I've neglected the better parts of my craft. When people ask me how I like teaching... I have said, "This year has been God-awful...and I don't want to come back." I've dealt with chairs being thrown, threats, screaming, crying, hollering, fighting, stealing, and the worst home stories you can imagine this year. All I can think about is how bad a teacher I am.
These tests we take keep coming. They keep coming, and my kids still perform BELOW average. The kids don't get it. The kids' grades are horrific compared to kids on the other side of town. My scores scare me, they scare my administration... I'm a such a bad teacher.
I'm not staying as late as I have in the past. I'm not coming as early as I have in the past. I'm not coming home and working as much as I have in the past. I feel like it has taken a toll. My grading isn't done as timely. My paperwork is slacking sometimes. I haven't spoken to as many parents as I have in the past. See how bad a teacher I am?
I sit in meetings and am told don't try to win the power struggle as it only hurts your pride... you won't ever win...let it go...walk away. The child that's screaming in the corner and disrupting class will stop if you ignore him/her. I try it. It doesn't work. The kids cover their ears. I try to talk calmly. It doesn't work. I lose my cool, and raise my voice...it stops... for awhile. I am a totally bad teacher.
We don't always get through the lessons I have planned out, because we really need to have some quiet time for all of us--me included-- to regain our sanity. I leave the lights off most of the day with the music playing, even during tests so they can stay focused. Sometimes I don't go over their graded work, after I grade it. I don't update my word wall. I have the SAME "I CAN" statements up since we got back from MLK day. I haven't checked homework or binders. I don't know where their go home folders are some days. I forgot to pass out the flyer for the event that's tomorrow night. I didn't do a single running record during guided reading this week. Dang, I still haven't typed out plans for my guided reading groups this week...or next week. I make up lessons on the fly sometimes, because I didn't get to the copy machine before the ink was all used up--or I ran out of copies for the month. I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad teacher.
My kids are hungry, their clothes are dirty, they don't have the correct kinds of clothes for the weather. They have no hats, gloves, or scarves... they don't eat the school food because it's not like the fast food they are used to. There is no salt or seasoning in their food. They don't eat whole wheat honey buns or soft shell whole wheat taco shells. I mean...would you? I keep their leftover breakfasts and let them eat those throughout the day, but I'm not supposed to. I am a bad teacher.
I listen to the stories they have to share. How their house was burnt down, they were evicted, they were made to leave... or how they were touched wrongly, or how they aren't allowed to eat, or how they couldn't sleep because they live with so many other people that are up all hours of the night. I hear how they are scared of the gun shots, the sirens, and the knocks at the door. I hear how there is not one person at home until after 10 PM, so they couldn't read their book to an adult or get help with their homework. I'm a really, really bad teacher.
My husband said, after listening to this for the past 7 months, if you are such a bad teacher--why do you tell me about every single kid, every single night? If you are such a bad teacher, why are you spending our vacation money on making sure those kids have pants to wear during the winter? If you are such a bad teacher, why does the administration keep asking your to do things for them or for your co-workers? If you are such a bad teacher, why are you showing me their work--wasn't it a few months ago they couldn't even write a complete sentence and now they are writing essays? If you are such a bad teacher, why do they come in and work so hard for you while giving the other teachers such a hard time? If you are such a bad teacher, why do you brag on the chapter book that one kid is reading when he came to you barely knowing the sounds? Are you thinking you are a bad teacher because of a test the state gives your kids every year? The tests that your district keeps sending you? Why are you so worried about that, when your kids were on a second grade reading level and now they are on or above grade level? They come to you to tell you what's bugging them? They come to you for hugs, even outside of school? They try to add you on social media? You are not a bad teacher.
I've been beating myself up, because I'm not following the "model classroom approach." I'm not chanting and whole brain teaching. I am, however, being the school momma for my kids. I've been hard on them, like really, really hard on them. It's been rough, tough, and dang near impossible...but it's working.
I know this has been an extremely long post...probably THE longest I have made--ever. To all the teachers who feel like I have been feeling, who are overwhelmed, who are working their butts off everyday and night to make sure their kids are loved, educated, and prepared for the world--this is for you...
YOU CAN DO IT! DON'T GIVE UP NOW! YOU ARE A WONDERFUL, LOVING, AND CARING TEACHER!
Know that you are touching lives around you--not just your kids' lives, but your coworkers, family, friends, and more. The kids really aren't going to remember what you taught them, but they are going to remember the love and caring heart you had for them. Make the connections with them. Keep them accountable. Work with them until you can't work with them anymore. Go ahead and scream and cry sometimes. Just know-- you are not alone.