∆ Jackson

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 23 2013

When the highlight (and lowlight) of your week is not getting fired…

I sent Nick this text message Tuesday afternoon:

“My 4A block was the wooooooorst today.  I nearly hit someone with a stapler.  But I didn’t.  So the good news is I’m still employed.”

And then when I returned to school on Wednesday morning to a 1B block that was almost as terrible as my 4A, I wondered if that really was good news and I wished a little bit that maybe I had gotten fired for hitting someone with a stapler.

I mean not really, but I did think that for a split second.

I guess that no matter how goods things may be going, there will be bad days.  There will be students who let you down, disrespect you, don’t care about science, want to sleep through your class rather than do their work, look at you like you are the scum of the earth, hit their fellow classmates, call their classmates “sped”, and just plain make work feel like a pretty awful place to be.

But then you have to remind yourself that they are in high school.  And they may look like little adults, but they are not.  They are 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and they need love and forgiveness more than the average human being, because they are teenagers.  Teenagers who have not necessarily had a very easy life.  Teenagers who struggle with more than the average person because they are growing up in poverty.  So I have to find a peace within myself to accept them as they are each day.  And know that usually the circumstances behind why my classes act up is probably out of my control…

There is also a lot of discontent right now in the science department.  This is often a more difficult, stressful, and trying job than it is joyful and most of my coworkers are looking for work elsewhere…in labs, at other schools, etc.  Somewhere where you are not getting bullied by students everyday and told by the district that even though you are tearing your hair out and literally making yourself sick trying to teach these kids, what you are doing just isn’t good enough because the QDI is still too low and students still aren’t passing the state test.  It’s hard to keep spirits up, because I feel sad they are giving up on this, but I 100% see where they are coming from.  It feels hopeless.

The week did end well, with one-on-one student conferences in the library while they worked on their research projects.  I love one-on-one conferences.  After a rough week, it is much easier to love my students one-on-one than as a whole class.  Because one-on-one, I can see that every single one of my students has dreams and wants to be successful.  They want to succeed in my class and they know what they need to do to make that happen, but they struggle with getting there.  There were a lot of  “What’s the hardest thing about studying?” conversations and “How can you keep yourself from talking to people around you in class” discussions.  But the best discussions were about their dreams and the careers they are researching.

E. who is one of my biggest “tough guys” and can NEVER stop talking in my class has finally bought himself a notebook and he told me his plan for doing better in my class.  He told me he wants to be a fashion designer and showed me the fabric patches he sewed onto the pockets of his jean jacket.  “The work on this is kind of shotty, because it was my first try, but all the rest of the stuff I have done is perfect, Ms K!”

M. who could not stop laughing hysterically because she had tried out one of the study techniques I taught them of teaching your notes to your stuffed animals.  She said she tried to do that but then she started “beating them”.  “Why?” I asked, now also laughing, “Were they being bad?”  She could only nod, she was laughing so hard.  She is a great student.  She wants to be a cardiologist in the army.

T. who has trouble staying awake in my class, but could not be more excited about this research project.  She has already started talking to her mom’s friend  who is a traveling nurse and collecting information about different agencies.  She had so much to tell me about what she had learned and the interview questions she was going to ask her mom’s friend and she wants to dress up as a nurse on the day she turns her project in.

S. is studying culinary schools and wants to be a pastry chef.  She wants to make a poster and bake something as a part of her project.  “That isn’t part of the requirements,” I said.  “I know.”  “We aren’t having presentations like we did with the last project, it’s just a paper,” I explained.  “I know.”  So of course I will not say no to baked good and a poster.  : )

C. wants to be an auto mechanic.  He had left my class to go to another school shortly into the year, but now he is back.  He has trouble staying awake in the mornings, but as we discussed his goals, HE told ME how important my class is because cars are all about physics and “you need to know about friction and gravity and energy to understand cars”.  (Ms K’s jaw is down to the floor…”Um, right! Exactly!”)

So, obviously, not getting fired was not the highlight…or the lowlight…of my week.  But it sure felt that way for a few days.

2 Responses

  1. veroskk

    Hi, Lindsay! I am actually a teacher in Jackson, which is not technically the Delta, but I am still more than happy to fill out the survey and pass it on to my colleagues if you like! And I’ll post it on the Delta region facebook page.

  2. Lindsay Schoenig

    My name is Lindsay Schoenig. I am a former Delta teacher and current grad student writing my masters thesis on identifying the barriers to the adoption of the community school model in Mississippi Delta public schools. I have created an anonymous online survey that I am looking to have ms delta public school teachers fill out. I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to complete the survey and maybe pass along the link to your colleagues and other teachers you know in the region. Here is the link to the survey:
    Thanks so much!

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