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Black Men and Relationship Building – BEDA Day 18 of 31

Black Men and Relationship Building

BEDA Day 18 of 31

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There is a struggle here. Something I’ve struggled to put into the words that even feel appropriate enough to share in a public space.

I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone except Black Men, but we struggle with relationship building. I think I get a double dose of it as a SGL (same-gender-loving) guy. I see and analyze interactions a bit differently than my straight and gay identified counterparts.

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I shared the story of my neighbor (in the video) because it just befuddles me how, after realizing that you stay in the same building with someone, you can see them on the street and look past them, regularly. Like imagine me walking on the street, walking past the guy who lives in my building. Looking him dead in his face/eyes, giving a head nod, and him carrying on with his business. This specific interaction with this guy has happened… enough to the point where now I just laugh when I see him. I walked past him on the street yesterday, and he just looked at me, and I just shook my head and laughed.

To be clear, Black men aren’t the only people who struggle with relationships. But as a Black man, I’m most impacted and struggle with talking about and dealing with my relationships with other Black men – the most. Sometimes I think I’m too open and friendly and invested in the idea that everyone is a great and valuable person.

But I also know that part of our own downfall is our inability to recognize the strengths and value we can place in each other. Like the super duper gutter petty part of me wants my neighbor to be locked out or just need something that only I can give him one day. I really want to challenge myself to reach to my inner depths of petty to just ignore the fuck out of him and rub salt in his face for his inability to get out of his own way and open the door for… at the very least a platonic acknowledgement of existence… Something other than us walking past each other every damn day day ignorant of what we may actually be able to add to each others’ lives. If that day ever comes I’m kind of mad that I know I’ll probably choose to be bigger and just, engage. Even though at this point, I don’t want to.

I just really worry about us sometimes. Beyond the present – like no one really gives a damn about me and my neighbor’s relationship. But as a cultural…thing – like why are we so good at pushing each other away? Why do we value each other so little? Some of y’all may not be able to relate to the specific situations, but I wanna challenge you to think about areas in your own life where this may be applicable. I know that while I’m focusing on my neighbor here, and more loosely my ex and other men I’ve just had to deal with in life. I too am responsible for overlooking Black men in my life. Constricting myself to a “certain group” of people that I feel are acceptable to bless with my presence, and my friendship. Communicating in a way that shows certain men they are valuable to me and others that they aren’t.

What do strong relationships look like for you and the Black Men in your life? How do we develop relationships where we trust each other and support each other just as human beings here on Earth? Is that too lofty to think about?

I know its not, but I just wonder sometimes how we can make this different. We have so much to offer each other. How do we each begin to do the work to cross the bridge to connect? I don’t believe in a powerful and fully capable world where Black Men don’t and can’t connect with each other. I don’t want to live in a world were that is the only reality that exists. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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The Purge – Niggeritus

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The Purge – Niggeritus

This week has perhaps been the hardest teaching week for me so far (12/16/13 – 12/20/13). Grad school projects were due, and students’ behavior was just an OD management job. They’ve been extremely difficult to focus, and to keep calm. They’ve been screaming, cursing, sending subs, threatening, ignoring, complaining, joking, singing, beatboxing, rapping, harmonizing, old-school jamming, procrastinating, playing, ditching, sleeping, leaving just to return 15 minutes latering maybe…ishing, lovable, needy, supportive, childish, disrespectful, helpless, suprisingy ingenuitive, cunning, model, motivated, artistic, compelled, engaged, everythingish people to us lately.

I’ve almost lost my professionalism thrice over the past week, or maybe definitely once… who knows exactly, that’s not the point. At the end of the day, I’m a teacher, my students, the public, and myself expects me to teach these kids.

One of my many jobs is to see past these front(s) and in a way manipulate that student into learning. It’s a game of chess… trying to get these vessels to learn no matter what they’re wrapped in on their exteriors. I’m trying to frame my practice this way, and I will say that it has helped me really change the way I view my job, especially in how I prepare and approach this work.

