Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cycle

There's a teaching graph. The first time I saw it it was called "First Year of Teaching" or something similar. Later, I saw it with a more generic label, which meant that I'd have to suffer through it year after year, and not just that first year. It's a graph of happiness vs. time.

The happiness is pretty high in September, when you're optimistic and hopeful and you have all sorts of great ideas. I, myself, am a wonderful teacher during that week before school starts. I always call parents when I should and I know exactly what to do with all of the behavior problems (at least until the kids show up). The happiness starts to dip a bit in November, as the daily grind catches up to you, you miss a few warning calls home and the behavior escalates, as papers pile up on your desk and you stop getting eight hours of sleep at night.

It continues to slide downward until it hits a very deep trough in January and February. I think it was labeled "despair" on the graph I saw. My principal calls is the "Bataan Death March". This is where I am right now. In the trough of despair, marching with my eyes barely open. And Rachael asked me why I wasn't posting...

Do you really want to hear about how there are 3 to 5 kids who won't pass each of my classes and I can tell you exactly how far each of them are from that magical 59.5%? Do you want me to tell you how I haven't called all of their moms recently to tell them that they won't pass? Should I regale you with the rage I feel when I hear words that sound so innocent in September: "Can I borrow a pencil?"

I go through a pack of pencils a day. It makes me insane. I wonder how I can "lend" the same kid a pencil day after day, and he still comes to class the next day without one. It's not like the little twerp gave it back to me. It makes me even more insane to watch him sit there watching his education pass him by because he can't write ("I forgot my pencil and she wouldn't lend me one, so I'm just going to turn into a piece of wood until the bell rings.").

Should I tell you about how I spent the day cleaning up the messes left behind when kids were jerks to the substitute? Do you want to hear about iPods in class, or would you rather hear about how freaking obvious it is when kids text their friends with their phones in their pockets?

So, this graph thing? It goes up in March or April. It's happened to me four times, now. I know it will happen again. It just doesn't seem quite possible, but that's the magic of the school calendar. Too bad this Death March happens right when the temperature outside makes me want to curl up into a little ball anyway, but I'm not so sure that's a coincidence, either.

Buddy hates it, too. That's why he's secretly planning his next Bad Thing.

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