Let me tell you about today:
There are days in teaching when you are tired enough, and the kids press you enough, that the only desires you can muster are to pull the covers over your head and pray for an electrical storm or new national holiday. Today was such a day. The principal came to my sixth period and yelled at my students for thirty minutes about what it means to behave, which – though appreciated on some levels – brought that particular period further behind. After that I had an engaged group of students ready to go and in the midst of a lesson a horde of students lead by the janitor informed me that they would be taking all my desks for the rest of the day, and for all day tomorrow. They left me with six desks, which leaves 21 desks needed. There was a vague promise of chairs tomorrow; I hope to find them the room in the morning. If not, it means mebegging the librarian to let me hold class in the media center, which is a whole different problem because I would be unable to use my projector in that location.
A second year TFA teacher down the hall said, “Don’t stress.” While this mindset is probably the one needed, adopting it is proving challenging.
On the upside, last Friday when my schedule was devastated by the pep-rally I did get a chance to have some much needed individual time with students. One, a talker and instigator, confessed his want for the class to be quiet and his desire to read Julius Caesar. He said the latter by averting his eyes and whispering it, as if reading this book were somehow a sign of great shame and weakness. Being able to validate that want, and to soon be able to see it to fruition, is what makes the job worth the effort.
I also went to my students’ first football game. It took place in Tallahatchie. Behind the field stood steel silos that looked like the village the tin man grew up in. Bugs swarmed the Friday night lights and some one hundred people traveled to our team’s away game. We won in overtime after we lost a point for excessive celebration. The band played well, and I watched as the band leader performed field surgery on a French horn to bring it back to life. He employed zip ties, electrical tape and will power to get it working again. The dedication of these children and our staff continues to amaze me.
This is the hardest task I’ve ever undertaken. I know I can do it, and thankfully have no obligations this weekend (quite the statement to make on Monday). The rest is much needed. After the chair fiasco tomorrow is overcome, I will no doubt feel triumphant; the remaining weekdays merely pawns to be taken after toppling bishops, rooks and knights.
PS Updates on the library and independent reading forthcoming!