Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some explanation is necessary....

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (an American proverb). No, it does not. In fact, it may be argued that
"absence makes the heart wander" (an English proverb). For those of you who have given up on me and my blog because of my lengthy absence, I want to explain.

This is my tenth year as a high school special education teacher. This has also been my hardest year to date. My workload increased exponentially because I began to teach 9th graders (freshmen for my American readers) again after teaching only 11th and 12th graders (juniors and seniors) for the last five years. Freshmen are a unique type of student. They have neither the maturity nor the motivation of the older students. They have very recently left their smallish middle (junior high) schools where they were the big-shots, the oldest and the most elite of students.They have been plunged into a huge high school (1800 students) where they are considered 'babies', insignificant and worthy of daily contempt. It seems that these students (90% of my special education students are boys) act out and misbehave in ways calculated to make their mark and get noticed in the school. Frequent physical altercations (fights), disruptive and disrespectful behavior in class ("No, you may not teach the class any new gang signs.") and attempts to make themselves look tough and street-wise ("Stop drawing gun tattoos on your arms.") are part and parcel of teaching this population. Selling candies to other students by telling them that they are really drugs, and selling hot chili peppers to challenge their friends to eat in the hopes that they throw up and having burping and farting contests are truly freshman activities.

Freshmen come to school each day with tremendous energy, and their teachers must expend tremendous energy to corral the freshmen's energy into learning what is on the curriculum. Returning to teaching freshmen has been exhausting and challenging to me. Finally, after the twelve week mark in the school year, I can say that we have settled into manageable classroom routines. Just the other day as the students were doing a reading exercise in English class, I could actually hear the clock tick. I almost wept.  I know we will have many more days of eraser-throwing, tripping, punching, texting, talking and yelling. But on that day at that time, they were all simultaneously doing their assignments. Hallelujah!

My work load also increased with a new role assigned to me in the Special Education department.  This year whenever a student is referred for testing to determine if they need special education services, I am the education specialist assigned to do the academic testing. It is very interesting work. I find it quite challenging to test the students, gather observations from the other teachers, write the final reports and arrange the meetings to go over the results. It is also very time-consuming. I have been amazed at the number of these referrals this year, and I've been told that it is more than in previous years. To sum up, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by my work load this year.

My desk in my home office doing grades, lesson plans and reports.

My husband, a high school teacher with 45 years in the classroom, and who still loves teaching has assured me that every teacher has a year like the one I am having. A year in which they question if they even want to continue as a teacher. He tells me I am lucky that it took until my 10th year for this to happen. Many teachers have this kind of year early in their career and they simply find another profession. He assures me that I will survive this year. I want to believe him. So I prepare my lessons, grade my papers, write my reports, test my referred students, maintain the best order I can in the classroom every day, go to bed early, get up earlier than ever to get an early start on the next day. Then do it all again the next day.

Is the purpose of this entry to whine and complain? Not really. I felt that I needed to explain why my blog has been idle and to ask my readers to have patience! Please check back once in awhile and see my new postings. I promise that I will be writing more frequently now.

Off to bed now.More writing in the near future!

1 comment:

  1. You are an exceptional person, Cindy.m I don't know how you do it. Have a couple of grandchildren that prove to be challenging helps me understand what you are confronte4d with 5 days a week. Hang in there we villagers need more teachers like you.


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