Everyone’s Got A Limit

I finally broke down at school today.

The weirdest part about it was that it wasn’t my worst day at school. It was a fairly bad half of a day. I worked my butt off to reach those kids and try to get them to take ownership over their education, and in my afternoon class, they fired back hard. It has been a number of weeks since it’s been so bad in my room, but compared to the typical day in the Fall, it wasn’t really all that bad. Kids cursed at each other across the room. I got little to no respect when I tried to speak. I had to break up a fight between to students who were horsing around. The same old “you don’t teach us anything” accusations. Today, it wore me down though.

I was fine when I sent the class on to their next hour, exasperated with their behavior. I was fine when my Hopkins supervisor debriefed me with a look on her face that seemed to say, “I don’t know what I can do for this kid”. I was fine when one of my students told me I needed to take control of my classroom and have the kids in the class before clean up their mess behind them. I was fine when half the kids I held for detention walked out. I was fine when the last kid to leave called me a faggot under his breath as he left the door.

I might have been fine if I had the chance to spend an hour to myself to cool down, but we had a team meeting after school that I had to go to. I left the meeting to get some papers, but had to detour to my room, because I knew I was about to lose it, and when I got to my room, I just bawled. To make a long story short, I pulled it together, but when I went downstairs to try and continue my duties, I ended up breaking down again, but this time in front of students, staff, faculty and administration.

I’m kind of humiliated, but on the other hand, kind of not. I mean, I’m not freakin’ Superman. I guess it all eventually adds up, even if it takes 6 months. I hate being vulnerable, and I hate being a charity case. But everyone’s been very supportive and given that what happened happened, it makes it easier to deal with.

I think what made this day different from any of dozens of bad days last Fall, is that I’ve really tried to reach out to individual students, and the more I connect with them, the less I can keep my guard up. I’ve probably had 20 or more individual conferences with students just these last 2 days, and although I don’t usually take misbehavior personally, when I reach out to a student, it does hurt to have it thrown back in my face. It’s a lot easier to take it on the chin when you keep your distance.

A tiny part of me says take a day, but the rest of me says forget about it. A day off wouldn’t make my problem disappear. I’d have to go back to school eventually, so it might as well be tomorrow…

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