Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 19 2012

A Teacher’s Internal Conflict: When They Leave

Everyday, I experience a variety of emotions, a roller coaster of feelings, and about 20,000 thoughts per minute.  Within this wild ride of daily classroom leading, more often than not, at any given moment, I am experiencing 2 or more conflicting emotions at once.

For example, when a student is “singing” (humming odd noises and occasionally shouting off-key lyrics) to himself while on the computer (when the Computer Procedures state Level 0, or silent, voices), I am torn; quiet laughter or stern reminder of the rules.  I usually just let him “sing.”
Or when a student calls out the answer, because he’s so excited he was able to solve it, I have to stifle my own excitement and instead tell him, for the 378th time, “We have to give everyone a chance to think it out, so we can’t call out.”

My biggest internal conflict of the day though happens when my students are not even there.  When they leave, my most pressing emotional dilemma occurs.

The Battle Of Relief vs. Worry…

Throughout the day, when I find my classroom emptied of those wild and crazy boys, I usually let out a sigh of relief.  My constant “Eyes in the Back of My Head” can take a rest, my brain can run at a slightly slower pace, my voice can power down for a bit, and I can take some time to myself; organizing, filing, checking homework, distributing new homework, emailing, making copies, and writing lesson plans and IEPs.  That is a teacher’s “Me Time” during the day.  When they are gone, I feel relieved.

However, this relief is not complete and full release from my duties and responsibilities for my boys.  The “edge” never really leaves.  In the back of my head there is always that little worrying voice.  Anxious feelings accompany my relief as I wonder if the other teachers will be able to support them like they need, when they also have 25 other students with them… I worry that the boys will act differently in those classes (which they do) and get in trouble… I worry that the teachers will not give them as many chances as I do, and my students will be sent out of class, missing out on learning and peer interactions… Yes, when they leave, the worry sets in.

And then there is the even bigger period of time when these two emotions duke it out:  After School.
When my students really actually leave… That is a relief.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t let out a huge sigh at the end of each day.  There is no denying, when those boys are dismissed, my brain and body slump into “After School” mode.  While I am by no means done with my day, I can breathe a little easier knowing there are no longer lives under my command.

But, that’s when the bigger worries also pour into my heart and head: I hope they make it home okay… What if something happens in the neighborhood tonight?… What if no one helps them with their homework and they get frustrated?… I hope they get a good night’s sleep… I hope they wake up in time to get breakfast here tomorrow… I guess these are natural, almost “Motherly,” worries, considering I spend 6 1/2 hours a day with these boys.  But, it is true, a teacher’s daily responsibilities are never completely turned off.

And today, I was introduced to even more intense worries than daily dismissal.  A student has moved.
I received an official notification this morning that one of my students had to withdraw from Mann because his family has moved and now lives too far away…
I was so upset, and in denial, I couldn’t even tell his classmates until the very last second of the day.  I somehow thought if I didn’t tell them, it wasn’t real.
Let me tell you about this exceptional student: This young man is a student every teacher loves, because he loves school.  When he was absent, he created his own homework for himself, so he could still turn some in the next day.  When he was absent another time, not only did he bring another self-inflicted homework assignment, but he brought a bag of Lollipops to say “Sorry I was gone.”  He was also just nominated, and accepted!, to be a Leadership Student for his 5th grade class… And the announcements are being made tomorrow… He didn’t even know..
Now I will always be worrying about the student I had grown to love these past 6 weeks.  I worry about his new school; will he be in an environment with enough support?  Will he still love school, even though he’ll no longer be a Mastery student?  I hope this new school doesn’t diminish his enthusiasm, positivity, and love for challenging himself…

As I posted up our new classroom incentive, the honor of being named “Student of the Week,” I already started to miss him… I know who would have been our first honoree…  And I will always worry about my positive, polite, kind, Leader…

Fortunately, with each piece of Sad News, you can usually find some Glad News that shortly follows!
Thankfully, this week followed that pattern.

Take a look! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
We are the proud recipients of these Classroom Library book bins! :)
Note the classroom-made bow:  A gift! One that we’ve been hoping for!  Hooray!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I found some spare time to relax and color! :) And create our Word Solving Strategies poster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our new “Reading Focus Chart!” We will practice making different types of connections to the stories, like all great readers do!

And this week’s Philly-Life Photos:

“Just Because” Chocolates from the famous Reading Terminal Market :)

A Fall Philly Sunrise, at the Phillies’ ballpark, and flowers to match :)

And…
As I prepare for the Brunch Tailgate I am hosting this Saturday :)
This says it perfectly:

With ExtRa Love, This (newly official) Philadelphian Scarlet Knight :)


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