If ever there were a Monday that began the tradition of “Mondays are God-awful,” it would have been incredibly similar to the one today. As my first day of solo teach, I went into it with a deep breath and a crossing of the fingers. Sure, I’d taught on my own before (even with no teacher in the room)… but this was somehow different. And boy, was it.
I start my day off by making copies. I’m sure you know where this is going. It’s a ONE PAGE document, front and back, on WHITE paper. This should not cause any problems.
It decides to jam over and over again on me, including when I only have three freakin copies left to be printed. Can you tell this machine loathes me in a degree that no other has ever felt before? So that’s sign number one.
Then first period starts and I get them rollin (after announcements) with what they need to be doing. We do some reading, and then I have to split them up into their groups in order to work on different segments wherein they take notes on a section and write it all up on this butcher paper to post around the room. Well first, I have this crazy German girl who starts throwing a hissy fit because she doesn’t want to be in this same group she’s been in with this other guy. So I try to put her in another group, and she throws a hissy fit again. I try to work with her, but moving other people around gives me hissy fits from other people. Then everybody else was getting annoyed with this girl, so I finally told her to suck it up and work in her original group. She was all broody and silent (as were the rest of that group) for the rest of the period. Then I had to deal with yet more McCain vs. Obama ignorance from another group that drove me up the wall. Needless to say, first period did not bode too well on my patience.
Then second period comes around. They aren’t really all that bad behavior-wise. The biggest issue here is that I wasn’t overly prepared to handle the situation on what my mentor teacher was having me do. It was basically a make-up day wherein I passed a lot of papers back and they had to do a lot of make-up work for the last week or two. I didn’t have everything all situated just right, so I got a lot of the same questions over and over again and everything was a lot of chaos. I also had a similar issue in third period, though that was added on with how everybody was acting like they had turned all this work in on Friday (when I wasn’t there), so I got a lot of blank stares to mix in with the chaotic confusion.
By the time fourth period rolled around, I got a bit more order on the horizon, though they’re a bunch of idiots in that class, so I still had to explain everything twenty thousand times. And I thought I was having a crazy day up until that point. But everything that had happened thus far was like heaven in comparison with what was to come. Fifth period was a literal madhouse. I had people making random noises, things being thrown across the room, people running out into the hallway, students sitting at the teacher’s desk, the same questions coming at me nonstop, phones being out in view, and particular students refusing to sit in their desks and work (or listen to me when I told them what to do). I eventually had to start threatening detentions, which quieted them down a little bit. But Wednesday is going to Def Con 3 with that class. They pushed me way too far. They’ve been rough before, but they have never been that bad. I told them they had a choice on whether or not this was going to be a good, fun two weeks, or a very long two weeks. They picked the latter, so that’s what they get.
And then sixth period, I had normal chaos, and one of my best and most confusing experiences of the day. The best was when one of the kids in the class got up to perform his ballad (they all wrote ballads for the poetry project). His was a rap… but it only started as a rap, and then halfway through it turned into this high-pitched R&B melody. Everybody was laughing so hard we could hardly hear the entire thing. It was brilliant. But the most confusing experience was with this one girl. She had lost her voice over the weekend, so it was very quiet and raspy, and especially hard to hear in the normal chaos of that period. So she’s trying to tell me something, and I’m leaning as closely as possible to hear her, and she’s trying to tell me about how she can’t read this one poem to the class. So I tell her not to worry about it that she doesn’t have to read it. So she replies with a death glare and the response of “God, if you weren’t a teacher’s assistant, I’d be cussing you out right now.” I was like “Wait… what?” But then a ballad was performed (the aforementioned one, actually), and I went back to her on what she said. She was like “I was trying to ask you if you wanted to read it for me.” “Oh… sure, that’s fine, I can do that.” “No, Nevermind, I don’t care anymore.” “Um… okay then.” It just totally came out of nowhere. Oh, and then I got a talk from Crazy Girl and this other girl in the class about how I need a total fashion makeover because I dress in the same boring clothes every week and don’t look like a human. I was like “These are my professional clothes… I do wear more everyday clothes outside of school…” So that was interesting.
Then seventh period conference came along. And because, oh yes, the internet had been down, I couldn’t take roll in sixth period (or check missing work, as some students decided to start asking me about once the internet was down). So I had to finally print out the roster once it was back up after-the-fact and take it down to the attendance office. And then I did a crap-load of grading from then on until after school. My mentor teacher left at around 4:15. I thought I was almost done, as well. But after I put in all the grades and all that, I realized I still needed to get stuff together for Wednesday, so I had to put together the vocab tests that are scheduled for Wednesday, and then create an entirely new modified version for those kids that need it. By the time I finished that, it was about 5:15 PM, so I just gave up at that point and left for the day. My legs were emanating with how the day was on the whole. I hope to whomever that the rest of my solo teach is nothing like the first day.
