Teaching Trials

I am teaching a blogging workshop on Thursday night at New Work City in Chinatown. You should come, because it’s going to be awesome. And I need some support. I’m looking forward to teaching adults, because I’ve had some struggles with my middle schoolers.

I’m chagrined about my creative writing class in the after school this semester. I’ve had some challenges. And I just want the kids to write, damnit. I want them to sit quietly with pen and paper in hand and go for it. I give them great creative writing prompts, and I give them fun assignments. And we’ve gone on lovely field trips.

But still, they throw carrots at each other and scribble on each other’s worksheets. And in the last class, after a trip to Shake Shack, no less, one girl poured salt in another girl’s hair.

I don’t know if I’m not keeping my kids busy enough. Or if I am being too hard or too soft on them. I love them but I don’t understand them. And I overheard one girl tell another one that I hate her and I told her, “I don’t hate you, I love you, but I don’t like what you do.”

And it’s freakin’ after school, so it’s supposed to be fun. Let’s respect each other. And let’s get creative. Let’s write.

On my pinterest board, I reminded myself: The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.

I try to remember that. And I do give them a lot of love.

My friend thinks I should start calling parents and washing my hands of the kids who act up. But I don’t want to give up. I have faith in these kids. They just have to write more.

If only they’d write about their lives, I know they’d know themselves better and feel better about themselves. And maybe stop goofing off.

That’s why I blog — to know myself better and to feel better about myself. And to stop goofing off.

While I am feeling unhappy about my after school teaching experience, I’m hoping that my adult students on Thursday night will be a little more manageable.

Blogging workshop at new work city on January 9, 2014

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Daily Prompt: Time Capsule

2012 is drawing to a close (3 weeks left!). What would you put in this year’s time capsule?

collage for UMCOR
collage for UMCOR

I would put:

  • My collage art to promote UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Am so proud! This was an early version.
  • My bike. Oh, my bike. I love my bike. Biking in NYC makes me happy.

    seen in a bike shop window in Portland
    seen in a bike shop window in Portland
  • My first (ever!) unemployment direct deposit check. Definitely mixed feelings, but overall grateful.
  • My new business cards.
  • Masks that the girls made at Art Students League. We all play roles, wear masks, make art.
  • Chris’s SAG movie pass. Going to the movies together has been a great way to connect. Due to Chris’s illness and our busy-ness, I feel we are ships passing in the night. But we’ve sat together at such amazing movies this year! Yesterday we saw Amour. Formidable! (my favorite French word!) Today we are going to see The Guilt Trip.
  • Abeach handful of sand from Siesta Key beach. The kids and I had such a restorative time hanging out at the prettiest beach in the world last spring. Great times, too, with my bro, Nicole, dad, and Marty.
  • A mosquito from the kids and my ill-fated camping trip to Fire Island.
  • Yoga mat. Because my mom still practices yoga and stands on her head.
  • Shake Shack fries. After teaching a semester of middle school creative writing, I take my kids to Shake Shack to celebrate.
  • School Swimming Pool and Van Cortlandt Park. I watch my kids play basketball, soccer, and baseball, but I spend most of my spectator time on the sidelines of the long benches of the pool or on the edges of the Van Corltandt Park track.
  • all the cousins
    all the cousins

    All of the cousins. Being with my four siblings and their kids for Thanksgiving was definitely the highlight of 2012.

  • President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Just in case anyone, in the future, has any questions. The man is an American, all right already. Forward.

2012 was a very good year.

Modern Warfare 3

I hung my head, ashamed. I was not alone. Every parent at the Upper West Side Game Stop store was embarrassed to be there, ashamed to be buying the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

I assume that’s what we, these pairs of parents and sons, were buying. The updated game was just released last week. How do I know this? I have no idea. It has simply seeped into our family culture.The posters with the dystopian world in the background and the gun-slinging hero in the foreground.

We, parents, have to be there to buy the game because it’s rated M for Mature. My 14-year old could not buy it without me, and he cuddled me as if he were a toddler, while we wanted in line for the purchase.

The cashier handed the mother in a business suit ahead of me the DVD X-Box game in the plastic bag.

“This is not mine,” she took the bag, like it was a dead mouse.

“It’s all yours,” she passed the bag to her son. He could barely suppress a smile. These teens and preteens get their way and they know it.

Why do I do this? I wondered. I am basically a pacifist. Maybe I let him have this game, because I want him to be happy, popular and a part of pop culture (UGH! I did just write that!). My son runs track, gets good grades, has the money ($65) to pay me back. Yet I am enabling an addictive activity. And I know it.

Yesterday he had three friends over and they had a great day. They played all day. They stopped to eat at Shake Shack; played a brief game of Apples to Apples; and watched Saturday Night Live; but otherwise, they were glued to the game.

The boys believe war gaming is useful because, my son tells me, “It develops hand-eye coordination and teaches about guns and modern-day battles.” Hmmmm. Doubtful.

My son’s friend’s dad, Daniel, told me he believes the boys talk about important things besides slaughtering one another while playing MW3. He said he’s overheard them talking about school, girls, and the Yankees. I don’t know. I only hear, “I need another kill” kind of thing.

If I didn’t have a 14-year old son, I would think parents, like me, who buy this kind of game for their sons are irresponsible. Wait, I still think that.

I want to write more on this, but I have to pry the boys off the XBox game (yes, one of the boys spent the night so they could play more) and get them ready for church. It’s a beautiful day in New York City and I don’t want them to miss it. There is a time for everything, a time for peace and a time for modern day warfare?