The Friday downturn fuels contemplative sketches

by Mr. Sheehy

My eyes hurt, maybe because I again stayed up too late last night (working on a letter to Ellen – it’s worth it), maybe because class wiped me out today. Still, there’s so much to this life that I awe at the curiosities and I wonder how I ever stop my brain from moving. I examine my day in four sketches.

Sketch one: My computer comes to life

I met with one of my instructors from USD yesterday – I’m almost half way through the program (to get an MS) and  it was the first time I’d met anyone associated with it face to face. It was an optional meeting, but it was fun. (On a side note, I must be attractive at a distance – I got accepted to my undergrad institution through a phone interview.) Similarly, a week and a half from now Will Richardson will be in Rapid City,  and though I don’t read his blog as much as I did a few months ago, I am eager to see him, even if I don’t actually shake his hand (I’m not usually one for introducing myself to key-note speakers). In the excitement I read concerning Web 2.0, I don’t hear people discounting the power of face to face interaction. Maybe folks see how it adds a new dimension to face to face communication: I think it’s fun how the depth of all this online communication makes the prospect of a face to face interaction more exciting.

Sketch two: Flowers bend with the rainfall 

An acquaintance of mine lost his daughter this week. I have cried each time I have prayed for them this year. May my students learn the reality that life is precious and may they understand that virtue is precious that moves us to weep with those who weep. Would that my contract allowed me to attend the funeral.

Sketch three: Patience as the forgotten virtue, time as the forgotten elixir

My freshmen created versions of Romeo and Juliet on the balcony today. Inevitably, they sapped up the period making them more and more elaborate, but I had only one working video camera, which meant, of course, that we puttered for most of the period and then suddenly in the final 20 minutes everyone was ready to film. Oh well. It put me in a bit of a frustrated mood, mostly because I was attempting to solve the problem (running around looking for video cameras that would work, hustling slow students), and then I needed the first 15 minutes of the next period to settle down. I might have instead thrown my hands up and thought, “Oh well, that’s the job I’m in.” That would have been better. If that were the method of coping I’d chosen, my kids might have had more fun, and I’d probably feel less tired at this moment. I just couldn’t let go of how much they’re going to hate Romeo and Juliet two weeks from now when we still haven’t finished the play. I wanted to beg, “Please hurry – you don’t understand what you’re doing to yourselves!” But really it’s me doing it to them; I just need to accept it and have the fun I usually have with them, like I did last year when my juniors spent the better part of the spring reading To Kill a Mockingbird. This is what happens when they learn. It takes time.

Sketch four: They can 

My little league coach used to tell a story about a girls’ softball team he coached. One day they were getting lazy and not doing warm-up drills with any life and he called them in and “quit” for the day. Then he walked off, leaving them to figure it out. They stood in a daze for a few minutes while he sneaked around a hill to find a spot to spy on them. By the time he got there they had made a choice: they were doing their regular warm-up routine, just as he had set up, at full energy. I needed to read Caesar with my 10th graders but a need for an extended conference with a student popped up. I told them what I’d hoped to read in that time and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to read it with them. I figured a few of them  might read it to themselves and the rest would prattle away the time. Instead, they kept their parts and read it aloud together. Nice.