I need some air…

It’s just a love that you can’t get back
It’s just a tale of a heart attack
You feel alive, but you’re sinking fast
Just close your eyes, this won’t be your last

You wanna lift somethin’ up, you gotta pin it down
You wanna pull somethin’ in, you gotta let it out
You wanna light something up, you gotta burn it down
I wanna feel the sun, I just need some air

The only word that you know is please, please, please
The only life that you see is from your knees
I wanna feel the light, I just can’t receive
Don’t wanna leave the ground, I just need some air
I need some air

-Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Yesterday, we took a wonderful field trip to the Liberty Science Center.  They warned us at the start of the film “3D Sun” that chaperones should prevent students from screaming and jumping out of their seats.  It sounded a bit harsh, until charged particles started drifting towards us, accelerating, until we zoomed over the horizon of the sun, past coronal arches and loops…. wow.  When the satellite called Stereo floated out towards me, I’ll admit I reached out to touch it.

The only bad part of the trip was a peanut allergy scare, which ended with no problems at all but made me realize several things about my experience teaching:

1. We are very lucky nothing too awful has happened given how poorly informed we are (by parents in the first place, and then by the school once the parents do inform us) about our students’ potentially serious health issues.

2. The incident calls into question so many things – the standard of care our children receive at hospitals and health clinics, the organizational systems within our schools, the levels of trust between parents and children, the potentially dangerous issues that arise when all of a student’s emergency contacts speak only Spanish, and you are in an emergency situation where no adult speaks Spanish.  And so many other issues.  We got a serious lecture about the need to carry an Epi-Pen from the staff at the Liberty Science Center.  And I sound like an idiot saying, But this allergy wasn’t even reported to the school!  A colleague cited some statistic or another (no idea where he got it) that peanut allergies are more prevalent in large urban areas – yet this is the first – or maybe there was one other – I’ve encountered in 8 years.  So, where are these kids?  Do our kids not live on PB&J like a lot of suburban kids?  Is the allergy hidden within an asthma diagnosis?  (But these are such different things!)  Are there tons of kids out there with unreported life-threatening allergies?  I want to find out more about this one.

Meanwhile, we have another trip coming up which was supposed to be the sixth grade end-of-year trip.  It was supposed to be really fun.  We set a pretty high standard of attendance, behavior, etc. to attend, and then our administration raised the bar to what we knew was pretty much unattainable (ours was already going to be very, very hard), but what could we say?  Now only 25% of our kids qualified.  We didn’t succeed in motivating them to work extra hard this month to get to go, because they really quickly figured out they’d never make it.  The culture of the class has, if anything, turned against the trip.  We are filling the spots with kids from other grades… I don’t know, it’s just not the trip I want to take at all anymore.  Leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I feel like I was put in a really bad position by others who won’t really have to deal with the long-term impact on student motivation or the immediate backlash when the kids who get to go are announced.

There’s more – our entire Science department is leaving this year.  Right now there are no candidates to replace us.  I might squeeze in a few hours here & there consulting for the new teachers next year, because otherwise they’ll be starting from scratch.

We were grading science exams after school today (this is the third day we’ve stayed after, at least one or two more afternoons before it’s done), and another teacher quoted the song above… she was talking about a relationship but it feels right for everything.  The pressure’s all right, somehow everything is getting done, it’s tiring but under control, but with a little more space to breathe things could be done so much better…. my cat never sees me anymore, my house is a huge mess.  I’ve scheduled my moving truck for June 1st, a birthday event for the following weekend, and I have a cake commission (for someone else, it’s a longish story) for the actual day of my own birthday…  I’m running twice a week and went to a yoga class for the first time in months (it felt great, even though the teacher was not awesome… it’s so nice to realize that after months away, I’ve at least got the muscle-memory if not the strength or flexibility).  Busy is the way I like life, but hey, I could use a little air…


1 Comment

Filed under confession, education, New York, teaching

One response to “I need some air…

  1. All of you?


    That’s some rotten luck. But setting up little schools in the Bronx tempts fate. If it wasn’t your school, it would have been (and still might be) someone else.

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