Teaching. It's what I came here to do, right? Right?
Yes. I still feel called to be here, still called to be here for these kids. I still feel alone in my planning and like I am flying by the seat of my pants to learn as I go how to teach. Sometimes (yeah, let's be honest...every single day) I need to take a long walk with my ipod and go fast enough that the frustration finally cedes to my endorphins and the Patagonian wind, drifting off to return the following morning.
I have a reputation as a hard-ass amongst my students because I ask them to stay in their seats, not use cell phones, not hit each other, and copy a few lines every day in English. My new rule this week is that I am going to count how many times I have to say a simple instruction (for example, "Sit down"). If I have to say it more than ten times without a result, the class loses its sticker for the day...meaning that the may lose the inter-class sticker competition.
In a perfect world, this would be relatively easy and my students might be able to learn more.
In the real world, it takes forty minutes to write down five sentences. My students grab me by the hands and clothes to get my attention and run around the classroom throwing paper at each other. The girls take all of the ink from their pens and smear it all over themselves and their companions. My eighth graders hurl insults at me almost as hard as they hurl their chairs against the ground.
Not to sound melodramatic, but I often feel like I've been fighting in the trenches all day when I get out of school.
But each day is a new day. Occasionally my students surprise me and make it all worth it. One of my first graders today revealed that she can write as well or better than some of the fifth graders.
I'm not even concerned with breaking even anymore. I just want a little sprinkling of good surprises and minor victories to season the greater confusion, frustration, and lack of progress. It's enough.