I'm always excited yet wary of the first few days getting to know my new students. This year, I have one of those interesting kids that crosses demographics you wouldn't normally expect to see... The Black Goth kid. I find this minority fascinating as I watch them fit quite comfortably in their own skin and yet seem quite lost in a way. My poor chap thinks he can try to shock me, the dear innocent child...
"Hi, my name's GothKid and I don't believe in God."
"Nice to meet you, GothKid," I say with a smile.
"I hate dancing."
"Thankfully, that aspect of life is optional."
It turns out, he DOES believe in a God, just not "your Christian one", as I heard him explain to the kids at his table who were rather concerned that he may start sacrificing chickens and spattering them with blood at every full moon. The pentagrams he drew all over his new agenda book were cute too. Whenever I see the Goth crowd, the Emo crowd, the gangsta crowd, I always think of that line from Monty Python's Life of Brian... "YES! WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!"
I've also got two of my favorite category of student... The ones who USED to be an enormous behavior concern but are now struggling (with varying levels of success) to shape up. The trend in their behavior may not always be a clearly defined upward slope towards Nirvana, but they always have such a fire in them and usually have a sharp sense of humor, honed by years of shitty turns of events in their lives.
It's an odd year as two very good friends of mine have left the building. MamaTeacher left us for that fantastic place known as "Retirement", and CandyComrade abandoned us for that dubious place known as "The School with Better Behaved Kids But Slightly Lower Pay". As long as she's happy, it'll make missing her a little bit easier. I know she'll be jealous when she hears about all the morale boosting Ra-Ra meetings we have which have formed a protective callous on all the palms of our hands as we clap like over-excited chimps. Boy, is she missing out! Morale is indeed up a bit, and I really hope it rubs off on the kids too. A depressed teacher would inspire fewer kids than one who's charged like an electric eel!
So far, I've only got one student this year in jail for a summer offence, so I guess it was good to get that out of the way early on in the year. I look forward to hearing the verdict, so I know whether or not to make space for him in the already overcrowded classrooms. I'm thinking either I'll Velcro him to the wall or else stick him in a hammock above the rest of the kids' heads. Either way, we won't leave that child behind.
I'm hoping it'll be a good year.