After a first year where I felt like I only truly connected with a small handful of my students, I felt like I really developed strong relationships with my 8th graders last semester. While I didn’t reach every single student, I got very close to a significant number and I would say that almost all of my students would at least attest to the fact that I care about them and want to see them do well.
Then, this semester my assignment got switched around and I inherited a group of 7th graders.
“No sweat,” I thought to myself. “I’ve got this relationship thing down.”
However, I’ve learned that relationships aren’t something that you simply master. It’s a continual process of growth and renewal. What works for one student or group of students might not work for another and just because you connect with one particular student, that doesn’t mean that you’ve humanized yourself in the face of all of your students.
It’s been a weird semester so far. We’re roughly five weeks into the school year and we’ve only had two full weeks of school. On two separate weeks we lost time due to snow, we had MLK Day, Parent-Teacher Conferences took out a day, and I’ve been sick twice. Because of this, I haven’t been in the classroom as often as I would like.
That struggle is compounded by the fact that my classes are bigger now. There was a girl, Esmeralda, who I was doing a great job with early on. She’s really smart and we would enjoy a witty banter every day. She worked hard for me and told me about things going on outside of her class. Then, she got moved into my biggest class (which is more than twice as large as my average class from last semester) and it’s like I barely see her. She behaves perfectly, is getting her work done, and is going to finish my class successfully but I know that I’m missing that personal connection.
It’s frustrating because that was one of the best changes that happened as I transitioned into being a second year teacher. Unfortunately, I feel like I have regressed a bit and it’s making teaching not as much fun as I would want it to be.
Ultimately, it’s just another challenge. We’re used to them by now.