Monday, February 7, 2011

How To Be A "Drama Queen"

Oh boy. What a day I had. I hate it when I have days like this. Days that make me question my career choice. I mean, how could I...a 47 year old woman who has taught for 24 years...still ask myself if I made the right choice to become a teacher? But I do question it when some days turn disastrous...sometimes. Today was one of those times.

It started out like any other Monday in First Grade. Kids came in. Hugs. Hellos. Notes from parents. Giddy chatter about fun things that happened on the weekend. Late homework turned in. 8:30. 9:00. 9:30. 9:45...BOOM! It hits. My little student whom I will call "Cybil" (not her real name), came moseying in from her intervention group.

Me: Cybil, I'd like you to do your ABC center. Don't worry about the other ones. Just do that one today.
Cybil: Why?
Me: Because you only have 15 minutes.
Cybil: Okkkkkaaaay

(Walks to her box. Hands in pockets. Looking around room. Looks in everyone else's box. Winds around every table. Yawns. Stops to admire Zoe's hair ribbon)

Me: You better hurry, your time's running out.
Cybil: I don't know what to do.

I explained it all over again. Now there were about five minutes left.

Me: Cybil, I need you to do your work now.
Cybil: Should I just guess.
Me: You can guess but you'll have to redo it.

(Even as I write this I realize that it probably sounds lame to you but it is real life for me. Normally, I wouldn't have been so adamant that she finish it if it wasn't such a reoccurring DAILY scene. Plus, she had problems last week at recess. Me: Cybil, did you hit Marley? Cybil: No, I didn't hit her...I PUNCHED her!)

Now it was 10:00 and she hadn't even started. All the other children had finished and were "at the rug." I had her finish or miss recess until it was done (I NEVER do that. NEVER. I hated myself for even using that threat.) BINGO! "recess" was the magic word. Her assignment was done in 5 minutes flat.

(Are you still with me?)

After recess. I'm feeling a headache coming on. I dismiss it...I don't have TIME for headaches!

I gave an awesome lesson about "Do" and "Go" past tense forms. (Past Tense VERB forms for first graders! I know. Don't get me started about our Reading program. Seriously!) Every child got right to work on the practice portion of the lesson. That is, all but, Cybil. Just repeat the previous encounter, and you'll have the scene. I could feel myself losing patience. I was losing it fast and I realized that there were 19 other sets of eyes watching me slowly sink into Mrs. Trunchbull. I could tell that they wanted their teacher back. You know the one. The one I usually am: fun, loving, sweet, patient. I sort of hated myself for the feelings I was feeling and for my bubbling frustration.

I decided right there that I needed to take a step back. Rather than let my class see me get more and more frustrated over one child, I would remove myself and Cybil from the situation. I had her pick up her paper and pencil and follow me out the door. I remembered to turn off my microphone (thank goodness) before giving my lecture. You know the one..."I expect a lot more out of you!" "I expect you to do the same things as the other children." "I don't appreciate it when you roll your eyes at me and shout "OH MY G__" every time I ask you to do something."

Then she dropped the bomb on me. She said:

"UUrrrghhh! You're such a drama queen?"

I know!! I was absolutely cracking up in my head but that was not a proper response in this situation. I took her by the hand and quietly led her to the office. All the way she was whining, "I'm soooorrrry! I'm sooorrrrry! I'm sooorrrry!" Then, I left her there. I LEFT HER THERE!! I can't believe I gave up! I gave up! What kind of teacher AM I??

The rest of the day, I fell into the depths of despair. I had lost. I have always prided myself in the fact that I never take students to the office. I never use the LRR (Least Restrictive Room)...and I've taught FIFTH GRADE!! Never. And here it was. A six year old had bested me. Rather than feeling triumphant, I felt defeat. I felt like a first year teacher all over again. I can't even type this without tears in my eyes and shame in my heart. I don't want to go back.

Cybil did return to class after lunch. (A lunch she refused to eat because it was "gross") I will say that she returned very repentant. She participated in Math and did every problem. After Music, she told me that she had a crush "on Jason, the new kid." I even got a hug good bye.

