I was pretty disappointed today. The day started with an extreme high. I woke up early, went to Starbucks, stood up for myself to a dirty-mouthed panhandler, made two new acquaintances, and it wasn’t even 7:30am! Then, I got the speakers I ordered through a small grant I received, our NGLC grant team had our interview today, which I felt went super well (and I was gratified to work with colleagues who are passionate, well-spoken, intelligent, different, and are teachers), and then I spent the rest of the day working with a small group to pull all the parts of our grant application together. It truly felt like an accomplishment to … see our handiwork. Then to top it all off, the iPads I had gotten through DonorsChoose finally came in!
I was getting ish done for my kids and my school.
And then, I talk with the sub. I see the quality of the work the kids did while I was gone. And that was all ish too. Just. wipe the floor with it. kind of stuff. and behavior. ugh.
It sucks. I wonder how I’m going to address the lack of respect and the lack of learning that happened. I wonder if I will bring up trust.
Because to me, it’s really just this simple: if I can’t trust them to “take charge of their learning” (a school value), I can’t leave them. Even if it means I need to pass up opportunities to enhance their learning.
But then, the selfish part of me protests because such a decision sucks for me too! I love doing these kinds of things (applying for grants, brainstorming pilots, etc) in addition to teaching. In fact, I’m almost at a point, though, where I’d rather be writing grant proposals and researching best practices and talking about data coaching, than actually teaching in this specific classroom. (Though one silver-lining: I think these will be the hardest kids I’ll have in a while…)
No matter. The facts of the here and now is that I’m here. I’m teaching. And tomorrow, I need to face the kids. I need them to know this isn’t okay and that they haven’t “gotten away with it.” At the same time though, simply meting out a punishment doesn’t seem to be right either. If I just give a class-wide detention, I’ll be the enemy and they’ll be the victim. If I run a class conversation though, what might come of it? I think I’m just afraid.
That is to say..
When I talk about trust, learning, respect.. should I be earnest and truthful? It’s different with middle schoolers. They don’t know which lines are taboo and they don’t necessarily listen to reason. I think part of the reason why I’m brusque, joke a lot, or fake sensitivity around them is because I fear being too honest or earnest with them – because if they reject it or tear it to pieces, that’s my heart on the floor.