The-itis

Someone once told me that “Teaching is Activism.” A strong activist knows the importance of resilience. Even so, I’ve never felt as defeated as I did on Tuesday. The students were all coming in from their lunches and advisory classes from the day. I think all of the advisories had had pizza parties celebrating the holiday. I had already been a rough day week in general. (Just to be transparent I had actually tried pretty hard to mentally prepare myself to have a strong week going in to Christmas Break – this however is one of those times when my positive framing didn’t work.)

6th period was about to begin. They’re a class that has a lot of energy… but its more social energy vs. the back and forth energy of my 3rd period class. The late bell rang and students began wondering in one after the other rubbing their bellies and mumbling variations of “Damn, I got Niggeritus(is). I wasn’t ready…. For the devastating combo.

Sidebar: I almost feel like I have to be an assassin when it comes to the students’ casual usage of Nigga in class. The students say it a million times a day, and almost a million times a day I give them the screw face and remind that that I really hate when they use that word. Of all the words… THAT is the one I expect you to stop using. “I can’t stop saying saying it, it’s too hard.” or “Why? I am a Nigga?” or “It’s ok, Black people can say the word Nigga, followed by a quick google search of “Can black people say nigga?” which of course brought up results that they can.” The word is sooo engrained in the students language, I can tell they literally don’t think before they use it at least not in school buildings. I’m sure there are some settings like an interview where they would feel the need to track their language better than normal. Its just a terrible word to feel the need to police in a school setting. It’s the never-ending always happening battle in the classroom.

BACK TO THE STORY:

…I wasn’t ready…. For the devastating combo. I instantly retorted something about stop saying that word with my more than usual frustrations. This time was different, the students again replied in a “Oh my bad” fashion followed by the “I thought it was a word” coupled with genuinely clueless facial expressions. Unaffected they all began to drift back into the sea of off-task conversations going on in the room as my co-teacher and I tried to usher them into completing their journals. My expression turned from routine reminder mode to concerned and inquisitive.

By his time there were maybe 3 or 4 students (if I’m lucky) paying attention to my changing expressions. I half-way mustered out a “NO, it’s not a word!” in between my frustration and in disbelief. I stood there struggling for words. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt so powerless as a teacher. The bar had been reset in a way. My students have grown up in a time and in a culture where for them Niggeritus was as clearly a word as mother, or birth, or school.

”No, that is not a word, you won’t see that in the dictionary… Stop using that word, y’all really disappoint me when you use that word! You have no idea….(insert Peanuts voice)”

At some point I returned to teaching using the barely there energy I had left in me. The only thing that saved me were the slight tugs I would give my hair to pull me back into reality. I couldn’t quite deal with how overwhelmed I had become in that moment. It was a real moment of unwanted clarity. I saw what is always really difficult to see in this role – just how brainwashed my students had become.

Of course I was thinking about it on at least two levels. The challenge I had with teaching and really preparing my students to code-switch and track their language before they speak it. Furthermore, the level at which Black English and Common American English have mixed and diluted each other. (<– Overly complicated and vague description)

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I don’t know if its right or wrong, but I was more hurt at the enculturation of the word Nigga/Nigger. And how in a very short time, my students have learned to completely devalue a word that carries such tragic history in this country. The painful part was just seeing how overtime language could be re-valued. Once language looses its meaning, how do you describe events and ideas that depend on those specific contexts?

Ferris State University has some great information about Black stereotypes and caricatures that I found a year ago. I read some of these a while ago and recommend them for anyone looking to learn more about historically demeaning Black Stereotypes and images. I’ve inserted just a few explanations and usages for the word Nigger below. It was hurtful when I read these… but pain can be the best motivator of them all.

