Okay, so a few days ago I was looking forward (as in next year), so today I am looking back. Inspired by Ms. Mimi's post from yesterday I am going to relive my first year of teaching. Well, not exactly. I am going to actually relive my second year of teaching, because compared to my 2nd year, my 1st year was a walk in the park.
Well, here comes the obligatory disclaimer....my 1st year really was not a walk in the park. But for a 1st year I can honestly say I was in the best place with the best administrator and colleagues...I could not have asked to be better supported. And I still think I had an advantage going in that your average 22 year old, fresh from college 1st year teacher did not have...I had the experience of being a parent. And with that comes wisdom, gray hair and the ability to pick your battles. Yeah, I was still overwhelmed (and underpaid-nuf said!). But I had people to help me when I asked, some decent parents who supported what I was trying to do, and a great principal.
Fast forward to year 2! I survived year one and was getting a little cocky. Plus I was on top of the world because I was going to have an all boy class this year, I was more comfortable with the curriculum because I had already taught it once through (yay ME!!) and had survived standardized testing! I had taught summer school and had even taught some of the boys I would have in class that year. I was ready to take on the world...or so I thought. However, I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster my little friends and I were about to board.
Our school was already reeling from the brutal murder of one of our 2nd grade students over the summer. So the school year started out under a dark cloud. Then about 4 weeks into the school year, the father of one of my boys was murdered. You see we all think we are signing up to teach--you know reading, math, science, et al...but as teachers we are more than just teachers. We are parents, counselors, disciplinarians, coaches, and sometimes judge and jury. As I tried to help this child maneuver the "new normal" in his life, following the death of his father, I found myself maneuvering a new normal myself. Did I really sign on for this. And it didn't stop there. I had a little friend who had extreme anger issues, another who wanted to hurt himself, another who no matter what I did, his Momma called me out on it. Everything from asking him to pay attention rather than play in his desk to requiring him to actually do his homework.
But we weathered those storms, (thanks to the help of our fabulous school mental health counselor..shout out to Ms. Katie!!) and established a routine....Christmas break was right around the corner....and then IT happened. We got a new student! So what, you say, it happens. Well yes, you are right. In fact we had gotten several new students already that year. But this one, he was different. I could tell on day 1. He was a Naughty boy (to coin, i.e., steal Ms. Mimi's phrase).
He turned our classroom upside down in a matter of days and continued to do so for the remainder of the year. I should have taken it as a bad omen when he got suspended, for defiance, and interrupting class, the first week we was with us. I did everything I could to return our class to normal, despite this new little friend's intentions. I separated him. He still bothered people. I even put him in a cardboard box (okay, let me explain, it was actually a cardboard study carrel that went on top of his desk). He drilled holes in it with his pencil ...when he wasn't throwing his pencil, drew on it, ripped it. I moved him to the back of the room , he bothered people. I moved him to the front of the room, he bothered people. He stole things, lied, cheated, threw things, yelled, pick up things and threatened to throw them, ran away (well down the hall)....all of this and more.
So how did I handle him? Honestly, I didn't! Not very well. This kid got under my skin. He knew what buttons to push. And despite being a parent, I was first and foremost an inexperienced teacher. I had him removed from my room, he came back. I threatened to call his parents, they could have cared less (and so did he). I ignored him, he acted out even more. I raised my voice (okay, I yelled) and he yelled louder.
As a teacher, you never want to say out loud where you think this kid is headed in life, but I did. Yes, I made mistakes...lots of them. I was ill-equipped to handle this child and his magnitude of issues and problems. So I just survived and counted the days until the end of the year. And a few days before the end of the year, for an incident that pales in comparison to the other stunts he pulled all year, he got suspended for the remainder of the year. What did he do, you ask? He threw a pencil at me. Why, you ask?..because I asked him to take his spelling test.
Despite the fact that he threatened, he yelled, he ran, he stole (including over $50 worth of stuff from our school book fair)....he got suspended for throwing a pencil. At me! Even though it didn't hit me (I had gotten pretty good at ducking at that point in the year)....I could have cared less if it had. He was gone and that meant we could enjoy the last few days of the school year in peace, like we had before our naughty boy arrived.