Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Okay, I Have to Talk Teaching. . .(Bear With Me)


I know I talk about teaching basically all the time.

I keep telling myself that I really should learn to digress regularly on other topics that don't have to do with education, but I kind of can't help it---apparently when you spend 10-12 hours every single workday doing something that asks so dang much of you, you kind of start behaving like a two-track cassette tape where one track is 47 minutes of the tape and is filled with ranting and comparing and soapboxing, and the other track is 5.5 minutes long and is more pleasant but then cuts out in the middle because the other track starts kicking back in.

I'm not sure if that made any sense out of my head, but there you have it.

Today (and by today I mean yesterday, when I actually wrote this post) I was positively furious with my Spanish class---I had warned them that the last week of the tri is no time to be ticking your teacher off and that they better watch themselves. Then I proceeded to attempt to do a more fun review activity, and everything unraveled right before my eyes: there were pencils and markers being thrown regularly (despite warnings), pieces of paper being ripped up into small pieces and surreptitiously slipped into the hoods of the people in front, random wanderings around the classroom even though the rules of the game definitely did not include anything of the sort, etc. etc.

I was polite and patient and kind and forbearing until about 27 minutes had passed.

And then I said things like,
"You guys are acting like kindergartners, which is making me want to treat you like kindergartners."
"Sit down, be quiet. Sit DOWN, be QUIET" (complete with a finger snap and me pointing at the desk).
"Don't make me kick you out again!"

I'm sure you can imagine. I will freely admit that it was not one of those shining moments I hope to watch over and over again in heaven when I have a perfect remembrance of all things.

In fact, I was so angry that I stomped straight to my principal after school got out and asked her point blank if there were any job openings at any high school in the district, because I had HAD it. (At which point she calmly talked me down by apologizing that the administration somehow overlooked that they truly had given me the "class from hell"---her words in this case, although I have used the phrase on occasion myself---and made me feel better by reassuring me that she is sure that I am indeed making a difference in my students' lives although I probably can't see it today. Heaven be thanked for understanding principals and vice principals that I can go to like this whenever I am so inclined.)



And then a couple things happened that were a little bit too perfect to be passed off as coincidences---

I got a visit from a student I haven't seen in months who was one of my favorites from last year, and it reminded me that I love being a teacher because it gives me the chance to connect with and potentially influence the lives of so many people (and have them influence mine in return).

A fellow teacher stopped by to talk to me after school and sympathized with me and reassured me that I am, in fact, an excellent teacher.

The tech specialist at my school happened to be passing by and actually managed to fix my projector so that I FINALLY have one working again, which means that I will no longer have to make crazily creative lesson plans that don't involve the use of a board or any kind of video or doing notes from the front (which is HARD to do for a month, I'll have you know).

And then, the clincher----

I had made my Spanish class (before things went to hell in a handbasket) write out class evaluations so that I can improve the class for next tri (since this is still my first year teaching the subject). I was pretty terrified to read the responses honestly---I mean, I've regularly been getting mad at several of the students for weeks now (and often the class as a whole), and I feel like I've been more grouchy with that class than I am with my other classes, and I was worried that they would complain about how much the class sucked (a word I hate, btw) or how boring it was or how bad of a teacher I was.

I was SHOCKED to read their responses--every last evaluation had positive things to say, and even the ones that mentioned that the class was sometimes boring or that I needed to smile more (or that I needed to let them go to the bathroom during class more than twice a trimester, lol) still gave the class a rating of at least a 7.5 or 8 and said they would "highly recommend" this class to anyone considering it. I had numerous students tell me how great of a teacher I was, how much they were actually able to learn, and how enjoyable every day was.

They said responses like,
"She [the teacher] is the best and funnest teacher ever. She has a way of making learning so fun. I'm looking forward to continuing with Spanish next year."
"This class was awesome. Learning a new language feels like going to another world."
"I really liked it! I thought it was my best class yet."

You may not win them all, but when you do win some . . .

It gives you enough courage to get up and try again for another.


2 comments:

  1. The life of a teacher. I fluctuate between feeling like "Yes I can do this and my students have definitely got this!" and "I am definitely not cut out for teaching." I read in an article a few months ago where the author compared teaching to rocket science. He said he regularly experienced more failure in five minutes of teaching than in an entire week as an engineer. (It's a great article! http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2013/12/teaching_in_america_s_highest_need_communities_isn_t_rocket_science_it_s.html).

    Teaching is hard. Really hard. And lots of non-teachers like to pretend it's not. Every moment is a test and every failure is felt so profoundly. But know there are thousands of others who feel just like you. Relish the moments when you remember why you got into this in the first place.

    And congrats on those evaluations. Kind words from students are not easy to come by :)

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    Replies
    1. Also, I could talk about teaching for hours and never get bored!

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