Someone pointed out on my post about S that it might be more information than his parents would appreciate having out on the internet.
I do want to say that I never use my students’ real names, nor do I ever specify where I actually work. All the students in our program also have their parents sign a waiver about media presence — including being included in or authoring newsletters, blogs, videos, and other program-related material.
HOWEVER, I try to take what people say in regards to the quality of my posts about my students to heart, and skimmed through the post to see what, if anything, was too much. Much of the information is really integral to understanding S’s wonderful progress, but little details like references to family have been removed.
Hopefully, this won’t undermine the strength of the post. I saw that it was featured, meaning someone must have liked it the way it was, but I also want to respect my students. Thank you for your feedback!
You should do so with a gigantic picture of a purple crayon-colored pony.
If a student in my class had ever called me a bitch, I can guarantee that I would do the same thing. But we have seemingly no authority — we can’t even pull them out of program. The most we can do is write them referrals, or if it’s an extreme situation, have someone pull them into the program office to talk it out with them. Because we’re short-staffed, that wasn’t even going to happen.
The “I respect you, I need you to respect me” thing works with the male students who’ve given me a hard time, but they’ve also never outright disrespected me to that degree, just given me a hard time and tested me. I’m pretty sure that was me grasping at straws.
And I wish that I could tell them all — every teenage girl following and reblogging these images — that you are beautiful, and that as long as you’re healthy your figure is perfect. Please, don’t let your image of beauty be defined by concave stomachs and stick-thin legs.
If you look like those pictures and you’re eating and you’re healthy, that’s wonderful.
If you look like those pictures and you’re starving yourself to do it, please, think about ways that you can love yourself and still be healthy.
If you don’t look like those pictures, you don’t have to. That is not the only kind of beautiful. YOU are beautiful.
If you want to lose weight, do it in a healthy way to get to the body type that is healthy for you.
When I was in middle school I thought that this was the only kind of beautiful, and was still dragging around baby fat, and common sense told me not eating was the way to get there. No one had taught me about metabolism. That when you have less food your body has less energy, and you do less, and your metabolism slows down, and then you gain weight easier. It’s a terrible cycle that makes you feel like you have less and less control, and it was a teacher that caught me and told me about when she had landed herself in the hospital doing the same thing.
Please, please, please, be good to yourself. Find a positive role model — a woman you can look up to that is beautiful without looking like these images. This is not the only kind of beautiful, and it is not healthy, and in the end healthy is beautiful.
I’m sorry for the way I’m repeating myself, but it moves me to speak and doesn’t leave me with the proper words, just a wish that these girls could be happier.
At least four students tracked me down to try and get help with homework (waving photocopied graph paper at me in the hall).
Luckily, there was another tutor in the tutoring room today, and as long as I know the students are getting help from someone, that’s enough for me.
Mr. P is preparing for the Performing Arts practice again, and I’ve taken over his homeroom, which includes his apparent designated helper, Emma*. Anyone who does not recognize Emma as an authority in some shape or form gets her ire.
Emma is in the hallway. She’s supposed to be in her seat, working on homework or reading or even chatting amicably with a friend. But mainly, she is supposed to be IN the homeroom.
After asking why she’s in the hall — multiple times — (“I’m supposed to be helping Mr. P.”), I manage to get her to the doorway. I check over the radio (because Mr. P hasn’t told me anything about the students in his homeroom other than that they’re going to try to walk all over me): “P—-, did you forget somebody?” Instead of waiting for the response, she shoots out down the hall to remind other instructors rounding the corner that she’s supposed to be with Mr. P. It turns out he hasn’t started and thus, doesn’t need her assistance yet. With the other instructor there, I tell her (again) to get back in the homeroom and, after telling me off as to why she knows where she needs to be better than I do, she finally gives me the look of death and turns to sit in her seat with a parting remark:
“Whatever, you’re such a bitch.”
Mr. J was coming in for snack just in time to overhear. “Whoah. Show some respect.”
“I don’t respect her.”
I add my two cents: “I respect you, and I’m the authority in the classroom right now -“ (As opposed to Mr. P; I’m not sure why I thought pointing that out would do anything, but because Mr. P started in the room and left me to it while I was working with a student I thought maybe she didn’t actually realize I was now the homeroom instructor.) Before I can tell her that I’d appreciate respect in return, she flips her hand up at my face pointedly.
