This post might cover a lot…A lot of emotions, events, fears…
I shall start with the simple…In my last entry, I talked about how the children in my class, the school, really, (in my experience) struggled with retention; Now let’s cover abilities. The reading levels in my classroom, a 3/4 split, were low. Well, the vast majority were, I had 2 of 21 students reading at beginning grade level by the end of the year…
In the beginning, I thought I was a terrible teacher. How are these kids not catching up faster? Maybe I should do Daily 5…Maybe I should be sending home more homework….Maybe I need to do more guided reading…It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t me. There were things I could change, and did, like the guided reading. Come the new year, I changed my routines with the help and guidance of other teachers with a lot more experience.
But when it came to homework (or anything involving my students outside of school), I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I sent books home, levelled or otherwise, I wouldn’t get them back; Even if I did send some home, only one or two students had families that would sit with them and work on it. So I decided to keep my books. I still, in late July, wonder if that was the ‘right’ decision.
I really noticed the hardship when trying to teach all of the other subjects; word problems in Math, Science Fair prep in Science, and general independent work in Social Studies. My students, most of them, truly weren’t capable of doing work on their own, and it wasn’t for lack of trying…My kids, god I’m so proud of them…They tried SO hard… But they just weren’t able to read their grade level work on their own. Everything became teacher-led. Not because I wanted it, the control, but because with my help, even if it meant reading their work or the questions out loud 10 times, they seemed to feel so much more confident.
In Social, I would give the students articles, then questions where the answers were in the articles (not my favourite way to teach, but I had to work with the resources available to me) and even if I highlighted/circled the SENTENCE that the answer was in, they couldn’t figure it out.
I finally came to a point where I realized that I just didn’t have the time to spend anymore encouraging each of them, so I took a deep breath, and continued with the extremely high teacher-led guidance and spoon-feeding. I’m not proud of it, but it was nearing the end of the year and I had to finish units, as well as all the extras that go along with year end.
I have to cover a situation that happened at Christmas time (yes, I’m a ‘Christmas break’-er, not winter;) )… The entire school was in the hallway near the gym, preparing for our school-wide song at the end of our Christmas concert. My class had gotten through their play (The Mitten) like seasoned performers and I was so proud of them. While we were waiting, I was reminding them of what their behaviour should look like (I was still new, had only been there a month as this point) so that their families would be proud. A student from another class had come over and was goofing around, trying to get some of the boys from my class to be silly with him, and they impressed me yet again by not getting involved. After your typical warnings to this student and giving him instructions to go back to his own class line-up, he still chose not to listen, so I followed through and led him by the hand to where he was supposed to be.
We’ve all done this, right? It’s not like I was doing something crazy or unusual…
Well, a few minutes pass, and a woman approaches me (unfamiliar to me) and SCREAMS at me over the heads of my patient students… “Why the F*** did you grab my son?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Her:” He’s got bruises on his wrists! I’m F***ing charging you with assault! You have NO F***ing right to lay your hands on my son!”
Me:”I took him back to his line-up, he has no bruises, I did not hold his wrist.”
Her: Continues to swear at me in front of not just my students, but all classes and teachers.
I brushed it off and kept my composure till we finished our school song, wondering what the HECK had just happened. But wait…
We’re all walking our classes back to the rooms to collect their things, and crazy mom is back in a different hallway.
Her: “What’s your F***ing name?” As she angrily jabs her finger towards me, again, over top of children’s heads.
I tell her…
Her: “You’ll be getting a visit from the cops. I’m charging you with F***ing assault!”
I said, “Okay!” And walked away. The entire time I’m just thinking What is happening? What the heck? What did I do? This woman is certifiable!! Did I actually do something wrong? I can’t have really bruised this kid…Did I? No, there’s no way…I don’t even know her! Why is she acting like this! This is ridiculous!
I was so thankful to have a rush of teachers and my principal storming into my room as soon as the kids left to check on me. Everyone told me not to worry. Without divulging too much, we figured out that the police would not have been involved at all.
I was terrified the day after, that last day of school…Terrified throughout my entire Christmas break…Terrified to go back to school…
But, you know what? I survived. I handled that situation appropriately, and calmly. And I was, am, proud of myself for that.
I think we have to remember the field that we work in can be crazy even without the kids. I never thought that I would be “that teacher”, that all of a sudden changed their entire personality because of the job I had. The “old” me would have told that woman where to go and how to get there. I knew that this would get me nowhere. And I was constantly aware that my kids, my 8-9 year old students, were staring at me the whole time, watching for my reactions. And it was that moment that it really, truly hit me, just how much of a role model I was to them. And potentially to other teachers!
Always remember. You are more than the situations that happen to you.