Monday, March 30, 2009


I still haven't been officially observed for my annual evaluation. There was a food fight on Friday immediately before I was scheduled to be observed, and they couldn't spare the assistant principal. I think today he just forgot about me.

Still, today was one of those days that left me feeling pretty good about being here, even though I had to write two people up for cursing me out. (Seriously, if I have given you the teacher look, silently given you a "shh" gesture, attempted to use proximity, quietly asked two separate times that you face the front and stop talking to the girl behind you, and you are still turned around talking very loudly and distracting your classmates who're supposed to be taking notes, I have every right to ask you to move to a different seat of my choosing. I'm not out to get you, I just need you to stop interfering with the education of your classmates. If you'd been willing to do that instead of refusing to move and telling me, "S***! F*** you, motherf***er!" I would have been delighted to have you in class.)

One of my great seniors came in telling me that she got a scholarship that she insists she wouldn't have gotten if I hadn't helped her put together her resume. (Honestly, she's amazing so I hope she would have gotten it anyway, but it feels good to be appreciated.) My anatomy classes keep demonstrating that, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, most of them really have learned a lot. (Does this mean that my attempt to keep spiraling a set of core biology concepts into every unit is actually yielding results?)

As I walked down the hall at the end of the day, I heard behind me a murmur followed by a loud, impassioned, "Don't say that about her! That's my favorite teacher!" My champion was, to my shock, one of my less enthusiastic students. I wasn't aware that she likes me, and I'm not sure why she does. Last semester I caught her cheating on an exam, and the zero she received ended up dropping her grade significantly. She tends to grumble a lot about how much they have to work in my class, and she frequently insists that I expect way too much of my students. This semester, she's been rising to meet my expectations, even as she complains. Still, she doesn't seem to be overwhelmingly fond of the subject matter or my class.

I don't think I've done anything special for her. She isn't one of the kids for whom I've written letters of recommendation or with whom I've gone through revision after revision of college essays. I've lent her a calculator and an ACT prep book and have spent a few minutes here and there helping her with a bit of remedial algebra, but that's no more than I'd do for anyone. I occasionally ask about her daughter, who is in the terrible twos and is thus the subject of many funny and cute anecdotes. Mostly, I just come in every day and do my best to make sure that little girl's mother walks out of my class knowing more than when she came in. Maybe that's enough.


plonkee said...

It sounds like you need to learn that you are much better at this than you think you are. That doesn't mean that you'd like another year any better, but just that you're a competent teacher.

Anonymous said...

It seems like you are doing well, even thought it feels awful at times! It must feel great to make a difference, even though sometimes it seems like you aren't

Frugal Scholar said...

You sound like a real teacher! Wonderful stories.

lulugal11 said...

As a fellow teacher I salute you. It can be tough....I am in Special Ed....but we do it for the right reasons.