“Bad” Day

This past Friday was one of those days where as soon as the students walked out of the door, I kicked my shoes off and plopped down on the classroom carpet to cry. I have to say that, it’s quite surprising to me that this is actually the first time that this has happened. I’ve had plenty of rough days, but this is the first day where I’ve been mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted enough to actually move me to tears by the end of the day. I know that this will be a common occurrence for me during the first year of my teaching career, but I’m feeling really lucky that this is the first bad day that I’ve had throughout my student teaching experience.
The day actually started off great. My cooperating teacher was gone for the day, so we had a substitute. My students have gotten used to having me as their “main” teacher for the past few weeks now, so this doesn’t make much of a difference anymore. Earlier on in the year when I was still rather new in this classroom, the difference between the students’ behavior when my coop was there and when she wasn’t was still very apparent. Since this is no longer the case, the day was off to a very smooth start. The real trouble was in the afternoon. On Fridays, we have what we call Friday Free Choice. If students have met all the requirements for it, which usually involves turning in homework and finishing up any writing, math or other work from that week, they have the choice to spend the last hour and a half of the day doing whatever they want. Usually students play games or draw and color. The first week of every month they have the option to get on their Chromebook to play games (on school approved websites of course) if they wish. In addition, we do Friday Folders, which involves sending important papers, notes home for parents, and past work all together in a folder with the students. One thing that goes into the Friday Folders every week is the homework, which is due the following Friday. I realized halfway during total lit that afternoon that I completely forgot to print off the homework for that week (again). I figured between then and the end of the day I would have enough time to print it off although, ideally, I would’ve had it ready to go so students can fill their Friday Folders and put them in their backpack before starting Friday Free Choice. Once Free Choice time starts it can be a little chaotic, and students often leave behind, crumple up, or loose papers when they are handed to them on the way out the door.
The hardest part about trying to get the homework ready for the students wasn’t even making the homework. I had it all typed out and ready to go, but printing it out was a whole other story. I had been battling with the printer for the whole week, and this afternoon was no different. Nothing quite irritates me like technology that doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. As I was running around, already flustered, I noticed that many classes were leaving their classroom. A quick glance through the windows that opens up into the gymnasium on the floor below informed me that there was an assembly going on. Seconds after this realization, I hear an announcement over the speaker asking teachers to send their student of the month down to for the assembly. I rush back to the room in a panic to ask the students if we had even voted on a student of the month for February. Different answers from different students tells me that we most likely didn’t vote for a student yet. The best I could think of on the spot was to send the student of the month from last month down, rather than just appointing a new one myself, since we always vote on them as a class. In a panic I sent the student down and got the rest of the class ready to go down to the assembly. Between this mishap and the jumble of trying to win my battle with the printer (which did not end in my favor), the afternoon was a mess and resulted in me being rather short with my students and not being able to give the individual attention that some of my students needed.
As the bell to signal the end of the day rang, I was simultaneously trying to rush the students out of the room and console a student that was sobbing hysterically for some reason that I couldn’t get out of her. I was feeling like I failed my students and was angry with myself for letting the afternoon turn into such a chaotic mess. On top of all of that, I was exhausted from the week and unsettled by the fact that I had to let my student walk out of the classroom still sobbing because she had ballet practice. Throughout all of this, I was amazed by the emotional intelligence of my students. Many of them, despite the chaos, took the time to hug me before they left or thank me for “everything that [I] do.” One student even drew me a picture and wrote a nice note. It’s so incredible how these kids can catch on to the way I’m feeling and I am delightfully surprised everyday by how thoughtful they can be. In hindsight, it really wasn’t that bad of a day, and the kindness my students showed me made up for all of it. This gives me hope that even my worst days as a teacher could never really be that bad, because at the end of the day, the relationships I get to build with my students and the love that I have for them (and in this case that they have for me, too) remains.

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