No school this day due to Veteran’s Day.
This day was SO much better than Monday had been. I seemed to have more control over first period, letting them get through most of what they needed to get through in the day. Second through fifth periods did a few different things. First we discussed the Seven Deadly Sins and Dr. Faust because they’re linked to a short story we’re going to be covering soon, The Devil and Tom Walker (though I did get some interesting answers... every single class had some joker who had to say "Is Dr. Faust anything like Dr. Phil?" And there were some difficulties with the Seven Deadly Sins... one period started listing off the 10 Commandments, while another tried to list the 12 Plagues. But when we did get into it, connecting it to the movie Se7en, a few were able to pick out the easy ones, like Gluttony and Lust, the latter of which they had a lot of fun with, of course). After that they all took a vocab quiz, and, even though they were all apparently freaked out about it, I had never seen so many 100s on a vocab quiz this entire semester as I did on this one. Fourth period was slightly rowdy, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. Fifth period went into Def Con 3 (as I’ve detailed in my blogs before). They didn’t like that very much, nor did they have an easy time complying with it. I did end up having to give one detention, and I had to take up one cell phone. Sixth period, we all went to a computer lab, and they typed up their poetry to be put on the website I developed for them. And seventh period conference I started messing with all of that, starting to get some of it up on there. I didn’t really stay too late after school, either. It was a relatively good day, overall. And then, rather unrelated (only really related because it deals with high school), I went to a high school production of “Annie,” though it was in Goliad, not Victoria. It was pretty fun. And that was basically my Wednesday.
This wasn’t really a bad day… but an exhausting one, nonetheless. I actually woke up really tired, so that didn’t help much. First period did more group work, and they all had different/new groups this time. And even though I did that, I still had to break up a verbal fight between those same two aforementioned students. It’s ridiculous. Then second and third periods did alright behavior-wise. All they did was work on a pre-test for literary terms. Fourth period got to go to the gym to do this fitness test thing (so I got a bunch of groans and complaints), but they were done before lunch. So after lunch, they started their pre-test. And then fifth period did their pre-test, as well, though I had to re-explain the Def Con 3 stuff for those who hadn’t been there the previous day. And they all did pretty well, too. I did have to make one deal, however. One of my students can’t sit very still for very long and has a lot of focus issues, so I made him a deal that he can get up and move around for a bit whenever he’s feeling antsy, as long as he doesn’t talk to anybody and he does his work. It worked out pretty well. He didn’t talk (mostly because he ended up taping his own mouth shut)… though he didn’t really do the work until I had to force him into it.
And sixth period, we all went to go back to that computer lab, but another class decided to be in there today. Luckily, one of my previous teachers from when I was in high school (my computer science teacher) was right down the hall, didn’t have a sixth period class, and let us work in her room for the period. I should use ‘work’ more lightly, though, as they didn’t really work too hard at all (a lot of computer games). And that one girl who told me Monday that she would have cussed me out had I been anybody different continued to get on my nerves with her extremely bad and haughty attitude. She kept trying to ask me stuff about eSembler program (grades and such) and the computer because things weren’t working properly for her… and I had no idea how to help her with any of that… so she proceeded to say something along the lines of “God, don’t you know anything?” (There was a pause before she added the ‘about computers’ to the end of it). I also found out I had gone to high school with the Crazy Girl’s sister (she had been friends of some of my friends, so I saw her quite a bit).
But then seventh period conference came around and things got a bit hectic. My mentor teacher decided to tell me how infuriated she was with all the regular classes due to them all horrendously bombing this pre-test, and it being some of the easiest material ever. So now I had to push back the material I had planned on teaching Friday so that they could make test corrections instead. And on top of all of that, over half (sometimes over two-thirds) of each regular class is currently failing (because nobody is turning in any work), so we had to make phone calls to each of their parents. I was given third period… though out of everybody, I was only able to get a hold of about 2 of them for various reasons (incorrect numbers given, disconnected numbers, etc.). And I thought I was going to get out of there by 4 (almost a little before), but right before I was almost out the door, one of my students came in to do some work and turn stuff in. And before he finished, another came in and needed quite a bit of help. And because my mentor teacher had to go off to a meeting, I stayed in and helped the student out quite a bit (she needed to be passing in order to play basketball). Though I didn’t get out of there until about 4:40. But oh well. Such is the life of a teacher.
