Monday, September 17, 2007

why they gotta be hatin' on the math teacher?

Perhaps I shouldn't feel so miserable about my discipline situation: at a colleague's school today there was a riot and they called in the S.W.A.T. team. Also, they set the school on fire. We just had a fire drill. So I suppose I can count myself lucky that I don't teach there, right?

Today I had another mini-breakdown, sort of out of nowhere. I kicked one or two out of my first class, two or three walked out of my second class, and I kicked another one or two out of the third. Half of my first two classes got lunch detention and I have several parent phone calls to make. When I took the lunch detention list down to the principal the waterworks started, made worse by the fact that he was so encouraging and I was so discouraged. There were lots of good things said about my lessons today, my teaching and that just made me want to cry more. "You're doing everything right," they say. "You're working hard and your lessons are great," they say. Well, that's all well and good but my kids! What do I do about my kids?

I do have to say that it was very reassuring to find, when bringing the kids back from PE, that the principal was sitting at my desk waiting for them to even try and start something. He didn't say a word, he just glared at them from my chair. It was the awesome.

Mr. G says celebrate your victories, even if that victory is small. No one got punched in the face today. Class started on time. One kid paid attention. And I know that he is right, that I can't take all this too personally. But I am so ridiculously frustrated and I hate to watch kids fail. I guess some small part of me thought I could be a rock star and get most of my students to pass or learn something. It is hard to accept that maybe only a dozen will get anything out of my class. How can I not see that as my failing? Even if logically I know that there is more to it than just my ability to control a class or explain a concept. I know there is more going on outside of school to sabotage all my best-laid plans. And I really, really hate it that when it comes to math so many of them just shut down and shut it out.

As a math teacher, I feel kind of ganged up on by the kids. And then today, I realized that many of my students don't know how to do long division. I have at least one who can't subtract. And I have several who might be able to read most of the words but have no comprehension of the test. I have more than one or two who can barely sound out the words. Top that off with a school wide average of 32% special needs students (that's a lot of individual accommodations to make as required by law).

Whoever writes teaching off as a 9-month job can bite me. I already feel like I've been working for a year and we're not even through the first quarter.


Anonymous said...

Read your blog from NCF link. I thought I wanted to be a math teacher all the way thru secondary school. Then when I actually tried teaching 9th grade math after college, I hated it, especially dealing with the kids. I ended up becoming a tax consultant (35 years now) which allowed me to deal with people who respect me. Teaching requires a special & rare personality. Good luck but it's not a failure if you seek another job. Ciao, Bruce Allen '66

will said...

Yes it will.

Leigh C. said...

What you are doing is damned hard. I'm so glad you have support from your coworkers and superiors on this. That is yet another blessing to count in.

More ((((((hugs)))))) coming your way from me. If I could supply a magic teaching wand to you, I'd do that, too.