Sometimes I equate being a teacher to that of being a dog. Before everyone gets all riled up, I’m going to preface this post with the following: I’ve had a string of bad days with a particular group of students and I’m bunged up about it.
A dog is known for its loyalty. Despite however cruel an owner may be, chances are the dog will come back each morning, tail wagging to nuzzle or lick the very hand that lashed out. Right now, in my mind, students are the owner, and teachers are the dogs.
I come into my classroom, every single damn day, prepared and ready to work for these students. I’m not flying by the seat of my pants. I am prepared. I’ve thought about how I’m going to teach them whatever it is that needs to be taught, I’ve probably graded a previous day’s assignment, and my classroom is always organized to the hilt. In come the students – some without paper, most without pencils or pens. On the simple direction to write, they scoff and groan. I attempt to make whatever it is that’s being taught, interesting and engaging. I try and find a way to connect the text to their lives. Then someone turns around and starts chatting with a friend in the next row. If I ask a question, the response is a simple shrug of shoulder accompanied by: “I dunno.” My response: Take a guess. Student response: I still dunno. As soon as they are asked to think for themselves, they shut down.
Total lack of effort.
Total lack of motivation.
So guess what that does to me? Hit the repeat button several days in a row, and I begin to lose motivation. Obviously they don’t care, so why should I? That’s really a simpleton kind of answer and honestly, it’s much more complicated than that. Or is it. The writing is on the wall every single day – seer not needed. But put yourself in my shoes (brown patent leather, today). Imagine working hard every day and not having the effort reciprocated.
It. Wears. Tears. Grinds. You. Down.
In what other job does this occur? Someone. Please tell me. Inform me so that I feel not so much like the lonely mutt taking a toe to the ribs on a daily basis, but rather part of a pack moving towards something fruitful – a gloriously dead carcass we can all feast upon. Someone? Et tu Brute?
Another facet to point out: It’s March; the ultimate dog-days of the school year. Spring break still seems far away, and the weather is just beginning to turn with a few backslides of cold here and there. It’s the stuck-in-second-gear part of the year. It’s walking through mud in shoes too beaten to support the weight they carry.
Pull me aside and ask me if my job is tough, and I’ll say YES. Pull me aside and ask me whether or not on a daily basis I feel underappreciated for my efforts, and I’ll say YES. Pull me aside and ask me if I like my job, the career I’ve chosen, and I’ll say YES.
If that’s not the definition of insanity, then I don’t know what is.