone who does not know when loving too hard suffocates the lover more than the loved.