The First Worst Day
Yesterday was the kind of day that shakes one to their foundations and makes them ask the question: Do I really want to imprison myself in a classroom with a dozen monsters who lather at the mouse and would chew their own leg off to get at you with a switchblade? Student teaching was a complete bust: nothing got read or learned, behavior was off-the-charts awful, and I had my first student-teacher confrontation that chilled me to the bone.
Students were sleeping, most just with their heads on their desk; but one of my students, Sha-Sha, decided to brazenly steal someone's shirt from the closet and use it as a pillow as he sprawled out laying on top of three desks. I was working without a "real" teacher in the room, only an intern younger than even my 23 years. And I had only an eyelash worth of authority with the kids.
"Sha-Sha, please get up and read from page 128." I asked, my voice loud in my own ears. No reply, feigned sleep.
"Sha-Sha! Get up." I was standing over him at this point, I saw the curl of a smile on the student's lips.
I yanked the makeshift pillow out from underneath Sha-Sha's head, and he was up like a shot.
"What you do, miss? You ain't no real teacher. You leavin' for class. Ain't it time for you to leave?" he then moved over to lie across 4 chairs, arm slung impudently over his face. The intern, Miss Tisha did nothing.
I read aloud from the book we were studying Bang, by Sharon Flake, an inner-city shoot-up coming of age story that the kids didn't find too dry. There were a lot of loud parts of the book, where I would shout BANG! And I made sure to be near the snoozing student whenever I had to be loud. The other students laughed when Sha-Sha jumped. And Sha-Sha most certainly didn't appreciate it.
He came at me, advancing slowly and with menace. I made eye contact.
"What you lookin' at?" Ack! No! Confrontation! I can't win this, I'm going to get shot like in Dangerous Minds, my ma was right!
Without stammering I told him to sit down. He did. On a desk. But I didn't trust myself to go any further with the student, knowing he was looking for a way to get into trouble.
When I had to leave the class for the day to head to my own classes Sha-Sha held the door. Like he owned the room. I attempted to turn it around and thanked him for being such a gentleman. My heart was in my throat. I could hear the rush of blood in my ears. I was so glad to get out of that class, away from the pressure. I can only hope I put on a better show than how I felt.