Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pulled In One Hundred Directions

It's been a week since that magical Friday, "The Day They Loved To Read." When I re-read that post, I realize that one of the reasons for that day was to build up my positivity, love of teaching and love for my students so that I would have the energy to make it through this week. My cooperating teacher is part of a team that does reading inventories on every student in the school to determine their reading level. The entire week I had a sub, so that she could do testing. The particular sub that I had this time was a very nice woman, but after seeing that I was taking the reigns simply sat back and relaxed. It's not that I wasn't used to head teaching the past few weeks, but I was used to the co-teaching atmosphere that my cooperating teacher and I had cultivated. Doing it alone was a great experience, but utterly exhausting. 

I'm proud of the way that I stuck to plans this week and kept our classroom on track for learning. We accomplished all the things we needed to do in that week. Another thing that went well this week was the many conversations I had with students surrounding discipline and other issues. The behavior of my class this week was particularly squirrely and unfocused. I had many conversations with them as a whole, about how their many conversations needed to stop. 

One student, my trouble maker, was upset because he had to move his card three times, which resulted in him being moved to the time-out room. He was crying so I had a conversation with him outside of the classroom. All I hear the entire day long with these kids is "nu-huh," "no I didn't," and "but he/she was talking to me." My teacher and I have really been working on teaching the students that it's their responsibility to include us if someone else is about to get them into trouble and not to try to solve their own problems. I actually felt like I had a productive conversation with him, until the next day when nothing had changed. 

Another thing that happened this week surrounded my ELL student with the most limited academic English. For most of Monday and Tuesday, whenever intense learning took place, she so completely disengaged and whenever I asked her to please open her book, or asked her a question, she would execute the slowest shoulder shrug, reeking of boredom. So finally, during an independent work activity, I asked her what's been going on, and told her that I noticed the past few days that she didn't seem to care about school at all. 

Then her eyes filled with tears, so I took her out into the hallway. She began to cry harder, saying over and over "I'm so mmm.... I'm so mmm..." at this point she's sobbing and I'm trying to get her to take some deep breathes and calm down. She finally gets out "I'm so mad." After she can speak, she tells me how the words in the science book are too hard and the reading stories aren't interesting, and our reading questions are getting harder and that her dad doesn't speak English and her mom can't read English. My heart is breaking even as I see through my classroom window that there are nine hands in the air. I feel spread so thin. How am I supposed to give the time and help to every student who needs me? 

I talk with this student about how I know some different ways to help kids learning English, and that she needs to show me how hard she can try. We talk about circling the words she doesn't understand and meeting together to make sure she understands her homework before she takes it home. I tell her that she can do it, but it's her job to ask the teacher to say things in a better way for her to understand, and that means no more shrugging her shoulders. She surprises me by throwing her arms around me and telling me that I'm a good teacher. 

We walk back into the classroom and I help her get started on the work, but her words have left a paralyzing thought in my head. I'm leaving in two weeks. What will she do when I'm gone, or when she has the teacher who has no idea how to help an ELL student? I look around the room, and I feel that about every one of my students. Where will the be in 5 years, or 10? Have I made enough of a difference in my short time here? I am realizing now how much of teaching is letting go. I can't give more than my very best. 

This week I learned that teaching IS being pulled in one hundred directions, and juggling the needs of every learner in your classroom. It's about truly seeing students and helping them reach success in every way you can. In the next week, I have a mock interview with my principal and am visiting a few different classes. I hope to help my students in every way possible as I transition out of their lives. 


  1. Hi Sasha,
    It sounds like you had a realistic experience this week. Most classroom teachers are on their own. Yes, it can be exhausting and yet rewarding. You get used to it. Often, as a teacher, you can have some influence in who your students have the following year as long as they stay in your building or district. Most teachers are there to do their best for the children.
    You handled each difficult situation appropriately. Some students you reach immediately, others it's a repeat and repeat process.
    The observation portion of your student teaching should be quite beneficial. You will notice differences in each classroom,in atmosphere, teaching style and management techniques.
    Relish that hug. Hopefully your student will know be able to ask for help at least for the remainder of this year and perhaps it will become a habit. Talk to her ELL teacher and ask if there are any other strategies that you can use these last 2 weeks.
    Have a great week.
    Mrs. Hysell

  2. Sasha,

    Thanks for sharing two interesting stories. It breaks my heart that the ELL student feels so helpless and mad. Are there things you can do to ensure she will be helped once you leave?

    I believe you are doing the best you can for these two students and they will be better off for having you as their student teacher.

    I hope your week goes well.