Summer in 90 minutes

Situation: Conducting a creative writing class and a student amidst an attack of ADHD is spaced out.

Teacher: It’s amazing at what can’t be accomplished some periods.

Student: Hey, I’ve planned my whole summer vacation just now.

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3 Responses to Summer in 90 minutes

  1. Lisa says:

    FYI, children do not suffer “attacks” of ADHD. ADHD is a disorder that children live with every day, which should not be likened to an allergy whereby one may experience an “attack”. Your level of disregard for anyone suffering from this condition, in that you would use it as a set up to an anecdotal classroom moment sickens me as an educational professional. Such a lack of understanding, concern and compassion for these children by uneducated and insensitive fools such as yourself is appalling and you should not be allowed to educate children of whom you have no understanding. You need to take a close look at your moral compass.

    • I totally agree, and apologize if it appeared I was making fun of any form of disorder. In my profession, I don’t take it lightly that 90% of my students have one form of illness or another. There isn’t one student I have that will say I half-ass the lessons, or disrespect them. I guess you just need to be as mature as them to see what’s happening in the classroom; at-risk youth graduating and enrolling into colleges, as opposed to dealing drugs and dying. And in saying that, I’ll add that I share my own illness with my students. I’ve been living with Schizo-Affective Bi-Polar Disorder for 11 years, and only the past four years safely, out of harms way … truly living without wanting to die or live in ways that caused death. In sharing that, it’s my hope that my students don’t rely on the illness to be an excuse, but to learn to manage it and work around it. It’s tough, but I have 10 different lesson plans for the dozen in my class. Why? Because they’re all unique kids. And they’re all worth it.

      As far as my moral compass goes. Maybe this will give you some insight into who I am. First and foremost, I am a family man. And that family extends into my classroom where I take care of kids, whether it’s showing them that it’s all right to laugh at themselves, or being the mediator between parents and children, or putting a kid up in my own house when a parent won’t come pick up an expelled student. Here’s a speech I gave (one night after a roast and toast with students and family!!!!):

      “Thank you, and welcome friends and family of Oak Creek Ranch School’s 2011 Graduating Class!
      First things first, thank you for an amazing first year and introduction to a school that’s become a second home and family to me. Thank you for the honor of standing here and bidding you all farewell. I’m generally not good with goodbyes.
      Sitting with you all on a campus that is narrowly surrounded on all sides by water, with towering trees, and a single road that leads to and from civilization, one thing comes to mind—RUN!!!
      Truly, if anything, this campus is a perfectly balanced novel. This beautiful setting offers us a lot of symbolism … young adults who have painted themselves in a corner completing their secondary education at a boarding school that has the same geographic schematics. Along this acreage’s backdrop there’s the ebb and flow of the creek that comes with the seasons, not unlike the ups and downs that come with adolescence and the emergence into adulthood. This campus, like a great book, is a page turner. There’s rising action filled with series of hurdles; conflicts, that can always be resolved in one way or another. And now, the climax—commencement.
      But the most important part of this novel, if you will, isn’t the setting. It isn’t the action, or drama, or mystery, or romance. Nor is it the plot or the theme that we all hope is one based on taking the next step—learning beyond the classroom; completing the evolution of the people you were when you first arrived here, whether it was four years ago, or four months. The most important parts of this story are the individual characters, each with different backgrounds and most certainly different futures. They’ve played roles in each other’s lives here, for better or worse, and now will find a new cast of characters in a new chapter beginning a new story altogether.
      For those interested in Sci-Fi, we have student already enrolled and underway studying chemistry.
      Those moved by the heroism of our Armed Forces, we have Corey Meyer enlisting in the United States Army.
      Like a good Western? Brian Walsh will be working with horses on a daily basis at American River Community College.
      Mystery and psychological thriller? Brittany Forster is studying Criminal Psychology at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
      And for a good script I advise people to keep tabs on Andrea Maxon who I predict will one day write for Saturday Night Live!
      But regardless the genre you find yourself in, I implore you to try new things. Life’s not at all like a library where you can hole yourself up in a section that’s comfortable to you and consume the pages you want to read. Rather it’s the infinitesimal geometric labyrinth as proposed by Argentine writer and librarian Jorge Luis Borges in his short story Library of Babel; a universe unto itself where even the unrequested of catalogs come before you expecting to be faced. School, work, working while at school, working on yourself, relationships, love, indifference, war; these are only a handful of the new themes you’ll encounter. The good news is—it’s up to you to write the pages.
      You have the minds to compose the lines of your future. Be lyrical. Be blunt. Be poetic. Be powerful.
      Pieces of advice? I have but a few.
      Awareness. A couple weeks ago, I spoke with a group of Seniors about my take on youth today. I told them they’ve been dubbed “Generation Me.” Now, this label wasn’t coined by me, although I’d love to take credit for it. However, it aptly describes a generation who would rather have their heads wrapped around alternate worlds projected from game systems or immerse themselves chin deep in social media where millions live vicariously through personalities nothing like their own. As you can probably imagine, the more I spoke about your future, the more upset I became, even though you had yet to take a step into the world you’ll soon experience days, if not hours from now. It’s a big world out there, and a lot to do … don’t think “kicking it” on the couch isn’t going to make you regret the epitaph on your headstone.
      Humility. When literary giant William Faulkner was asked to come to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, he told a reporter, “I won’t be able to come to receive the prize myself. It’s too far away. I am a farmer down here and I can’t get away.” That same morning, he drove his daughter to school then chopped wood in the afternoon. When Faulkner was finally persuaded to go to Sweden, he rented a dress suit in which he delivered an unforgettable acceptance speech. One part said, “I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work—a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for the glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before.”
      Participate. Later in Faulkner’s career, an interview with The Paris Review quoted him as saying, “I like to think of the world I created as being a kind of keystone in the Universe; that, as small as that keystone is, if it were ever taken away, the universe itself would collapse.” Faulkner goes on to say that he foresaw an ending to his career, at which point he would break his pencil and have to stop. Don’t ever stop. Rather write until your pen bleeds. Write loud. Write often. And speak a different font.
      When you take a picture, please understand the real image is not the one digitized in your hands but the one set before you.
      Tip 20-percent. You never know when you’ll find yourself on the opposite end of the table. It’s those extra few bucks that make ends meet.
      Realize “karma” isn’t an ice cream topping.
      And this … something so simple: Every night I lay my son to sleep we sing “Happy Birthday” to all of his friends and family. Happy Birthday, daddy. Happy Birthday, mommy. Happy Birthday, Lily. And I even have two colleagues who have been to my house; two friends who have spent the time to get to know my family. And my son sings to them; “Happy Birthday, Andy. Happy Birthday, Josh.” It’s that simple—making every day a new day, a new beginning.
      Lastly, know there is nothing to be scared of. Don’t be scared of “terrorism” regardless what our media says today. Don’t be scared of declaring a major. Don’t be scared of asking for help. Don’t be scared of offering it. Most of all, don’t be scared of yourselves. You can do anything.
      In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address, he promised America “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” It’s true. Having that said, FDR never worked at or attended Oak Creek Ranch School.
      I sincerely thank each and every one of you. Best wishes, good luck, and happy birthday.”

    • Crystal says:

      Lisa,
      Actually as a teacher I understood perfectly what he was meaning. If you would step down off the pedestal and really look at his message this teacher has gotten to know his students in a way that most teachers do not take the time to do in the classrooms today. A teacher who can give his/her students a place where he/she feels like a person rather than a butt in the seat is a rare commodity in the education world of today. Of course this is just my opinion and no offense is meant to you.

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