Ferris State University: Nigger and Caricature

The word nigger carries with it much of the hatred and repulsion directed toward Africans and African Americans. Historically, nigger defined, limited, and mocked African Americans. It was a term of exclusion, a verbal justification for discrimination. Whether used as a noun, verb, or adjective, it reinforced the stereotype of the lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless parasite. No other American ethnophaulism carried so much purposeful venom, as the following representative list suggests:

    • Nigger, v. To wear out, spoil or destroy.
    • Niggerish, adj. Acting in an indolent and irresponsible manner.
    • Niggerlipping, v. Wetting the end of a cigarette while smoking it.
    • Niggerlover, n. Derogatory term aimed at whites lacking in the necessary loathing of blacks.
    • Nigger luck, n. Exceptionally good luck, emphasis on undeserved.
    • Nigger-flicker, n. A small knife or razor with one side heavily taped to preserve the user’s fingers.
    • Nigger heaven, n. a designated place, usually the balcony, where blacks were forced to sit, for example, in an integrated movie theater or church.
    • Nigger knocker, n. axe handle or weapon made from an axe handle.
    • Nigger rich, adj, Deeply in debt but ostentatious.
    • Nigger shooter, n. A slingshot.
    • Nigger steak, n. a slice of liver or a cheap piece of meat.
    • Nigger stick, n. police officer’s baton.
    • Nigger tip, n. leaving a small tip or no tip in a restaurant.
    • Nigger in the woodpile, n. a concealed motive or unknown factor affecting a situation in an adverse way.
    • Nigger work, n. Demeaning, menial tasks.(Green, 1984, p. 190)

Nigger has been used to describe a dark shade of color (nigger-brown, nigger-black), the status of whites who interacted with blacks (nigger-breaker, -dealer, -driver, -killer, -stealer, -worshipper, and -looking), and anything belonging to or associated with African Americans (nigger-baby, -boy, -girl, -mouth, -feet, -preacher, -job, -love, -culture, -college, -music, and so forth).4 Nigger is the ultimate American insult; it is used to offend other ethnic groups, as when Jews are called white-niggers; Arabs, sandniggers; or Japanese, yellow-niggers.

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/caricature/

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Skoolhouse Blues – My worst day yet

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I got my ass handed to me yesterday, by none other than my principal… Go figure. I’m shitty beyond belief at her critique of my performance thus far. As you can see it’s 4:08am, I need to be up by 6:30am to have a decent start to my day. Overall she was dissappointed that my instruction had pretty much completely dropped off the map. Or at least it is far far far from the normal scripted curriculum we had been using in Just Words. She also feels I’ve neglected my IEP/Special Education duties.

My pushback was that, yes, my instruction has suffered, and perhaps is not the strongest now. However, I’m a new teacher, and have been entrusted with a hell of a workload. A workload you have decided to give me. At what point was I going to receive some type of mentorship/leadership from those more knowledgable and experienced about things so that I can do to make my curriculum and IEP’s better? In my opinion, I’ve been left to figure it all out on my own. Speaking solely on the special education side of my job I have shown very little comfortability with the process, and have always shown that I will do it wrong if someone isn’t available to help me. (competence is a better word, but thats not something I want to say in an official meeting) Quite frankly it should be no surprise to anyone that I’m continuing to struggle with my IEP’s, I have been struggling with them since day 1! Why am I getting in trouble for this when from my point of view I’ve clearly expressed my need for more support on multiple occasions to multiple people… Perhaps I’ll go into more details later.

At what point is it the student’s job to make sure they’re on top of everything, and at what point must the mentor(s) take that step to ensure their students are learning and growing in the areas they do and do not show competence!? It was a really really really difficult day, I was probably the most upset and bothered I’ve been all school year, even more so than the roommate fiasco. Luckily I stumbled on a few inspirational articles and videos that will hopefully keep me going strong through the end of the school year.

In the mean time check out Rita Pierson’s TED Talk – Every kid needs a champion

Face Forward: Kevin Ladaris

  Face Forward: Young African American Men in a Critical Age

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I found this book in the bookstore Friday after work. It was a pretty rough day… filled with fights, disciplinary letters, criminal charges, and disappointing students and adults. After leaving school and heading home I happened to fall into an African American bookstore that I’ve seen, but never had the chance to walk into. The store is pretty small, but I made sure to take every second to look at all of the titles on its shelves. The store was full of erotic fiction, inspirational texts, collections of muslim texts, children’s books, urban fiction, and biographies.  Reading the diversity of the titles relaxed me and really made me feel at peace for the first time in the day.

