Stuff Students Say

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 02 2011

Ok, it’s November 1st…

…Things should be easier now, right?

Everyone kept telling me that October is the hardest month to be a teacher.  The kids are comfortable with you and ready to really test their limits, they know your routines and rules by now but CHOOSE not to follow them…and you’re still a long ways from Thanksgiving break. Oh, October- I found all of this to be true (and more!) My class had many magical moments during October: our first and second in-class fights, first suspension, first through fourth “we mean business” conferences with various trouble-making students, their parents and administration, first failing averages on chapter and unit tests, first complete grade level reshuffling in which my 9 best-behaved students were moved out of my class. I could go on and on. Such is the month of October, I was told.

Naturally, when I woke up today and it was November 1st, I expected things to be much better. Because they’re supposed to be, by now.

I didn’t expect half my class to earn a D or lower on their unit exam in science, many because they choose not to do their homework and/or put any effort into taking the test.  Additionally, I didn’t expect C. to scream, “that’s not fair! you didn’t teach us anything in science all year!” when she saw that she got an F.

I didn’t expect J. to refuse to do any work today, on the grounds that he didn’t feel like it, and then tell me that he hates me  and throw all his materials off his desk when he gets in trouble.

I didn’t expect 80% of my class to be unable to stop talking, stay in their seats and pay attention during the extremely important review for their quarter’s-end math exam.

I didn’t expect to be so exhausted from the stress of day-to-day lesson planning and full-time enrollment in grad school that I’ve lost all ability to be patient with my colleagues, and sometimes end up being not as nice and/or professional as I could be.

I didn’t expect any of this, so you can imagine why today, the long-awaited November 1st, was such an unfortunate surprise.

However, I also didn’t expect:

-A.’s absurdly immature behavior to be completely transformed by the simple fact that I will be sending a note home every day telling his parents exactly what he did or didn’t do during class. I also didn’t expect him to get a 90% on his science unit exam- one of his first passing scores all year.

-S. to show up for picture day in typical conservative Muslim attire- with the addition of an iridescent purple prom dress layered on top.

-I. to be so excited by the fact that he solved one of my brainteasers, that he actually completed the morning Do Now activity.

-A. to look at me with shock and a huge smile when I talked about the upcoming Eid holiday- “Ms. S., you pronounced it CORRECTLY!”

-9 students to be literally begging me for the chance to retake their failed exam- and willing to do it during lunch tomorrow.

Oh, November.

One Response

  1. VBCole

    And what are you doing differently now, adapted according to the needs and strengths of your students, from what you were doing at the beginning of the year? How is teaching reading, writing, listening/talking going?

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I used to be a journalist. Now I just quote students.

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