Volunteer Teaching is A Window into Being a Teacher

I can’t recall if I had mentioned on here that I have been facilitating a writing workshop for teens.

My workshop is in a high school out near the airport. There’s not a lot out there. My bus stop is at a strip club, and I walk a bit past industrial truck stops and cars speeding by on the highway. The school is called an alternative school or a continuation school. I guess you could say it’s the final line for the kids there. They’ve not made it through other schools so this is their last chance. When I was a kid they were considered schools for “bad kids”, but I knew even then that the kids weren’t “bad” mainly because some of my friends were going to those schools, and honestly, sometimes they seemed better. More flexible and less hierarchical (status based and clique based).

My group is very diverse. Kids of all races and backgrounds. Honestly, I don’t know their backgrounds, and it isn’t my business, but I can probably make an accurate guess that none of them are rich kids. I don’t know why many of them are in this particular school and program. I’m sure some of them are teen parents (which this school supports and helps) and others have been incarcerated and are on parole. There are also gang members, and kids that have some “authority issues” but I think there are many that just don’t fit into the average mainstream high school mold. It’s certainly not because they don’t have brains, they are very smart and very talented writers. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they all see that in themselves, but I hope they do.

For me this is all volunteer. I do it once a week, for two hours, for ten weeks. I have just finished my 4th day. Every week is a challenge of a different sort.Even though I enjoy it, it is also mentally taxing and I feel nervous every new week because every new week has a new challenge. And even donating one day a week has cost me money when I’m barely making it, I never really know if I’m going to get my rent paid. Or bills and I don’t even want to talk about my student loan, they are going to be knocking on my casket. Recently Governor Kulongoski said that teachers should work four days for free. I work for free. I volunteer, but it’s not my career, and I don’t have to answer to the stingy and in my opinion, arrogant and disconnected administration. I don’t think I could go beyond what I do right now for free. He of course added a statement of “do it for the kids.” As if there is any other profession that a politician would make that kind of request. What about the doctors work four days for free? Do it for the sick. And lawyers work four days for free? Do it for the under privileged. Why not psychiatrists and pharmacists work a week for free so we can keep the mental patience of the streets for five more days? Why not everyone work four days for free, even those privatized businesses. Now, that would be noble wouldn’t it? If everyone did a weeks worth of work for free. Landlords don’t charge rent and you get free groceries, and the Banks take  four days worth of mortgage off your house a month, and student loans wipe away four days a month worth of loan debt. Do it for the people of America. That’s what disconnect is.

I’m not even a teacher and I see how hard of a job this is.

Anyway… in other news…

I believe tomorrow they announce the NYC Short Story Challenge heat winners. I hope I’m one. If not, well, suck it up and keep on writing, right?


One thought on “Volunteer Teaching is A Window into Being a Teacher

  1. hey there good luck with your workshop.

    i envy those kids, they have a writing workshop. i wanted to attend one too but i’m busy with work or sometimes just too lazy… if you can dropped by my blog hope you can read one of my entries and assess me if i pass or fail..haha just kiddin’ 😀

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