A Mosaic In Progress

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 17 2012

Indiana Retreat

Not sure how to describe the feeling of lying on my couch back in Indiana curled up in a blanket while watching football and sipping on a coffee with a splash of Bailey’s. It’s been almost six months since I returned to Indiana … the longest that I have been away from home. I am waiting to wake up tomorrow morning to go to church with anticipation. I get to see my friends but most of all I’m going to enjoy being called “E”, not “Mr. L”, for a while.

The weeks after fall break have been personally brutal. Quitting is not an option for me but I can see why first-year teachers have wanted to leave. I have been scrambling to get my lessons planned and grades completed weekly. Classroom observations and evaluations serve to be a sobering reminder that I am not a good teacher. Above all, there was a palpable exhaustion among my 7th graders leading into Thanksgiving. It always pains me to write a student up once. However, there was a period when I sent three students to suspension.

Among the suspended students is MB, a 14-year-old 7th grader. I knew in September that he was going to be one of the biggest challenges in my classroom. One day, he could be the most focused student who transforms a table. The next day, he could get up and cuss out a student and then yell at the teacher for taking corrective action. Before heading to the in-school suspension room, he stops by my classroom. “Why did you send me to ISS?” asked MB. I was quick to remind him that he yelled at a student in the middle of my instruction then stormed out of the room when I told him that would result in a referral to the office. “Well it was either storming out of the room or hitting [a fellow classmate] in the face. Which would you pick?” spat MB. “You know those weren’t the only two options you had,” I answered. Before leaving my room, he tells me, “Ok well my dad is angry at you and he’s coming to the school to talk.”

You could sense my excitement to talk to the father =). However, it was the subsequent conversation at lunch that gave me the encouragement to keep going. “We 100% agree with you,” MB’s dad tells me, “You are the authority in the classroom and he should be listening to you.” I am not a good teacher and I don’t say that expecting pity; it’s just a fact. And as the authority figure in the classroom, I have to get better.

In lieu of Thanksgiving though, there are a number of people who have helped me in the toughest days of school thus far. While getting critical feedback is not always pleasant, I am glad that I have fellow teachers who are willing to demonstrate and model what classroom management looks like. Outside of the classroom, my roommates have been there to encourage and push me through into the next day. Making Sunday meals is the least I can do for them =).

I look forward to having the week off. Yes, the students can be a handful but I always end up showing family and friends clips and pictures of them … even the hardest ones. I’m hoping that I get the chance to record what my friends say here and show them in class!

One Response

  1. CLB

    Please rest assured that year 2 gets better :-) And, you go from feeling inadequate most days, to confident some days. And that, is something to be grateful for.

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Midwesterner being thankful for every written experience … even when it hurts =)

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