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The 7th Circle of Hell: Is This the Way my Students Feel About my Class?


It’s summer. This means my life is a whirlwind of oil changes, vet visits, dance practices and camps, college orientation…and then there are the REALLY awful ones. Like Discount Tire. And doctor’s offices.

In case you’re still getting to know me, I should be very frank. Patience is not a virtue with which I have been blessed. At all. Not even a little.

Doctor's office

And when the doctor’s office says they are going to charge you if you are late, and then keeps YOU waiting for 45 minutes, well, I have issues. Or Discount Tire. Good. Lord. Just tell me it’s going to be 2 hours. Don’t lie. We’re all adults here, right? I mean, sometimes. How about the checkout line at Wal-Mart? When the customer in front of you has 57 coupons and 3 bundles of competing ads?

These places, especially the doctor and the tire shop, are places I like to call The 7th Circle of Hell. In case you’ve forgotten, in Dante’s Inferno, the 7th Circle of Hell is inhabited by souls who committed violent acts while on Earth. In my way of thinking, that is the perfect name for these places because that’s what I want to do when I’m there. I’m either crying because I’m so frustrated, or I’m throwing things at the people irritating me. In my mind. Not for real. Maybe.

Today, as I was stewing at Discount Tire, I started thinking about how much I hated the fact that I HAD to go there. I mean, I had a flat tire. It’s the sensible place to go. There isn’t really another place here in town that does just tires, so Discount Tire it is. No matter how much I HATE it.

There are kids who feel this way about coming to my class.

Oh. My. Gosh. There are kids that feel this way about MY CLASS.

I know it’s true, and yet I don’t really think about it much. The kids are in my class, they do the work, they pass, and they move on. Yes, I do develop relationships with kids; I know when they are hungry, upset, and downright mad. I also know that some of them don’t like me, and I try not to take it personally. But until today I didn’t consider that some of them actually hate it as much as I hate the doctor’s office.

So now the question is what do I do about that? Am I going to be able to make every kid love English class? No. Can I make it more bearable? Somedays I could. Will it work every day? Not a chance.

My goal this summer is to think about the kids who hate my class. Really think about them. And then do something about it.

I don’t know what to do yet, but I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to read about student engagement, kinesthetic activities, alternative assessments, and bringing relevancy to lessons. If I can make even one student change their mind about English, then I’ll know I’m moving in the right direction. Maybe I’ll make it to the 6th Circle.