“Good for you.”
For some reason, I feel like this is easier to deal with on the Elementary level. I mean, I’ve had fifth graders spit in my face and felt more like I knew what I was doing than here — though I’m sure that has something to do with support, knowing one’s own place in the school/program, etc.
And yet, I still loved being there today. I won’t say it’s an ideal situation, but I love being with my students whatever kind of students they may be, and I’m not taking a second of this job for granted, even when I have no idea what I’m doing or what is needed of me, because by the end of June I won’t have this opportunity anymore, and I don’t know when I’ll have it again.
I cannot tell you how relieved that leaves me, nor can I begin to thank you all so much for all your support.
- When I walked in, staff was making lists of students who could serve as peer tutors. While this is a good idea when we’re understaffed, I have to admit that it made my heart stop for a few seconds. Were they firing up to make up for one less tutor?
- Before our staff meeting, the second supervisor asked me across the table, “So I heard you had a concern with Mr. ___, something about Math and Science?” I explained briefly and she said that I had seemed very concerned, and to talk afterward.
- After our staff meeting I caught supervisor #2 privately, at which point I was told not to worry, and that, if something like this comes up again, to bring it to supervisor #2 (she has Education background; supervisor #1 does not).
- I was in the tutoring room today. Five students - two for math, two for science, one for English. I was the only tutor, period.
- Brendan*, one of my math regulars, got 100% on his math test today! We managed to cover the trouble areas of the topic yesterday in the few minutes between when we finally got a textbook and when he decided to spend a few minutes extra with me instead of leaving for club. He came in to show it to me, I was incredibly proud of him.
- I played peace-keeper four or five times today. The last was in the cafeteria while students were waiting to be dismissed. A cluster of them seemed like they were going to break into a fist-fight. After stepping in, getting their attention (by calling them gentlemen, that always seems to stop them in their tracks), and explaining that they can take control of themselves and remove themselves from a bad situation, the only girl in the group snapped back obnoxiously that I sounded like a “liberian.” While I searched for something to say, all I could find was a level “librarian.” It stopped her for about five seconds, during which I managed to pull myself together before it all got worse, and I got them to break it up voluntarily by dispersing.
- At the end of the day, after everyone had gone home, we had an informal meeting about all the behavior issues we’ve been having; supervisor #1 asked for our input because he’d been told that students were breaking boundaries and we weren’t keeping control. While we didn’t find a solution, the point was raised that we have absolutely no disciplinary power — we’re not even allowed to give them time-outs or detentions, because we aren’t part of the school proper. Even though the half-hour-long conversation didn’t lead to a solution, it seemed nonetheless to be productive in that we all had the opportunity to discuss the issues and share experiences with specific “problem” students. So at least now, we don’t feel alone and lacking support.
Again, not everything’s been solved, and not everything will be. Some of the issues at hand seem to be a fundamental flaw of the program itself in terms of its limitations, some are limitations due to staffing, and others are in part due to a large part of staff and management having little training in terms of working with students this age (last week a colleague motioned to his sneakers and looked a student in the eye, and told him that he was going to put one of those up his a** if he didn’t cut the attitude). We’re understaffed and have very few means at our disposal through which to deal with problems. But I think we’re at least all in the same chapter now, if not all on the same page.
Thank you again, so much, all, for all your incredible support. I cannot tell you what a nervous wreck I was this morning before work, but checking back here gave me a little more nerve.
Thank you. He has the habit of remembering things differently than I do, so I hope that I can be confident in both of those things when I talk to him today.
Unfortunately, the only thing I can process in all of this is 1) are the students getting what they need?
After trying to draft at least six “thank you”s that would really convey how much a response like this means to me, I’m just going to assume that those words aren’t coming tonight. So instead I offer you gigantic grateful internet hugs, and my opinion that you are a very thoughtful, well-spoken, caring young woman that I’m sure any teacher would be lucky to have.
thank you for making me feel competent again for a moment there. It’s thanks in part to the professional community here that I also feel like a professional, and not a failure.