The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How quickly things shift...

I am having such a hard time right now.

Over the summer, I was in such a positive, relaxed, can-do state of mind. I felt like I could make everything work this year and balance it all. I felt lucky to have the best kids in the world. I felt so lucky to have the perfect life.

Then all the little things stack up in front of your eyes and it is hard to see the perfect life through the piles.

My classroom refrigerator apparently broke over the weekend. This was a seriously sad thing. I know this sounds minimal, but it is not. I am not in the same building as everyone in the rest of the school, so I am literally the farthest possible location in the school from the teacher's lounge. Having a fridge makes EVERYTHING easier. Even for stupid simple little things like having my coffee creamer in there. That's how I realized it was broken today. I went to grab my coffee creamer out of there and realized everything in it was warm. The light is on, the freezer is still working (and everything in it is still frozen), but the fridge is not cold. Boo.  I'm also really sad because my brother-in-law sweetly gave it to me about this time last year, and my dad graciously agreed to bring it to me (it didn't fit in my car, and I was too pregnant to carry it anyway), and when I got it, I was so excited. I had always had a tiny little fridge that basically fit my lunch, coffee creamer, and a couple of drinks, but when that one broke and Dan gave me this one, it was like the highlight of my year. It had been such a blessing. I am so, so, so sad it is broken. It was a great fridge.

The students this year are... different. I don't yet know how exactly, but lessons that worked really well last year are not working as well this year. I can certainly adapt to make things work better, but I need to figure out what makes this group tick, and I haven't yet. It is causing me stress to think about. Not even kidding.

Vinny is... he's.... geez.... this is so hard to write about. I have wanted to all week, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. His behavior lately is atrocious. It is little stuff that may just be him adjusting to a new schedule and routine, but it is also big stuff, really bad stuff, like an overall attitude of total entitlement. He acts like he is royalty, and you better have his precise demands arranged expediently.... OR ELSE.  And I am not exaggerating. He uses those word, "OR ELSE," all the time lately. His threats are so asinine and petty, they are almost humorous, but the fact he thinks he can threaten me is disgusting. He threatens to refuse breakfast daily if I buy generic cereal instead of name brand. It is seriously ridiculous. I do not know who this kid is.

We ended up grounding him for the first time ever. He has been very much so punished before (the past two weeks it has been straight to bed after dinner almost every night), but never long term. I think we just thought he was too young to understand it before, but we really grounded him. We took away his CD player and all his CDs (his most precious possession), banned him from television and pretty much everything he enjoys, and took away most of his toys. He seemed to be starting to get it and maybe even regret his behavior, but he still has a long way to go. It is frustrating and exhausting and makes me question how it even got to this point. Where have we gone wrong in parenting this child?

On top of it all, the to-do list in my head is so ridiculously long I can barely see straight. The piles around my desk refuse to get straightened up. I envy teachers whose desks are always tidy, who have a place for every paper, and somehow manage the paper load with such ease. That is so not me. My life is a sea of paper. I do the best I can to stay afloat and not drown, but the seas are rough in my part of the ocean and I am apparently not a very good swimmer. When it comes to writing innovative lesson plans, my innate creativity rarely fails me. Providing meaningful feedback to papers, usually good up until like the 86th paper or so. Yet keeping my desk clear and on top of the tiny tasks... somehow always impossible.

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