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I am Tired

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I am tired. It’s March. Students are bored and teachers can’t yet see how we’re going to reach the final goal. I’m behind on my grading, and my planning, and my meeting preparation. I’m behind on my sleep.

I’m trying to remember how it was when I started this year. How enthusiastic I was, and full of energy. I’m also thinking of how hard I’ve been working. I am thinking of one student in my first period English class. We began on a very bad footing, because this child had a rough start in high school. He caused problems in every class he had, he was refusing to work, and spent a lot of time in the office. When he first came to my class he would not look at me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this student could not read AT ALL. His misbehavior in school was his way of getting out of class, so he wouldn’t have to perform (especially in front of his peers). He was hiding his illiteracy behind a façade of anger and hate. He was one I targeted for help. He needed it.

He still needs help. Although he works in my class, and greets me by name when he comes in, and even stays after school sometimes for extra help, he is still often in trouble with other teachers. He is performing poorly in their classes. He might not make it to tenth grade. That’s really scary, because he’s already 16. If we don’t convince him it’s worth staying in school he could leave before he’s mastered the basic skills needed for the basic jobs. I have had some success with this one child because I’ve developed a relationship with him. I know that he had to give up a puppy he loved. I know his mother’s first name and cell phone number. We smile at each other, sometimes. I trust him, he trusts me, and we celebrate our success together when he masters something in English class.

I heard a talk by Reginald Farrare, a middle school principal in my county. He offered a good insight into what teaching should be. He said, “If the student is only with you for one year, make it the best year of their life.” That’s my goal, for each of my students. It’s driving all my efforts with this student, the one who can’t read, but who’s smart enough to know how hard life is if you can’t read. He’s developed strategies to avoid his problem. I’ve got to teach him strategies for dealing with his problem. In this one year. Which is almost over.

I may be tired, but I am still enthusiastic. I’m not done yet. Happy Spring!

5 Comments

I'm so burned out right now. I've caught up on grading, but my lesson plans are dull and lacking. This after seven years!

Great insight as always...teaching is an act of helping every child become more perfect at who they are...they are why we teach and give us the strength to continue.

I'm in my second semester working towards my teaching certificate and bachelor's degree. I have put this off for a long time, but now it's time to follow my bliss. I always took positions in which I was educating someone--but now I want to do it right and start where it makes a difference--with kids. I have 14 months including student teaching before I graduate and will hopefully be rewarded with a teaching position. :)

Thank you for your posts....I look forward so much to having the inevitable exhaustion that comes with teaching. I look forward to connecting with my kids the way that you do. I spent two full days in a second grade classroom this semester (up till now it'd be just a couple hours twice a week) and now that I'm at the end of my observation, I realize how at home I felt. It felt right... My heart ached when the last little guy left that Friday and I know it's because in a few weeks he'll be in the third grade--a big kid! I hope that I played a part in making this year one of the best for each of the 18 kids in our little second grade.

Your blog caught my eye for two reasons: my grandmother's maiden name was Hannah Denny, and at 51 I am getting a Master's in Special Ed., having only tutored in the schools, not taught.
Keep writing!

Great post. Its all about building relationships and realizing that you ARE making a difference as long as you show you care about your students. It is sometimes hard to care about tough students and it is very difficult to find the time for each kid who needs you when you teach 150 students. I hope to keep this relationship-building approach at the front of my mind as I start the new school year. When a student acts up I hopt to acknowledge their feelings and try to help them... instead of taking it personally and just reacting.

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  • Phil: Great post. Its all about building relationships and realizing that read more
  • Suzanne Saggese: Your blog caught my eye for two reasons: my grandmother's read more
  • Teresa: I'm in my second semester working towards my teaching certificate read more
  • Tom Conner: Great insight as always...teaching is an act of helping every read more
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