Stories from the Blackboard
It’s the third day of school and I'm exhausted. My legs and feet ache. I’m hungry and my mind is managing multiple situations at once. I have students from all different backgrounds, readjusting to in-person learning. Some of my students haven’t been in a classroom since March of 2020. They’re relearning how to navigate school and adjusting to being in a classroom. For some students. it’s like being a fish in water. They immediately get back into the swim of things. For others, they’re still on land, deciding whether or not to jump back in.
When I took a break, my chair felt like a bed. I removed my mask and breathed in a mix of disinfectant and weed. Yes, weed. One of my students, a young man, entered the classroom reeking of weed. On the street, it’s known as “loud.” Well, it definitely was loud in my room. The smell was so strong that despite having the door, windows, and three fans running, it lingered in my room long after the young man had left. The smell was also on my clothes as a couple of colleagues pointed out to me. Oh great. I certainly didn’t want to be accused of smoking weed on campus. With a kid in college, I need my check.
The custodian helped me to disinfect my classroom. I went to the bathroom to disinfect myself. I had caught a contact from the smell and was hungry. That’s what weed does to you. It gives you the munchies. I drank a Boost chocolate shake, a banana, and some fruit snacks. The food helped, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted a real meal but my lunch break was over. My students would be returning to my room from lunch. The learning would resume.
The class was boisterous as they entered the room. Lunch is like recess for them and they were full of energy. Having food in their bellies helped the situation as well. I settled the class down so that we could begin our vocabulary lesson. The students would be learning about words that were associated with life and death. Being Black in America, many of us go through that every day.
The young man’s scent caught the attention of several administrators and the school nurse. The nurse had him in her office and made a report of the smell. The young man was sent to the dean’s office for a conversation and next steps. The parents would definitely be called. I wondered if they knew their son was so heavily caught up in smoking weed. Were they smokers as well?
I try not to judge as weed is legal — depending on the amount. There are many dispensaries all across the state. There are at least three in my city. People can purchase weed in various formats — gummies, herbs, and oils. It’s a thriving business adding jobs and money to the local economy. I’m not dissing anyone involved in the industry. However, adults should be mindful not to have their minor children partaking in a substance that is illegal for them to do so.
I don’t know what will happen to that young man. I had informed my class that using weed is not something they should be doing. If they are doing it, they mustn’t come into my classroom smelling like a dispensary. It is disrespectful and disruptive. This class in particular took longer to settle down regarding the young man’s actions. Especially since he had dropped two weed packets from his pocket prior to leaving my classroom. The class got amped up when they saw them. The packets were turned over to the dean.
Teaching is a joy and a struggle. It’s a joy when I see students grasp a concept or produce stellar work. It’s a struggle as students come into the classroom dealing with issues from home, their neighborhoods, or within themselves. Some students can separate their personal lives from their academic ones. Some students have a harder time doing so. I’m not just a teacher, but a counselor, referee, medical assistant, and surrogate mother.
It’s never a dull moment when you’re a teacher. From students adjusting to a return to school, learning in the midst of a pandemic, or discovering who they are and what they want to do with their lives, I’m right there for them. I’m here for learning, adjusting, and discovering their paths in life. It’s who I am and what I do. And there’s so much more that I want to do for my students, their families, and the district. I’m leaving it up to the universe to help guide my path as I work on finding my purpose. In the meantime, I have lessons to plan, assignments to create and work to grade. Let’s get into the thick of it!