Teaching Vs. Babysitting
I’m responsible for teaching my homeroom class two periods of ELA a day, Global Studies, Biology and music classes…ELA I sneak in first thing in the morning, and in music (where I have no skill) I show a lot of musical films, global studies is normally hit or miss depending on who shows up each day, but Biology is really suffering. I’ve been trying to teach the same chapter on viruses and bacteria since the end of November.
There’s two ways I feel about this less than par teaching. The first being slothful, I don’t spend as much time planning lessons, making worksheets and creating new ways to teach and motivate. On a good day I can teach 20 minutes out of a 45 minute period, I have less than a 50% chance of having a good day. I get the sense that most teachers just teach what they can and worry more about keeping fights out of their classroom, and trying to keep students in the classroom and not smocking blunts in the bathroom. So maybe I am just babysitting these kids, sometimes I don’t mind setting aside the curriculum and just hanging with these interesting young people if I know no one expects any better from me. Yes, I know I’m supposed to elevate these kids and somehow make them more ready for their future, prepare them for college…but there is very little I can do if I’m the only person rowing in the canoe. I’m still waiting to see what direction the new principal takes us…The old principal was very much in favor of academics in her ED school, which may have lead to her getting booted out.
On the other hand I’m uncomfortable giving up what I consider my job: teaching. I am a TEACHER, I should be giving info to the brains of my students, packaging the information in ways the students can grasp. But after “teaching” four months I can see why the teacher burn-out rate is so high, what I expect from myself doesn’t seem possible in this setting. I consider it a good day if I don’t lose my cool with the students, or let them get to me. I should be considering it a good day if I can get the kids to learn something. If I lower my expectations for myself, I’ll be more comfortable with how little I actually teach, but I’ll be giving up so many ideals I internalized when I thought about teaching. I knew teaching special ed was going to be tough, but it’s really bonkers.
To be honest, the days I enjoy the most is when I have most of my students sitting, and we’re all engaged in conversation. It’s not academic per se, but if they are all seated, and not hitting each other, or spitting…and I feel involved it feels like a small victory. When a student says “please” or “thank you” or picks up a piece of garbage when I ask them, or knocks politely on the door instead of pounding I feel pretty good about my job and my students. But is that enough?