Be The Change…

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 11 2011

The highs are decently high, and the lows are REALLY low.

Another day of my life has come and gone. Sometimes I wonder: did I actually accomplish anything today? Sure, I went to work. Sure, I tried teaching. But did that actually amount to ANYTHING?

Let me just re-cap yesterday. The day ended. It was less than great. I knew I was getting observed today and I told my class that we would be getting observed and please behave. So, I told them that on Tuesday and then yesterday (Wednesday) they acted a fool. I was just so over everything. I generally figured I would have my observations today and I might as well just throw in the cards and take my letter firing me. I sat down at my computer and thought: what can I really do? My answer to self, start writing my letter of resignation. I put my head in my hands and nearly started to bawl my eyes out. Then students came in my room, so I pulled myself together and made it out of the building. I came home, went to the gym and texted my mom “I have never wanted to quit anything so badly in all my life.” She said “call me.” So I called and talked to my dad. Wait, not quite. My dad said hi and I lost it. I was walking out of the gym bawling. Cried to my car. Cried on my drive home. Cried as I walked in the door and my roommate looked at me – sweaty from the gym and crying. Cried in my bedroom. Finally got myself together and told me dad I have no idea if I can keep doing this. He said if I really am so unhappy and stressed, maybe I do need to consider quitting. Then he told me that since my students really do seem to like me, that maybe I should just be honest with them and tell them their behavior makes me want to quit. Then I talked to my mom and walked into my living room and told my roommates I am seriously considering quitting and going back home (I’m from New York, so South Arkansas is about 24 hour drive).

Well, as the story goes – I went back today. So much for one observation, I got observed 3 times today. My Foreign Language District Chair came in and observed me 2nd period. Then my principal came in and observed me 6th period. Then I have my formal new teacher observation 7th period. A sigh of relief. My students behaved. The pop-in observations – 2nd and 6th, my kids were under control (an accomplishment these days) and were doing what I asked when I was being observed. 7th period were angels, they did exactly as I asked. They answered questions, they behaved. When my vice principal walked out they all sighed heavily and yelled out: “DID WE DO OK?” Yes, they were great. My principal said positive things and I am glad that observation is out of the way.

So, as the day ends today – I feel back in the game. Am I good at the game? NOOOO. Gosh, I suck at this game. Here is the thing about the game of teaching: there is no rule book, there are no rules, no-one can tell you how to do it (because no-one really knows). What works for one class, one period, and even one student, doesn’t work for them all. You have to constantly change the rules. Imagine playing a soccer game where the rules changed based on every player and event. The game would stop. Well, that’s how my classroom works right now. I probably spend 8-10 minutes PER PERIOD just waiting for my students to be silent. I REFUSE to give directions when people are talking. My students are catching on. What I have to say is important and I let them talk, A LOT when they do group work, so I demand their full attention for me to give directions. I kept 3rd period after the bell today for 2 minutes, I made 5th period work in silence, and I sent 3 kids out of their period for talking. They’re catching on that there is a time to talk. But, their catching on has taken them 12 weeks to catch on…….

All I know is that it is a little over a week until Thanksgiving and THANK GOODNESS. I need a break. I need to not be working around the clock. I need to not always have MORE work to do, no matter what. I need to sleep and feel rested. I will miss my students, for sure. They’re the only reason I return to this job. Because honestly, the work sucks. Its tiring – actually, exhausting, and frustrating. But, just a few kids make it worth it. So, I’ll miss them – but I need a break.

One Response

  1. “But, just a few kids make it worth it.” Always keep those few kids in mind. Be there for them and don’t let the others disrupt the conducive learning environment for them. As you continue to improve, your kids will as well. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

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A small town person with big world dreams


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