Gut Check Time

It's been a week since I've posted and I can't say exactly why, but I'm pretty sure that it's because of a downturn I'm experiencing. It doesn't seem so long ago that I felt a sense of euphoria. I've got this down, I thought. The kids were respectful, they were engaged, and most importantly, they were learning.

What originated as two, maybe three-year commitment in my mind was transforming. I'll definitely stay for three to five years, but after that who knows? In the back of my mind I started to toy with the idea of embracing teaching as a career. It was a big, scary, exciting change. And yet, I had found something I enjoyed doing, and seemed to do well.

Lately, I feel that feeling slipping away. Nothing as chaotic as last year takes place in my classroom this year, but there are flashes. I feel the kids tuning out. I see the kids starting to turn on one another. Name-calling, physical aggression and general disrespect seems to be popping up more and more frequently. Perhaps more so than a few unsuccessful lessons, this change in my classroom in especially disheartening.

Overall, I feel like I'm losing control. For starters, I don't think I have control of what I'm teaching these days. It's all Kaplan and NYS ELA Testing and on and on it goes. And with all that my own motivation has suffered. My planning has become somewhat rote and uninspired, and therefore my lessons have exhibited that same mundane quality. Of course, the end result is my students are pushing back and rejecting my teaching. And I don't blame them.

Luckily the test is almost over. Once it's behind me, I hope to get back on track. I hope even the math exam won't throw me off, because I'll find another way to prepare for it. Meanwhile, I have 2 weeks off starting next week, and I hope to regroup, recharge and remember how to do this job right.


Miss A said…
Just remember- 20 days. We have 20 days off. That's a damn long time. Your testing will end and the kids will still need a good teacher who actually gives a shit about them. While you might not want to do this for longer than 5 years, you still have the end of this year left. Use those 20 days wisely and give yourself a break. Winter break isn't all about holidays- it's about helping us to remember why we do what we do.

Luck from MN :)
Ruben--don't give up. And don't underestimate the power you have to make a difference in maybe a slightly less impacted community down the road. I made the wrenching decision after 8 years in very poor, very immigrant communities (I'm a white girl raised in Latin America) to go to work at a--God forbid--ONLY 50% Title I school in order to work for my old master teacher (yes, a goddess). It was the best decision ever. I am shocked by how much massive amounts of time I now have to DEVOTE to my 50% kids because I'm not OVERWHELMED, it's a phenomenal experience--and all my middle class peeps all still think I work in the 'hood, I'm always trying to tell them but they have no idea. My point is, it has given me so much enourmous calm, peace and reflection time I'm actually hatching plans to try and write a business plan for a mini-corp/virginia teaching fellow project for our African-American community. I would NEVER have had that kind of energy staying in the schools where the administration exhausted me three times more than the kids. Keep the faith, and whatever you do, don't quit teaching all together, find a position that works with your set of gifts. Thank you for the good work you do.

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