There are days in any career that makes one think the work he/she puts forth is simply not worth it. There are also days, however, when hard work is acknowledged, the stars align , and you know there is nothing you’d rather do than be where you are right now doing exactly what you are doing. For me, this occurred the week the lights went out.
This eleventh week began in terrible darkness. On Monday evening, an hour after my contract time, two angry parents barrelled into my classroom, demanding to speak with Mrs. Strangenewteacher. It seems their daughter had taken someone else’s social studies book, and when Mrs. Strangenewteacher conducted a school-mandated book check two weeks ago, she took the book that didn’t belong to the student. Even though she told the student she would have to purchase a new book if her book didn’t suface, the student went two weeks without a social studies book.
The parents were irate that I had taken the book away from their daughter, and the 6’3, 300 (at least) black father came into my classroom, after hours when there were very few employees in the school, and proceeded to scream at me, getting closer and closer to me as I retreated into my “teacher nook.” He refused to let me address the situation or call an administrator into my room. I was seriously terrified he would hurt me.
Somehow, my AP (who was 2 hallways down at the time) heard the man yelling and came to see what was happening. He listened just enough to figure out what was going on, and then he escorted the man into his office. The minute AP’s office door closed, I collapsed on my floor and sobbed. The adrenaline that pumped through my body poured out with my tears. As the man’s ranting pierced through the door, I tried to figure out what I had done wrong. I followed my AP’s directions to the T. I did exactly what I was told to do, and I even went beyond expectations by giving the student a printout of the price list for the book she was missing.
AP managed to calm Dad down, and Dad came to apologize if he had come on too strong and he had upset me. AP was real proud of himself as he and the man walked out of the building and into the parking lot. The next morning, AP said, “What a night, Strangenewteacher!”
That’s it. Even though he had walked in on a vicious confrontation the night before and saw me puddled in a heap on my classroom floor, he didn’t bother to see if I was OK. Now I’m not one to want to be babied, but in the event of a traumatic situation like the one I endured, I would hope for my supervisor to at least make sure I was OK. Luckily, I have a huge support system in the form of my fellow teachers. They have helped me through the “I’m-not-cut-out-for-this” stage and got me back to sanity and realizing how much I really do love my job.
Then, on Wednesday, power went out all through my district. Right in the middle of my notes on persuasive strategies. The kids went buck-wild crazy for about 20 seconds, but I managed to get them calm (with the help of a few emergency flashlights). I opened the classroom door to let some more light in and continued my lesson. About 10 minutes later, my LA AP decided to observe me (because, you know, there’s no better time to observe a newbie than in the middle of complete chaos). Thankfully, the lights came on about 30 minutes after that, so I didn’t have spend the whole day in pitch-black darkness with a room full of 12 year olds.
On Thursday, I went into LA AP’s office to get a copy of a book I was looking for. She sat me down and told me how proud of me she was. She said I managed my classroom better than many pros the day before, and she was impressed at the quality of instruction I managed to get in. We began to talk about my “Failure is NOT an Option” initiative, and I got to brag that, for the first time all year, each of my class averages is over 73%. She let me know that I was doing a very good job. She made me feel good about my work. I have regained the confidence the angry parent stole from me.
So I end my eleventh week still very much in love with my job (maybe not the parents, but I definitely do love my job). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sleep until late into Saturday afternoon.