On Snowstorms and Gym Class


Cleaning up after a snow storm in Boreal, Cali...

This is pretty accurate

Unintentionally, I ended up working for a district that does not really enjoy having snow days, even on days that it should. (Seeing as that I actually went to some of these schools years ago, I should have seen this coming). On one particular morning,  I looked out my window and saw the snow falling and the roads caked with a substance that would both prevent me from going where I wanted to go and try to slide me into a tree. At the same time. Since I had agreed to the job a few days prior, I was not allowed to cancel it. Well, I could have but it would have involved calling the head of Human Resources for the district and asking her to fire me.

The drive itself was bad, but nothing that I haven’t gone through before.  However, I’m used to driving in these conditions in my tiny little Focus and made it on time. Somehow.

Walking into the school, I found myself hearing, “Why the hell are we here?” from both faculty members and students alike. The snow didn’t stop falling and I spent much of the day staring out the window watching as the sidewalk, which was plowed sometime ago, disappear under a white blanket. I would like to say that I was actually admiring the beauty and power of nature, but I was mainly dreading the ride home. In many classes a good quarter of the students had parents who loved them and decided that they should have stayed home anyway, which was good for me. You see, I-like many teachers-love small class sizes for many reasons. Some reasons are noble. For example, you can actually teach kids better, there’s less distractions, you can manage them more effectively. Other than that, I enjoy them because they’re easier to get the attention of-and thereby-toy with.

However, it is impossible to mess with a gym class. Those kids are there to run around and use up that excess energy derived from raging hormones;  there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop them.

For the gym class there was another teacher who was there to co-teach with me. He told me that he expected about 20 students to be absent for the class that hour, out of the 100. I began to laugh nervously, “You’re kidding right?” The distant look in his eyes was one that you see often in mental patients, lost in a world in their heads, a better world far more colorful and wonderful than our own. No, he wasn’t. This became all too apparent when they started piling in.

“People often walk in here and ask me what the hell is going on, and I just shake my head cause I don’t know either.” I asked him who the hell thought that this was a good idea-the gym isn’t even that large! “I don’t know, but it was probably the same person who decided to give me a class where half of the students don’t speak English very well.”

And yet, he still loves his job.

I think I picked an awesome career.

What people don’t seem to realize about gym teachers is the pure, chaotic hell they go through. Since subbing for gym often means “free gym” for the student, for the teacher it means you’ve entered a war zone. You do not feel safe, even on the sidelines. Balls are flying back and forth, whizzing past your head. One tries to keep track of all the students and their potential weapons, but every now and then some student will lose control or throw the ball funny. What happens next will follow you until the end of the period; you can either catch or knock the ball away gracefully or get whacked in the face. Pray to your deity that you’re still quick enough to dodge a ball. While it may not be as bad if you can’t dodge a bullet, it’s far more humiliating.

As if that wasn’t enough, the students already look at you different because of the fact that you are a gym teacher. They treat you differently and act far less reserved than a normal teacher. There were a group of students who approached the other teacher and I that day. They spent most of the hour giggling and amusing themselves  by approaching him and telling him how their older sisters had crushes on him. He would just roll his eyes, he remembered the girls they were talking about. “Her sister is twenty now,” he told me, “weird eh?”

I wasn’t spared by any means. Actually I may have have gotten it worse than he did. You see, for some reason, middle schoolers think I look exactly like Jasper Cullen from the Twilight films. I seem to get at least one “O. M. G. DID YOU KNOW YOU LOOK EXACTLY LIKE JASPER CULLEN???????” each day. It was cute the first time,and I took at as a compliment. But as the days went on (and as my number of stalkers increased exponentially), I’ve begun to dread the comparison.

But that is another story for another time.

The other teacher laughed when I told him that I got the Jasper comparison everyday. “These kids, just roll your eyes and play along.” By play along he seemed to mean laugh at them and treat  them like what they are: immature little middle schoolers. As the the girls ran back and forth asking me stupid questions like what it was like to attack Bella, or  if she really smokes that much pot, I found comfort in knowing that what I had been doing all this time had paralleled his advice. “Just ignore them; they go away after the bell rings.”

(He was right, they did.)

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