Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stream of (semi) Consciousness

Andrea Gillies

Come wade with me…
5am alarm rings. Barely in the bathroom and Derek wakes. Quick fill a bottle and rush to my four month old boy and feed him. Lay him back down and pray he goes back to sleep. Get ready for work, make sure the lunches and bags are packed, finish the newsletter for Kathleen’s preschool, clean up the puke from the cat, grab my stuff and go.
Still need gas—Can I make it? Decide no. Get into school at 6:50. Check email, run over lessons for the day, collect work to grade. Wolf a bowl of cereal, commiserate with colleagues and the warning bell rings.
Prep hour. See Andrew about some of my kids and a fight off campus. No police report, so no damage.

Check on another student who dropped out during my leave. Discuss another student who was out for a week after a suicide attempt. Recap all conversations with the mom and student. See Mary Ann about Day of Writing. Discuss possibilities. Discuss school-wide writing and evaluation of all samples. Back to room. Check some seniors’ graduation status, look through 504 plans (finally).
Class. Re-introduce project and answer questions. Get kids who were absent caught up. Walk around and check on progress. Talk to Austin (again) about work. I can’t seem to motivate him no matter what. Have tried joking, pleading, speaking to him one on one and nothing seems to work. Reference to the counselor about possible depression went nowhere. If I hear him speak one word a day it’s a miracle. Joke with girls about their non-academic conversation and get them back on track. Check on special education students (eight in a class of 29) to make sure they understand the format and comprehend the reading.
Lunch. Check email. Begin to create a test and test review for next week.
Class. Talk individually to seniors about graduation requirements. Circle the room checking on progress and offering tips. Vocational students enter late (again). Discuss the agenda for the day with them. Catch Danie up on what she’s missed in the last week and find out why she’s on crutches. She has unexplained swelling in her foot and no one knows what it is. She’s scared and literature is the last thing on her mind.
Class. Talk to Veronica about her poem. She’s currently homeless. Encourage her not to give up even though she is missing several credits. All 35 students are present today, and the room is a controlled chaos that occasionally veers more toward chaos. I’m exhausted, but still try and smile and greet each question like it’s the first time I’ve been asked it. I try to get to every student, but I’m not sure I did.
Class. Listen with encouragement on my face while my heart breaks. Unsung Hero speeches. Tiffany’s dad is in prison. Chelsea’s mom abandoned her. Stephanie’s mom was hooked on cocaine. Wynter’s dad saw his best friend get stabbed. Take mental notes for counseling and screw the rubric. These kids need to tell their story.
Finish creating test, run copies and hope the copier doesn’t jam. Email elementary school about having Speech kids read books next week. Run to the car, stop for an oil change (have no idea how long THAT light’s been on) and car wash. Try and process all of the things I learned today. Pick up the kids and find out about their day. Kiss Derek, relish his smiles, listen to all of Kathleen’s stories about the day.
Get in the house, set Derek in the Exersaucer, listen to Kathleen some more (do four year olds ever pause for breath?). Unpack all the bags, throw in a load of laundry, make cereal for Derek, feed him, make dinner. Eat, take kids outside, watch Kathleen ride her bike as Bill tries to keep up. Derek’s tired (only two hours with him today), read to him, bathe him, feed him and put him down. While Bill bathes Kathleen, make a grocery list, fold laundry, get a shower and 20 minutes of solitude. Watch Sesame Street with Kathleen, marvel at her quickness. Read to her and kiss her goodnight. Talk to Bill about our days and fall into bed at 9.

Everything in this is true, and happened today. The only thing not in here is the time it took to write this, and it was completed during Sesame Street. To every person out there who thinks teachers are lazy and only want summers off, I would gladly offer that they spend just one day with me.

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