Saturday, September 30, 2006

One month in.

Officially, I have been a teacher for a month. It seems both a quick-silver piece of time and an eternity. I’ve been handling it day-by-day and crisis-by-crisis. Wednesday my lunch was stolen, Thursday my giant teacher’s desk was overturned by a battalion of 9 students who also hit the library and created chaos and destruction there as well. Yesterday, Friday, I had a tall, creepy student with corn-rows bend down over me and whisper “You have a fine ass, you know that?” in my ear. (Earlier in the week I had been told I had "dumps like a truck." Funny, I never knew.) On a daily basis I am threatened, cursed at, ducking thrown pens and crumpled papers, dodging insults and propelled books…it’s life.

I wake up at 6:20AM, I’m in my classroom by 7:30AM, the students pile in anywhere from 8:30AM til about noon. Except for a few, most students cut class by 1:30, and I dismiss my 9th graders around 2:30PM. I putter around the class until 3:30 or 4PM and head home to rustle grub and relax, except Tuesdays where I have to head to the City for class. Yeah, Tuesdays suck.

I am asleep before 10:30PM. Without fail.

I. Am. Exhausted.

This job keeps me going like crazy, and though I strive to not shout, some day my throat burns with soreness. But, I love it. I love teaching stuff not on my lesson plan, drawing the “kids” lives into the subject matter. I enjoy watching them think, seeing their thought process and their emotions. Any given day is a soap opera, which student is dating whom, and why those girls want to jump this girl because she apparently “sucks dick.” Every day I laugh. Even on the bad days. I’ve only been scared twice so far, though I’m constantly angry at the administration. Most of my students have been locked up before. One of my students cut my class last week and was arrested an hour later for attempted robbery. I had to call his mother and listen to her cry over the phone as she swore she wouldn’t bail him out. Again. My second week I got elbowed in the face and my para got punched in the ribs. Next week I’m baking cookies.

They tell me you have to be a little bit crazy to teach emotionally disturbed kids, and some days I feel crazy because I do. Monday, I got a hug from a student before they cut my class. “See you later, Miss.” He said, all grins and charm.

Teaching wears me out, steals my time, urges me to think, and makes me drink. I spent last night at a dive bar with friends, meeting a new Teaching Fellow pal, a sort of friend-of-afriend. It really helps to compare notes and talk shop while getting plastered. (Like every seasoned teacher tells me.) And there is a certain sympathy you get from other teachers in the area. She teachers younger students, K through 5, so she has a much bigger chance of getting bitten. (Though I'd never put that past my kids.)

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