8.25.2010

hard things

so, now that school has begun, i'm afraid my blog will take a slightly different turn. during the summer i had a good little run of thrifting/gardening/renovating/green/idea blog posts. and, while i think those posts are most entertaining, the reality is that i'm a teacher first and foremost and, just like my occasional sports-rants, i must indulge my need to talk about the things that occupy most of the time and energy in my one-track brain. so, if you've noticed a change, and you are expecting the thrifting/gardening/renovating/green/idea mendy, i apologize, these posts will be less frequent, but i ask that you please chalk it up to "seeing a window into my friend mendy's day."

hard things:
*there have been several tragic events that our students are dealing with: a former student was killed last week and a student's brother was killed this week, both instances being investigated as murders; many students live in neighborhoods where drugs and drop-outs are the prominent influence and it shapes their thoughts and conversations; students are working to support their families and dealing with issues of relative poverty...i don't mean to be overly dramatic or speak in cliches (you're probably thinking "this sounds like a teacher-faces-indescribable-challenges-in-an-urban-school-with-a-leather-jacket-and-a-rap-soundtrack inspirational movie i've seen before"). however, this has all been a reality for the students, and not limited to the past 2 weeks since the beginning of the new school year. and i think it's important to tell you this because this is quite different from my own experiences of the "first days" of school, and i'm sure it's different from many of yours also. i worried about what to wear on the first day of school and what friends would have lunch at the same time as me and having to share a car with my dad (injustice!). well, my students think about those things too, but they are preoccupied with much more serious things as well.
*completely unrelated to the first bullet point (because, honestly, to teach there you have to get used to those things and you can't be shocked by everything all the time), yesterday a "dark cloud of doom" hovered over me at work. (gosh - i've restarted this paragraph 4 times now because i'm trying to be careful about what i say on a public forum about my job and my students...if it seems vague, i'm sorry. please know that i LOVE my job, my colleagues, and my students, so any expression of disappointment or discouragement is temporary and not at all my general attitude) anyway, nothing was any different from the day before, my students behaved the same, the attitudes and effort i observed in students in many classes had not changed from the day before, but my own feelings of hopefulness were dampened. does this make sense? although i know that it is ludicrous to expect my students not to have behavior issues, because that is a package deal with students with behavior disorders or emotional disturbance, i found myself discouraged at lack of progress. i felt disappointed with myself because i don't have answers, or at least not any new answers, so what happens if my suggestions or solutions that worked in the past fall short? that thought made me feel desperately inadequate. i promptly called my sis on the way home from work to tell her these things and she wisely reminded me that because the only difference from monday to tuesday was how i felt that i could be assured that these feelings would soon pass. and today, there were a few small victories which lifted the "cloud" ever so slightly (see the following).
*worked with some students that were very concerned about finishing assignments and remained focused without my having to plead with them (please remember that i work with a very unique population, for which this is definitely a victory).
*had a good discussion with students about what you do does not have to be who you are (this is really important for my students who struggle to control their behavior and often feel that they are always getting into trouble for who they are) and that you can work on changing what you do to better fit your goal of who you want to become, even if it is challenging work. they seemed really to respond to this whole discussion, and eagerly dove into creating individual and group definitions of habits, looking for good quotes to discuss and share with the whole class. they seemed encouraged to have a teacher recognize their personalities and good qualities separately from their behavior. or at least i hope that is how they felt. it's hard to tell.

anyway, thanks for reading. i'm not really sure what the purpose of this post is, but sometimes there's just a lot going on and mounting up and maybe you'll think about me and my students during the day and maybe i just needed to talk about life for a bit.

p.s. cecil came in from outside smelling of cilantro. strange cat.

3 comments:

tiff said...

Sometimes it just feels good to get it all out. You are a fab teacher and those kids are better because they have a teacher who cares as much as you do for them.

Paprika said...

You have a crazy life. :) So glad those kids have you as a teacher!

Jeff said...

Remember, even gifted kids don't have 180 good days in a school year. Your kids are likely to have fewer good days, but when they happen they will be more important.

"Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed." - E.D.