Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crazy Teacher

So, I am a middle school teacher, and a math teacher at that!  For as long as I can remember, I have loved math.  It makes me happy that I can find the solution to a problem using logic.  Besides loving math, I genuinely love being a teacher.  I can truthfully say that I love each of my 110 students and look forward to seeing them each day.  It fills my heart with joy to get that "light bulb" moment when a kid finally gets it.

Like I said, I love teaching, that is when I can actually teach.  There are days that I feel nothing but a babysitter "Sit down, Johnny",  "Johnny leave Sally alone", "Johnny that is not appropriate" blah blah blah.  The students are taking a test tomorrow using proportions to find percents, scale factor, similar figures, and indirect measurement.  We spent today trying to review for the test.  When I say trying, I mean I was trying to teach and they were trying me.  While I fully realize that they are "just sixth graders" and "only kids", but these kids have been in school for 7-8 years - which means that they have spent over 1,200 days in school (what can I say?  I love stats - I am a math teacher! lol).  These kids know how to behave but simply just don't care to.

This apathy, this lack of caring if they learn and frankly refusing to learn is disheartening and extremely frustrating to me.  I had managed to keep a tight reign on my frustration, but by seventh period I was tired of being talked over, disrespected and ignored, so I cried.  Seriously, I was so frustrated that I couldn't control myself and just started to cry.  I.WAS.DONE.  I felt so foolish, but when I am frustrated I cry.  Immediately the room grew quiet.  I softly explained that I was so frustrated that I couldn't teach them.  I must have talked to them for five minutes, explaining why I was so frustrated.  I talked about how I love teaching, but they aren't allowing me to teach.  I talked about how they are choosing to squander their education and basically waste their sixth grade year without learning anything.

Do I think they understand how it disheartens me to see them waste their education?  I don't know if my short soapbox session has any long term affect on them, but I did see the short term effect.  For the thirty minutes we had left, they listened.  It was bliss!  The students really listened.  One girl said "Oh, I get it now!"  She was truly excited and it warmed my heart.  I smiled at her and said "See, when you listen it is so much easier.  It is like magic!"

At the end of the period I did apologize to the students for crying, I still felt (and feel) silly for crying.  Most of the students then said they should be apologizing to me for what they had been doing.  Will this change their behavior?  I don't know.  They only thing I know for sure now is that they see I am human and there are consequences for their actions.  Even if those consequences happen to someone else. 

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