One of the first years finally asked that quiet question, that last glimmer of hope that we didn’t have last year—“Tell me, does it ever get better? Is it ever less overwhelming?” A bold question for a girl only a week into her second year who spent the last year crippled and gasping for some sort of survival. I wasn’t sure how to answer—less overwhelming? No. Less work? Absolutely not. More… of that “something” that makes it worth it? Can I be so bold?
Last year, they said the cycle of disillusionment that you went through as a first year would recycle itself in the second year—start out optimistic, crash, burn, and slowly creep back upwards at the end. I’d like to think that because of the extent of my burning, my optimism will not crash and burn this year. My kids have yet to try to back out of something I’ve asked them to do this year, though today we started independent reading. Will I be disappointed? I had the bold audacity to ask my principal for a 120 class set of controversial books above my students’ grade level, much less reading level, while our district is so far beneath broke that even our Sharpies leak red—and he agreed. What have I gotten myself into? Knocking on other teacher’s doors causes fairy dust to fall from the sky wherein they pile resources and guidance upon me—will I live up to what I’ve been given? Suspended students’ grandparents come in to pick up work so that they don’t fall behind, rowdy students apologize, my consequence chart glitters uselessly on the wall as mere stern looks turn hormonal heads back to their papers. Where am I? Will I be overambitious, or am I still underestimating the young minds’ potential? Am I underselling them? What will I do with their faith in me? I worked so hard to get here, and now, what do I do?
A small, but favorite illustration: One young lady in my class apparently was feeling a bit put off by something a young gentleman was telling her on her way into my class. “You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not the boss of me!” As I opened my mouth for a mini-lesson on respectful disagreement, she continued: “Ms G’s the only boss of me!”
“Say what?” Me? I have no management skills, says last year.
“That’s right Miss G, you’re the boss of me in this class.”
Why yes, yes I am.
I’m not sure I’m ready for this much responsibility.