Friday, September 17, 2010

MY MESS, Part 1: A Cry for Salvation

I have normally stuck with blogging about overarching principles: society, or God, or some political issue. It's the stuff my mind gravitates towards, and it interests me, and I could spend more time than I should writing about it. But I'm sort of consumed these days with what are for me some major challenges at work, and I think it's time after spending most of my posts weighing in on the world's problems that I share my own.

I'm having a hard school year.

For the last four years, at my previous school, teaching 4th and 5th graders to read took most of my time and energy. I taught about 10 kids to read each year, which was deeply gratifying, life changing, and really fun work.

The group of sixth graders I have this year is overwhelming. I've spent hours designing and implementing behavioral plans that aren't producing any noticeable result. I have a boy who calls me names and refuses or resists doing his work, or anything appropriate, all day. Today he showed up to school at 11:30 without a book bag and acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Everyone at the school knows his family and tells me he'll just get worse as the years go on. I have a girl who within the first six weeks has spread the rumor that she herself is pregnant, slapped and pushed two other girls, and come to school with hickies (sp? I've never needed to spell that til now!) She got suspended today, so I have a one week reprieve. I have another boy who is full of potential but doesn't like to work. He just mopes around the room as slowly as you can imagine, and starts looking for his materials right when everyone else is finishing. I have another boy with impulsivity issues; he shouts out whatever comes to mind. I don't know how well you remember sixth grade, but the things that run through a sixth grader's mind should not be shouted.

Yesterday things boiled to a head. I lost control of my own classroom. I could not teach and did not know how to respond to how the kids were acting. This is my 7th full school year as a teacher and it felt like my first week. I have no answers.

I've been praying for salvation. You know how David constantly asks for or thanks God for His salvation throughout the Psalms? Well that's what I'm asking for. I don't know if God will save me from this situation, or if He'll bring me an idea that will save me from it's messiness. I don't know if He will save me by strengthening me to endure or if He will save my students from their hellish lives. I do believe that it is He who saves, and I know that I have no idea how to go forward.

And that's where I am

Coming soon: MY MESS, Part 2: A Boon on the Road


scotirish said...

I was drawn to your blog by a reference you made to Sara Groves but I can see this isn't the post that the reference was made. You know Sara was once a teacher herself, high school I believe. That would have been when she was about 28. I wonder what her advice would be to you. I don't know if you're petrmitted to say what I would say. I would say, "Look, you've two choices, You can go to prison for most of your life as I have or you can go to college and succeed at something. So since what I know is prison let me tell you what to expect. You will die every day slowly so you can feel the pain." I'd tell em a whole lot more too. I'd also tell them that is where I first met Sara Groves, she an infant, brought into a christmas eve service by her parents amongst a group of sordid prisoners who as youth were very much like them. And then I'd tell them the choice is yours and however you get them out of the class so you can teach the compliant kids thats what I'd do. The parents no doubt screwed them up and thats who I'd send them back too.

Brian Stipp said...


Part 2, which I'll be posting Monday night is mostly about a Sara Groves song! I did not know she was a teacher. She is one of the best song writers I know of. I'd love to know what she'd say to me in my situation. Thanks for sharing your insights.