Dear God, It’s Me The New Teacher
I know it has been a really long time, and we don’t really have much of a relationship, but I need some help.
I knew classroom management would be a struggle for me. Assertiveness is not exactly one of my expressed character traits. But, I’ve risen to the challenge and kept my head above water. I face my classroom each morning dressed professionally, calm and somewhat prepared.
Fourteen days. Each one I survived. Barely.
My boy rubs my head at night as I cry and cry. Thank you for sending me this wonderful, understanding and supportive man. He is my rock.
And I am his tsunami.
Why did you send me, on the very first day, the severely EBD kid who was accidentally placed in my class and who freaked out, stared me down and, I thought, might take me down? Thank you for holding me still until I got home that night, knees knocking. Thank you for keeping my voice quiet as later I learned raising my voice, or reacting in anyway, would have “escalated” the situation.
Thank you, at least, for first period. My angels. They write, they try to write, beautiful stories. They vary from “Horse Camp” to “My First Time To Jail.” They think I’ve lost my mind when I tell them that they are writing books, but go along with my demands.
Well, that was my entry for last week which I never got around to posting. If there is one thing I've learned about teaching (among the millions of things I feel like I am learning by the second), it is that every single day is a whole new game. As long as I get up in the morning and keep going to face first period, it will get better and I will get better. That doesn't mean the first few weeks have been easy.
It's been three weeks now. 21 days.
My head peeks out above the water. I write in my blog again. Resolve to make time for myself.
Once I write again everyday, it will be easier to explain. For now, I sum up via a list.
1. I like my mailbox.
2. Having a classroom on the special ed hall is very interesting. The EBD room is next to mine. The kids bang for much of the day--bang and bang on the walls and floor. One girl, the only one I find really threatening, likes to wander into my room and tell me, "It's a good thing for you that I'm in a good mood today, 'cause otherwise I'd fuckin' kill you bitch," when I ask her politely to go back to her classroom. I've decided to ignore the "open door" policy of my school. My door is locked.
3. I attended my very first ever football game. I am not a football person, but I loved it. The band, the cheerleaders, the kids getting down in the stands. So now, I'm a regular.
4. I really enjoy the "bad" kids. They are often pains to have in class and disrupt learning every five seconds, but I really like them--even the ones who want to grow up to be pimps.
5. I've come up with a few lessons that I'm proud of.
6. No matter how "teacherly" I try to appear, I cannot help laughing. It is a completely involuntary reaction.
One day, while standing up at the board, a student I'll call Big Boy (because he is a BIG boy, especially to my 5 foot self) took some of my whiteboard clips and clipped them onto his chest and started gesturing in a very inappropriate way. My jaw dropped in shock. A student I'll call Pimp since that is his ambition (he said he'll being taking over his dad's girls when he turns 18), suddenly gets out of his desk and rushes the front of the classroom. He literally ran at full speed from the very back of the classroom to the board where he, BAM!, hit the floor and slid across the floor like he was sliding into home base.
I stared at him and said, "Pimp! What in the world are you doing?" He held up two hands, cupped as though to hold water, and said, "I had to catch it. I had to catch it. Your jaw dropped so far down, and I just had to catch it."
Would you have been able to remain stern?
Well, maybe you could have, but I couldn't. I laughed real hard, but that didn't stop me from giving my friend Pimp detention for the third time that week.
7. I am bad at taking attendance.
8. Once you are in your twenties, it is time to leave high school.
9. My kids really loved writing essays inspired by their favorite songs. We read a story by Toure' from the book Lit Riffs edited by Matthew Miele called "I Shot the Sheriff" inspired by the Bob Marley song of the same name. Each kid picked their favorite song, wrote a story inspired by the song and then presented the song and read the story to the class. They were so into it--even one of my kids with a 70 IQ turned in a brilliant, 3 page, typed, narrative essay. My heart grew a little.
10. The only students that I am a loss for how to approach are the quite smart, but terribly lazy and nonplussed, 11th and 12th graders who are in my World Lit class. Apathy annoys me.
11. You would think getting a "6" on a multiple choice quiz would be a statistical impossibility. It's not. Nor is getting a "7" or "8". God bless.
12. I've been invited to join my very first committee. That's right, I am now the official representative for my school on the district instructional technology panel. Watch out.
I've never worked this hard in my life, but I feel really alive everyday, and I'm sleeping like a little baby.
And on Friday, when Pimp found out he made a 100 on his vocab quiz (probably his first ever 100, and following a 30ish last week) and did a "touchdown" type dance around the classroom, I thought, maybe, just maybe, I am a real teacher.