All my family are outside, and I am inside, updating my gradebook, sorting through homework turned in late and marking it, and getting ready to plan lessons for this week.
Last night, while families in many places watched baseball playoffs, went to movies, or had friends to dinner, I was grading 90 quizzes for Algebra I. Before that, I was frantically trying to clean the house after a week of neglect…. laundry, grocery shopping and sheet changes included.
I spent my planning time last week calling parents. Calling to say Junior is failing, I have sent home 2 grade sheets at various points which he has not bothered to return, and I don’t want there to be any surprises in 2 weeks when report cards come out. Calling to say young miss would rather doodle and has yet to turn in any homework. Calling to say, your son is continually disrupting my class and I had to send him to ISS.
I am feeling low. My days are spent caring more for other people’s kids than my own. Showing up to IEP meetings, and having parents not show, when I could be grading/xeroxing/making calls. Doing cafeteria duty because high schoolers apparently have yet to learn food is not for throwing. Handing out assignments which end up on the floor. Handing out pencils because many students come without… come without anything, although they have plenty of money to buy candy and soda and try to consume it in class.
It was a hard week. And hard because this time last year I was working for myself, tutoring around my kids schedules, and still able to cook and clean and have a life. I knew this would be hard. And it is not just me.. several of us at school have been wondering, what is the point? Our families suffer, our health suffers, and we don’t feel effective in class. Parents want more and more… but we get paid a pittance. Yes, I will get some time off this summer. But, I am working 65 hours per week now… and per hour, getting paid very little. $7.69/hour by my estimation. I could make more at Walmart….
As a nation, we need to think about why there is a shortage of teachers, especially in math and science..What do we prize in this country? Is education important? If so, we need to take better care of our teachers. We could pay to have class sizes smaller…. Did you know studies show the optimum number of students in a high school class is 17. My classes, and they are better than some of the math teachers, are 30, 27, 27, 26, and my smallest, joy of joys is 22.
I have wonderful colleagues, and a wonderful administration. I am at an average school.. and I have 3 out of 5 classes that I really enjoy. But it may not be enough… I am working to help my dear husband support this family so we can send our kids to a private school. But at this rate, am tired, cross, unaffectionate, unable to join in things, meals are nothing to write home about, and I am hardly home.
Last week I took a “Must Buck Up and Soldier On” approach… and it worked through Wednesday. Then Friday was the WORST DAY EVER.
So here I am , trying to psych myself up and convince myself that I am making a difference to a few, at least. That I am helping my family finances. Trying to tell myself, I can do this. I am hardworking and capable. I just hope I am listening.
Well, if I am not.. I spend a great deal of Sunday service praying for the week ahead.. for saying and doing the right things at school that will make a difference, for not loosing my interest and determination, for keeping my family going, for finding a balance, for strength to soldier on. Surely, God is listening.