Saturday, January 18, 2014

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

I had a rough day.  I'd go as far as saying it was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day and like Alexander, I was ready to pout.  Nothing was going right.  As a teacher, it's kind of expected to always have a happy face but teaching is hard.  Some days, it's really, really hard.  

Granted, teacher problems were slightly more complex than not getting the right shoes, but I get Alexander's frustration too.  I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Scratch that, I had five of them in a row.  It was rough week.  There wasn't a day I worked less than 12 hours.  

As an educator, it happens. 

I'm just relieved it's over and I'm in the midst of a relaxing (and reflective) 3 day weekend.

 I got a new student at the last minute.  The stress of preparing for a new kiddo is rough.  Our district has the policy that a student sits the day he or she is enrolled.  In theory, that's wonderful for the student so they don't miss out on another day of learning.

But for a teacher, it's a tad stressful.  I didn't have much notice to find a desk, chair, notebooks, various other supplies and label the necessary classroom items (desk, behavior tracker, file, whiteboard marker, etc) for him.  I knew we had to quickly do a formative diagnostic assessment to figure out which reading room he'd be in, then the opposite period for math, find out if he was in the RTI process or already had an IEP because that also determined which room to place him in depending on the levels of instructional support.  I must say, it's lots of thinking for so early in the morning!  He wasn't the only new student we got this week either.  

I wanted him to feel welcome in my classroom the moment he sat, and that meant some scrambling on my behalf because there was about twenty minutes notice.  But he had a great first day, a great first week and was always smiling.  He's happy to be here, knew about number talks and phonics (score!) and I'm glad he's here.  Sometimes I wish I had a tiny bit more time to prepare for new students' arrival.

I'm in the process of DRA'ing my students in small groups and well, it's time consuming and there's a lot of them.  I know it's useful information and I cut out phonics this week to make extra time for it, but I didn't finish and have to continue testing into next week.  Part of this is my fault because I was unwilling to go a week without meeting with my students to discuss their novels. More importantly, they were unwilling to go a week without meeting.  I'm not kidding when I say there would be lots of pouting, some tears and borderline rebellion (district 13 style) if I told them that sorry, we'll have to wait until next week to talk about The Miserable Mill, the Austere Academy, Hatchet, Harry Potter (1 and 2), Mockingjay, Brian's Winter, Number the Stars, Gossamer, Maniac Magee and Tiger Rising. They become slightly hostile if they aren't given the chance to talk about what happened in their books.  This is a wonderful problem to have and as an educator, I wasn't going to fully cut this opportunity for them to replace it with assessments.  I compromised and shortened our meetings, allowing them to finish without me in the hallway and DRA'd in between.  I didn't finish their assessments, but I also got to see that most of my groups could handle having their own lit circle...which was great.

Battle of the books also started this week and because it was so fun on Wednesday, I had about eight more kids sign up after the deadline.  Of course I accepted them with open arms because they want to read and well, that's awesome.  

I had to turn away one student because his frequent behavior problems are interfering with others' ability to learn. That wouldn't be fair to the students who are trying to work and read in our book club.  I've had several conferences with this student's family and this student is frequently off task and argumentative in my room, so the student didn't earn the privilege of book club.  I talked with my admin and fellow teachers, who were all in support of the decision.  However, it was a very heartbreaking conversation to have.  

We sat in the hallway and talked about all the choices that were made and how these choices took away from learning time.  We talked about all the second chances that had been given and how behavior hadn't changed.  In life, we don't always get unlimited second chances and there are consequences to our actions.  Sometimes, we don't like these consequences and that's a tough lesson to learn.  I also knew that he would have been a disruption every week and that's not fair to the forty students who are so excited to sit and read.  I also knew it wasn't fair for me, who is volunteering to run this club to deal with additional behavior issues with a student who has had several dozen second chances.  

There were tears and that's hard for a teacher.  I made him cry and I couldn't do anything to fix it.  There have to be consequences, even if it's unpleasant.

My mentee is having a rough time with some students and we had a nice long chat about strategies.  She feels better, which is great.  I just wish I could observe her more.  My prep falls during her whole group reading block so that's the only subject I've been able to see her teach.  I wish I could see more.

There's some inconsistencies at our school and it's very bothersome.  I'm not one to slack off and make things up, so it's very frustrating for me to see others doing so.  It's very irksome to see such blatant favoritism.

Take these factors, add in a four hour class, twelve more issues, a few parent teacher conferences, shouting in the hallway (not me, two students), lots of tears and a lot of sleepless nights...and there's my week.  I'm glad it's over.

But I also know I have the amazing opportunity to work with my grade level, which is filled with such dedicated teachers.  I learn from these women daily and know they're also making their decisions based on what's best for students.  Think of a pack of lion mamas and that's our fifth grade team :)

While collectively, they drive me slightly crazy with their talking (which is out of excitement), I do adore these fifth graders.  I love at the end of the day when we fist bump on their way out and they tell me their "click" of the day.  Their click is what is "staying with them" and made sense to them.  Naturally, I pretend frown when they tell me it's a subject I don't teach or recess, but it's great to have them reflect on their learning and share it with me.

I also am appreciative of the support I have from other educators.  My admin made the time out of her very busy schedule to talk through an issue I'd had.  Through our conversation, the missing pieces of information were filled in and now I understand why the decisions were made. lt was a difficult conversation for me to bring up, sharing that I was frustrated with an outcome but through discussion, we both filled in each other's gaps and now the situation makes sense.  

We also had one of our old academic coaches on campus this week and well, she's amazing.  We talked through my structure of small groups and looked at the questions I was asking of my students when they read their novels.  I'm doing everything right, which was nice to hear.  The same amazing coach sent me inspirational texts throughout the week because she knew I was having a rough time.  

She also works at her parents' restaurant which has amazing Italian food.  She suggested I come in on Friday night because in her words, I deserved garlic knots, pasta and cannolis.  It didn't take much arm twisting to convince my boyfriend that we needed date night since he had a rough week too and well, who doesn't love pasta?  We had a wonderful relaxing meal which almost made up for the rough week.  Then I found this note when I got home attached to our left overs:

It made me cry. She's the best.  My grade level is the best.  My students are such hard workers (most of the time) and my family and boyfriend are supportive through my tears and sometimes colorful language. One awesome friend stopped in to work to borrow something and ended up bringing me dinner since I didn't have time to run out and get food before my class.  I'm thankful to not be in this alone. I'm thankful to be an educator, even though it's not always an easy road.  There will be rough days.  There will be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  But some days are like that...

...even in Australia. 

(If you haven't read Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day stop what you're doing and go read it immediately.  This blog post and it's images will probably make a lot more sense after!)

No comments:

Post a Comment