Ask any teacher how things are going, and you’ll usually hear the worst. We suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune daily, and we take is personally when we aren’t able to deflect or defeat every one. Most teachers are pretty convinced that if they just taught better, rearranged their room, cleaned up, was prepped a month ahead, and could make a connection with that one kid, we would actually be pretty good teachers. Not great, not fabulous, not the best, but pretty good. Not reaching goals or being successful KILLS us.
This week, for its 4 days, was indeed both trying and terrific (not in a terrific way, but in an accomplished way. I really just like alliteration). First, my students are STILL struggling with fractions. Both making equivalent fractions as well as simplifying fractions is HARD for most. I have very few successful students. We need to move onto ratios. They noticed that ratios are like fractions. FRICK! You could hear a cold, joy-sucking wind come through the room.
On top of that, my newest student is not behaving in the most positive manner. He skirts the line between good and bad. He’s not bad, but he’s not good either. Sitting here writing this and reflecting, I FINALLY get what his mother meant when she told me to contact them for any little thing at all. FRICK! I dropped the ball. SIGH.
However, I had THREE excellent conversations with kids yesterday and two with adults. The kids are always more powerful, because that’s why you’re there. One poor bunny is depressed — really depressed. He’s got a row to hoe that I wouldn’t hand to my worst enemy. Truly. Here he is 11, maybe 12 feeling the weight of the world. He has very few people who are dependable in his life. He’s a good kid, really. He’s smart too. He just can’t see it for all the stuff going on. At first, I was concerned because, as a K-8, we don’t have the normal resources that other middle schools have (DON’T GET ME STARTED!). However, when push came to shove, he didn’t want those resources. He feels that it’s “just talking” and “nothing gets done.” He never felt better in the past (obviously this is not a new issue). That said, we figured out a way to move forward, the two of us. I’m checking in with him on Monday, and I’ll follow up as best I can with his adults. For right now, I’ll ease my demand and see if I can’t just get the poor bunny to check back in.
Another “newer” student came in with her family (she arrived in our class in late October, early November). I wasn’t sure about her at first, nor was she about me. She has been working to get her “sea legs” and hasn’t always been successful. However, I’ve noticed positive changes in her since we started in January. She plays around a little less. She asks for help me. She is really, really trying to improve. She is completely likable, and so are her parents. We had a positive conversation, and I feel we can move forward in a good light. We have a plan for her. It’s good, because she really is a sweet, sweet girl.
The last boy, I don’t know. I was doing lunch supervision and he was removed from class because he was on red (card system). He was explaining to me that he did what was asked. I listened, but I have no clue. I wasn’t present. However, I read his story plan. I didn’t agree with it. So we talked about it. Low and behold he made inferences, made different choices about how to move the story along, and added to his plan. When I left, he was actually smiling. In detention from his class and smiling, weird but, I guess, preferable.
I shan’t go into more detail about the tragedies, because they weren’t really tragic — just annoying. Seeing the good makes me realize that if I wasn’t accomplished in the day to day operations, I made a difference to 3 people yesterday. I guess that’s all you can do sometimes.