Since I've bitched and complained a wee bit about schools and teachers and losing my job as a teacher, I thought the very least I could do -- and never let it be said that I don't do the very least -- is to tell you my teaching philosophy.
It's really quite simple: Give the students basic rules to follow, enforce the rules, and then make it all as much fun as possible.
Going to school pretty much sucks. I teach high school, or would if that
Joan Rivers, before she turned into Dr. Frankenweenie's plastic surgery monster, used to say that there are two people in high school who are happy: the quarterback of the football team and the head cheerleader. I doubt if they're even happy these days.
Everybody is worried about zits, the opposite sex, or even more difficult, the same sex, picking on or threatening someone before someone picks on or threatens you, fitting in or making a show of not fitting in, not having the right clothes, getting a boner in the middle of a class, farting stinkily and/or audibly, having someone to eat lunch with, a way to get to school and get home other than riding the bus, rejection, getting too much attention or not enough, and sex, sex, sex, sex.
These kids have enough to freak them out. They certainly don't need teachers who make fun of them and even call them stupid. One thing every damn teacher did that I really hated was saying There's no such thing as a stupid question and then as soon as somebody dared to ask a question, the teacher would make it clear it was a stupid question. You'd better believe I didn't ask questions.
The Lola Philosophy of Teaching is based on something My Kathy taught me about working with church youth groups: Food, Fun, and Fellowship.
So if the kids are cooperative, they get a cookie or a piece of candy. You'd be amazed at how excited high school students get over a cookie.
Fun can be had in many ways. During my recent albeit brief teaching stint, a girl had a stuffed animal in her backpack. Toward the end of class when our work was done, we played catch with the stuffed animal, me included. Somebody had to glance out the door occasionally to make sure the security guards or administrators weren't headed our way. It was fun and we connected and the kids saw that even though I made rules, I wasn't a total bitch.
But an even more important way to have fun is to make assignments fun. So many people have asked your Lola over the years, Why do they always pick the most boring books for us to read in school? We had to read The Scarlet Letter and I hated it.
And your Lola always replies, It's not The Scarlet Letter that's boring. It's the way you were taught that was boring.
So imagine your assignment is to read The Scarlet Letter. The first thing Lola does is ask the class to -- Put yourselves in Hester's place, but you're still high school students. You're standing in front of the entire school on the stage of the auditorium and your boy/girlfriend is forced to try to make you reveal a secret. Revelation will get your boy/girlfriend into sooooo much trouble. So you keep your mouth shut and take the heat yourself. Then you have to walk around with a big red letter A for a-hole on your clothes, and you're the only one who has to wear the red A. Some of your worst fears are realized when every time you go someplace, as you pass people, they whisper about you and you know what they say is nasty. Plus, you have a little kid to take care of all by yourself.
The class is then assigned to write a journal entry about how they feel as High School Hesters. Discussion ensues.
An interesting assignment to which you can relate is a fun assignment.
The Scarlet Letter has all sorts of good supernatural, cool shit in it that high school students could enjoy on top of all the good stuff about keeping secrets and how eventually, people forget why Hester wears the A on her clothes and they say it maybe stands for Angel. So you can see that feeling like an asshole (Lola wouldn't actually say a-hole or asshole - I'd just make sure the students knew what I was thinking) in high school doesn't have to be a feeling that lasts forever. This too shall pass.
Then there's fellowship. Although we aren't going to pray together or read the Bible together (and I do believe in the separation of church and state and keeping religion out of public schools), fellowship is achieved through the shared experiences we have in class, doing the assignments together, having fun together, and knowing you can come to Ms. Lola's class and she won't ever call you stupid or let anybody else call you stupid because Ms. Lola rules.
Kids will get upset about having rules to follow, but ultimately, they're glad the rules are there to protect them.
And that, my gentle friends, is The Lola Philosophy Of Teaching.
Infinities of love,