The last post I wrote was a reminder to myself that I chose to work in a high-need school, and my god do I need reminding lately. Nearing the end of week three of the new school year, I am having a ROUGH time with one of my sixth grade math and science classes.
Did I walk into this year, my tenth year teaching and my second year at this school, too big for my britches? Maybe. I’m a veteran now, especially in the land of TFA, New Orleans. Last year I earned the respect of students, parents and faculty. I brought up test scores. I researched and planned instructional innovations over the summer. I’m ready to lend more of a hand to new teachers. I have rested, meditated and can recognize the glowing light within all humanity, both individually and collectively. I am and will continue to be AMAZING.
Maybe not. I can’t get a group of sixth graders to stay quiet for more than two minutes. Even on day one, there was no attempt from them to make a good impression. No matter how many times we “line up and try it again.” No matter how many rah-rahs. No matter how many phone calls, or lunch detentions, or one-on-one conferences, or silent prayers. One class is with me, the other is on another planet.
I’m not yelling though. I still refuse to yell.
I don’t expect any class to be perfect. Every class has good and bad days. This class just hasn’t shown me the good ones yet. It is by far the biggest classroom management challenge I have ever had. Management has never really been a big issue for me, and it’s not one I thought I’d devote much energy to after teaching this long. I thought I had this down, but this class has taken me down a few pegs. I feel like the teachers whose rooms I’ve walked by in the past, me thinking “Poor sap. They must be so miserable. Maybe they’re just not cut out for this job. For these kids.”
This year, that poor sap is me. And I’m telling everyone who will listen. My principal. Other teachers. Custodians. And now the internets. It’s the only way I can exorcise the shame. I need everyone to know that I know this is not okay; this is not what it’s supposed to look like.
I’m not giving up on them. I have to believe that it will get better. There have been miniscule signs of improvement. But in the meantime, I will think twice before judging teachers who look like they’re floundering because of poor classroom management, wanting to teach content but too distracted wading through waves of resistance.