Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 09 2013

The little things

It’s a long year and I wholeheartedly believe that it’s all the little things that make or break you. No one day is unbearable and no single positive interaction can sustain you for the duration. Instead, we get by on a thousand daily occurances. Here are some of mine today:

- Found my tape dispenser- crushed, thrown into a corner, tape balled up, tossed aside and unusable. The unfairness of it all bothered me so much. A student blatently disrespected me and my classroom, only I couldn’t really be mad because all that meant was that my lesson plan wasn’t engaging enough, the content wasn’t rigorous enough, my management was poor, etc. Sometimes maintianing an internal locus of control can be frustrating. But it was the middle of class so I had to shake it off in an instant and move forward without letting my smile drop.

- One of my students who just returned from long term suspension got jumped by two other girls and now my class is three people smaller once more.

- These kids are involved in so few activities and do so little socializing outside of their families or peers that they can be socially awckward even beyond typical middle school levels. In the morning while I’m running the scanning station, I try to be as friendly and joyous with the students as possible. Slowly but surely, my kids are responding to “how are you today” with more than a nod or a curt “good”. Sometimes achievement means passing benchmarks and sometimes it means learning how to make small talk.

- I still haven’t had any real sleep since I got back. Last night I took a nap from 11-1 am and then got up and got to work. Never before in my life have I functioned on so little sleep. If this were happening to me in high school I’d be skipping class to take naps.

- I don’t really have lunch breaks anymore. During hours 1-3 I’m constantly adjusting my handouts and powerpoint and so when lunch comes around I’m practically setting up for a whole new class.

- I live for the five minutes between class when I step outside of my portable into the bitter cold. It wakes me up. It refreshes me. It reminds me I’m alive.

- I borrowed a sharpie from our financial secretary yesterday. She’s the one who is in charge of doling out supplies. Today when I returned it, she gave me a look of surprise and exclaimed, “You’re the only person here who returns things!” This afternoon I saw a ream of paper and box of pencils in my desk. Karma is real.

Like I said, its the little things. Each one of these kinds of instances happens every day all the time. It’s what makes my job what it is.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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