Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 9: The Downeaster Alexa

As my students would say, "I ain't feelin' it."

As I sat in the library today, talking with our amazing literacy coach about how I'm feeling about the year so far, desperately trying to keep from crying, I asked myself "What's going on here?"

This has not been a bad year so far.

There have been years where the sound of my alarm clock sent me into a spiral of dread that would last until the final chime of the bell at the end of the day.  I would toss off the blanket, put my feet on the floor, my head into my hands and say "I'm going to go to work.  I'm going because my kids need the insurance that is provided by my working."

I would drag myself to work, give lipservice to my lessons while watching the clock and hoping that certain kids wouldn't walk through my door.

Last year was a very good year.

I had fresh ideas (stolen from better teachers than myself) and I was excited to try them.  I had days when I woke up and didn't want to go, but for the most part, I was excited to see my students and was excited to explore the world with them.

This year, I feel none of that.  It's not a bad year.  Nothing has gone horribly wrong.

I'm just not excited to be here.  I don't dread it, I don't fear it, I don't look forward to it.

The kids this year are really nice.  I truly like them.

But I'm not inspired.

I blame myself.

The district is the same that it has always been.  When I think about the things that I don't like or agree with, they are no different than in previous years.

I may have set my expectations too high.  I may have come into this school year expecting my students to be where last years students ended.  I may have been too high on my summer professional development last year to remember the struggle that I had to get them there.

I have spent a ton of time over the last 16 months working with and talking to educators from around the world.  I truly feel that know more now than I did two years ago.  I think that in that time, I've seen enough and learned enough to make certain judgements that may or may not be fair.  Those judgements make it much more difficult to work in the situation and conditions in which I find myself.

With all of that said, I can't let it destroy what I want to do with my students.  I need to provide them with the best education I can every day.

Several members of the faculty here are fond of saying things like "sometimes you just have to play the game" and "this is the hand we are dealt."

All of that is true, but that doesn't make it any easier.

The day got slightly better as it went on.  I had a mild fight with my 8th period about the constant complaining about the heat, but after that they enthusiastically reviewed the homework.  I need to find a way to work with this more rambunctious group without getting so frustrated with them.

In geometry, we did a few explorations with compass and straightedge.  Instead of just showing them how to do the constructions, we had a discussion where I had them tease out how to copy a segment, find the midpoint of a segment, copy and angle and find an angle bisector.  I asked pointed questions and managed to get them to discover the constructions on their own.  It took a little longer than I had hoped, but they did well with them.

Upon even further reflection, I'm starting to question if my existential crisis and misery is in any way related to the fact that my room has not dropped below 80 degrees in the last two weeks and, for most part, has been hovering around 87.
The class on the right is where my students go to cool off.

I hope the weekend will give me some more perspective and help me to realign my goals and strategies.

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