Spring has definitely arrived. The birds start their chorus at 4:30 in the morning. I wish for either A) I magically become a deeper sleeper or B) They would wait until at least 4:50 when my alarm breaks into the silence. A list runs through my head. Shower. Brush teeth. Smoothie. Lunch. Do I have anything to bring for lunch today? Dry hair. Straighten hair. Maybe I can put my hair up today.
When I step outside to head to work, the earth smells of rain even though it appears dry. I look up to see the first of the storm clouds blowing over the lightening sky. They appear to be steaming downward from an upside down witches cauldron. As I drive, I can see thin wisps of dark gray clouds reaching over the sunrise like long eyelashes blinking over a dragon’s eye.
The beginning of this storm is a perfect metaphor relating to the feelings about my job at this time. I am supposed to be an algebra teacher. But not today. Today I have to start my day with 87 minutes of babysitting. There is nothing “co” about this co-teaching situation. The old lady – “veteran teacher” they call them – bombards the students with information. It comes as fast as pouring rain and builds up until they feel like they are drowning. Then, she schedules two weeks worth of time for students to “work” and take “benchmark tests.” During this time, she assists the students she likes. She has all eight of them grouped at one table and the others in the class refer to those students as, “her favorites.” She expects me to walk around and manage the rest of the students with phrases like,
“Sit down in your seat.” “Put your phone away.”
“Turn that off.” “Do your work.”
Galileo said, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.” This situation is no different. If only 8 of your students understand what you are teaching and the other 21 of your students are failing – the universe is telling you that you are doing it wrong. There is a chalk-thin line between a good teacher and a bad teacher (a fact I learned many years ago from a real co-teacher): You have to be able to look at what you are doing, admit when it isn’t working and change. Look at the math facts. If only 28% of students understand well enough to pass your “benchmark tests,” then the teacher needs to change. That 28% is probably going to understand no matter how you explain it. The other 72% need you to do your job – TEACH! The math doesn’t lie. 72% is the majority of your students. CHANGE!
I must remind myself those grueling, torturous 87 minutes are only 20% of my day. I must be thankful I have a job. Not only do I have a job, but it pays me just enough to rent a home, pay the utilities, afford my car and insurance payments, and eat on a regular basis. I have two beautiful purry kitties that like to make a mess; spreading toys and blankets all over the house while I’m at work. Besides – the first spring storm is brewing up change! It’s warm enough I can leave the house without bundling up in a jacket! My lips curl up into a smile. I have to remember to appreciate the little things. Spring is definitely inspiring a desire for change.