Saturday, November 1, 2014

Teaching in a war zone

Y'all, I can't even explain how overwhelmed and exhausted I am Since the beginning of the school year. I had intended to chronicle my adventures during my first year teaching here on the blog, but I have literally been too tired/overwhelmed/stressed to even think about it until now.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job. The list of things I love about what I am doing is long and my love for my kids grows more and more each day. However, there is a list of challenges facing me that grows longer each day as well.

Simply put, my coursework never prepared me for dealing with the type of social issues I have encountered thus far. I cannot call parents or schedule conferences without having an interpreter available. Some of my students only have the opportunity to eat when they come to school. Some students rarely see their parents because the adults are working numerous low paying jobs to make ends meet. Most of my students do not own any books. The kids constantly fear their parents being taken away in the middle of the night and deported. I've already had two students lose a parent this year.

In the midst of these social and emotional issues, I am responsible for teaching them academic skills. Did I mention that my classroom is at capacity and supplies are laughably scarce?

I'm not saying this to complain. I'm simply writing it down because some days I can barely believe I manage to get through the day, much less a full lesson plan. I had my first official observation this past week and it went much better than I anticipated. I got many positive comments from my AP and my kids' assessment scores are slowly but surely rising.

This job has been a huge dose of perspective. As is typical for doses of perspective, it has come with quite the adjustment period and a few growing pains. My heart gets broken at least once a week and more than once I have had to simply sit at my desk during planning and offer everything up to God. I keep a rosary in my desk for just such occasions.

Despite the challenges, I try to remind myself that this is what I felt called to do and where I felt called to do it. I accepted this position knowing that there would be issues to work through and challenges to face. I try to remind myself that these kids are not choosing these challenges for themselves and they deserve teachers that are fully invested in their success. It may be difficult for me, but these kids are worth my best effort every day.