Am I the only one?

If you come in with 100% of your energy everyday for 100 kids, and one child each day sucks up 20% of that energy, how do you divide up your remaining 80%?

If you have 50 minutes for 25 students and one child takes up 10 minutes of your time, how do you decide who is not going to get any of your direct attention that period?

How many kids did you not have a conversation with today, last week, during the last month?

200 minutes of direct class instruction each day. 100 students each day. Don’t even come up with 2 minutes per kid per day — During the 50 minutes there’s 5 minutes to intro class, 5 minutes to wrap up, one kid gives an answer that lasts for three minutes, one kid requires five minutes of help, and the kid who was absent needs yesterday’s work explained and I ask big D why he’s so sad. The office calls the room looking for a student, the squirrels have a fight in the tree outside the window, a student going to the lav trips over the cord unplugging the projector, and little J forgot his notebook, textbook, and pencil and wants to know what he should do about it. With the remaining minutes I am suppose to get my kids ready to take on India and China, be nice to others, collaborate with their classmates, and stop to explain why we don’t use the word retard in class. If I want to use technology I have to take more time out to coach the kids in how and when to use it, prepare them to think locally, globally, abstractly, solve problems, draw conclusions, be empathetic, and there is also this Social Studies Curriculum I am supposed to be covering. It is so much easier to give the kids a textbook assignment with a worksheet follow-up, give a detention for calling a kid retard, close the blinds, not use a projector, sorry Little J you are not going to your locker, dude come back after school to get the make-up, make them work independently in rows, use only paper and pencil, just worry about getting them to memorize the facts for the test, connect learning to grades, coercively manage their behavior, and then I bet I would have no problem covering the curriculum and not have arrived home this evening totally exhausted.

Is there one person in my building, my town, my state, that feels the same way? Why do I feel so alone in my exhaustion as I experience severe growing pains as a teacher in transition from 1.0 to 2.0. This isn’t suppose to be happening 17 years into my career. Is there some Uber Freaky Teacher Anonymous group meeting at some bar that I could attend? Would I go? Am I really just alone as I feel? I should stop and go and make a multiple choice, true/false test for tomorrow instead of setting up the recording equipment to record their Pecha Kuchas( oh so cool) digital storytelling videos for our wiki. I would be so much more relaxed, sit down tonight and watch bad TV, eat something that has lots of chemicals in it, crank up some Iron Maiden, spend a minute outside listening to the second day of the Spring Creeper chorus(oh so very cool), and then maybe decide if I want my blog to continue to be some form of therapy for me, or to be a place to engage others.

Kind of funny, decided to throw on some Maiden via an internet site before I posted this — first song that came up:  “Running Free” followed by “Heaven can Wait”  There is a message in there somewhere.  Oh wait, Metallica is on…the song…not kidding…”No Remorse.”   Fine I am better off being a stressed out 2.0 wannabe stopping the class for 5 minutes and discussing why we shouldn’t call one another a retard and putting the Mexican American War on hold…I have “no remorse” for doing what I do.


  1. It may be easier to pass out text books, turn to page 105 and do all the problems, which we will correct tomorrow and then start anew (this is the essence of our new mandated math program).
    But, god, the kids are bored, burned and sucked of the will to learn and be energized by the learning.
    Your words ring true — there is loneliness in this transition and in my building, I often feel as if I am the lone one yelling out: here are some new ways to engage your students!
    Luckily, my principal agrees and supports my endeavors. Not everyone is that lucky.
    I have you in my rss, so at least you can know that you are not alone here.
    Come on in and join my ongoing Day in a Sentence — which allows teachers to reflect and connect. Head off to Classroom 2.0 and use the social networking aspect to connect.
    And crank up the tunes that inspire you.


    PS — thanks for the gmail hack comment on my blog — I have used it but it is good to remind me that it is there.

  2. Thank you! for saying exactly how I feel. And I don’t even “have” to teach content, although I do, because I’m the Computer Elective teacher. It’s still exhausting. I could rest on my laurels, let them play FunBrain or message each other on Think.com every day and they would be happy for a while. Then the management problems and boredom alluded to by Kevin above would make my life a living hell. And I mean MY OWN boredom and bad attitude as much as the 170 middle schoolers I serve each day. Sigh. Some days I feel exhilarated about the tech gains we’ve made, the boy who asked if I’d teach him to (fill in the above-and-beyond skill) during lunch, the kid who shared her broken heart with me, the nanosecond of human connection with the little gang wannabe, or similar. But most days I’m just hoping against hope I made some tiny difference whilst trudging through the fog of exhaustion. But don’t mistake my angst for unhappiness. For some crazy reason I love this job!

  3. My friend, you are not the only one.
    Take away 89 of your kids,
    add 3 more grade levels (with accompanying academic deficits and strengths),
    add all curricular areas,
    take away a school nurse and counselor,
    take away the custodian (so if someone pukes, YOU get to clean it, cause there’s no one else to),
    move your administrator 2 hours away,
    add in at least 2 groups a week coming through to tour the school,
    add in required-for-existence recruitment events,
    and add in one AWESOMELY dedicated bunch of parents who would help, if only they knew what to do.

    Oh, and add in a tremendous amount of guilt and self-pressure to do it all, including being fully 2.0, pbl, and innovative to market a soon-to-be-produced educational philosophy.

    Then you have me.

    It’s hell most days, but I’ll never step back into a traditional school. Never.

  4. Thanks for the honesty and real-ness of your post.

    I have memories of all this kind of stuff from when I attended public school. I wonder how my kids will be turn out since I homeschool them in Connecticut.

    Thanks for helping me feel good about my choice to give up my salary and career to homeschool my kids.

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