Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can I be a teacher?

Making the decision to be a teacher in an inner-city, under-funded, low-performing school that has a student population that is struggling against a number of factors wasn't really something that I thought about. In addition to not being able to read, my kids are struggling against poor parenting, bad classroom management, learning disabilities, social/emotional disabilities, not to mention the lack of resources at home and at school. Sigh.

I'm starting to think that I'm not cut out for this. I can't do this job correctly and succeed in all the parts of it. I can't coordinate the program effectively, recruit students, check-in with instructors, keep in touch with teachers/administrators, and attend meetings WHILE RUNNING MY OWN CLASS. I think it's physically impossible to succeed the way that I want to, when I am stretched so thin - emotionally and physically. I've been on the verge of tears all week, and I don't know why.

I'm trying to meet all the needs of the specific kids in my program, because they all need so much help and attention, and I don't think that I can do it to this extent. I can teach them what I can teach them in 2 hours after school, and that's where I have to stop. I can try to teach them life lessons in that time, but I can't change what they've learned their whole lives, what they see when they go home, and the ineffectiveness of their teachers during the day. I have to learn how to turn off. 

I just want to change the world and I feel like I'm not doing enough.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Job is Hella Hard

I have officially reached the "burnout" stage. This morning was the first one that when I woke up, I thought, "I don't want to go to work!" My kids are insane, and the entire week is shot. I didn't expect them to be crazy the entire week, just on Friday, but I'm dealing with temper tantrums and crying and moodiness.

Today I had everyone with their heads down on the desk and writing lines without talking. It was absolutely outrageous. I'm already dealing with children that have the deck stacked against them, and they're young, and they don't want to be at school after the school day ends. Hopefully after Halloween everything will slow down. I think that my kids know that I'm not 100% there with them, and they try to take advantage of it. I have way too much to think about and my plate is way too full. This job is crazy.

Sigh. I feel like I can't accomplish anything or spend enough time on anything. And my back is killing me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So, I'm at about my two month mark working with SSL. I'm tired (but energized), constantly learning, and I feel like I'm being spread too thin over too many pieces of bread. Since I have to wear like 10 hats, I'm afraid my kids will suffer because of my lack of time to lesson plan and prep for program.

My Spanish is getting better (the secretary now speaks to me only in Spanish to get me to practice) but I get nervous when talking with parents and slip up a lot. I'm trying to practice more and gain more confidence when speaking. I tested kids today and one asked me "Puedes decirlo en espanol?" (Can you say it in Spanish?) and I, heartbreakingly, had to say no. He was totally lost and had no idea what I was saying. Sigh. Such is the problem with bilingual education. But that's another post.

I'm starting to think more and more about teaching as a career. I'm not entirely sure that I want to be in a classroom, but I'm almost sure that I need to work with children for the rest of my life. It's so satisfying to be able to affect their lives at this pivotal point and be a positive role model (which is at least one thing that I KNOW I'm good at). The challenge is relating to the kids and parents - we come from entirely different places, and I am conscious of our differences. My learning curve is so steep right now and I get impressed with myself in class (I'm like - did I just say that? Or - did I just lead that activity successfully?) and my kids are well behaved (for the most part). Working with elementary kids is fun, high energy, and requires an endless amount of flexibility and creativity. 

I'm worried that what I'm doing isn't seen as noteworthy or adventuresome, or that I am already working over 40 hours a week as a 24 year old. I almost feel like I have to get a Masters to do anything, but there is so much more that I want to accomplish before I settle down into a career - traveling being the most important. I feel like my job and my life is a huge adventure, so maybe that's why I'm not chomping at the bit to move or travel or start anew. Plus the economy sucks and I don't make any money! Decisions to be made...