It’s hard to fathom that I’ve been a teacher now for three weeks. Going into Labor Day weekend, I felt good. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, but I had made it through two weeks without any major incidents and I felt good about what I was doing and the relationships I was building with my kids.
I still feel good, but as we head into an 8-week stretch without a break, my initial enthusiasm is beginning to wane. The work never ends, and I find myself staying home on the couch every weekend because I don’t even have the energy to go out and unwind. Since it’s been a while, here are some highlights from my first three weeks:
- I have already had four students suspended. I don’t know the details of what happened with any of them, since they were suspended as a result of incidents that didn’t happen in my class. Suffice it to say that at least 2 of the 4 are not kids that I would have expected to have problems so early on.
- I went off on my 4th period class in a way I didn’t know I was capable of until it happened. They are my only class of all juniors and seniors. The next class, we practiced being silent for 20 minutes. They are supposed to silently complete their warm-up during the first five minutes of class so that I can take attendance and check homework. So, every time one of them talked, I started the timer over. It took this wonderful group of 17-, 18-, and 19-year olds 20 MINUTES to make it through 5 continuous minutes of silence.
- One of my students informed my math coach that there was a new meanest teacher at our school. He couldn’t remember her name, but was able to tell the coach that he was referring to “that crazy white lady on upstairs A-wing.” (Yes, he was talking about me.)
- I may be “that crazy white lady,” but I’m also fairly certain that I’m the only teacher who had multiple students show up for extra help at 6:45 am during the second week of school.
- I impressed my reading enrichment class with my knowledge of Drake songs during a rousing round of Hangman.
- I quoted Remember the Titans so many times that my students now call it my “thing.”
- As students were still streaming into the gym this past Friday, myself and two other first-year teachers noticed a bag of weed on the floor. Welcome to the first pep rally of the year.
- I had a student burst into my room serenading me with “L is for the way you look at meeeeee….”
- I had another student (not mine) walk by my room on the first day of school and say, “Damn, I hope I have YOU as my math teacher.”
That’s about all I can think of right now, although there are many more little nuggets that I’m sure I could share. I’ll leave you with this, because it got me and my students fired up about working hard this year. This is an excerpt from an anonymous comment on a news article about the IB program at my school:
“Having an IB program at a school such as Ribault isn’t important. It’s a waste of scarce educational resources on a population incapable of using them…
At Ribault and Raines you are not dealing with an academically stellar student body that, but for an IB program, can’t reach its full potential. You’re dealing with students from underperforming grammar and middle schools that haven’t got the academic fundamentals, motivation, or intellect to comprehend even the regular high school curriculum.
These students don’t need a college prep program. They are not college material. They need vocational training.”
This is why I get up every morning. You can read the article and the whole anonymous comment here. Perhaps I’ll post some of my students’ responses at a later date.