I have to believe that I am not the only one who has them.
My schedule this year is the roughest I have ever had. My last class of the day is a class I have never taught before, with a new textbook. All the teachers that teach this class as well are a 10 minute walk away in another building. It feels like we are worlds away. I was given no curriculum, no idea of what to teach. I am a teacher after all, I can figure it out.
But that last class of the day does me in. It is not large, and there is nothing specifically about the students. They have the normal collection of student things, intelligent kids with a low level of english. And I am to teach them how to read. But by the end of the day, often times they are exhausted and keyed up at the same time, or maybe that is just me. They have a hard time focusing on the reading, comprehending it to do more than decode the words.
By the time they enter the door, I have been on my feet nonstop since I arrived at 7:30, and in front of students for a solid 4 hours. I know my limits. By the time this last class comes in, I have reached my limit.
To make matters more glorious, on days when it is warm, the room heats up. Seventy five, eighty degrees.
I do great in the first two classes, I am on top of things. I am not feeling overwhelmed, tired or otherwise desiring to hide. I am patient, gregarious, a good listener and intuitive to what they have learned and what they haven’t gotten yet. I know how to meet their needs. It shows in their grades, their behavior and the cadence of the classes. But by seventh, I can’t get attendance in, I am misplacing things, I am misspeaking, I am not as clear about our direction (since I have not been given any clues) and the class isn’t where I want it. It takes all my effort to every day keep our class on track, meeting the needs of my lower literacy students, being patient with my attitude problems, and this is to say nothing to the abysmal attendance problems that have plagued the class.
Not all days are as bad, as discouraging. Ninety percent of the time I keep us focused, I have engaging activities, they are reading daily and can answer to what is going on. But I have a couple who are trying to slip through the cracks through silence. The failing grades that try to do all the work and never ask a question, but manage to fail because at the heart of it, it is clear that they are only getting about 50 to 60 percent, if that.
Today, I was trying to figure out if these kids were state testing or not. Unclear, and without an answer from my higher ups until the class was over, we were particularly lacking focus, despite the task at hand.
I know these days are opportunity days. These are days to reflect to make the next year better. To know specifically how to fix what is wrong. But still one has to live through them first.
Afterward, a student of mine wants to hang out with me. This takes effort too, especially when feeling downtrodden.
After all this, I go to our local park with A. There are kids there, about 11, who are spitting and throwing bark. When I politely but firmly confront them, they leave, but not before they call me a “goody goody”. I am actually complimented, because they know I am not like the other bangers and tweakers there.
But I don’t want that stuff. I want to relax, not tell other kids to quit throwing stuff. I won though, they left.