Sunday, November 26, 2006


I have always been a somewhat nervous person. I tend to dwell on details and rework them in my head. It's probably what makes me a good teacher and a borderline neurotic. One of the biggest hurdles I have to deal with is returning to the classroom after time off. It's not that I can't teach, or that I feel inadequate, it's simply that after time to decompress from the rushing and paperwork and stress of daily classroom life, I find myself seriously wondering if I want to return. What would happen if I didn't? Would it be the end of the world? I guess I am especially nervous because the day before Thanksgiving break, I was out of class at a teachers' convention. So I have this dread of returning to a classroom in shreds or to a class report that the sub didn't do what I wrote in the lesson plan and I will have to deal with this tidal wave aftermath of whining kids and angry parents. You see, there's this project due. We worked on it in class from the first day of the term. Students recieved a list of requirements and have been allotted time in class to work. But, as so often happens, they procrastinate, they argue, they goof around and do anything but work. The project is due on Wednesday. I have babysat them through the writing and the production of the piece, but HONESTLY, I weep for their incompetence when I see seniors in high school that don't know how to cite a resource or that can't format a page to specifications. It's like pulling teeth to get them to work. And since my class doesn't count toward the GPA, they only need the credit, they give me schlock and expect to pass. Then there are the parents who like to argue over every grade their kiddo doesn't ace. I have a kid who is making an A, but who gave me a half-baked assignment for which I gave him a generous 80. His dad calls me up with a rambling, rumbling monologue of "Why didn't he make an A? He always makes an A. He's playing international soccer. He's on a special accellerrated plan....blahblahblah"...and so on. I have 25-30% of my classes FAILING. I don't have time to argue over a 96 vs. a 97 average. Maybe that's why I dread returning. Yet I need this job. Next year I will have THREE kids in college. And as a nonethnically diverse, middle class, two parent family, the powers that be who give out scholarships and grants think we merit exactly NOTHING. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. I wish I could just pluck out this fear and push it under the bed where it belongs. I wonder how many other teachers go through the same thing the night before classes begin. Or am I the only one?


George said...

Seriously . . . I feel your pain. I too mourn to the point of intolerance for my students. What I find so amazing is that so many teachers are mourning the same problem.

EllenK said...

So it's not just me. I seem to range from disillusion to outrage. Here I am babysitting them through what should be an independent amount of study and they sit back and do NOTHING. And if they fail, the onus will be on me to explain why.