The name “Empty Bobbins” comes from those times when you’re in the middle of a project and your bobbin runs out. You have to pause what you’re doing and reload. While you do that, you have a moment to just sit and reflect. This is a collection of musings and reflections on life’s moments. Some are quilting related, and some are not. This one comes from seeing all of the back-to-school pictures.
As I’ve said before, in my other life I’m a high school literature teacher. One question or reaction I get a lot when folks find this out is one of exasperation. Something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh! I don’t know how you do it. I would lose my mind!” And while, yes, some days I’m not sure how I do it either, most of my days are pretty fun. I’m pretty sure I smile and laugh more during my average work day than most. I love my students, and they are super cool to watch as they grow and make their post-high school plans. It’s exciting to think that I could be teaching someone who could one day save my life as a nurse or become another teacher or be a loving role model to his/her own family.
But the general public seems to forget this a lot. And this bias is embedded in our culture something fierce! Even my second-grader has made derisive comments about teenagers. They’re painted as lazy, entitled, and naïve. But the honest truth is this – they’re working so hard!
They’re one of the most informed groups of people that I know, and they check multiple news sources as a matter of habit now. They’re active, involved, and are going to change the world the second they get a chance. They don’t go home and sit and play video games every day. They work jobs, lead clubs, perform community service, and have so many extra-curricular activities that I can barely keep them straight.
Example: one of my AP Literature students was enrolled in all high level academic classes, orchestra, honors groups, and played lacrosse. And then when I thought she couldn’t do anything else during the day, I walked in to the local coffee house and saw her tutoring a younger student! And she isn’t alone. I see them coaching and leading with a fervor that is unmatched.
One year, my school had a band director quit suddenly, and a student stepped up and led the classes in band. He taught, conducted, and empowered his fellow students in a way that was humbling.
So yes, they like taking selfies. They do like their phones. But let’s give them credit where it’s due. Those selfies are fairly innocent, and those phones do a whole lot more than play games. They get news updates, class messages, and are coordinating groups on those phones.
The teenagers that I know, across all levels of diversity, are inspiring. Sure, some aren’t much for school, but even those students have their own agenda and plans, and I am awed by their abilities.
So when folks ask me how I do it. How do I put up with teenagers at a high school? The joke is on them. Those kids are amazing, inspiring, and it’s an honor to be a part of their lives. My only worry is how I will do justice to their goals when the time comes for me to play my part.
So here’s to a new school year, a new set a students who will inspire me, push me, and make me smile. May I be worthy of them. And may we all realize the gifts they have to give us.
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2 thoughts on “Empty Bobbins: Concerning Teenagers…”
I, too, teach literature to teens and I agree with what you say, most of the time. Just once in a while they push me to the edge. But that’s something all teens have been doing since ages, right?
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Absolutely! I read Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man, and I had to laugh. His descriptions of the students in the 60’s, the kids of dock workers, matched the same personalities I met my first year teaching. The wardrobes change, but the people don’t.
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