Kevin Ladaris is the gentleman pictured on the front cover of Face Forward. I imagine he is really rooted into the earth, and is very analytical. His locs tell me that he’s inquisitive and can a calculated agitant  when results are needed. If I were Kevin, I would would write a letter to my principal looking for guidance. I’ve attached it below:

 

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Dear Principal,

I’ve been at this job for about a year. I still can’t tell how I’ve been doing at this teaching thing. It seems like I’m always playing catch up, lesser than, getting in trouble, going against protocol… you name it I feel like I’ve done it. As the principal of this school I seek your feedback to help me get a better understanding of how I’m performing here. I respect your opinion, and would appreciate the constructive feedback.

 

1. How would you rate my performance?

This school is different than most other NYC public schools. Its been nice having my LIU coach come observe my classes. But she hasn’t been able to give me the type of feedback that I can build from. Which she’s mentioned on more than one occasion. What would really help me is knowing what you and the other administrators think of teaching skills and abilities. Do you like how I teach my students in my classes? What about how I handle disciplinary actions with and about students.

2. What classes am I teaching next year? 

There’s been mention of me teaching an internship class next year. Which reminds me, can we sit down and talk about what this class should involve? Also, what else are you anticipating I’ll be teaching next year? WIll I continue to teach Just Words and Rewards reading intervention classes? If so that’s cool. I actually have a few ideas of how I can make the classes more interesting and hopefully fulfilling for me and the students. I’ve taught math and English this year. I’ve learned a lot through both. I’m wondering if I can co-teach a science class next year as well. I’m interested to see what strategies are used that help students play with the information in their heads.

3. Actually, will I be invited back next year to teach?

I mean… you never know. And I feel like I’ve been messing up a lot lately, so let’s be straight up. What are you thinking? How am I the same as the person you’ve hired? How have I grown? Where have I dissappointed?

4. What characteristics were you looking for when you hired me? What did you see in me last year that made you hire me? 

It’s hiring season, so a lot of teachers have come through for interviews and demo lessons. Usually I’m ready to jet out on Fridays, but I’ve attended a few sessions and met a couple of the candidates. Its always interesting to see who the interviews are. Certain characteristics stick out in potentially good candidates. People who speak up and project their voices are given automatic points. There’s never a moment in class where a conversational/mumbling tone has worked with my students. Unless we’re working one on one. I also like to see someone who takes time to think about their answers and works through them even while replying. It reminds me of myself. The students easily pick up on people whose personalities, energy matches with their own. Body language is important too. I like to see someone who is erect for lack of a better term. Your body looks alert and engaged. Slouching, leaning away, disengagement don’t really work. Also, its always interesting to see teacher who ask students to comply with a certain rule/practice during interviews. For instance asking a student during a demo lesson to put their phones away. It shows guts, and a knack for engaging even in unknown situations.

Observing other interviews has helped me see strong characteristics. However, it would really help me to know what you think I’m strong in, and areas where I can still grow.

5. How do you feel about the fight that occurred in my class on Friday?

I was a little shocked when someone walked into my class at the beginning of third period to observe me. Normally this isn’t a big deal. But I’m coming off of pretty bad week instructionally. The combination of my grad school finals and the Art of War Art Battle wiped me out when it came prepping for my classes. Thursday and Friday were supposed to be my great return to the teaching stage. 2nd period Just Words was amazing. We  had a strong day instructionally, the students were engaged, they read aloud, and processed the articles we read. 3rd period Just Words has a completely different pulse and energy. Not only did we not get any work done again, but their was a melee in the class. The first time a student actually got hit in one of my classrooms. I’m NOT happy about this and feel as though I failed in preventing the situation from escalating.

