Frustration is a fun feeling, right? Thus is the life of a second-grade teacher. On Monday, I stupidly attempted to show my students some tricks in Google Docs they will be able to use on an upcoming research paper they will be doing, and it didn’t go so well.
W.C. Fields would have killed them, I’m sure. Sometimes you just can’t help but open that can of worms, though, and you just have to hang in there. Monday was one of those days. Someday I will learn. At least I hope so. I’ve got so many worms wriggling around the floor of my classroom right now that they are beginning to eat holes in my socks.
I have a student who has a bit of sugar problem. I think I’ve mentioned her before, but if not, she cannot sit still. In the beginning of the year, she would show up with a pink frosted donut each day until I asked her mother to please stop. I would watch her just wind herself up like one of those old robots that walked around saying they were “Robert the robot, mechanical man…” and not stop until the sugar high wore off. Some days it feels like I have ten of her.
Another one has taken to needing to go to the nurse every day. I simply say, “I don’t believe you” now when she comes up and follow that with “get back to work.” She doesn’t like it, but whatever. As a specials teacher the last few years, I didn’t have to deal with that. I was a nice break for them, and they didn’t want to miss out on computer or music time. Plus, online school doesn’t have a nurse.
I miss teaching online.
Another student I have has one of the loudest voices I’ve ever heard come out of a small person except when you ask him a question that requires a truthful answer. If you could plead the fifth by simply using the tone of your voice (which is basically becoming inaudible), that would be him when confronted with a question that may incriminate him. The rest of the day he is quite capable of being the loudest of my now 30 students quite easily.
That young man told everyone at the beginning of the year that he was born in China. He would adamantly tell people this and his story sounded convincing. When I had his mom on the phone one day, I had to ask her. She got a good laugh out of it but assured me that he was born in Phoenix. Now, anytime China comes up in class, I ask people to defer their questions to him, well, because I am an asshole. The truth came out long ago, but he’s still our resident expert on China.
Since I’m dishing on my students, I should also talk about a young lady who is almost always impossible to hear. She’s struggling to get 2nd grade math down right now and she gets so frustrated with it that I want to cry with her, but I’m having a difficult time getting her to use strategies that don’t include counting on her fingers. I think I need to move her to sit next to a stronger math student since her neighbor is not helping her in any way.
Her neighbor is the one who is plenty smart but doesn’t want to work. I’ve mentioned him before on here. I like him very much, but I just can’t seem to figure out what motivates him. He’s one of those kids that my Granny would just love. She’d want to feed him, of course, but she would love him. He’s got a dark little cloud hovering over him most of the time and giving him an umbrella would make her day.
I have a little pocket of young ladies who do everything I ask and work hard each day. They are all getting straight A’s and can learn circles around most of their peers in class. When teachers say, “I wish I had a whole class of you,” these are the type of students they are talking about. I think they have a little friendly competition going on to see who can get the best grades. They also have parents who are invested in their education. This means everything.
Most of my students’ parents are not invested in their education at all. This is, of course, because they were probably not invested in their own education either. It’s sad, but also obvious when you speak with the parent. The worst ones are the ones who say things like, “I don’t know why she can’t read in class. She reads so well at home.” Bullshit, mom, bullshit. I’m saying somebody shit on the shithouse floor and I think it was YOUR MOM.
The class makes me want to drink and play “Bullshit,” I guess. I kind of miss those days of playing drinking games, although I wouldn’t last like the old days. They would be quick games, for sure, but wouldn’t it be fun?
I feel for the parents, though. I really do. Most of them are working multiple jobs or some shitty job or the graveyard shift. I think I have three students who aren’t seeing their parents wide awake except maybe once a week. It’s terrible for them and for their parents, too. Hopefully things will get better for them all as time goes by, but I’m guessing it won’t.
Of my 30 students, maybe five will go to college. A few of them need to do second grade again because their year has been spent learning kindergarten and first grade level information. They won’t get held back because it takes an act of congress to hold a kid back, so they will be thrust into yet another grade they are not ready for, and the cycle will repeat itself. I’ve got a few I need to give a crash course to over the next three months on how to survive in school, let alone 3rd grade.
At least my three little ladies with straight A’s will be fine. Heck, they could teach this class.
See you tomorrow.
The physical embodiment of how I feel right now about my job. Photo by J. Cakebread