Monday, October 8, 2012

Bipolar Teacher

There may be nothing that makes me feel more bipolar than my job. The highs are oh so high and wonderful- and the lows? Oh my goodness. The lows make me want to run and hide under a rock and never ever come out. Not even for ice cream.

On Thursday I left school with an incredible high. One of my little ones was spontaneously communicating in ways he never had before. He wrote his name for the first time ever- independently- and I just couldn't believe it. Baby steps. Each little step is something, but in this line of work we celebrate every inch. Thursday I finally felt like I belonged right where I was- in this school, in this classroom, with these kids.

But Friday? Friday was a disaster. Friday I felt that I should fire myself as a teacher. The kids would be better off with someone else. My family would be better off if I let this job go. My teeth, oh my poor, grinding teeth. There may be nothing else left after this year.

The day started with realizing that my brand new building was lacking a very important, very expensive computer program that I absolutely had to have to complete extremely important paper work that had a very important deadline. So through emails we all frantically tried to figure out a way for me to run back to the think-tank on my lunch break so I could plug my data into their program. Of course while I'm worried about how I'm going to find coverage, make sub plans, eat lunch, and somehow manage to use this computer program one of my kiddos is having a BAD DAY. And it tends to be that when you have a bad day in my class everyone has a bad day because regulating our emotions is something everyone is working on.

So we are all trying our hardest to survive the BAD DAY. I'm trying to manage the email chain and talk to the adults coming into my room who are dealing with the computer software issue. I am scheduled to have one of the reading specialists come into my room to do a lesson that I am super excited about so I'm trying to keep us on task so that we'll actually be finished with everything we need when she comes in. I finally got one of the assessments that I was suppose to complete in September so I'm also frantically trying to assess everyone of my kiddos (keep in mind that it is a BAD DAY so the assessments are often interrupted with shrieks from across the room). 

I am trying to hold it together and one of my kiddos keeps telling me she's sick. She's very dramatic so I ignore this. Yes, I've learned this lesson a million times. When I was a gen ed teacher I was thrown up on after I denied a child a chance to go to the clinic. But- we all know what happens when you let one kid go to the clinic- the rest of your year is spent trying to figure out whose really sick and whose not sick. The child didn't feel hot- she seemed to be her normal self- so I ignored her request. "Let's see how you feel at snack time" I replied- because if they are still sick at snack time then you know they are really sick.
A child once drew this picture of me. Yep, me. And it is how I felt about myself on Friday.

So yes, at snack time I finally break down and send her. Yep- a fever. So not only did I make that poor girl suffer through reading workshop but I exposed the rest of the class. Teacher. of. the. year. I fire myself.

I manage to make it to and from my old school in minimal time and get the information I need. This means of course that I don't eat my lunch and I don't have time to prep for my afternoon lessons. 

As everyone stares at me from the rug and I wonder what we're going to do next I decided that we'll do some interactive writing because, hey, it keeps us busy and it involves minimal materials. I'm trying to manage the BAD DAY behavior while peppily saying "Hey kids, what sounds do you hear in 'time' Let's stretch it out like a rubber band? OK- ready.... ttttttiiiiiimmmmmm" when OH MY APPLE PIE one of my friends yells out "I hear a T"

I fall over. I didn't know he knew what a T was. I mean, I swear yesterday he saw a T and said "4". 

"Great!" I smile. "What do we hear next?" The same usually quiet and reserved child shouts out, "I" 
And then- "M, like mouse".

In the same moment I want to cry because the BAD DAY is still happening and we all have headaches and I haven't eaten and I have no idea what I'm going to do after we write the word time and I'm overwhelmed and frustrated and I don't feel like I am being the teacher these kids deserve. And yet- my friend matched sounds with letters. HE MATCHED SOUNDS WITH LETTERS. 

It's not even bipolar anymore- it's just confusion and craziness because I no longer know what to feel. The frustration mixes with pride and happiness. I hug my friend and high five everyone. I try not to cry and ignore my growling belly and all my stress.

We. are. learning.

Baby. Steps. 

We can do hard things.


Scott said...

I've been feeling exactly the same lately. I'm new in the classroom - first graders - and some days I think "Yes, it's a great day!" and other days I think, "What am I doing here? Nothing is happening."

Glad to know that it's not just me.

I recently read this quote: "Show me a teacher who doesn't fail at least once a day and I'll show you a teacher with expectations too low."

luckeyfrog said...

I think teaching is just like this. From lesson to lesson, moment to moment, you're dealing with a class' worth of brains, hearts, and bodies. So much is constantly going on that every day- sometimes even every minute- is up and down for me. But that's part of what I love about teaching, too. Those breakthrough happy moments mean so much!