I guess my biggest fear is that my students will see me when I am feeling and acting like someone I'm not. When everyday starts to feel that way for me...I need to quit. I can't even imagine feeling dread everyday to return to a job I grew to hate. It's hard to believe that people really DO hate teaching yet return day in and day out for years and years. Rest assured, I am far FAR FAR! from those feelings. However, every so often, a day like today shows up and rears it's ugly head. It gives me pause to review my strengths as an educator. My strength as a person. Of why I chose this profession. Reflection can be a blessing.

Tomorrow will be better. Right??



9 comments:

emlizalmo said...

Hmmm...so many thoughts. :) First of all, I can't believe you don't feel like that more often. Teaching, especially 6 year olds, seems exhausting. I usually had to come home and change my sweaty clothes after teaching sharing time to little people (4 of which were mine). I think you teachers are remarkable.

Second...you are fabulous. I would imagine Miss Cybil doesn't really have much structure or discipline at home. She needs it. She knows you love her. That whole class knows you love them. You ooze love.

Third...I'm so sorry you had a crappy day. Tomorrow will certainly be better. Hope you finished it off with a big DC.

Last thought...I know you feel all the eyes were on you...to see how you would react. They may have been. Cybil crossed the line and there were consequences. Those little eyes need to see that too. Wish I knew how to make you feel better. You are always SO up, SO positive and happy, that even when you aren't...you still are. :)

Becky said...

Laura has a little girl in her class that does this scene everyday. Her teacher has talked to me about how this one child makes her question her decision to be a teacher because she just won't break dowm and listen or follow directions no matter what the concequences. She even told the Principal off. Sometimes it is the kids and not the teacher. I love teaching and can't wait to get into the classroom at least subbing when Jaimee goes to school ion a couple years. Hang in there!!!

Rachel said...

Yes, tomorrow is a new day. I feel this way as a Mom!!!! I can't retire from being a mom.....!

This morning I don't know what set me off but laws I was reisty. Short tempered with getting The Native's ready for school.

Sounds like you've got a "Junie B. Jones" in your class. :D

I like emlizalmo's comments. I second them!!

Natalie said...

From my point of view, you were more patient than the rest of us would have been. (Is it bad if Cybil reminds me of Lily?) :)

Camille said...

So, I am becoming a step-mom to a Cybil first grader. Her home life at her mom's house is the main contributor to her classroom behavior.
Isn't it interesting that Cybil pulled all this after "intervention"?

Thank you for being a teacher with patience. There are parents out there who really shouldn't be parents. And often they send their kids to school without the readiness to learn.
Cybil will remember you and be thankful to you as an adult who believes in her and holds her accountable. :)
It is almost spring break. Hang in there.

Richard & Natalie said...

Well.....for being a drama queen I think you handled yourself beautifully.
Please, don't give up yet; I have 2 more children that need to have you as a teacher!

Erin said...

Oh boy. Sorry to say that I laughed out loud--and really hard--about the drama queen part. Because I could totally see Isabel hearing that and tucking it away for further use on her MOTHER.

Isabel made her giant Valentine at school for you. Not for her parent(s) as the other 26 children did.

You are something special. You are one of a kind. And, you were BORN to be a teacher. Those little rascals get the best of us sometimes and, honestly, I think that your leaving her in the office may just have been the natural consequence she needed. (Can you hear Spencer saying, "If you can't treat people in our classroom with respect then you can't be in our classroom"??)

Marie B said...

Wow!!!! I love this...it really made me laugh!!!! I work with the "neediest" children at our school, and I pride myself on my patience...but sometimes, someone GETS to me...IT'S OK!!!!! The kids have to know that we are human, not perfect, and subject to those pesky bouts of imperfection that they also face...YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!

Melissa Yergensen said...

So, I have to be honest. I was really worried when I first started reading this that you might be talking about Marley. And then I saw that Cybil punched Marley and my first thought was, "Phew, Marley got PUNCHED ... it's not her!" Couldn't have been happier to hear that my daughter got beat up. heehee.
But, I am sorry to hear that you are having such a hard time. I have had experiences with kids that just make it so difficult to love them! Glad to know that you are human too! AND that you are trying so hard TO FIND A WAY to love her despite the difficulty. Thanks so much for being a great (and patient) teacher!

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