It’s finally the last day of the semester, and things seem to have conspired to create a compendium of all the worst parts of the past four months. I planned my day poorly, lost track of the schedule and let my kids go too early not once, but twice in one day. The students were all eating candy and talking and playing and I hadn’t brought even a movie with which to distract them. My plan was to go over their dismal benchmark results with them and read them “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. And give them each a candy cane. The benchmark results were depressing, they were already over the top with candy by second period and certainly didn’t need more, and reading them a story when they were in that condition? What was I thinking?
Then there were the visits from other staff members. One burst into my class and shouted that my students had stolen from her. The students to whom she referred were visitors from another class which was showing a movie for which they had not brought permission slips. They had left my room and returned with cookies in their mouths, and I assumed that was what they had stolen, but it turned out that they had stolen some snow from an ice chest outside her room. I stood there dumbly while she raved at me and them, finally responding timidly, “They aren’t my students.” (My entire class was sitting there with their mouths open.) As if that had any bearing on the thing. It only occasioned a fresh burst of yelling from her. I did understand her anger, completely, but not her method of delivering her message, and how could she leave her class alone to come and yell at me and mine?
After she finally left , I mis-remembered the minimum day schedule and let my class go half an hour early. That occasioned a visit from a very loud and angry P.E. teacher who asked what the #@!$ I was thinking letting them go so early. When I told her I didn’t have a copy of the schedule, and I realized I’d make a mistake, and was obviously in the process of trying to get them to come back, as I was standing outside my door calling them and sending some after the others who were already too far gone to hear me, she asked where my copy of the schedule was. I told her I didn’t have one, obviously. She yelled that she knew I’d had one because she herself had put it in my box. I responded that I didn’t have it now, and had no idea what had become of it. She made sure I had one within minutes. (And how could she leave all her P.E. students to come and yell at me? WTF???) After she left, and the bell finally rang to let that group of kids go, I somehow managed, even with a copy of the schedule at my fingertips, to let the next group out 10 minutes early. (Yes, I know, how far up my butt was my head? And yet…)
The next period, the one before my lunch, three students who were completely unknown to me showed up to take a test in my room. I had no idea where they had come from. They were loud and unruly, and I had to reprimand them several times to get them to settle down and take their test. They said it was a group test. When I asked them who their teacher was and if she would agree with that, they said that no, she wouldn’t. It was actually the quarterly benchmark assessment, the culmination of the second quarter. Why she sent them to me I still have no idea. She has not said a word about it. I just babysat them through my lunch and the class before it. What could she have been doing that was less conducive to taking a test than what I was doing? She had no idea what was going on in my classroom, yet apparently thought nothing of sending these girl to me for my lunch period. (And why, you may ask, did I not send them back to wherever they were supposed to be? See above comment about the whereabouts of my head.)
Even with all the chaos, there were some bright moments. Like when Gerardo, the kid who cannot stay on task for more than about thirty seconds and sometimes ends up sitting under the table when things become too much (like today) came in and earnestly asked if I’d like some chocolate. He carried the bottom part of a chocolate Santa in his hand. “It was really big, but I’ve been giving it to my teachers.” I thanked him and accepted the chunk he offered. It somehow seemed normal in this completely unreal day, and I was touched that he had brought me a gift.
When the day finally ended I felt like I’d been beaten up. I went home and turned on Oprah, whose guest was an expert on how to change your life when you don’t like your job. I think his message was that in order to have a happy life, you have to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Except all the women who spoke seemed to have quit their jobs to have a happier life. I numbly watched that until it was time for my massage, the only well-planned event of the entire day. Even with the bliss that followed the massage, I ended the day with a hearty dose of comfort food. My first visit with Ben and Jerry for about a year. (deep sigh…) Now what? I have three weeks to regroup before I return for more.