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I Love Teaching Teenagers (I really do!)

Short Story # 2 Menstruation Cycle

There are some students who have no filter. Your filter stops you from saying whatever comes to your head. For example, you need a filter for that part of our adult selves that says, "I want to tell her that dress makes her look fat." A hormonally- imbalanced, unfiltered teen, instead, blurts out, "well there is no way you could look thin!"

Josh had a copy of the menstruation cycle, fresh from health class, and when he opened his folder to find his English work, had to "snicker and share." Now, in education, we have all these teaching techniques with names like "think, pair, share," based in research, reduced to a simple phrase. Yet it is the "snicker and share" that is more infamous. Don't make the mistake of believing the "why don't you share with the class what you find so funny" technique will mortify the student engaged in "snicker and share." There is nothing, I mean, nothing, the average teen is afraid to say out loud. In this case, Josh was all too happy to share the fact that he completely understood this visual representation of the female reproductive system.

After class, as the students made their way to the door like Pavlovian dogs waiting for the bell to ring, I noticed "The Menstruation Cycle" handout lying on the floor under the desk in front of me. I reached for it, extending myself to the fullest length my rolling teacher chair would allow me. Not far enough. Since the chair shot back, I shot forward and hit my head soundly on the desk in front of me. When I came to, I had rocked back from the desk, and a few of the students were looking down at me with concern. You had no idea an English classroom could be so dangerous, right?

What would you have done? Called 911? Sent a kid to get the nurse? Called for help? If you answered yes to any of those options, you are not a teacher. We don't do that. We work through lunch, hold our bladders longer then humanly possible, go to work sick, correct papers in our free time, spend our money on school supplies, and most importantly, keep calm and pretend everything is in the lesson plan! So, I went to my next duty in the library, where I took over for the librarian so she could use the bathroom, have her lunch, and take care of human needs. Actually, I need to correct my earlier statement: all staff members including teachers in a school district, never put their own, basic physical needs first. We are an interwoven support system that operates in a delicate balance of coverage, "manning up" and stretching ourselves thin.

Anyways, I didn't know I had a concussion, nor did I really care. Yet the librarian soon figured it out as I wasn't making much sense and was even more klutzy than normal. I refused to leave her in the lurch, however, as I knew she needed a break. She then called the one person who knew if anyone was free, the heart of each and every school, the true master of all things: the school secretary. I insisted the free staff member cover for the Librarian before I would go anywhere. That left the only other free person in the whole building who could transport me to the hospital: the building Principal, my boss.

Mr. Principal was a young, hard-working, up-and-coming administrator who still had a used car that I think was a Ford Focus. Humble and down to earth, he was also sporting a very long beard, in protest, I believe, to the hellish administration above him, trying hard to scour his soul of any humanity. I'm not even kidding. Winter was not coming, it was upon us, and Mr. Principal took the brunt of a superintendent who could make a "white walker" (the devil, etc.) look like a "tickle me Elmo." Ironically, that filter that I wished Josh had earlier in the day, had vanished from me with my concussion. "Jessica unfiltered" was live and if I recall correctly, the elephant in the room was in that Ford Focus, and coming out of my mouth.

"Listen, don't feel like you need to keep your "Duck Dynasty" beard just to piss off Mr. Superintendent! Cut it! Let your face be free!"

Did I mention I got a concussion in an English classroom?

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