Today I feel like I can’t keep up. I feel negative. I feel like skipping out on class, but I won’t because I’m too responsible and trained to feel guilty about stuff like that. I feel like I need a break or a cry or a 20-second hug.
The university I attend is fantastic. I’ve met professors and colleagues there that I know I’ll keep in touch with—maybe forever! But this program I’m in is new and condensed. I try to stay positive and see certain courses as just jumping through hoops to get to the finish line, but today I’m annoyed. I’m feeling like I’m not getting what I need out of my classes. Today I’m forced to read an article that was published in 2004 and shows statistics about English language learners and students with disabilities from 1998, 1999, and even the 1980s. In another class, I was told we were required to teach students certain information from the Common Core that we would not be covering in our class this semester. The syllabus is already outlined, so we can’t change it apparently.
I’m frustrated. I’m feeling loss of creativity. I’m feeling like I don’t know how to engage my students. I don’t know how to manage a classroom. I’m feeling kind of defeated, but not in the way where I want to give up. NO, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! I have 37 students in my classroom and I know I can’t reach them all every day. OR CAN I? I know when I work with a student one-on-one that I’m helping them. I’ve seen it and I’ve felt it. It’s part of the reason I wanted to become a teacher in the first place. But 1:37 is more challenging—36 more times challenging to be exact.
I’m reading Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle for my English Methods class. This woman is the type of teacher I want to be. She reaches her students in the way that I want to reach mine. She writes with them and shows them the process she is going through—where she is struggling, where she wants to expand, sentences she is proud of, sentences that are confusing—and they learn together. They read whatever book the want to read and they write about whatever they want to write about. They write about themselves and how they see the world. They write about deep, personal experiences. They become journalists, artists, performers, storytellers, WRITERS! This book is becoming very meaningful to me because I see it and I think Yes, this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for! It’s like she takes my feelings and puts them into her activities and exercises. And she is changing these kids. She is helping them open up and take the types of risks they would never experience from a five paragraph essay.
But I am not her! I am me and I am disorganized, frazzled, and just getting started. I am surrounded by rules and standards. I am worrying about classroom management, my own classes, applying for grants and scholarships so I can pay my rent and stay alive. I don’t want to worry about that crap; I want to write! I want to figure out how to reach my students and show them how they, too, can be writers. They have important stories to tell.
I don’t want to feel negative about my current situation. I want to be excited and enthusiastic, like the whole world is right in front of me and I get to bring all these high schoolers along with me. But I turn around and see pens in their hands, but confused looks on their faces. Do I have to write this down? How many points is this worth? When is this due?
What can I do or say to get them to come with me?