I cried this week.
I cried for the first time in six weeks since I started this job, and I cried not because of my kids, but because of my frustrations with adults.
We tested these poor kids until they were zombies last week, which I hate. I just really hate testing. I felt like I did SO much testing this week that I actually taught very little. I’ve been doing reading tests with individual kids and we have common assessments and we had this cognitive abilities test this past week — it was insane. Anyway, with testing comes modifications for certain students who need these accommodations (i.e. ADHD, having limited English proficiency, etc.). While reading through the teacher manual for the test, there was this section about accommodations. As I read more, I realized that the students I have who need modifications aren’t getting them.
This. Is. A. Problem.
So the next day at school I went and said something to someone about it because I was confused as to why my kids wouldn’t be getting what they needed for this test. I was then told that every child needs to take the test, that it’s only a screener, and it’s not that big of a deal. Apparently we don’t have the time or space or resources to accommodate these kids for this test.
I was almost in tears as all of this was told to me, because that isn’t fair to these kids. Sure it’s a screener, and it’s screening for AIG, but the students I have who have ADHD and are LEPs are smart and they shouldn’t be denied the right to do their best on this screener, too.
I didn’t feel right giving the test to my kids that afternoon, though I had to. I had to watch my kid with ADHD pull things out of his desk and not focus during a whole group test time. I had to watch my kid who has been in the United States for only a few months just color bubbles without even being able to read the test booklet.
I continued to push the issue with another person and was finally able to get the modifications for my students who needed them. Why did I have to jump through so many hoops to get these accommodations for these kids? Just because there are modifications doesn’t mean that every child isn’t taking the test — it just means the test is administered differently. It still measures the same cognitive abilities.
Maybe I blew this out of proportion, but a test is a test. If I have to read out of a teacher testing booklet, doesn’t that mean it’s kind of a big deal test? Either way, I still think every kid deserves to succeed and if that means he needs modifications, so be it.
So I cried.
I cried because I didn’t feel like I was doing my job, which is to teach children. I cried because I could’t control these tests. I cried because I came home from school late (again). I cried because of unnecessary chaos and miscommunication throughout the school. It was just this catharsis of stressed emotions that was finally pouring out of me.
I’m realizing every week how hard this job is. The planning and the testing and the behavior problems — did you know I have a couple kids who just deliberately like to NOT follow directions? Do you know how much that annoys me? Well, in case you were wondering, it’s HIGHLY annoying to me and that’s easily in my top three teacher pet peeves (the other two? Students talking when I’m talking and students moving around when I’m talking — like sharpening their pencils or just walking around the room). I literally looked at a child during recess the other day, told him that he could NOT get water at the moment since we were all going as a class in just a minute, and then turned around and saw him WALKING UP TO THE BUILDING TO GET WATER.
I called him back down to the blacktop at the playground and asked him what he was doing and his response was just “well you let so-and-so go to the bathroom…” and I said “yes, yes I did, and that’s because it was a bathroom EMERGENCY and I told you that we are ALL going to get water AS A CLASS.” Then he got whiny and I told him that if he whines he can’t get water.
I don’t deal with whining like that.
When I was in school, I would have never imagined purposely going against what my teacher told me. That, to me, was blasphemous. I know I grew up with a very different home life than a lot of my kids, and the school is very different than the one I went to growing up. Despite this, I still wonder what makes kids simply do the opposite of what you tell them — is it an issue with authority? Are parents/family members never around to really tell them what to do (or is it the opposite)? Has no one ever stood up to these kids to let them know that they won’t always get what they want and that what they want might not really be what’s best for them?
I had this conversation with my kids last week about why their educations are important. I told them that every single time they talked when I was talking, that they were robbing themselves of their education (and some of them freaked out). I told them that they were taking away their own knowledge when they talked during lessons, because everything I have to tell them is so important and will help them learn. I really thought we had made great strides that afternoon, and then the next day we were back to talking again. I really do think they care, I just think they haven’t been conditioned to respond to their caring. Does that make sense?
Some of them definitely care a great deal and show me that daily. Overall I am extremely proud to call this group of students my first class. They’re good kids with good hearts, we just need to practice being people.
I really like third grade content, but what I like even more is showing these kids how to be real people. Social contexts for third grade are hilarious and sometimes awkward, but do the best with what we can. Example: student A punches student K for playing with student A’s untied shoelaces. I pulled her out of the assembly we had and asked her what happened — when she told me that student K was playing with her untied shoelaces, I asked her if punching someone for doing that was an appropriate response. She kind of looked at me funny and I then rephrased in this way: student A, if you were playing with my untied shoe while I’m in the rocking chair during a read aloud, would you like it if I punched you to tell you to stop?
She said no.
We had this conversation about how if someone is bothering you, you can’t just punch them — rather, you should probably first ask them to stop doing what they’re doing or just tell an adult who can help mediate the situation. Truly, it’s amazing to watch these kids grow up and I don’t even know what I’ll do with myself come June when they leave me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m too hard on them, but a good friend of mine who has been teaching for a while told me that I will always feel meaner than I really am (and I think she’s right!). Why else do I get almost a hundred hugs from students every single day!? I guess I’m doing something right!