Mirrors into Windows

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 04 2011

Help! Leave me alone!

All day long with the alphabet song in her head, sometimes the alphabet sound song, too, repeating in the awful voice used for children’s music, unnaturally pitched and sing-songy: a for apple, a-a-a. Afternoons sharpening pencils and picking up paper and cleaning juice they shouldn’t have had in the room anyway off the floor. Afternoon meetings where she asked for help and got something that looked like help and sounded like help but didn’t quite get the job done. Evenings alternating swigs of beer and coffee – forget the day, stay up late preparing everything for the next.

The windows in my classroom face East, so I can see the sun rise from there.

When I take deep breaths I figure that everything will probably be okay. Some day. Maybe soon-ish? When I take deep breaths I remember to eat, and sleep some, and catch up with friends, and buy vegetables.

The rest of the time I sort of panic, thinking up new strategies for each day, eating pizza, pizza, sleeping on tangled sheets, stepping over piles of paperwork, sitting on the floor hunched over one thousand things I need To Do, spending too much money at Target, forgetting about homework or the Do Now until the last minute, angrily passing out lunch cards in the cafeteria.

This is melodramatic, but I wrote that first half a little bit ago, during a rough week, and I don’t really drink coffee and beer at the same time. Today things are better. So, it’s been kind of up and down. I miss the distinction between rough draft and failed attempt. Bad days have been feeling like The Most Awful Day Ever and it’s hard to see them, in the moment, at least, as part of the process. That learning curve? We’re talking line of best fit. More of the points than I’d like fall below.

And I really want help! I’ve been turning to people all over the place. And honestly, I’ve been getting it. Not quick fixes or miraculous solutions, but strategies and advice that I can put to use. It’s just that sometimes it’s awfully vague. And contradictory. Or unrealistic. You know. And sometimes that one piece of unsolicited advice is just enough to break my camel back.

Anyway, at the end of the week – if perhaps not every day – there are the reasons I’m still glad I’m here. Some of my kids have mastered the –at family (cat, rat, bat, sat, mat…) and are actually reading, really reading, now. Today I very much enjoyed watching them rock out to the sight words song: T-H-E, T-H-E! My former 3rd and 5th graders give me big hugs whenever they see me around the school. Differentiated Instruction centers ran more smoothly than ever. No chairs were thrown this week.

It is the start of the second quarter. Let’s say I’m warmed up, and ready to go.

2 Responses

  1. Wess

    Melodramatic or not, I loved the first half. I think I could read about teaching forever.

  2. Kurt (Community Manager)

    Congratulations! Your post has been featured on the Teach For Us homepage.

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