I am a new teacher and I am new to grade four. I understand that these children are not quite in the double digits for birthdays and my expectations for how independent they can be may have started a little high, as in Mt. Everest is just a little climb. Since the beginning of the school year, I have reflected on my day and how it can be better tomorrow. I have instituted routines that we have been doing for six weeks. I am strict but not unrealistic. But, this class has me baffled.
I have learned to dread recess, which is odd because it is generally the ten minutes in a teacher’s day that allows us to recharge. What recess means to my class is a fresh opportunity to tattle on their classmates: Sally budged in line at the Saturn, Jimmy swore, Bobby pushed me. Sometimes when putting out the recess fires (as I have come to call them) I will walk the students through conflict resolution and they have already completed the process, for some reason the feel the need to include me. I love to feel needed, maybe not this much.
This week was my breaking point. Monday I left school not wanting to go back, today I walked into the staffroom at lunch and asked who I handed my resignation into. I am exaggerating – maybe a little, but the underlying sentiments are there. So I decided to let my students know. With my own children I often let them know what I am feeling. “Mommy is in a bad mood so you might want to just go watch TV.” I told my students that I want to change my name, that I cannot handle one more Mrs. Watt (generally it is never one Mrs. Watt). This is what I said:
I chose the field of Education because I love helping children. I love watching children learn, and I enjoy being part of that process. However, I cannot help them learn if I spend all of my time putting fires out. It breaks my heart that I do not have the time in the day to hear everything they want to tell me. I wish I could sit with every student for an hour or two and hear what they have to tell me. I asked them not to put me in the position of having to shut them down and send them away. (I might have cried just a little when I delivered this speech, I tend to be a little emotional when talking about what I am passionate about)
What we are going to try for now is a token system. They will receive two tokens a day (I was going to do three, but I did the math and that was way too much) which will allow them to ask me random questions. I assured them that subject related questions will be addressed. I also have a life size skeleton in the room who the class has named “Bones” and he holds a bucket that students can drop letters/notes into. I have explained that if I shut them down or they do not feel comfortable asking their question, they may write it down and I will address concerns as they arise. My Bones Box has worked well, I am currently addressing a bullying situation that was expressed in writing and left in the box.
I start every day anew. Each day is a fresh start for my students and I. I do not hold against them what happened the day before, and I forgive myself for not being a better person and teacher. I approach each day hoping to make a difference in a child’s life, to show them how important they are to me and that I care for them.
That’s My View from the 86th Pew, Michelle