Friday, August 25, 2006

And then some days are like this...

In an effort to keep my blog all real and truthful I'm going to be really honest about my day today. I hope you don't hold it against me later when I'm raving about my kids and their futures... I have hope in them and faith in myself, it's just stretching thin right now.

Today was awful. Today was the kind of day that makes you question what you ever thought you were doing signing up to come teach some kids you've never met in some city you've never been to and actually make a difference. Today was the kind of day you have to fight with everything in you not to just yell "Fine, if you don't care about your education, if you don't care about them closing your school, if you don't care that most everyone but a handful of people think you will amount to nothing and that's just the way it's going to be then NEITHER DO I." Don't worry, I didn't yell this, but a part of me I don't really like thought it.

I know my kids are making these choices. They are choosing not to listen, as a group of students they are choosing to be all around disrespectful, they are choosing to get out of control. But they've had a lot of help in that choice. I talked to some teachers after school today and all of us had horrible days and all of us are stressed out and searching for the magic solution and none of us have it. No one even knows what the discipline policy is at our school. They haven't told us. If you send a kid to the office he could be back in five minutes or he could get in school suspension. If you document everything that's been happening and you ask for in-school-suspension you might get told it will happen and then it doesn't. Blair has kids throwing books and punching walls, Michael has a class I couldn't even begin to deal with, Christina has all of my kids plus more and I have two classes who spent 15 minutes each doing their entering procedure until they could get it right. We wasted time, we wasted our opportunities to do our work and learn something meaningful. They don't care and I don't know how to make them care. Our school feels like it is spiraling downward and if someone doesn't do something soon I don't see how we'll ever make a change for the better.

I saw what this summer looked like with TFA being a united front and I see and hear about other schools that run a tight ship and get stuff done and I know we have to start a culture change here before it is too late. I just don't know how to make a change from the bottom rung. If we could all do it together, if we could all count on our administration to back us up, we would have a chance. I guess I'm just running low on confidence that everyone will pitch in or that the administration will get their stuff together and help us take control.

Besides being mad at myself for letting them get to me and push my buttons and mad at the people in charge for... well... not taking charge. I'm mad at the kids too. I got a bootleg copy of test score listings today. I've got a group of kids who are a constant distraction who are reading at or near grade level and I've got another group of kids who don't speak in my class because I am too busy disciplining my problem kids who are reading at a 4th and 5th grade level. For so many of the kids acting up I just feel like yelling at them to get out of my class. Why do you to take time away from students who so desperately need it? I've got a kid who has been acting out in class who has a father who works right around the corner and told me anything I ever needed he would be there in five minutes. This kid is smart and has a lot going for him. I look at him and I just want to tell him about the other kids I have in class whose parents could care less if they came home tonight or not. Those are the kids who can't read. Those are the kids who think they're stupid and they won't amount to anything. And here this kid is with parents who care every moment of the day that he is doing okay and he is achieving and he not only wants to throw it all away, but he wants to take it away from the kids who have so much less than him. I know he's not looking at it like that, but from my side it becomes so hard to separate it out.

I believe in my kids, I do. I believe in myself. But today was a hard day. I don't want working at the Mac to be a battle scar showing I survived. I want to be proud of the kids and I want them to be proud of themselves. Right now I'm just wondering how we're ever going to get there.

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