Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 08 2010

Lots of tears in this one

Today was another relatively excellent day in Period 3. They still walk into the room every day like a pack of rabid animals, which never fails to send me into a panic about the upcoming 80 minutes, but magically they actually do calm down. Today was functional enough that the special ed teacher, her aide and I managed to pull three separate small groups to do a worksheet, while the rest of the class actually sat still and did work on their own. This is AMAZING and I really never thought it would be possible in this group. I even called the parents of two girls who tried to ruin my life in the first days of school, because they wanted their mothers to know how good they were being. The whole class knows I’m thrilled with them and I think they’re proud of themselves too.

BUT then they went to their next class and were so bad that our school discipline woman finally snapped. I stopped by 15 minutes after school ended to find all the kids locked in the classroom, unable to leave until they got a parent on the phone who could promise to come sit with their child in class the next day. They looked beyond miserable and a couple of them were outright crying. Some of them turned to me when I walked in like I might be able to save them. Parents kept coming by in work uniforms to pick up their kids, and it was all slightly reminiscent of a disaster scene.

This made me ache for my kids enough that I teared up just watching it all go down. Part of that is just having to see them so upset. When an eighth grade boy cries, you know two things: he is really hurting, and – oh yeah – he is really young still. I always forget that second part… and I probably care too much about these kids. The other reason it bothered me so much is that I am more deeply disappointed in that group of students than I have probably EVER been with ANYONE. (Seriously… when is the last time I was so invested in a group of people that they could let me down like this?) I’ve seen them be good. I’ve seen them be respectful. I’ve seen them use their time to learn material. I’ve seen how proud they feel of themselves when they do this. I might see it rarely, and they still have plenty of room to improve… but why are they going backwards? We’ve worked so hard, you’ve been in so much trouble, and now you’re going to walk downstairs and wreak havoc? How dare you. I’m a little heartbroken. (Ok, and I’m wondering if other teachers have felt like this when the kids left their classes and came to mine.)

Then there’s also part of me that has a terrible fear about the future. If they lose control just walking from one class to another (and we know they’ve been losing control upon entering my classroom for most of this year), then what happens to them when they actually leave school? If it’s so easy to switch  from good decisions to bad decisions, then what happens when they leave this ridiculously protective school environment? Is everything this staff has done for them just going to be lost? That’s the part that is actually going to make me cry. Their world isn’t safe enough to let them get away with that.

One Response

  1. Ms. Math

    It feels kind of hopeless at times. You got them to learn for awhile and then they have the rest of their life to misbehave. I had kids who told me at the end of the year how much the appreciated that I never gave up on them. They know when they are bad, and know when you care. Everything you’ve done won’t be lost. The kids will remember someone cared and even if you don’t change everyone’s life(which seems so hard to do in high school) you might help out some of them.

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