Little Fires Everywhere

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I think my most difficult day student teaching thus far has to have been last week.

The day started with a parent-teacher conference. Normally, this would not be cause for concern (at least, not too much on my own part), but this student asked her father to make the conference because of some issues she had with me specifically. Part of what bothered me so much coming into the conference is that I had no clue what these issues were, only that the parent had explained to my mentor teacher that he was not happy with me. So, prior to stepping into the conference, I got to stew about it overnight. This is never a good thing, in my opinion.

So, upon sitting down with the parent, child, mentor teacher, and the principal, I was informed that I had placed the student in a position in class that she didn’t like. She did not want to sit next to the boy I had placed her next to (with good reason, that really was a mistake on my part). She asked to be moved, to which I replied that I would be happy to move her, but asked why she hadn’t mentioned it previously. The parent was surprised to know that I had no knowledge of her feelings. He assumed she’d discussed it with me. Well, that was an easy enough fix and really didn’t require a conference. So, luckily, I was worrying over very little.

Right after the conference, I went back to my classroom. The daily announcements were on, and since my mentor teacher was in covering for me while I finished up the conference, she took me aside to let me know not to tell the students to shut up that day. I gave her a puzzled look, and she replied that a student had told her that I told the class to shut up on a daily basis. I was floored. Not only have I never done that, I make a very concentrated effort to have a positive way of saying things while teaching. The student had lied about me.

I thought about what to do. During silent reading, I chose to take the student aside and ask her what she was seeing that made it seem as if I was telling her to shut up. She told me that she didn’t know, but that I say it all the time, I should just ask anyone in the class! She was adamant with her lie, and she did it right to my face. She also informed me that she had told her mother about it and that I should expect to be spoken to about it by my boss. This angered me, but I did my best to keep it under control. I spent the rest of the class trying to kill her with kindness. I also was very careful about what I said during that period.

After class, I sought out the principal again. I told her that it seemed as if I had fires to be put out everywhere that day, but relayed what the student had said about me and told her that I denied ever saying it. She told me it’d be easy enough to prove and that it’s very common for students to lie about their teachers. She told me not to worry about it so much, and that it probably wouldn’t come to anything. So far, it hasn’t.

Then (oh yes, there’s more), in my final class of the day, I caught a student cheating on a paper. This would necessarily be such a big deal, but it was just compounded by the further events of the day. It was the first time I ever really began to second-guess my decision to become a teacher. I have to admit that I was so glad that it was Friday and there was an opportunity to take a break the next couple of days.

This is harder than I ever imagined. But it’s also more rewarding than I ever thought it would be.

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