Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bad Days

Larry Ferrlazzo posted the question on his blog, "What do you do when you are having a bad day in the classroom?"  My reply included drinking  wine and watching stupid  tv.  That's what I said on Monday, when I read it.

Then I proceeded to have a series of bad days just to make sure my answer was correct.

Monday, I noticed I had eight Individual Education Plans to write.  A long time ago, when the current special education law and I were both very young, I learned that students with disabilities have plans developed by a team based on their specific needs.

I learned quickly, for teachers in our system, that meant, I had to write an IEP and get a parent's signature on before a deadline rolled around.  There has been much informal discussion-in our little office, just how sincere the process should actually be, but let's just say its been my experience that getting the plan filed is the critical part.

For students I see in a the Resource Room or the self-contained program I have at least a glimmer of who that person is, but its much harder for me to get a picture of a student who I only see for 45 minutes a day in math classroom dominated by the general education teacher.

I find Lamont, one of the students I hardly know,  For a half hour after school, I try to  gather enough information to make a stab at assembling his IEP.  I ask Lamont to fill out a survey about his plans for life after high school.  Lamont leaves it largely blank and when I press him, he says, "honestly Miss, I don't see myself as having a future."

Now it is past the end of the school day, I go directly to the phones only to find that not one counselor is still answering, and leave messages with three different ones.

Lamont tells me it doesn't matter, he doesn't matter.  I respond with that of course he matters, he matters to me.  Which probably sounds as completely lame to him as it does to me.  I think, he matters to me so much that if I hadn't be randomly assigned his IEP to write, I wouldn't had even this much of a conversation with him.

I try again, "you could matter to me, we could try to make each other matter."

And then Lamont says the one thing that gives me reason to hope,  he asks, "how?

"How do you make yourself matter?"

Listen, I know the derivation of the distance formula, I can find the area and volume of many figures, I can even explain math to people who truly believe math is put on the face of the earth purely to torture them.

But I really don't know how we make ourselves matter.

On Tuesday I called a series of guidance offices until I finally got a counselor to talk to Lamont.  He spoke to her for an hour, and she told him to come back any time.  She asked me to send him to her office from time to time, but on Wednesday, she said he voluntarily came up during lunch.

The rest of the week wasn't much better, just the problems were more mundane, lost cell phones, reminders from for the random IEP assigner that I needed to file the cases.  Mad disrespect (I caught lip- from one of my favorite Resource Room students- and ended up calling his mother) and the rest of the stuff that will keep me from ever being that  much discussed, effective teacher.

I had a glass of wine every night this week.
I ended the reply to Larry Ferrlazzo's post that after the wine I had to forgive and forget because that's the only way I could get up and do it again tomorrow.

Maybe that's the answer to Lamont's question- how do I make myself matter.

I get up and do it all again.
Even after a string of bad days.

PS: I bet I matter to the owner of the wine shop.

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