I just found a reflection that I wrote as a requirement during my first year of teaching. I don’t want it to get lost in my email again, so I thought that I’d post it here. Considering that it’s been a…trying Spring semester (As a fifth year teacher, do I have Senioritis, or is it being a new mom that is making this so much more difficult?) it was really interesting to look back at what I wrote in 2008.
Here it is.
On this wonderful, beautiful, bright, sunny optional teacher’s work day, I sit down at my computer, with Regina Spektor on my mp3 player, to reflect on the past month of teaching.
Actually, I’m rather upset that the students aren’t here. I was excited about finally completing a full week of school and getting back into the habit of going to school for a five days at a time. I was also excited about finally getting back on track with my lesson plans because I am bound and determined to cover everything that we are supposed to read this semester. I don’t want to get stuck leaving anything out or rushing through anything as I did during the fall.
At any rate, I’ve been falling behind since Monday, and feeling like a pretty crappy teacher since end of last semester. There was the solid week of feeling like crying every time I thought about either my horrendous virgin administration of the English I EOC or the six (and then five) kids that had yet to pass the EOC out of the 22 students I had take it. More recently, there was the vocabulary quiz that I forgot to prepare, there were the journals that I forgot to take, there were the stacks of worksheets that I lost amongst Beverly Gambill’s filing system (I still need to go through and instate my own method of organization amongst the many files in the cabinets.), and there was the 30-minute Navigator that I forgot about. There is the power struggle that Tim the Jerk continues to try and pull me into. (Is he joking, or is that a glint of real malice in his eyes?) There are the new students added to second period daily (I’m up to 34, technically. Three of them have not shown up for class since the first day of school.) And there is the third period class that I dreaded since the first day of the Spring Semester in which I heard sounds of “Oh Dude! You’re in this class too?! This is going to be interesting!”.
And the new students.
I don’t love them like I did the others.
I like them, but I don’t love them. Not yet.
I wonder if I will ever feel as attached to subsequent bunches of students as I did my first classes.
I had an evaluation that wasn’t all together horrible. In fact, it went well, except for the fact that I received the same criticism I’ve been fighting since student teaching: “Your lessons meander, and while it was obvious that you know what you’re talking about, and you have some goal in mind, I’m not sure that the students knew what they were supposed to be learning or where they were supposed to be going with this information.” The agenda wasn’t clear. The lesson wasn’t clear. I wasn’t clear. My mind went racing back to those professors in college that I always complained about: They knew what they were doing, but they didn’t know how to tell US what they were doing. I don’t want to be that teacher.
What I did find out, though, this month, is that sometimes the students REALLY come through for you. For example, some of the students I thought would be absolute horrors have turned out to be great — I’ve learned how to harness third period’s boisterous powers for the greater good of the class. Also, one day, during a fire drill, and after a particularly bad day of classes, one of my former students ran up to me and gave me a big hug. Furthermore, Dakota stops by every afternoon before fourth period just to say hello. Nikki came in yesterday just to draw a picture for my wall and talk to me before her parents came to pick her up. Several of my students have decided to keep me company during morning duty in front of the school’s most popular smoking section. After having several kids pick on my outfits and rib me about my music, I read a journal entry that said something to the effect of “What do I love? I love Ms. B’s crazy outfits. I am excited to see what she might wear every day. And I love her music, she listens to the same type of music I do.” Moreover, another teacher told me, today, that one of her students wrote an incredibly positive journal entry about Ms. Cianciola and I, saying that they’d deplored English class before ours…and even though they still don’t love English, they think that it’s OK. I counted that one as a win.
What I’ve come to find out is that while I don’t need my students to absolutely love me or need me (I quite honestly don’t care if they don’t like my music or my stripped pants), there are some days when I’ve been put down, picked up, chewed up, and spit out. At the end of most days of emotional abuse, it is nice to have students say “I appreciate YOU. Not just you as a giver of grades or a purveyor of language arts, but you as a professional and you as a person.”