Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm no Mother Teresa

Goal of the week: getting my masters degree program goals from my graduate school adviser so I can work on the master list for my program. You know, being all efficient and a good student. I'm supposed to be seeing her today so I can ask her about them then.

Today, we were theoretically supposed to start a new unit. I decided that we were going to start a unit on Climate and Weather, because I was bored with fossils. The kids are asking me why we jump around so much. I think that next year when I teach I'm going to create a vague syllabus and post it somewhere in the room so I can point to it and say, "Now what was it that we were going to cover next?" It'd be great if I could get the State Standards up on there as well, because then it would be all legally appropriate and shiny. Mmmhhhmmm, shiny.

I haven't had much sleep lately.

So, how to deal with contact from students outside of school. At the beginning of the year I gave out my cell number to students in case they needed to call and ask for homework help. I'd heard from previous people in my program that they'd done it and the kids had never abused it. They swore that the kids had never abused it. I don't know if it's my age or gender, but I've had four kids (all boys) call me about non-class related things. Granted, one wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas... but still. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. I want to put a stop to it without sending a message to the kids that they are horrible people and I want to run away from them. Really, this is just something that I was trying and now I don't like. I think I look too young and the kids are confusing me with someone that they can have as a "friend." I'm not their friend. I'm their teacher. There is a difference.

Last night, one of my students texted me that he was having "issues with his ex and needed to talk." He hasn't shown up at school more than a handful of days in two weeks. I texted him back and said that if he felt threatened to call the authorities, but other than that that he needed to come to school if he wanted to talk. I realize now what I should have said was "while I feel sorry for your stress, I need to keep my time free for students that need help with their homework. You can speak to the counselors if you need to talk to someone about your personal problems."

I love my students and I wish I had more time to listen to them about their problems, but I'm not a qualified mental health professional. I might break them in some way or say something wrong. Not only that, I just don't have the time. I need to teach. That involves a lot of work. When I'm not teaching... I want to go home and have a life and not be the wandering surrogate parent for 150 young people. It's selfish but it's true.

Mother Teresa I am not. I've finally found my limit, and that's late on a Tuesday night when I'm rushing to grad school, trying to find something to eat when I haven't eaten all day, trying to fit in grading more tests to get ahead for once, planning lessons, and working on projects for my grad class while getting calls from my students who want to talk about their previous relationship problems. That's it. I'm done. Limit not only crossed but tap-danced over.

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