It was appropriate that last night I made a pie. I never make pies, but I had the need to bake because it's cathartic for me after having a stressful day at work. Since we didn't have any eggs or milk, I had to scrounge to find the ingredients (last day of the month...) to make something savory or sweet. Ken loved coming to the smell of baker's chocolate melting, and even though the pie was a bit of mush, it was still chocolaty and delicious.
Now on to the metaphor. Yesterday was the hardest day of my teaching career. Consider this my declaration! I have had some hard days, some crazy days, and some (many) days that have brought me to tears. But this one was different. It rocked my pride, without me knowing it. The first year, I had very little management. I was in survival mode. I still managed to teach them and indefinitely love them. The second year, boom. I was in business. Even executed centers with success in every subject. Boo-yah, I found my career. Third year, new school, new grade, different part of town, 30% increase in students in my class. I struggled, and then soared and realized I love kids a bit older. And, content was stronger and I saw results. Fourth year, one subject (ELA), 62 kids, pregnant. Yikes, but even after returning from "Avery" leave, still maintained with strong management and good results. Fifth year: ego is on the high. "Shoot, I got this!" was my bumper sticker. And then, slap in the face. My students' require something different, and I wasn't delivering, and probably not willing to change.
And then we're at yesterday. I had been approaching conflicts in class in a positive frame. If student cursed, I offered better ways of expression. If a student talked back, I quoted the golden rule. If a student hit someone, I hugged and redirected. Yesterday, something snapped and I didn't care. I was more Coach Taylor than Tami Taylor. (Friday night lights reference for those not in the now, and if you're not in the now, GET IN) A student was wanting to fight someone and I go, "Then go ahead. If you're gonna talk big, then act big. Hit him." Nice, and now I would like to accept my nomination for teacher of the year. Student continues to threaten the other student, so I ask him to leave. As he leaves the room, he turns around and says, to me, in front of the whole class, "F--- you." (I know I'm 27, but I still feel weird writing the actually "f" word. But believe me, he said the actual word.) And I kid you not, at that moment, I was beside myself and I said, in front of the class as I threw my dry eraser marker down, "Oh hell no." And I walk this boy to the principal's office.
DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?????
After a day of reflection, and a day of suspension for the student, I realized that I will never stop dealing with challenging days and difficult students in the work that I do. Even experience could not have prevented that from happening. Come to think of it, I should let this student know that in my 27 years of life, no one has ever said that to me, much less a 9 year old. Maybe I should consider myself blessed to have only has this said to me once.
And with that, I woke up today, put on my sparkly black TOMS and walked to school. Here's to another day of teaching and possibly another slice of humble pie.