The situation quickly escalated from verbal exchanges between two students to full out blows with me in the middle trying to break them up, but being unsuccessful. Note to self, next time forget the rule of not touching the students, get in between the two students, and back one of them out of the door closing and holding it behind me.  I was slapped many times. I don’t know how many, the blows didn’t hurt and are actually the least of my concerns, what hurt was feeling like I couldn’t stop the situation. To call for help would mean leaving a clear field for the students to attack each other. So that’s not a realistic option.  *Wait a minute where did that other adult go. Surely he will call for help, step in and grab one of you or something* After a few minutes of royal rumble, and quite a few landed blows on me and the other students, someone comes in and helps me separate the students. Apparently the male students landed a pretty hard blow on the female. At the end of the day I was told that the young lady’s family pressed charges against the male student. A complete fucking blow to my already bad day.

I would just like you to know that next time I don’t care who is in my room, or for what purpose, when something happens I’m  going to do whatever it takes to prevent the fight from happening. I couldn’t go manage my class the way I normally do because of the visitor that was randomly placed there. Next time I’m going to act without keeping them in mind.

6. As you know I’ve been struggling with the Special Education/IEP responsibilities. What would you suggest I do to get a better grasp of this?

Its no secret that one of my weakest areas is my command of the knowledge and procedures that make up the Special Education part of my job. From scheduling and managing IEP meetings, to analyzing and incorporating knowledge of student disabilities and how it may or may not be manifested in their behavior, even following through with the endless paperwork that never seems to end. How would you suggest I get better at these things? I’ve made a few suggestions about things I think would help me handle this part of my workload better. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to implement any of those. You’ve seen my performance, you also know better than I do what I face in the preparation for my classes and how my teaching schedule can chaotic at times. What would you suggest I do to help me perform better here?

I’m really interested in your feedback… You can email it to me, or I guess stop me in the hallway when we both have a free second to breathe and catch up.

Regards…

Flashbacks-n-Updates

Originally written November 17, 2013

Being in the fellowship is incredibly hard. Each day is almost like its own Mission Impossible. Which i tell myself is fun and exciting, I actually think I believe myself most of the time too. Its always been difficult explaining to other people why the fellowship is so taxing and time consuming. Teaching as a profession is incredibly demanding. Each night when I go home I go home knowing that the very next day a class full of students will be depending on me to run a lesson, answer questions, guide through practice problems, demand high academic and behavioral expectations. I’m not a parent, but I imagine this constant feeling of being responsible is what parents feel especially when their kids are young and unable to look after themselves.

The students aren’t the only ones who demand a high level of attention, there is literally always something going on in the school that needs my (your) attention as well. As a special education teacher, we’re required to review and update student’s IEPs, gather info from gen ed teachers about students’ strengths and weaknesses, we also facilitate the IEP meetings with the IEP team, student and parent. Then there’s always the need to give students school-wide assessments, school development/staff meetings, department meetings, covering for absent teachers, as well as managing general student traffic and behavior in and around the school building. This isn’t an exhaustive list, its just what I can think about right now at Starbucks. There’s a million needs constantly rolling around in my mind. The process of juggling and prioritizing these things is a gargantuan task that I wasn’t ready for before the fellowship. Its because of this that I never really feel like I’m getting ahead at my job. If anything I feel good when I feel like I’m only 1 step behind versus the normal 4 steps.

Here are some of the things I’ve struggled with over the past 6 months:

