I think I’ve alluded to this in previous posts, but it’s worth reiterating: there are some very difficult realities to face as a teacher.
It’s only Tuesday and I’ve had a girl suspended, a boy write me an alarming note about his self-esteem, and made contact with five families for behavior. I have a student who racially slurred and threatened another one of my students, I’ve seen bullying in and out of my class, and I’ve got kids who just won’t do their work. Their motivation is low and their desire to be perceived as “cool” is high. I asked one kid today what was going on with him and he told me that his mom loves her boyfriend more than him. Isn’t that heartbreaking?
My eyes have truly been opened to so much, especially these last couple weeks when everyone’s true colors started to show. I’m keeping notes in an anecdotal behavior journal (future teachers: DO THIS, it will be SO HELPFUL to you in the long run!) and am trying some new interventions this week. This is good, but I have to ask myself if it’s enough.
I know I’m doing the best that I can with what I have, but it is so hard for me knowing that some of my kids don’t have a home to go to after school. It makes me so sad knowing that some of them have no academic support at home (who in this beautiful world would ever call their child dumb? I mean seriously, who would do that?). I really think a little piece of me dies inside when I know that one of my kids isn’t being loved and respected at home.
I might only have 23 students in my class, but I feel for the whole third grade here — I feel responsible for their learning as well, because the other three teachers and I are working in such close collaboration that I feel like their kids are my kids, too.
Needless to say, the last six weeks and counting have been very eye-opening, and it’s very easy for me to say that I’ve learned more since school started than I have learned in my four years at UNC.
So. Much. Learning.
I’m taking some things that were taught to me in the past and modifying them for my group of kids, but I was never really taught how to handle a racist child who has anger outbursts and unsupportive parents. I was never really taught how to handle a child who wants to die. I was never really taught what to do when a child blatantly disobeys you when you don’t have a lot of disciplinary support.
I feel like a lot of people will read this and feel bad and think that I’m just having the worst time teaching, and that’s the complete opposite of what I want you to get out of reading this. I want you to know that there are so many challenges that I never really thought I’d face, but I also want you to know that these problems are the reasons I’m doing what I do. I couldn’t imagine just leaving this school because it’s harder — what would those kids do if I left them? Actually, what would I do if I left them?
These realities honestly keep me motivated to do my best teaching. Even though there are moments when my heart hurts for these kids, the desire I have to push them toward something greater always overpowers the negativity.