Experiencing Homecoming week as a teacher is far more entertaining than it was as a student.

As a first year teacher, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but wow. This is a little ridiculous. Having gone to a private Catholic high school myself, I thought I’d seen all the glitz and glam that a Homecoming week could bring – but boy was I wrong. These country kids aren’t as glitzy by any means, but they definitely do it BIG. They wear their mums to school on Friday and just about every student has one, even if they don’t have a date! They make their own! They wear these huge things pinned to their clothes or wrapped around their arms ALL DAY. Then later tonight, they will wear them to the football game and after that, to the “dance.” I say “dance” with quotations because honestly it’s just some teachers playing music from an iPod in the commons, snacks and sodas, and friends hanging out after the game.

The game. Our team is currently 0-4 this season and as hard as the cheerleaders try, the pep rallies don’t even get them hyped up. I’m a huge football fan, so this really bums me out. I would love to be teaching the kids on a state-winning team, but unfortunately I don’t think that will be the case this year. It is nice to see the guys on the team still trying and not giving up. I hear the odds of a win tonight are actually pretty good… or, at least slightly possible. We’re “rebuilding,” as we tell people. This is only our team’s second losing season in about 10 years, only to be outdone by last year’s terrible record. “We’re working on it,” I tell my students who feel discouraged. They begin to doubt our team, but for the sake of the players in my classes, I try to keep the spirits up. I know what it’s like to lose – I’m an Aggie AND a Dallas Cowboys fan… TRUST ME. I know what it’s like to love a losing team.

In every class period, at least one student says, “It’s Friday AND Homecoming… can we have a free day?!” I continually reply with, “It’s Friday AND Homecoming… nope.” I am finally starting to get a feel for the way these kids work. I am teaching a remedial Reading class for my kids who just can’t pass the wicked tests that the state of Texas throws at them. I am a huge supporter of everything Texas – except for this test. The tests are difficult as it is, but the English test is a true nightmare. I don’t know how these kids are expected to succeed at this when most adults would have trouble passing it. Needless to say, most of my students are very angry about being in my class because A.) it’s a class devoted to reading – which they hate, and B.) this class replaced an elective class like Agriculture or Theatre. There are days that I think, “what the hell am I doing here?” But then there are days that I just can’t believe I’ve been blessed by these amazing students. I have freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and one wild 20 year old senior. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

So yes, I will be at the Homecoming game tonight. Instead of wearing a nice dress or a mum, I’ll be wearing my Raider Blue spirit shirt and screaming at the top of my lungs for this team of kind, goofy, incredibly fun students that mean the world to me. After the game, I will make my way over to the dance to make sure they aren’t acting like fools – at least not too much. And yes, I will probably have a really hard time holding myself back from dancing alongside them.  I’m sure they’ll laugh at my foot-tapping and almost-dancing. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s alright with me. These kids spend their days locked in classrooms, studying things that they mostly hate. They deserve a night of fun, and if that means laughing at their awkward Reading teacher, then so be it.

Happy Homecoming, y’all.

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