Thursday, December 28, 2006

My First Fight

I apologize for all of the grammar/spelling errors. After all, I am an English teacher! However, I am trying to write this fast....

Finally, everyone's schedule was made and we had kids in the classes. I actually don't remember there being a math teacher and there was some talk of assigning math to ME - someone who can barely make change. Ultimately, I was given a schedule of two 90 minutes literacy classes and a creative writing class. I had about 15-18 students. My literacy class was horrible. First of all, it's impossible to keep the attention of even college students for ninety minutes. The DOE still has such classes. Also, remember we had NO books. The only books I had are old ones I found in the closet from the previous teacher. The creative writing class was better. I came up with a list of daily tricks to keep the students occupied and they wrote a fair amount. Their writing was very good.

My life was this. I arrived at school at 7:45. Miraculously, I was never late. I lived two miles away and it was a short bus ride. We were reguired to have a meeting before school. This was the Supervisor's idea. The problem was that the supervisor never came to the meetings. She was always late. Usually, it was me, O, and the counselor having coffee. Then, I taught (or had a prep) for about 8-1:30. Then, I went home. I went to sleep for 1 1/2 to 2 hours the moment I got home. I watched Oprah at 4 for an hour and then I lesson planned for 1-2 hours before my husband arrived home. I was in bed by 9. This is the thing that people don't understand about teaching. There are layers and layers of work. People think teachers work 6 hours a day and then galavant off to happy hour. They forget the following:
1. Maintaining order in a class is physically and emotionally exhausting. You have to be "on" for certain hours of the day. It's like being in a play really. When you eat, drink, rest, or go to the bathroom are all pre-scheduled for you and you can't get away from that schedule. If you have a class at 1, you have to walk into a room at teach at 1. It doesn't matter if you need to poop or want a cup of coffee or have the flu. I cannot think of many other jobs like this. Also, the audience is literary hostile. They don't want to be there and hate you just for who you symbolize. So, not only are you perfoming, but you are also managing the audience and forcing them to pay attention to you.
2. Lesson planning. Teachers cannot walk into a classroom and just wing it (although I often did). You are supposed to/ required to have a play-by-play lesson plan. This usually has to be devised at home. We do get 1 "prep" time a day, but this is an hour filled with all the aforemetioned necessities: resting, coffee, bathroom, and an endless pile of phone calls to students houses.
3. Emotional impact. Endless you are a rock, you cannot go home and "forget" your students. I had students with dead fathers, fathers in jail, kids from jail, drug dealers, kids who were probably abused and it's hard to go home and shed that all like a coat.

My introduction into the true violence of the city came two weeks after I started teaching. I had my class. There was a teacher absent and the supervisor "doubled" my class without warning. This means in the middle of my lesson she brought in 15 other kids for me to teach. All the students didn't even have chairs. I was completely disoreinted and the class fell apart. There was comotion in the back. On of my kids and an African-American started a vicious fight. They started fist fighting. The African-American (who I did not know) really slugged my student who was white. I bring this up because I hear later that it was a recial issue. I also heard that these two boys had had a history of being enemies at another school. The supervisor put them into my class with no warning. I did not see it coming at all. My student was bleeding all over and I was freaking out. The supervisor came in and started yelling at me!

Welcome to school!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Christmas and a safe New Year!