May Days


I turned the final corner on the school year with the arrival of May, the most exciting month of the year. Don’t get me wrong; I love teaching, but after grading a few thousand essays over the last ten months, the upcoming golden days of June and July are 24 hour gold nuggets that I will hoard like Midas. I bask in the fact that I will finally have time to read something that doesn’t involve a step-by-step process of how to blast a raccoon right out of an oak tree or doesn’t try to persuade me that “young ‘ins really don’t need no schoolin’ beyond the sixth grade.” I can sleep past the hour of 5:30, and I can go to the bathroom any darn time I want. The freedom is dizzying and tempts you into bohemianism. Or at least a few spontaneous days down at the pool. But the month of May is also bittersweet as it means the closure of a good year with my students. As I think back on the 2013-14 year, I see my kids as possessing creativity, humor, and a distinct sense of justice.

For the many years that I’ve taught mythology to my freshman classes, I’ve asked them to create their own god or goddess and write a myth to accompany their statue. The students never fail to impress, and I’ve had beautiful works of art grace my classroom, each with a unique story behind the miniature figure. I’ll never forget the year excessive rains coincided with the presentation of the statues, and when we left them in my classroom overnight, we returned the next day to find dozens of tiny frogs who had wiggled under my outside door only to expire by the shelf with the 4 inch deities. I told the students this was obviously a judgment in the form of a plague of Egypt since we had so many idols in the room. They nodded sagely and carried those frog-killing totems away.

A photo of student brilliance

A photo of student brilliance

My students also make me smile with their sense of humor. Just this week a student walked in after my junior composition class had already started, and one of my boys told her in no certain terms to hit the bricks. I asked what had happened to their Southern hospitality (a recent essay topic), and Bayly quickly amended, “We really enjoyed your visit. Do come back now, ya hear?” And then there was Lisa’s comment on the Paleo diet: “Sure, you’re supposed to eat the way our ancestors did, but let’s be honest here. If our ancestors had had chocolate cake, they would have eaten it.”

I'm pretty sure any stone savage would have put down the club and partaken of the dirt cake.

I’m pretty sure any stone savage would have put down the club and partaken of the dirt cake.

But more than any other trait, my students possess a strong sense of fairness. During our Grandparents’ Day festivities, I had my students participate in a writing activity and then read their creative pieces aloud to our venerated guests. Given that my class demographics are heavy to the XY persuasion, I gave an admonition to make sure that all material in their stories would be appropriate. I’m sure you can guess where this is headed. One story was moving along beautifully until the boys suddenly had a pig stop to smoke something that isn’t exactly sold over the counter. Perfect. As soon as the spokesperson said it, he looked up to meet my eyes and immediately began apologizing and pointing fingers. The next day, I brought in food for my sophomores, and when that spokesperson happened to peek into my room and see the baked goods, he began petitioning for their class.

“I’m sorry, but what part of a reefer-smoking swine do you think warrants a piece of my homemade pound cake?”

He pursed his lips, nodded his head and responded, “You’ve got me there, Ms. Carver. Quite right.”

He walked out and never questioned the verdict or the sentence. Even when they’ve ticked me off, I still love my kids.

© 2014 – Traci Carver


18 responses »

  1. Great mini-illustration essay to end the term with a fine finish. I love how you make learning so memorable for your students: mythological assignments with biblical consequences. These posts are a treasure trove of anecdotes. Do I see an e-book in your future?

    And your teacherly touches: “I can go to the bathroom any darn time I want.” One of my pet peeves was having students follow me to my office (especially after a 1 1/2 hour class) and need to talk and talk about their work while my bladder got fatter and fatter.

  2. After teaching ESL for the last few years, I have to say I have such a complete appreciation for teaching and teachers. I never realized how much energy and patience and all sorts of everything it takes to be a truly good teacher.
    Congrats on nearing that much deserved time off!! 😀
    ~ Andrea ❤

    • Thanks, Andrea! I often feel the same way about people in food service. One of my students wrote a personal belief statement that everyone should have to work at a fast food restaurant in high school to give some perspective on what servers endure. After reading it, I began to wonder how many other professions I need to see in a new light! 🙂

    • I think we’re on a different schedule from most of the country. And while we do get out at the end of this month, we ring the bells again the first week of August. Once upon a time, school followed the crop calendar, but not so with modern farming equipment.
      I hope your year wraps up smoothly!

  3. In my community in Georgia you may never gotten away with idol manufacturing. The Bible thumpers could be quit harshly defensive. But the frog plague would have really scored!

    • Our area is conservative, but truly, a solid understanding of mythology helps brings key parts of the New Testament to life. One of my favorites was the student who developed the goddess of giggles. That particular mythological figure makes you want to laugh in church or the library. Too cute!

  4. I do believe the sentence should read that it’s not sold over the counter…yet…in Georgia. :-/ Gotta love the frog plague! HA! Irony is so sweet. LOL

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