It seems odd to those who have not experienced it, but a Vitamin D deficiency is a true "sickness" in Alaska. There are many articles and studies showing the importance of sunshine as a nutrition source for our bodies. Therapists, even prescribe Christmas lights as a way to help improve the mood of their patients. All throughout the city streets colorfully lit houses start popping up in October. At first I thought it was just because people wanted to get ahead of the snow soon to be covering their roofs. However, now I know it is also the only "splash of light" in the lives of those dealing with the tough Alaskan winter. Therefore, as I sat at my desk, biting back tears, I realize I am not just stressed and exhausted because I am a busy mom of three kids, but the dark winter days are draining my will power, my energy, my patience, and my brain.
I began to reflect on the attitudes of my students today. From the very beginning of the day there was disrespectful behavior and it seems as though the only color shining through the fog was their horrible language. There was not just the occasional slip of a "naughty word" today, but actual belligerent swearing. The F-Bomb was dropped enough times to annihilate the English language entirely.
In my classroom, the students know I have three very strict rules; Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Yourself. Using foul language violates number one, dents number two, and covers up number three. This is a discussion we have had from day one. Therefore, the consequence for swearing in my classroom is ten push-ups. This disciplinarian action usually occurs once or twice a day. However, today after one class period of students, I was considering signing up for courses to earn my P.E. endorsement because the amount of swearing would require heavy calisthenics or circuit training.
The disrespect was rampant, and the number of kids puffing up their chests or "preparing" to fist fight in class was spreading like wild fire. I stood listening to students berating each other, refusing to sit next to each other, and complaining they had to work. Imagine that; the English teacher forcing students to write and reflect on their reading assignment. I am positively evil for creating lessons for students to work on in small groups for a productive group project. I was surprised to see that they all finished their work with all the grumbling, grimacing, and griping. (Alliteration thrown in for effect) However, some students opted to work alone, others huddled in groups of two and most scowled throughout the entire period.
So, after spending the day watching all of these behaviors, I realized I too was feeling grouchy, irritable, and know I could have handled things a lot better had I been more patient. Where did my usual stockpile of calm disappear to I ask myself? It must have been sucked up by the sun and is hiding below the mountains. Good news is there is sunshine around the corner, we are gaining 5 minutes a day of daylight. Therefore, in a month we will be enjoying 12 hours of daylight. Yet, I have to get these kids and myself through until that point.
Tomorrow we are going outside to brave the Alaskan chill, snow, and ice. We are going to take one lap around the parking lot, and when we get back inside we will use that as our journal topic. I do not care if the responses are all negative and the kids' teeth are chattering. They will have some exposure to the sunlight, and maybe, just maybe some kindness will be awakened and warm them from the inside. If not, well...I wonder if it is illegal to spike drinks with Vitamin D pills?...
SNOW, SNOW, SNOW