The Ballerina Mathematician

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 18 2011

what it’s like to be the best

I had three different administrators come up to me today and tell me how great I am.  You see, we had visitors in our school today, and they observed my classroom.  These are the important kind of visitors–the kind hired for the whole area of failing schools to make sure we’re on track.  They are a Big Deal.  So big that my principal interrupted my class to tell me exactly what time they would be observing me.  Of course they came much later than that scheduled time, and I didn’t think anything of it.

Apparently they thought something of it.  My classroom was a “model of exemplary classrooms.”  They said that my classroom was one of the BEST in the whole area, best of all the classrooms they’ve seen.

However, that’s not what’s on my mind.  This is what ran through my head as I drove home from work today, crying:

How am I the best if one of my students was abused because of me?  He refused to do any work in class yesterday, and when I asked to talk to him after class he walked out and ignored me when I called his name.  I called home and gave THE most positive “bad call home” I have ever given.  It was along the lines of “your student is one of my best and is always awesome, but seemed to have an off day today.  I’m holding him for detention to do the work he missed by not participating.”  Very lighthearted, very positive.  He was beaten and kicked out of the house, and is now scared to go home.  He blames me and our relationship is ruined.  He was extremely defiant and disrespectful towards me today and I don’t know how to gain that amazing student back.

How am I the “best” if a student call me a racist?  I gave him correct and balanced feedback about his behavior in class (he’s on a behavior contract) and he angrily shouted that word at me as he left.  It truly upsets me when students say that.

Would the “best” teacher have students talking and pretending to shoot guns at each other during a lock down drill?

Would that teacher have an advisory that is out of control and can’t stay quiet long enough to listen to the directions of the fun and relevant projects and activities created for the class?  I work hard to make that class meaningful and they throw it back in my face–all the same students who listen carefully in my regular algebra class.

If I’m the “best” would I need to get the principal to make students go to lunch detention for me?  They wouldn’t listen to my polite requests to follow me to detention, and just cursed at me and refused.  The principal was nearby, and one word from him and suddenly they followed.

Would students run out of the door they aren’t allowed to go through and breeze right past this “best” teacher, who happens to be calling their name and telling them they can’t go through that door?

Would the “best” teacher go home crying like it was her first year?  Feel like a failure?  Not want to come to work tomorrow?  Wonder why she’s teaching?

That’s what it feels like to be “the best.”

2 Responses

  1. Not important

    You did not have any knowledge on his situation home, therefor whatever happened is not your fault because you had no knowledge on his situation. Also you wanted the best for the kid, you actually showed your concern by calling him home. Nobody has ever done this to me…

    You’re a great person

  2. Not important

    Oh and note that I’m in high school. I can just imagine how easy your students feel when they have such a concerning teacher. My teachers are only teaching because they got to make a living out of SOMETHING that’s also how they act. I feel unfortunate that you’re not my teacher.

    And about the student; there’s not much to do, if you chase him and keep talking to his back it’ll seem kind of “aggresive”. This is not a thing you want because you have a name to keep.
    You might have a shot at contacting his parents, maybe that’ll work. Be your rational self and try to confince them that they’re doing wrong in hitting their kid.

    If that doesn’t work then give your story to someone beyond your level (in function) and ask him/her to contact the child’s sibblings.

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a dancer's adventure in teaching math

Middle School

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