Politics of Education · Recent · Teaching

My First Day of High School

The bell chimed–not the ringing of the bell I’m accustomed to hearing on TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, much to my disappointment. This was a bell tone, sounding distinctly synthetic.

I stopped in mid sentence and looked up at the speaker in the ceiling. My students looked a little confused by my pause.

“I have to make a confession,” I said. “Are you guys old enough to know Mean Girls? Have you seen it?” They laughed and nodded. “Okay, so I didn’t go to high school. Or elementary school. I was home schooled from kindergarten up through high school. So, this is actually my first time in a high school class. I’m basically Cady. So if things seem confusing to me, that’s why.”

They all laughed and I went back to talking about class, or the syllabus, or something. Things were a little bit bumpy today because the computer in my room didn’t like me. That’s okay, normally, but I like to spend the first day showing them how to navigate D2L and showing them where the syllabus is, etc. So instead I had them do a writing activity, which we would’ve done anyway, and I hit some of the highlights from the syllabus.

Then the announcements started.

The principal, or vice principal, I’m not sure which, made a long series of announcements about typical back to school stuff, and students picking up their trash in the cafeteria. I hadn’t expected it, and clearly my facial expressions were amusing my students because they kept laughing.

And then it happened. The students were asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They turned to face the corner of the room where a little American flag was hanging. And they all put their hands on their hearts and said the pledge. I stood. But I didn’t pledge. Or put my hand on my heart. I don’t know if they noticed. I suppose I could play it safe, and just conform. But I don’t want to.

I had opened the class telling them they could call me Jean or Ms. Alger, because I don’t go in much for titles. I wonder if it will be much of a surprise to them that I don’t go in for nationalism, either.

I’m looking forward to the semester, though. It will be my first in a high school, so in some small way I’ll have a glimpse of what it’s like for my college first-years when they’re in high school.

We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.


One thought on “My First Day of High School

  1. Saying the pledge is so bizarre to me. We were made to say in when I was in school – in high school, we were punished if we didn’t. Still, for me it harkens to blind, horrific nationalism; it’s so bizarre and terrifying and…unquestioning. :-/

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