No Rest For The Weary

Thanksgiving is a fake-out break.  Unless you stay put, you spend the whole 4-day weekend running around.  Mine was a blast, but when Sunday rolled around, I was hardly refreshed.

After two days back in the action, I am already exhausted.  I was up late on Sunday after spinning my wheels for hours, because I couldn’t get my mind in gear to plan.  Mentally, I just wasn’t ready to go back yet.  It must have shown, because I sure felt worn out as soon as I entered the building.  I bet the more deviant of my students could smell blood.

In one of my classes, I endured insults from about 6 kids about how they hate my f***ing class, how I don’t teach them anything, how all I care about is the uniform policy, how my class is gay, and so on.  It’s nothing new, but it was particularly vehement, for some reason.  What I don’t get is why kids even bother showing up to pick a fight?  They know what I’m about.  If you’re not going to try, why come at all?  I don’t let kids party in my room.  They know I’m going to sweat the small stuff.  I’d like to think it’s at the very least unpleasant to have to be hassled by me.  In any case, it was kind of a kick to the teeth.  I wasn’t sure if I could soldier up for the rest of my classes, but I managed to get by, thankfully with less antipathy as the day went on.

One of my students approached me at the end of the day with information that would require me by law, as a mandated reporter, to contact social services.  Without getting into any details, suffice to say that it was extremely unsettling.

After all this, I would have to dash across the city to district headquarters to pick up a retro-pay check issued to me because I discovered that I had been underpaid for a full year.  I would then have to dash back to school to run basketball practice, as the head coach had somewhere he had to be.  Thankfully, this went much better than the first time I ran practice.  It was probably due to some combination of the facts that Coach gave them hell for screwing around last time he was out, our most headstrong players didn’t show up, and the students are still humbled from getting routed last week.

Yet still, I would get no rest, because I still had to file my incident report and call social services.  Having never been confronted with such a grave situation, it took some time for me to research and consult to determine what best and most ethically correct course of action would be.

I was informed at some point during the day that my formal observation would be the following day, so as soon as I got home, it was time to make sure all my ducks were in order for that.  I made it to bed just before 2am.

Today was a crazy day as well.  My planning period (to prepare for my formal observation) was cut short by an IEP meeting.  I felt nearly panicked as I made it back to my room just in time to start class, operating on a razor-edged margin of error, as always.  Compounding my stress was the fact that my network connection is apparently malfunctioning, and my work printer (which I bought with my own money, by the way), is not currently working 100%.

I actually don’t know if I was formally observed today or not.  My assistant principal did not show up the period we had planned on, but she did show up two other times during the day.  Did one of those times count?  Who knows?

Before I left school, I spent an hour at coach class with a student who frustrates me on a nearly daily basis with childish, attention-seeking, self-destructive behavior.  She impressed me, as she does from time to time, with how quickly she was able to grasp information she missed while she was busy getting kicked out of class.  As she packed up, she thanked me, which were the kindest words she’s said to me in months (they didn’t involve me getting out of her face).  I took the opportunity to tell her how much I wished she was at a school that wasn’t 50% crazy people, because then the behavior she shows in my class would seem extremely weird and out of place, rather than normal.  But, unfortunately, that’s the situation she’s in.  I told her that I know it looks like a lot of fun to be a jackass, and I’m sure it is, but that road leads to nowhere.  She seemed to sincerely indicate that she understood, and I hope to God that her understanding holds up when, once again, she’s surrounded by people acting like maniacs.

I felt slightly more alert today than yesterday, and my lessons went better.  But I know that I’m my exhaustion is causing me to be more irritable and less on-point in my instruction.  I delivered a mathematically sound and fairly boring lesson today, but honestly, I really believe that it sometimes it needs to be that way.  Sometimes, they have to receive a dose of cold, hard, context-less algebra.  I can’t spoonfeed them every day, and it’s really not been helping.  These kids deserve to be taught like real high school students, so they can be prepared to be real-life professionals.  Otherwise, what the heck am I here for?

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