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education

Sick Today

I rarely get sick, but I am today. The sore throat showed up yesterday, and last night I was repeatedly awakened by congestion. It’s not bad though. My body’s telling me to chill for a bit. Last weekend was very busy, as has been every weekday since school started on August 13.

I spend just about every waking moment planning lessons, even when I’m watching a movie with my boyfriend. In my dreams I often dream I am in the classroom. I enjoy teaching, but this is ridiculous. My house and yard are in near shambles because of the hours I work before and after school: grading work, entering ROP attendance, reading and responding to coworker’s emails, filling out evaluation/observation paperwork, and planning methods to keep students from destroying computer mice.

After receiving my first paycheck, I am wondering how I will live without getting a second job. But where will I find the time? The school expects me to maintain its website, attend meetings for two departments (VAPA and Industrial Tech), proceed through BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support something-or-other, which means meeting regularly with a mentor teacher, writing many reflections, and attending seminars), be a senior project adviser, create non-existing standards for my classes and develop pacing guides. After bills, I’ll have only $80 a week for food, gas, pets, household needs and emergencies. I’m not sure they even deducted union dues from this paycheck, so how will I live if another $100 per month is taken out?

If I can manage to obtain another 5 college units this year (which I can through BTSA, thankfully), I’ll be up by another $4k on the pay scale next year. But this year will be rough.

On top of it all, I feel like half my students hate me. That still gets to me even though I’m not supposed to try to be their friend. I learned last year to be very strict with rules from the very beginning. So many kids whine that “none of the other teachers do that.” Other teachers assure me the kids are lying about that.

Yesterday I had one student on the other side of the room clearly say, “you run this class gay.” (He had disagreed with me that he was tardy.) I asked him to please come to where I was. When he did, I asked him to repeat what he said to my face. He stammered and pretended he wasn’t talking about me. I told him that if he had any comments about how I run the class, he needs to have the courage to say it to my face. He said okay and I let him go back to his seat. Also yesterday, I gave detentions to two students for excessive talking. More specifically, they were talking back to me when I asked them point-blank to be quiet while I was instructing.

When I respond like that, I don’t know if I’m being a tyrant or if I’m earning respect by not letting students be so disrespectful of me. Clearly, these students were trying to see how I would respond to their challenges of my authority, but I don’t know if I am responding effectively.

On Thursday, I asked students if anyone would be interested in transferring to a new section of drama instead of my class. In sixth period, unlike my other classes, no-one raised their hand. I expressed some surprise, and one boy in the back said, “it’s because you’re such a great teacher.” My immediate suspicion is that he was trying to be funny, an obvious kiss-ass moment. I secretly hope he meant it a little bit.

I should take this lovely morning and get some housework done. There’s so much to do, it’s difficult to choose where to begin. So instead I am here wasting time on the computer. Okay, not totally wasting it. I did a little bit on my class website, and I’m writing this reflection.

*sneeze*

I feel guilty when I’m wasting time, even when I’m sick.

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

3 replies on “Sick Today”

Dawn,
I hope you can hang with the difficulties–because there are lots of kids like the ones in 6th period who just don’t speak up because of peer pressure.

Good teachers are CRITICAL to the success of my own children. I know there are parents and students who know you are critical to their kids and their own success. Hang in there. Take some Nyquil. Tomorrow is another day!

Dawn,

Hang in there! I am a graphic design teacher, year book advisor, Virtual Enterprise teacher, and ceramics teacher. I look to your website almost EVERYDAY for inspiration! Your students might be “too cool for school” but they know that you are a wonderful teacher! Thanks for all of the ideas.

Rachel

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