I was just thinking back to my first year of teaching. Don't ask me why...self torture? Self pity? Self reflection? Probably not. More like mind wandering, but whatever. I haven't written about those first teaching experiences very often because they were so awful that I try to block them in the interest of saving money on therapy because I prefer to present myself as fabulous. And friends, I was far from fabulous in my first year. But who IS fabulous in their first year? You get shoved into a classroom with more responsibility than you know what to do with and presto! You're supposed to know exactly what to do at every twist and turn. If you ask me and nobody did, first year teachers either need intense mentoring or we should have more of an apprenticeship model- you know, where it's not all trial by fire (since really, it's you and the kids that get burned) and filled with tears. OH THE TEARS!!!
And for some reason that I will never understand, first year teachers always seem to have a completely hellatious, uncontrollable, stand twenty feet away from this child at all times, infamously naughty kid in their class. I mean, your first year is all survival mode as it is and then you throw in that type of student? *shouting* "Hey somebody buy me some stock in Kleenex - I hear it's on the rise!"
In my first year, I had yet to develop my love of the Naughty Boy. Probably because I had yet to learn how to deal with that conundrum that is the Naughty Boy. Probably because I was busy learning five new curriculums, planning every lesson in minute detail and you know, crying. Whatevs.
The cross I had to bear child who challenged me in my first year was no joke. NO JOKE. I'm talking, I would say this kid's name and older teachers would clutch their heart in fear, gasping with the sheer horror of it all, desperately trying to push memories of this child out of their brain when they'd realize I was standing RIGHT FREAKING THERE and try to recover tactfully.
I knew I was in for it.
I will spare you the insane detail that was the horror of this child. (Which now I am mature enough to look back and realize that this poor kid was desperately crying out for help. Help which I alone was not qualified to give...I mean, isn't that reason enough to stop putting the most difficult children in the classes of the least experienced? That and the size of my therapy bills?)
Needless to say, boyfriend did not do any work. And by "any work", I mean, if there was a word to describe someone who did less work than no work at all, I would use that word here. He was too busy drawing graphically violent pictures, throwing math manipulatives at other children, cursing, stealing, and generally making our lives miserable. (Again, NOW I look back and cringe at my inability to see the signs, but at the time...I. Wanted. To. Die.)
I did try all the tricks I had in my very small arsenal at the time. I separated him from the group, put him back with a group of good influences, gave him a partner, isolated him, held him for recess, begged, cried, screamed, reasoned, called his parents, called The Weave, called the Coast Guard ( or at least I would have if I could)...nothing.
One day ONE DAY ONE RIDICULOUS DAY, my friend decides that he wants to do some work. (Mind you, this is after spending the entire morning tearing his homework packet into teeny tiny shreds, wadding those shreds into wads and using them to a) stick up his nose, b) suck on, c) throw on my floor and/or d) stick up his nose and then snot rocket them out at other children.) So what does he do? He steals a pencil from the nearest unsuspecting child, who was actually using it at the time. When said child shouted in protest, he got stabbed. With his own pencil.
Can you see why I routinely locked myself in a closet and had a good cry and possibly fantasized about a career at Papyrus? I bet nobody blows snot rockets with $25 stationary.
Boyfriend then gets out of his seat, and begins to run around the classroom stealing pencils from anyone and everyone. In a moment of sheer insanity in which I had totally lost my teacher cool, my hanging on by a thread teacher cool, I shouted,
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING????" at the top of my lungs.
"I want to get my work done like you always say I should and I don't have a pencil."
"TODAY you want to do work? TODAY? Well then...allow me!"
(It gets worse.)
I then walked around the classroom, collecting pencils from all the children who looked at me like I was batshit crazy. (Which, duh, I was.) I held out the array of writing implements to my friend and said, "Pick any one you like, because if YOU want to DO WORK TODAY OF ALL DAYS, be our guest!"
He looked at me, probably recognizing that I had hit rock bottom and may be seconds from jumping out the window. And even though he drove me to the very edges of my sanity, I don't think that's what he was after. So he took a pencil, went back to his seat and actually did some work.
I wish I could tell you that this story ended in a neat little bow and from that day on, my friend completed all his work on time. But I can't. We battled for the remainder of the year - him because he didn't know what else to do and me because I didn't know what else to do either. We were both alone, unsupported and totally frustrated beyond belief.
And yet, year after year, with a very "sink or swim, honey" attitude we continue the tradition of sticking the most troubled with the least prepared. Then we wonder why things don't seem to get better...
(insert Debbie Downer music here)