"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Friday, October 17, 2008

moment of doubt #103

why are fridays always the worst days of the week? why can't i get thru a week without having one really shitty day? why do i feel grateful now that it was only one really shitty day this week and not every day? is that a sign i'm improving, or just getting used to it?

today, tears. my lunch and my conference turned into one long, uncontrollable bawl-fest. the tasty sandwich i made was ruined with the taste of salty tears and frustration.

within 15 minutes during my lunch break: behavior incident report/reflection, parent phone call (to tell a concerned mother that her son skipped detention with me 2 days in a row, he now needs to come after school on Monday for tutoring with me b/c he is failing my class), a meeting with the science coach that devolved into tears and an unintentional commitment to 2 additional observations in the next week. = STRESS.

what didn't happen (that i really needed most in order to forget about my massive fails and so i could go into 6th period with a clear head): phone call to boyfriend. music. baby carrots.

but, i guess it's a sign of my growing callousness* to the situation that i didn't think about quitting. i just lamented the fact that this isn't getting any easier, and i'm not sure it ever will. (*i use the word callousness not to mean that i am not caring, that is certainly far from the truth. i mean it in the way that i think of callouses or blisters from breaking in shoes: it hurts at first, but then you grow this thick skin around it so you can't feel it any more and you can deal with it, keep walking. functional non-feeling.)

anyway, to give you a glimpse into my life, below is the behavior incident report/reflection i wrote before breaking down into tears. i keep a log of every incident, and it is now becoming apparent that the notebook i am using may be too small. i write in it almost every day. this is ostensibly ridiculous.


friday oct 17

i spoke with my student marvin after school and let him know that i wanted to talk about something. i told him that all i want for my kids, what i think about most, is their happiness and their well-being. i want to know that my kids will be happy and live good lives. that's why i'm a teacher. i come to school every day and want to see that my kids are succeeding and doing well in school, because those are the ones i know will be safe and happy when they are older.

i told Marvin that i think he's smart. he can do the work when he really tries and works hard at it, and that makes me happy because it lets me know that he has a chance at a good life. but, he can throw that all away, he can lose that if he doesn't do his work. he and matthew are both really smart and can do the work, but sometimes when they sit together they start acting like fools. they both need to learn to be in a class together and not lose focus on their work.

i asked Marvin why he was suspended on monday. he said someone was trying to start fights with him so he "socked em." i told him he needs to get his anger in check because if he doesn't now, he's going to have more trouble later in life. i told him that people who can't learn to control their anger go to prison, i asked him if he knew what that was like. he said he didn't. i told him that prison is a lonely place, you sleep on concrete, you don't get enough food, and people usu. die in prison. i don't want that for any of my kids, and i don't want that for him. i told him that doing well in school is his ticket out of that life, that it's his chance to make something better for himself.

i almost started crying when i told him that i want all of my students to have the best life possible. i want to make sure that they have all the opportunities they can, that they have choices. they might not realize it now, and they might even hate being in class, but they need to understand that i'm doing this so that they can enjoy their lives later. but i need them to work hard at it, because i need their help, i can't do it alone.


Matthew - wouldn't do his work, Ms. Cue came to me after break and said that Marvin and Matt. were sitting on the stair banister and she told them to get down for their own safety. she said they looked at her and just crossed their arms, acting dumb or like they didn't hear or understand her. Matthew pretended he couldn't hear her (that he was deaf). when i told him to sit down, he defied my authority. i got super-pissed, and told him once, told him again. then i told him to "sit his ass down." he didn't. i told him to grab his things and come with me to the office. i took his folder, and marched him down to the dean. we sat with Dean Dixon, and Dixon talked to Matthew about how this behavior needs to change. he is down there 2-3 times a week. if he can't get this under control now, he's going to have a ton of trouble down the road. Dixon and i explained to matthew that we are here to try to HELP him and he is taking it for granted, seeing our concern as weakness and trying to get away with stuff. we told him that if he chooses to take it for granted now, he would only suffer more when ppl don't care to help him later. we told him if he wants to avoid being homeless, he needs to work hard now and ensure his future.

i asked Dixon what happens next with M, what is the next step? clearly suspension is not a good route, he enjoys being out of class. i wonder now if he acts out on purpose just to get out of class. i asked what kinds of interventions we can take to help Matthew and get this problem under control. Dixon said he had called home before and would call again (matthew's father is ill and dean dixon talked to him about being "a man" and helping his mom take care of the family, why would he want to cause them extra grief?) and Dixon asked if i wanted him suspended from class or school. i said i'd like to avoid suspension if possible, but would like to refer him to a program, possibly anger management and work habits, Boyz to Men was mentioned too. Dean Dixon said he would try those things. i also told him to call the mom for me and tell her that if this happens again, i would like her to come in and sit with him IN CLASS until he can self-manage his behavior.

Dean came back to my room with Matthew after a few minutes and i was back in the room. dixon asked to speak to me to the side. he said he called matthew's mother, and all he could hear was the TV turned up really loud, she couldn't really even hear or understand him and he felt he wasn't getting thru to her. but he informed her of what would happen if matthew misbehaved again and he said he would follow up with her.

when he turned around, matthew was not doing his work again. Dixon asked him to get to work. Matthew said i cussed at him, told him to sit his ass down. Dean Dixon said he should have heeded my advice.

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

well hey, as long as this is only a moment of doubt. we all have our bad days, there's nothing to do but learn from it and move on...hopefully your students will do that, but since they're, what? 11 or 12? they may not. just keep doing what you're doing, you will get through to them! it may not be until a few years later when they look back, but trust me, i know you are making a positive difference!