Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rainy Days

Rainy school days have always been a source of conflict for me. Looking out my window at the dark skies, I would imagine myself on a ship crossing some ocean headed for some port of call, unnamed and uncharted. I was the captain and this was my vessel and adventure waited. Then the bell would ring and a hundred voices would fill the door of my room. In vain, all day, I would try to return to my imagined journey. The salty spray striking my face; the wind burning my lips and cheeks. Then the bell would ring. My romantic voyage always came crashing to an end with the advent of each class period.

Can teachers have imaginations? Can't we escape our desks, computers and white boards? Why can't we run away? Even for the five minutes between classes. We are trapped by the immediate needs of adolescents and their emerging imaginations. We feed theirs and deny ours. We plan for delayed gratification daily, hourly. They taunt us with "a poem" they "wrote last night." It's subject some n'er do well male who doesn't get the "love" word. They tempt us with "please read this." They never know how much we would prefer to read anything but what they have written.

Oh, yes, there are those teachers who will tell you they "love" reading student creations. They will say that young people can really surprise you with their writing. They can; it's just not the surprise you were hoping for. But I think they have lost their imaginations to power writing and six plus traits. I want to read and escape on my ship. But the anchor of obligation and responsibility is heavy. I turn from the window and face them.

Imagination will have to wait until three o'clock and dismissal. But I have a meeting to attend about a student who never comes to school. Maybe the student doesn't come because he likes rainy day, imagined adventures too. And I have essays to grade. When I get back to my room, it is still raining. I pull up at my desk, shut out the rain slicked view and hunker down over a neatly written, double-spaced, in blue ink essay on sledding hazards in Ethan Frome.