Thursday was the worst day in my teaching career (that I remember). It was the culmination of a week of last minute and unrealistic requests placed on my team. I went to bed at midnight each night because of the extra work we were expected to have completed for a last minute meeting on Thursday afternoon.
My kids have been bullying each other recently.
Report cards were going home on Thursday. My principal wanted me to adjust my grades.
Recent test data has come back in reading, math, and writing. Guess whose class is at or near the bottom in every subject?
What I feel every moment of every day when I see how awful my students treat each other, when I see how much they don’t care about school, when I have test data hanging over my head like a big threat, is what an awful teacher I am. If I were a good teacher, my kids would like school, they’d want to work for me, I’d be able to model respect and they’d want to follow, I’d be able to get them to improve their scores.
On Thursday the language arts specialist came into my room to see how I’m doing literature circles. I had never heard of literature circles before this school. I’ve never seen one facilitated. The specialist doesn’t like to model because she wants me to find my own style. So I try to do what she tells me. I try to envision in my mind what she expects me to do. I try it and fail. She literally asked me to step out of my teacher seat so that she could take over. What do my students see? Ms. Hubers can’t teach. How do I feel? I can’t teach.
Then two of my girls got into a fight. They exchanged words because one girl bumped into the other girl’s desk. Then they started pushing.
My report cards and report card comments were not in my mailbox during planning. They were not there during lunch. I started to panic – how would I get them in their envelopes and passed back by the end of the day?
As I brought my students back from lunch, a student was playing around at the back of the line. I had already gotten on her several times for playing around in line (and in class and at lunch). As I turned to lead the class into the room, she yelled, “Racist!” I whipped around and said, “What did you just call me?” She said in surprise, “What? I didn’t say anything.” That set the rest of the class off: “What?!” “Are you kidding?” “Seriously?” “You liar!” I called her out of line and got in her face: “Tell me to my face why you would call me such an ugly thing.” She looked me right in the eye and said, “What? I didn’t say anything. I said, “macist”. I don’t even know what that word mean.” The class would not calm down, and I was so angry I couldn’t even think straight enough about how to best deal with her. I sent her to my partner teacher because I needed the time out from her.
Just before my meeting, I went to the work room to see if my report cards were there yet. Nothing. I saw the AP, and she said she was waiting for my comments. I told her I gave them to her. She said she was waiting on the two that she put in my box that morning to correct. It was two typos I needed to fix. There was no note on there saying she needed them back. Every other school I’ve been in would trust me as a professional to fix the typos and send home the corrected copies. She told me to bring the corrections to her then she could make copies of everything and give me my set to send home. My meeting was starting in a minute, and dismissal was in an hour.
I walked into my room and started crying. I feel beaten down. Again and again and again. With every interaction with a specialist or administration. With every team meeting. With every spreadsheet of test data. With every lesson I try to teach. With every piece of positive feedback I don’t hear. With every piece of negative feedback I do. I have never heard positive feedback given to anyone in the building. Ever. The only encouragement I’ve received is from the behavior interventionist, who has observed my room because the AP is concerned about my classroom management. She told me I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. We just need to figure out what will connect with these kids.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop to finish all the work I need to do for the week. The work that will not be good enough for those above me. The work that I did for hours on a Saturday night instead of hanging out with friends. The work that I’m doing all day today instead of having lunch with friends or going to a prayer meeting this afternoon. The grading and the lesson planning that nags me and taunts me and whispers over and over about how awful I am at this job.