Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Grapes of My Wrath

Oh, man.  I don't know how long or coherent this blog will be.  I haven't had my writing mojo on lately as it is the last of school.  With 8th graders.  Who think they should already be in high school.  Good times.  (Sense my sarcasm that I made a resolution to refrain from using this year?)

So, I had a happy, teacher accident and created  - by no great design of my own -  a coolio unit to end the year that links some incredible literature with amazing facets of our country's history. It really has been outstanding, but the kids are starting to lose interest...oh, who am I kidding?!  Interest:  lost.  ANYWAY, the kids ate up learning about the Birmingham Children's March of 1963 coupled with the writings of Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.  They seemed to really enjoy pulling from an old, late, grade school fave, "Esperanza Rising" when I was trying to gather some background together for Chavez and his worker's rights events (different decades...same premise.)  Dust Bowl?  Loved it...I teach in a Kansas school not five minutes up the road from the Oklahoma line...the kids gobbled up "Out of the Dust" and were captivated by the photos I flashed on my ENO board to the tune of Woody Guthrie's, "I'm a Dust Bowl Refugee." Brilliant moments in teaching.  (You know me well enough by now to know that I always have a big "but" coming, eh?)

BUT, we are under 15 days out from the end of school now.  I recently, erroneously thought to myself, "Self, why not go for it?  They seem ready for Steinbeck!  Okies going to California for a better life!  The kids will go nuts!"   The only person going nuts the past week or so is the teacher lady. 

My students are truly great.  I love each one of them.  But, after a few days filled with a plethora of comments and questions such as, "Why do all of the women look like men?  Didn't they have make-up?" and "They didn't have indoor plumbing?!  Gross!"  and "Dances in the worker camps every Saturday night?  I so want to live there!"... I'm feeling as done as the kids.  And a little angry.  People are suffering and the answer to their problems may be found in a tube of lipstick?  Wrath:  rising.

I really don't want to ever use this blog to self-glorify, self-pity or self-anything.  So, let me share the nugget of God-gold found buried in my bucket of sour grapes today. 

Just when I was feeling chained to a classroom full of kids who have given up and in turn, have caused me to feel like giving up, I read Ephesians 5. (Written, oddly enough, by a man literally chained to prison guards for an insane amount of time.)  You can read the whole thing for yourself, but let me share the zingers that I needed to be zapped with today:

-Live a life of a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (vs 2)
-Live as children of the light - for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (vs 8 & 9)
-Live wisely, making the most of every opportunity (vs 15 & 16)

Live, love, light and look for every opportunity.  I felt my wrath wane.  Things smelled a little better.  Things looked a little brighter.  I saw things a little more clearly.  And my obstacles started looking like opportunities.

And instead of joyously counting down the days of school...I soberly realize the precious, few moments with a very special group of young people that I actually have left.