March 9, 2007

March 9

I found this scrawled in a notebook when I was cleaning out a drawer today. It is dated March 9, but there is no year. Judging from the other pieces of writing in the book, it was written 5-7 years ago when I was teaching high school freshmen and sophomores.

So today at 1:43 I quit. Too exhausted by the day to day shit. I just decided I didn't want to do this anymore. Too weak to want to try anymore. Perhaps I'm moody and I give up too easily. It is, afterall, one of my brightest classes, but when I can't get them to do anything... Well, I guess they won. The rest of the day w/o doing anything. What a dream. Damn. Now I'm kicking myself because I gave up too easily. I am not cut out for this job. I just don't want to be so tired so young.

Boy, how some things never change. Did I really give up that day? I hope not. I still get frustrated and tired, but I usually get ornery before I give up. That's never pretty, though, and I don't feel right when it happens.

I'm having frustrating time this week--an many times throughout this year--because I have so many students failing. I do have quite a few students who are in over their heads in my classes, but that only accounts for a few who might not be doing well. The rest of them...well...they just don't turn in their work. They're lazy. They blow off projects and major papers. They seem unconcerned about their grades. It's quite unusual for magnet students, I think. I post grades, and rather than everyone rushing into the class to check their grades, only a few do. I can only hope they are rushing to check the online posting of their grades instead (it lists grades from all their classes) when I'm not looking because it seriously appears apathy is king this year.

It's not just me. This apathy is evident throughout our team. We've been battling it all year long, and it seems to just get worse as the year goes on. The math teacher seems to be keeping stats in his head about how performance grades are this year compared to last year. He has about 5x the students failing this year. Most of the year, I've felt that more students are failing my class than in any other classes. I swear it's like 10x the students I had failing last year. Maybe more. I think I can count on one hand how many students earned F's last year. In a couple of classes, I have to use my feet to count the number of F's--in just one class!

We are all frustrated, but I think I'm the only one who is professionally troubled. (Woe is me, the poor lonely teacher who feels alone in the world.) Is it something I'm doing in my classroom? Am I too strict? Not strict enough? Is my delivery difficult to understand? Is the class structured enough? Is it confusing to them that we have more than one thing going on at a time? Why won't they do their daily reading? Can they not hear me? Am I nagging them too much? Do I not nag them enough? Why should "nag" even be part of my vocabulary? It's what I feel like? Should I be calling more parents? Where can I find the time to call parents? Oh my gosh! I need to send some notifications home, but I am up to my eyeballs in plowing through the essays that the students who care gave me to the feedback I promised them.

It all weighs on me very heavily.

One of my friends, who happens to teach half my students, tells me that I'm doing plenty for those students--maybe something other teachers have not. What is that? I'm giving them the opportunity to fail. Yeah. As if that makes me feel better...

There are many of us, including our counselor, who feels that failure is an option for students. I can't decide if the accelerated students in our program have been coddled, or if they are pushing the boundaries and want to see how much they can get away with. With this group, it's probably both of those things and a dozen other reasons.

Honestly, I don't even think that we are digging in deeply enough to the content either. Last year at this time, we were in a much different place that I am not sure I can visit with these students. I think they are bright enough, but sometimes that isn't enough. And I don't care how smart you have been your whole life, there comes a time that if you don't continue to develop your skills, you just aren't so smart anymore. Am I the only one who sees this?

I don't know. Frustated. Burned out. Tired. It's the same day. Just a different year.

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