Sitting in my classroom this Sunday afternoon, at one of the crossroads/turning points of the school year, I am heartened and disenchanted, both at the same time.
We have reached the end of the first marking period and I feel I have seen such great progress in most of my students this year. My special ed PreAlgebra class has managed to stay with/or even just ahead of, the regular ed PreAlgebra class. Granted, we are not plowing through grade level material yet, but doing what, for an average 8th grader, would be all review from 6th and 7th grades. But plod ahead we are, with most of my students doing extremely well. As we head into more abstract material, more algebraic concepts, I anticipate our progress to slow. I am excited by the enthusiasm and efforts of most of my kids though, so I am confident they will rise to meet the challenge and my expectations.
Other parts of my new role are frustrating - the kids who don't care, who refuse to let me care, who fight the system at every turn and corner, who are determined to take a one-way street away from school. One minute they acknowledge my efforts, smiling, saying the right things, fessing up to their discretions, plotting their course ahead with care. Then, the very next moment, they again are in the middle of the fire, in the office for swearing, making inappropriate gestures in a class, or screaming obscenities in the hall, sleeping through yet another class, frustrating another adult in their life to the ends of their rope.
I've always prided myself on the ability to connect with kids, even the hard-core ones. Even these guys, somedays, I think, I am making it!! There is hope, a little tiny glimmer of faint light at the end of the tunnel, and... it is enough to get me here another day. Other days, it seems no matter how many times or way I try to light that fire again, a huge wave of despair washes over them and me, not only putting out the fire, but leaving the kindling so wet their is no chance of relighting it.
Other parts of my job frustrate me. The being spread between so many classrooms, so many teachers, some of whom work with me, some of whom seem to work against me, themselves, and logic itself is the worst part. I struggle with the ineffectiveness that prohibits learning from occurring easily with even the best student, when this ineffectiveness makes learning nearly impossible for struggling students. But I am learning to breathe in, breathe out.... breathe in, breathe out.
I repeat daily:
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.
It's an uphill battle with no winning in sight, and I struggle with accepting that fact. Acceptance is key to sanity, sanity is key to helping these students experience the most success possible. Accept I must....
Into the second marking period and beyond.... anxious for the next part of the journey....