  • Staying in communication with people outside of my job. Work is an overwhelming priority that takes up about 90% of my brain capacity at all given times. I have to try to divide the other 10% between grad school, personal health and wellness, rest and relaxation, eating, and fiscal responsibility. Communication is always last on my list of things to focus on, my family has been pretty open about their disdain for my perceived low-level of contact and visits.
  • Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession. I feel like I’m able to stretch myself and try new things in my classrooms and with my students. However, its demotivating feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. I basically feel like I don’t know what I know, and don’t know what I don’t know. This makes it difficult to replicate my positive teaching traits and change my unproductive teaching habits.
  • My daily schedule is so chaotic that I often miss my meetings with my mentor teacher. We both teach during all of the same periods so it is difficult to observe her and learn from her teaching style. There are also 2 new teachers in the building, and we all have the same mentor teacher. It’s frustrating hearing that the other mentees get to enjoy more regular meetings with our mentor, and seem to truly benefit from the weekly checkins. I don’t know if I can say I’m experiencing the same luck with my checkins. I always go into the meeting feeling like a my thoughts are too jumbled up in my head to communicate anything clearly and effectively with her.
  • I always feel like I’m on different page than most other people in the school. Translation – I be lost as fuck in most meetings and classes. This always irks me. Example: On election day we had a staff-wide PD. Part of the ice-breaker was to build a contraption that would prevent an egg from breaking when it hit the ground. Every group made some contraption that packed/padded the egg once it impacted the ground. I suggested and pushed my group to make a parachute with a piece of newspaper to support the padding we had done. At first there was silence, then there was murmors of support, finally I convinced them the parachute would work. When we presented our creation we got a bunch of laughs from the rest of the staff. But low and behold our egg was one of 3 that didnt break. This is a amusing example of me thinking completely differently than everyone else. Most of the time it just leaves me feeling awkwardly different in a room full of people with more similar ideas.
  • I really care for all of the students in my school. But they drive me BONKERS when they launch a million questions at me (you) without giving me the chance to explain the activity/theory/lesson we’re going through. They also complain all the time. Sometimes I just have to look at them with my You’ve gotta be kidding me -face.
  • Anytime I think of a challenge or a struggle I have with this work, I get upset with myself because it feels like I’m making excuses rather than finding solutions.

These are just a few things that I have on my mind right now. I say these not to complain, but to give you a better sense of some of the things I have to think about on top of creating meaningful and engaging lessons for my students. I’m optimistic that I’ll find ways to get around these struggles.

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Rambles – I mean updates – No, really just rambles…

I have quite a few blogs I’ve started, but never posted for various reasons. I figured I’ld dig up the past every once and a while and give an update on how I feel.

In a lot of ways I’m still in the same place as a teacher. Yes, each day is hard. Yes, each day is Mission Impossible. Even more so now than ever before. However, I try not to view the everyday challenges with as much anxiety anymore. Translation – I trust myself and go with the flow a lot more now than I did back in November. Over the past month I’ve picked up two fulltime classes on my schedule. We’ve been thrown back into grad school. And I’ve been doing a lot more work behind the scenes trying to promote the blog, and some of my other projects as well. And of course I’m still trying to be best best damn teacher I can be every second of every day of the week. The stress gets overwhelming at times. Luckily we had a mini vacation this week. The schools would have been closed all week in observation of Presidents Day and Winter Break. But, thanks to days lost during Hurricane Sandy we have Monday and Tuesday off and return Wednesday – Friday.

Imagine  for a second being so exhausted, irritated, drained, tired that you don’t think you can make it one more minute to see the weekend. Yea, that was me Wednesday night. Recently I’ve found that I’ve adapted well-ish to the constant changes in schedules, needs, priorities, attention. Every decision I make is rooted in what is giving my students the best opportunity and future. Yes, I’m wrong sometimes when confronting a student in class about behavior, questioning a student’s motives to leave the classroom, and one-on-one gut checks in the hallway.But, the love is there, and I think they see that, so its easy to move past my classroom mistakes with a simple and sincere apology.

One thing that has continued to affect me is my irritation with unappreciative and/or rude students. This last week I actually had two pretty intense run ins with students who I felt were crossing the lines of my patience and brining consistent irritation throughout my classroom communities. I’ve tried 3 times now to sum up what happened but its really too much to add on to this particular post. Out of all my students these 2 are my biggest headaches right now.

I’m still feeling like I don’t know what I do well and what I can work on. I haven’t really gotten much actionable constructive criticism which means I’m figuring my way around teaching fairly well. The athlete in me doesn’t accept that as good enough though. I”m rambling now though, which is exactly why I didn’t post this the first time…

Struggles of a NYCTF: One trimester into the school year.

