I have no words. I actually cannot function or think properly until I deal with the emotions I am feeling right now, and writing it out has always been the best way for me to do that.
Frustration, disappointment, hurt, anger, maybe even borderline despair.
No, it wasn’t my grade four class as you would have guessed. It was my grade five class today. Usually I have no problems with classroom behaviour with this group, but today was complete and utter chaos.
I was excited to teach them a new game that I have done with my grade six class, but it turned out to be a yelling match. I explained the rules but with each round that we played, students started accusing each other of cheating and protesting when I wrote the names of the winners on the board (y’know, to keep track). Some started shouting things like, “I hate this game!” and others were screaming at each other. Some students kind of withdrew and put their heads down on their desks. But everyone had a look of disappointment. That game was only supposed to take twenty minutes maximum, but it ended up taking up the whole class.
When I stopped the game, and attempted to end class by explaining what we were doing for the next class, some asked in a whiny voice, “Are we ever going to do a play??” You must know, their former teacher (who I am covering for the year) was apparently amazing and did a year long play with them. This question made me furious for some reason. No. Not for some reason. Anyone would be ticked off if they were in my place when they had painstakingly planned this game and had everyone complain about it and even had the audacity at the end to compare me to their last teacher. I know they are just kids and they don’t often think about what they say, but still, that was hurtful.
I had everyone line up to leave the classroom as we always do, and one of the boys who “won” shouts, “YOU OWE US CANDY!” At that, I frostily reply while trying to suppress all the anger rising up in me, “NO! I don’t owe you ANYTHING.” In retrospect, I wonder if I had daggers in my eyes, because he looked instantly remorseful and ashamed.
Before I let them go, I wanted to end things on a better note so I apologized that the game was too complicated and confusing and I promised them that in the future, the games we play will be much simpler. I tried to gauge their reactions, and it seems that they understood. When they left, I collapsed into my chair and tried to just take in everything that had happened.
Being someone who tends to always be hard on myself, my first gut reaction was to kick myself. But something that I have quickly learned in these past months of first year teaching is to be kind to myself. I cannot stress how important this is. If I keep dwelling on my failures (and even that is an understatement after today), I will probably quit before the new year – and that is not going to happen. I keep telling myself, I’m a first year teacher and I am learning, so I am supposed to make mistakes. And that seems to keep me grounded.
Being a teacher takes so much emotional and mental strength. I will keep looking ahead and starting the next day fresh and look for ways to improve, because there have been improvements so far. I just wish they would happen a lot more quickly.
I’m already feeling much better. I really needed to release all of that. Thank you for reading about my near break-down.