I am frustrated.
My Hopkins adviser came through for what’s become my bi-weekly beatdown. As usual, the theme is that I’m not standing up for myself, I’m letting the kids walk all over me, I’m too nice to them, I’m too tolerant, I’m too patient, I don’t raise my voice enough, and I need to be much more domineering. I think she thinks I’m not getting the point, because today she spent about 20 minutes lecturing me on it. To really hammer it in, while I was out handling something in the hallway, she interviewed my students and when I returned, she reported back to me that their consensus is that I’m too easy on them and that I let the class get side-tracked. The point was even further punctuated by random chaotic events going on outside my room. What’s hard to swallow is that she has a point. She knows it, the kids know it, any visitor to my classroom knows it, and I know it.
I take a lot of criticism for the many things I’m not doing and not doing well, but it really felt like an attack on my persona. I prize my patience and ability not to take things personally. But at that moment I found those very same ability lacking. It really feels as though these aspects of my personality have been a liability for me in the classroom. It’s hard enough doing what I’m doing without having to be someone I dislike.
I was still chewing on that dilemma when I was called down to the office to conference with the parent of a kid who had gotten kicked out of my class the day before. In my haste, I forgot to lock the door. In the meantime, my students for my next class had been released for lunch in my absence, and had began to walk into my room, by the time I arrived, I knew from the shouting coming from the room that something was amiss. As I approached, a bunch of students ran away, and one of my students emerged, bleeding pretty heavily around his eye. And out of a roomful of kids, not one actually saw what happened and who did what, if you can believe that.
During the next class, we had a brief group discussion about what had happened. Most of the kids–who were in the room, mind you–felt really bad for the kid who got beat up. They said it was unfair that he was getting suspended when he was the one who got jumped. Person after person chimed in to say that even though they found him annoying, he really is a cool kid, and is extremely nice. They lamented the fact that he was constantly getting picked on. I told them all that their boo-hoo’s didn’t mean crap when not one of them had the stones to stand up for him. It didn’t have much effect. Apparently guilt doesn’t mean much in a place where “snitches get stitches”. Sad.
I guess it’s not to say the day went by without pleasantness, because there were some small and large victories, and some productive steps taken. So I’m going to go ahead and be upset tonight, but in the long run, I’ve got to find a way to brush the really negative stuff off and constantly celebrate the good stuff. It’s probably the only chance I’ve really got in the long run. No matter what, my next post will be celebratory, I swear.