Friday, December 7, 2012

My Boys

I work at what is, from the faculty perspective, the least boarding-school-like boarding school. It's a great school, but at traditional boarding schools, most of the faculty live on campus and a majority of them actually live in apartments attached to the dorms. Here, most of us go home at the end of the day--mostly to a home that's not on campus, or even in walking distance.

Now, as an adult, there is something really nice about this arrangement. I remember as a young boarding school teacher at another school, going back and talking to the public school teachers who taught me, and telling them about where I worked. I think they were appalled by how much time I spent around my students. And in a way, I get that. When you live in a dorm, you have kids knocking on your door at all hours--sometimes because they have a serious illness or need to talk about some serious stuff, and sometimes because they want to know if you have change for a five-dollar-bill or--and this too is an actual request--because they want to know if another faculty member is home. So, yeah, it's nice not to have that.

On the other hand, when you live so close to your students, there are a lot of cool things that happen. You get to see all the cool things they're doing, you get to see them more or less grow before your eyes, and you form close--yet professional--relationships with some really neat adolescents.

At my current school, that's harder to develop, because we don't live here. I spend a lot of time in the barrack (yeah, it's a military school), and even for me, it's tough to form those types of experiences. I'm in my office in the barrack basically 8 hours every day during the school day, plus on duty for 4 hours one evening a week, making sure they spend 2 of those hours studying. And every once in a while, I have duty on a Friday night, which is often my favorite duty. Other than making sure they aren't burning down the building or violating major rules, it's basically a chance to hang out.

Some Fridays when I'm on duty, I'm basically by myself--the kids are doing their thing, I'm doing my thing, and unless I initiate a conversation (which I often do) I won't see a kid until I check them in for the night. But sometimes--like tonight--things go differently. Two of my boys came in and we talked about various and sundry topics, then ended up playing a board game (Ascension). Then three students played another game with me (not sure what it's called--not my game). And then I dropped out of the game... and now I've got seven kids in my office having a blast playing a game. I love it.

It's great to see the boys hanging out in a relaxed way, laughing and enjoying each others' company. These aren't seven kids who normally hang out with each other--or with me--but here they are. Fantastic. I love seeing guys who often don't show much leadership taking a leadership role. It's nice to get to know them a little better in this informal context. But it's also great to see them interacting face to face like this, in an era when kids so easily isolate themselves in their own rooms playing computer games, or playing video games together, where they spend most of their time staring at the screen, even when they're talking to each other. Excellent. Any time I can combine my guys and board games, it's a win.


  1. This post made me smile after a day of emotional highs and lows. I love the image of these boys playing a game in your office. Nice post. But then, I always enjoy what I read here.

  2. I love that you love this. You're exactly the kind of person we need in schools.

  3. Thanks MissMeliss. I wrote the post while the boys were playing, so I could barely hear myself over the laughter and rowdiness of teenaged boys: wasn't quite sure how it would all come out!

    And thanks Marcy! I *am* exactly the kind of person we need in schools (other than not being licensed to teach in public schools).