Friday wasn’t bad, just chaotic. My mentor teacher wasn’t there, so there was a sub. But the sub didn’t seem to like the idea of having to sit in the lounge so I could be in the room alone all day. She kept having to go talk to the person who sets all this stuff up at my school to figure out different things. She also was curious about leaving halfway through fifth period because she was having some issues at home or something like that. So in the end… she stayed in the classroom during first period, even though I asked otherwise (and talked to some of the students the whole time, not letting them do work)… and took roll first period, even though I told her I would do it (and/or had already done it). After that, she stayed in the lounge and graded other teachers’ stuff for them. Then she left around fifth period, and another sub was called in to sit in the lounge during fifth period, though she was much more complacent. And to pull it full circle, when I took sixth period to the computer lab to finish typing stuff, I had to get the key from the woman who does the sub stuff to unlock the room, so I got to talk to her for a bit about how I was doing (though that was fine, because I’ve known her since I went to high school there).
Anyway, about the classes themselves… first period was fine. After they finished up the previous day’s work, they had three options to work on, all of which were essentially homework. Then I got to yell at (sort of)/lecture every regular class because they did so horribly on what was essentially the easiest test they’d ever take. And I also told each class how miserably they were doing as a whole because nobody was turning in work (for instance, fifth period had 19 out of 21 students failing due to pure laziness). And what else was pathetic (and I told them that), was their weekly homework was so absurdly easy and the majority still didn’t turn it in. It was ONE short paragraph to read (Chief Joseph’s “I will fight no more forever”) and answer a few questions on. And it’s not like they were difficult questions. Some of the answers were the exact same as each other. And, again, using fifth period as an example, only 4 people out of 21 turned it in (and it’s not just fifth period. Each of the regular classes were pretty equal in their patheticness… yes, I believe I just made that word up). So the day was used to either finish up the pre-test (in fourth period’s case) or make corrections on it (everybody else)… and then try to get missing work turned in. It was nearly pure chaos with everybody swarming me, all asking the same questions (“What am I making? What am I missing? Answer me this, answer me that, do this, do that, etc.”) so that by the end of the day, I was annoyed and mentally exhausted. I’m not even going to get into the behavior of fifth period (not terrible, but needs work. I nearly gave out yet another detention).
Then sixth period came along, and that one haughty girl comes to me and asks if I’d graded and put in the work she had just given me the day before… and when I said no, that I’d be doing that during seventh period that day, she basically demanded that I do it right then and there (because she’s all OCD and needs to see me putting it in with her standing over me so she can be certain of her grade). So I took the two papers to the computer lab with me… and realized I forgot the key for the vocab sheet. But I graded the other one, which pulled her grade up to a B… but she got all whiny because “this is the only B I have!” I tried to assure her that, assuming her vocab fill-in-the-black was done well, her grade would definitely be pulled up to an A. She refused to believe me unless it was put in right in front of her, and, in quite a demeaning tone, said “What do you need a key for? You’re a teacher; you’re supposed to be smart, right?” In which I responded “Yes, I am. However, I’m also human, and I want to make sure I give you a fair grade by grading it correctly.” She stormed off back to her spot and glared at me for parts of the remainder of class, and then left the class about a minute before the bell even rang. I even tried to tell her to come back to the room with me after class, because it would take about one minute (if that) to grade it, and another minute (if that) to put the grade in. She didn’t have a seventh period class, nor a job to go to immediately afterward… she had to prepare for the pep rally (which wouldn’t have been for another 30 minutes afterward), but refused to spare 2 minutes to check this grade she was so adamant about seeing first-hand.
Then seventh period conference, I thought I’d get a bit of grading done quickly and escape before anybody could run in and catch me, but one of the other teachers came in (one that I’m pretty friendly with) and we talked for a while. I had been thinking about this the night before, so it was interesting that she brought it up, but the other teacher and I discussed how (what Dr. Riedesel warned about all along) the teacher’s lounge just breeds negativity. I noticed how I began student teaching, and y’all might have noticed this through the evolution of this blog, with so much positive enthusiasm and high expectations… all of which has devolved into negativity, cynicism, hatred, and an overall poor experience on all levels. I’ve grown more annoyance with students and their capabilities, and I’m no longer sure if it’s because I honestly feel that way, or if my thought process has been twisted into it by those of the teacher’s lounge (and I don’t want to degrade those teachers… some of them are truly wonderful, as I have observed some of them… but they still vent). I know some of it is my own feeling, as some of these students really do need to be smacked upside the head, but it’s further fueled and enhanced by everything that I hear from the others. So this other teacher and I had a talk about that and how she’s been staying out of the lounge recently for that very reason, as she’s been affected by it, too.
Anyway, I didn’t wrap up grading until after school ended, and didn’t leave school until a little after 4. But that’s fine. I was just glad to get out of there, wrap up this hell week, and have a nice weekend off. I feel next week will be much better and much less chaotic (mostly due to the subject matter of what’s being taught). I can only hope.