Being in the fellowship is incredibly hard. Each day is almost like its own Mission Impossible. Which i tell myself is fun and exciting, I actually think I believe myself most of the time too. Its always been difficult explaining to other people why the fellowship is so taxing and time consuming. Teaching as a profession is incredibly demanding. Each night when I go home I go home knowing that the very next day a class full of students will be depending on me to run a lesson, answer questions, guide through practice problems, demand high academic and behavioral expectations. I’m not a parent, but I imagine this constant feeling of being responsible is what parents feel especially when their kids are young and unable to look after themselves.

The students aren’t the only ones who demand a high level of attention, there is literally always something going on in the school that needs my (your) attention as well. As a special education teacher, we’re required to review and update student’s IEPs, gather info from gen ed teachers about students’ strengths and weaknesses, we also facilitate the IEP meetings with the IEP team, student and parent. Then there’s always the need to give students school-wide assessments, school development meetings, department meetings, covering for absent teachers, as well as managing general student traffic and behavior in and around the school building. This isn’t an exhaustive list, its just what I can think about right now at Starbucks. There’s a million needs constantly rolling around in my mind. The process of juggling and prioritizing these things is a gargantuan task that I wasn’t ready for before the fellowship. Its because of this that I never really feel like I’m getting ahead at my job. If anything I feel good when I feel like I’m only 1 step behind versus the normal 4 steps.

Here are some of the things I’ve struggled with over the past 6 months:

  • —- Staying in communication with people outside of my job. Work is an overwhelming priority that takes up about 90% of my brain capacity at all given times. I have to try to divid the other 10% between grad school, personal health and wellness, rest and relaxation, eating, and fiscal responsibility. Communication is always last on my list of things to focus on, my family has been pretty open about their disdain for my level of contact and visits.
  • —- Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession. I feel like I’m able to stretch myself and try new things in my classrooms and with my students. However, its demotivating feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. I basically feel like I don’t know what I know, and don’t know what I don’t know. This makes it difficult to replicate my positive teaching traits and change my negative teaching practices.
  • —- My daily schedule is so chaotic that I often miss my meetings with my mentor teacher. We both teach during all of the same periods so it is difficult to observe her and learn from her teaching style. There are also 3 new teachers including me in the building, and we all have the same mentor teacher. Its frustrating hearing that the other mentees get to enjoy more regular meetings with our mentor, and seem to truly benefit from the weekly checkins. I don’t know if I can say I’m experiencing the same luck with my checkins.
  • —- I always feel like I’m on different page than most other people in the school. Translation –  I be lost as fuck in most meetings and classes. This always irks me. Example: On election day we had a staff-wide PD. Part of the ice-breaker was to build a contraption that would prevent an egg from breaking when it hit the ground. Every group made some contraption that packed/padded the egg once it impacted the ground. I suggested and pushed my group to make a parachute with out piece of newspaper to support the padding we had done. At first there was silence, then there was murmors of support, finally I convinced them the parachute would work. When we presented our creation we got a bunch of laughs from the rest of the staff. But low and behold our egg was one of 3 that didnt break. This is a amusing example of me thinking completely differently than everyone else. Most of the time it just leaves me feeling awkwardly different in a room full of people with similar ideas.
  • —- I really care for all of the students in my school. But they drive me BONKERS when they launch a million questions at me (you) without giving me the chance to explain the activity/theory/lesson we’re going through. They also complain all the time. Sometimes I just have to look at them with my You’ve gotta be kidding me -face.
  • —- Anytime I think of a challenge or a struggle I have with this work, I get upset with myself because it feels like I’m making excuses rather than finding solutions.

These are just a few things that I have on my mind right now. I say these not to complain, but to give you a better sense of some of the things I have to think about on top of creating meaningful and engaging lessons for my students. I’m optimistic that I’ll find ways to changes these struggles into growth opportunities to become a more effective and impactful teacher for my classes.