Scraping the bottom

The day after my last entry was probably my worst day of teaching yet. I finally hit the wall after working like a dog since Institute started late-June. I’ve had one day actual off so far. I thought my life would normalize at some point, but it hasn’t happened. And the extended school day at FAST has been taking it’s toll. On a typical day, I spend about 10 hours in school, almost all on my feet, and then I come home to plan for another 3-4. I don’t have time for big breakfasts, and many days I simply don’t get to eat lunch because I’m fighting one fire or another.

After a Wednesday of 13 combined hours of work and grad school, the death of my computer, and an hour and a half spent trying to throw together a half-assed lesson plan on the spare computer my Mom had sent me (thank God for that), I laid down in time for me to grab 6 hours of sleep, hoping that I would be reasonably alert on Thursday. Arriving at school, I kicked myself for forgetting that my entire planning period would be taken up by my team meeting, leaving me essentially no time to make copies.

Forced to decide between keeping my teammates waiting and showing up to class completely unprepared, I made my copies and arrived at my team meeting 10 minutes late. I was confronted about my continual lateness, which I took particularly hard because I hate hanging my teammates out to dry, since in the grind, they are some of the only people I can count on in a pinch.

My first class went pretty well, but my second class was a disaster, which was particularly poignant since my boss was observing me. She can’t have been impressed. I tried to keep things in order, but class was chaos. I spent so much time trying to get people to shut up that in the brief moments of silence, I was too flustered to deliver an effective lesson. I gave the kids an activity to do, and only realized near the end that it was the activity from the 2nd half of the lesson. This obviated the next 40 minutes of my lesson, so I pretty much had to wing the 2nd half. Not that anyone would have noticed since the 1st half was so awful. Oh, and don’t let me forget, she was also present to hear me announce to my class that all their grades were gone since my computer died and I don’t have a backup. As my boss left, she implored me to read her observation notes.

I read them after school, and needless to say, they were not uplifting. Almost a full page of it was stuff I was doing wrong. I delivered an impromptu lesson to the 2 kids who showed up to coach class which was nice, but then I witnessed the demoralizing scene of one of the students getting berated by his mother for attending without permission. I tried to defend him, saying he’s one of my better students, but she simply turned it against him telling him threateningly that he better get an A+ then. My room had become a organizational nightmare, and I couldn’t bear to stay in the building and clean it up, so after my coach class, I simply grabbed all the clutter and brought it home with me, even though I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to take care of it.

I arrived at my house a near-wreck. Overall, Thursday hadn’t gone significantly worse than the average day, but it was one of those days where I was exposed for my lack of professionalism and preparation. I knew I had to change my game for Friday, but after a week of 6 or less hours of sleep and one real meal per day, and the emotional beating I had taken at school, I didn’t have it in me to plan. I felt like I was drowning. I laid down at about 8:30, and didn’t really leave bed until Friday morning.

Friday was probably actually a much worse day than Thursday. But I felt like my normal self again at least. It probably helped to rest my body and mind for the night.

So here I am in my usual Saturday routine. Trying to relax, but in the back of my head literally counting the minutes until 5pm Sunday, when the school night begins and the grind resumes. I’ve actually got some great ideas for Monday that hopefully will change this whole game up. It was a downer that instead of spending my Saturday decompressing, I had to spend 8 and a half hours at Hopkins for grad class and TFA sessions. On the other hand, I did get some great ideas at a couple of my grad class workshops, so I wouldn’t say it was a wash. I’ve just got to devote myself to working my exhausted butt off these next 24 hours to make it happen. All I can do is just keep digging deeper. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for me and helped me keep my head up. I’m sure this won’t have been the last week I’ll need it.

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