My roommate just said to me: we are 1/8th of the way through our 2 year commitment. My general reaction to that is: WHAT? It really doesn’t seem possible. Some days are long (and painful), but overall I do not feel like I have been doing this for 9 weeks. I think my gut reaction is: am I really impacting my students? Are they learning enough Spanish? Are they getting what they need to be college-ready? And do they know how much I really do love them?
To the last question, I can answer: I think so. I was in Hot Springs, AR yesterday (very nice – I suggest a visit) and I was sitting downtown and my cell phone rang with a number I wasn’t familiar with. I answered the call and a familiar voice pops up: “Hi Mr. Gray, it’s STUDENT.” I was taken back, mainly because I thought something was wrong. So I responded “Hey STUDENT, what’s up bud?” And he says to me: “I know you said you were coming to the Arts and Crafts Fair in Hot Springs and I am here with my grandparents right now. Are you here? I want them to meet you so they know the Spanish teacher who I like so much.” I was without words. Well, no I wasn’t at the fair. But, I had no words to respond. I told him I wasn’t there, but I had been there and to make sure he got some kettle corn because it was really good. He said it was a bummer we didn’t cross path but he would see me Monday. I hung up the phone with a big smile and no words. Do my kids know how much I love them? Yes, I think they do. I go to great lengths to let them know that I am personally invested in their success and that I give 110% every day and expect the same from them. It’s moments like this that keep me going through the tough days.
And my lesson for this week: work with your administrators. Sometimes you may not like what they have to say, or may question their decision; but, always know that they are in this job for the kids too.
This Thursday my relationship with one administrator paid off. I have two students who I take from study hall every day and work with them in my room on Spanish or other homework. Both of them have gone from a C, to a B, and now to an A in my class. Now I am working with them to get similar results in their other classes. Well, when I went Thursday the study hall teacher told me I couldn’t have them and I was breaking school policy. She lectured me in front of a room full of students. I was embarrassed, and had no idea what to do. I asked if she needed an administrator note or what because I had already checked with their principals. She told me not to bother, she was not giving them to me. I had NO idea what to do. I was been treated like a child and told I couldn’t teach my kids. Well, I decided I needed to first check with the principals to make sure I wasn’t breaking policy. I walked into the office at the same time as the principal who I check in with most. I told her what happened. She was furious. She just looked at me and said LETS GO and started marching towards the study hall room. She went to say something and just said: I’m going to bite my tongue for professional reasons. I gave her the student names and she just opened the door and said she needed them. The study hall teacher came out and said I was breaking policy, etc. The principal just looked at her and gave her a lecture right back about how if I wanted to spend my free period tutoring I could and that was my decision as a teacher and told me to take the boys. I didn’t stick around to hear what more she said but I got to the end of the hallway with the boys and looked back and she was still talking at the teacher.
Now, I don’t mean to say that you should always run to the administration with every problem. But, in this case my relationship with my administration paid off. She came to my rescue to help my see through my vision that all my students learn everything they can. They knew that I was working with those students and helping them learn. They know that I will do anything in my power to make sure my students succeed. Later in the day I felt bad that I had gotten the other teacher in trouble so I went and talked to another teacher. I told her what happened and she just said to me – you did the right thing. You want your students to learn and she was getting in the way of that, so you took the steps needed to correct the problem.
So, the study hall teacher now greatly dislikes me. I’ve made an enemy and will have to work to smooth over that relationship. But, in the meantime – I continue to do what I came here to do: impact student lives and teach them what they need to know for college, jobs, etc. And I will stop at nothing to make sure my students have every opportunity they need and deserve.