Reality Sometimes Bites

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A needed vent of sorts…

I want to believe my classroom experiences have prepared me for many, varied experiences.  The truth is, each year is different, each class is different,  and sometimes I don’t have all the answers.

I so appreciate this post from @thatmathlady.  We have in mind what we want to see, hear and do in our classrooms, but inevitably, it comes down to the students who walk through the door.  Reading her post encouraged me.  Successful strategies from the past may not be right for the particular kiddos before us.  We must pause. Breathe.  Adjust.

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For several weeks, I’ve been struggling with a particular class.  Usually when things don’t go smoothly, I turn to my PLN or colleagues down the hall, adjust and hit the next day with a new strategy.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have hit a wall with this class.  Nothing I’ve tried seems to make progress.  And I am frustrated.  You would expect a veteran teacher to know what to do.  We are nearly half way through the semester and I feel like I have failed.

Yes, there are some who are struggling, thus their outbursts of verbal frustrations.  Yet, I see no effort at all on their part to improve.  I fear by the time I begin to make some turnaround with them, the semester will be over. And it will be too late.

I suppose I place too much of my own worth/value in their progress.  I need to step back. Breathe.  Remind myself there is only so much I can do.  At some point, it’s got to be their choice to want to improve.  I have not been able to convince them I am here as their support.  They don’t trust me.  When they are ready to begin moving forward, I can provide help and direction.  Until then, I will continue to invest in all learners to the best of my ability.

I will not, however, waste valuable class time arguing over their lack of effort and desire to learn.  I have lost control because I allowed them to set the tone of the classroom.  Its disrespectful of their classmates and myself.  Its unprofessional on my part that I’ve allowed it. It’s unacceptable.

If they choose not to participate, they will not interupt myself or others of our desire to move forward.

Usually, there is 1 or 2 students who buck my classroom system, but I eventually am able to coax them from the dark side.  But this class, I have experienced disrespect from at least 7 students.  Nearly 1/3 of the class. 

I have attempted win-win conversations, how can our attitudes and actions change to make this better and work?  Even asking what I could do.  No improvements.

Sadly, the learning environment in my classroom breaks my heart.    I shouldn’t have, but I told them in 20 years, I have not experienced a more disrespectful class.  This is sad because it’s not the majority of the students.

The last day in class I was in survival mode.  I was thankful for Homecoming Picnic the following day so I didn’t have to see them.  I needed a timeout. 

This week is fall break.  A much needed break.  I have read, perused blogs, looking for an up-do.  I want to return Monday with a new attitude, new energy.  I want to believe I can still make a difference. 

The reality is, I was shaken.  It’s hard when something you adore doing turns around and bites you.  It’s difficult to face that challenge.  But I remind myself, not to give up.  It’s hard. I’m human. 

So once, again, I pull out the star fish story as a reminder…

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8 responses »

  1. I’m so happy I could give you some inspiration! Honestly, I have been experiencing many of the same roadblocks and heartache that you are experiencing this year. I, too, am on fall break right now and it has really given me some time to reevaluate what I’m doing and what my students NEED. I’m glad we both have this time to go back to the drawing board to make adjustments and improvements so that our learning environments mimic what we have dreamed for our students!

    I wish you the best of luck as you return from fall break and look forward to reading updates!! 🙂

    • When I read your post this morning, I needed it. It helped me to “vent”, breathe and reflect. I guess being comfortable is not an option right now, got to stand out on a limb to find what works… thanks, again.

  2. Some classes really are that way. What a wonderful end to your post however. I needed to hear someone else’s struggle today because my 4th block makes me feel the same way. I need to remind myself that there are 4 starfish in there for whom I AM making a difference. The other 20… who knows. And it is a lot to do with me. I don’t enjoy the course and I know that makes a difference in how I structure each class period. I try to make it hands-on and they just sit there. They actually asked me if we could move the desks into rows because they like that better. Ugh. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me that I am not alone on this journey!

  3. I, too, have a class that doesn’t seem to be learning. I feel like I am slogging through hip-deep mud in that class. Lessons that soar in my earlier and later periods fall flat here. And yet… I see one young man trying to understand. A girl who is usually asleep is awake and zooming thru her lesson! Yes, there are the two boys, one sleeping in defiance of all I try, and the other flaking through his work, not writing anything down, while another is busy flirting, silently across the room with a girl who is smart enough to make straight A’s but does not because ‘boys don’t want girls to be smart!” And yet… The boy who never speaks above a whisper is working the math problem in his incredibly tiny perfect print. He has a question, and turns his card over to red. He doesn’t even look up, but smiles a crooked side grin as I begin to ask him a few questions to help him move forward. These are my starfish. The others? Well, I’ll keep at it. Hope springs eternal in a teacher’s breast, even as we are “trimming the sails to catch the wind!”

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