Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve written. I somehow lost access to the site for a few days, but it has magically reappeared and we’re good again.
Also, I’ve been less motivated to write because things are going pretty smoothly. I might even dare to say that these last few weeks have gone really well. We’ve been doing a data analysis unit, which lends itself to fun a little more than our past units. The kids wrote questions for a survey that I gave the whole 8th grade, and so we got to use their data to learn scatterplots, box and whiskers, summary statistics, and choosing the most effective displays of data. Turns out you fill the entire circle graph one color when 100% of the class says that Takis (Mexican very spicy chip-things) are their favorite snack. The box-and-whisker plot has its lower extreme, lower quartile and median all on zero when we graph “How many days have you been suspended for this year?” The lower extreme for “How many siblings do you have?” is one in all my classes, because no one is an only child. And the mode for “How many schools have you been to since kindergarten?” is the very depressing “a lot/too many to count”. It also turns out that most students’ favorite subject is… *drumroll please*… MATH!! (I win. You can’t suck-up in an anonymous survey.)
My big struggle has still been my Period 3. Administration decided it was a good idea to put THREE new students into that class this week (no new kids in any of my other classes), bringing me up to 37 in the infamously difficult group. Granted, two students had left the class recently, but Admin knows that no teacher (much less a first-year) can handle this group, and it just feels like they’re trying to find the point where I’ll break down. I know that’s not really true, but THIRTY SEVEN problem children just has to be someone’s cruel joke.
It’s been really crazy in that classroom on some days. Their favorite thing to do is start chanting, clapping, or making animal noises (seriously. why are you MEOWING right now?) and there’s very little I can do to stop them all at once. I’m brutally outnumbered. Thankfully, every day is a new day with them, and I’m starting to win occasionally. Yesterday I gave a review worksheet and taught two mini-lessons, and they were actually QUIET. And LISTENING. And WORKING WELL. It was an enormous shock and an even bigger victory, so I’m still sort of glowing from that one. How do I make them be awesome more often?
On a more personal note, I’m settling into my job and starting to fall into the swing of things. As I relax, I’m finding more time to spend for myself, doing things I enjoy. I’m also making a point to take time to myself, even when I really SHOULD be working. (Don’t tell anyone.) And I’m getting closer to the people I work with, who are also very young and more fun than I had realized. Now I can spend my lunch break laughing about the last weekend and remembering that not everyone in the world needs to call me by my last name. The job is still harder than anything, I work too hard and don’t get paid enough, I’m attached enough that I’ve now cried (by myself, not in front of students!) multiple times over kids I know are struggling with too many real-world problems, and discipline is still a very big daily struggle. But I can also safely say that I’m happier now than I’ve been since moving to Arizona, and I think its important to appreciate those little victories to stay sane in this job.