Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the...Beach Body?

Let's hope.

My 2011 could be subtitled "The Year of Work", "The Year No Boys Paid Attention to Me, Which Is Not That Different Than Any Other Year" (too long, no?) or "The Year I Uprooted My Happy Life in Charlotte to Move to the Middle of Nowhere". 

I'll just call it...interesting. Last January I was a teaching assistant living in a fabulous apartment in Charlotte. I blogged religiously, worked out daily, and lived a fabulous life in general. 

Then I accepted a job as a special education teacher in the sticks of Eastern North Carolina. I moved into a big house in a town that would make Nicholas Sparks' mouth water. I work 80 hour weeks, can't remember what I used to blog about so much, and live a pretty boring life in general. 

And I'm happy. Most importantly? I feel like I'm good at it. 

In my first week of teaching, my administration walked in and informed me that two of my students would be self-contained in my classroom all day. (Emphasis on alllllll daaaaaay.) They were so disruptive in the regular classroom that they genuinely prevented others from learning. One of them had previously been suspended for bringing a homemade weapon to school. 

And they were going to be mine. All. Day. Long. 

They were on a kindergarten reading level, which made me think I'd be a pain in the ass too if I was 13 and felt like school had been a waste of my time for the past seven years

But I didn't have time to feel bad for them: these boys needed to learn to read. And fast. I scoured our school library and home library for every kindergarten level book I could find. They resisted. They whined and complained and wasted my time. Some days, I only got 5 or so minutes of reading out of them by the time they'd settled down. 

And we read. We read the Pokey Little Puppy, Arthur Goes to the Dentist, and Home for a Bunny.  They asked me why they had to read baby books, a question that I had no better answer for than "stop talking, keep reading". 

The stories I'd heard about their behavior were no joke. There were days I screamed and cried and conferenced with their parents and wrote referrals to the office. (Sometimes all in one day.) I slammed books on my desk and threw my clipboard against the wall in anger. (Just the one time.) I called every teacher I knew and asked what I needed to do to make it through the day with my mental health intact. There were a few times the boys walked out of my classroom. There were a few times I walked out as well. 

While this was going on, the baby books were slowly turning into Little Bill books. Then, very slowly, we progressed into Magic Treehouse books. Chapter books. 

So there were days I yelled too much and when my patience was too thin. But I did something right. We ended the semester on a second grade reading level. We're nowhere close to where they need to be, but we're better off than when we started.  

Beat that, 2012. (And if you could bring me a boyfriend and a beach body, that would be great too.)


Ashley said...

That's an awesome accomplishment! You are really making a difference with them!

Lynne said...

Good job. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of teaching job, but boy are those who are cut out for it sorely needed. You are helping those kids increase their chances of being successful - well done.

Hines-Sight said...

Congratulations! You've accomplished so much. These poor kids. You have helped them so much.

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