Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 08 2011

I’m saving this text for a rainy day…

The last two days have been the first days that I absolutely, positively did not want to be in my classroom. My kids were misbehaving (apparently common after a long weekend) all day Tuesday and I had to have a sub for half a day Wednesday so I could DIBELs test my kids, so they completely fell apart. I could hear the sub yelling at them from my testing perch in the hallway, and one of my kids found me at lunchtime, gave me a big hug and said, “Don’t go away again!” But when I came back, stressed from having to teach them a whole week’s material in now only a day and a half, they were little monsters for me, too, and we got very little done. Add the germ factory that is my classroom and I ended up with the worst migraine Wednesday afternoon. Just before I lost it and burst into tears from the overwhelming awful, I looked over my kids’ homework. Come to find out, four of my kids solved a word problem (ELL kids, word problems are the bane of our existence) USING THE STRATEGY I TAUGHT THEM, and got the right answer! Turned my teary eyes into smiley eyes, and I was overjoyed. Nevertheless, because of migraine, I really had to go home at 3:30 (this is EPICALLY early to be leaving school—usually I’m there until 5 or 6 at the earliest) to take a nap.

Except it was the biggest fail of a nap ever, and turned into one of those “I can’t believe this is my life; I’m really a teacher; this makes me really happy, but oh God my head hurts” kind of moments. First my really struggling undiagnosed-learning-disability student’s mom texted me because he forgot to bring his spelling words home to study for our test the next day, so I had to get up, find my computer, look up his words online, and text them all to his mom so he could study. While I was doing that, two of my students, one of whom lives around the corner, knocked on my door ostensibly to ask what the homework was (except really they just wanted to come say hi and see if I really did live there, as if I’d be faking them out and moving in the dead of night). Then while I’m saying goodbye to them I remember I have to call one of my students’ super-involved awesome dad, because while the kid got 100% and told Dad this, because he’s lied so many times in the past and lost the graded test, Dad wants to hear from me. A call turns into a text message chain, where Awesome Dad is thrilled to hear his kiddo’s doing well, and ends with what is quite possibly the best text message I have ever gotten:

“I’m glad you came from Boston over here. Just between you and me the teachers around here are not really into teaching. You really seem like you really are here to teach. I hope once you see what gallup is about you don’t pack up and run back to boston. Lol. Your doing great.”

This was the kind-of-obvious epiphany that both uplifts me and crushes me with responsibility: I am a fourth grade teacher. My kids get no other fourth grade teacher but me. This is real life. These are real kids. And as sucky a job as I feel like I’m doing sometimes, this guy thinks I’m doing great, and he’s trusting me with his son.

I’ve got this fluttery feeling around my heart. Either it’s flying with joy, or else I’m about to have a heart attack.

2 Responses

  1. Ross Jensen

    Thank you so much for sharing. I feel like this captures so much of the ups and downs of being a teacher.

  2. Kristina

    I love the way you write. I’ve read quite a few of your posts, and they always make me laugh and think at the same time. Your students must love you, and I’m positive that you’re doing a great job. =]

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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