Teacher Tales: Marathon Month(s)

This was written yesterday, but I just had negative zero energy left to proofread or edit last night, so here it is on a slightly more energized Saturday morning

I also work in a Title I school in case you’re reading this and this is shocking to you.

We just wrapped up our last full week of school. By this time next week, we will officially be on summer break, but OH what a whirlwind the final weeks always bring. Testing, awards ceremonies, graduations, assessments, gradebooks, official files completed and checked, dyslexia meetings, cleaning out ALLLLL the crap you accumulate in your classroom throughout a year getting ready to start with a fresh batch again in… well, too soon. Not to mention doing all of this while keeping 20 kids busy who are tired of each other and have outgrown everything including my tables and chairs. They’re antsy. They randomly make chirping noises and shriek like little dinosaurs.

We have all lost our minds.

Even now as I sit here, my mind and body are still buzzing. I’m on sensory overload and I feel like my strength is close to giving out. The finish line is in sight but… my poor metaphorical legs! Ok, maybe it’s partially the gluten from those left over cookies I snagged in the teacher’s loung speaking.

Photos are all from Unsplash and not actual pictures of my students (or me).

But maybe there’s also a bit of secondary trauma.

I’ve shared about my “friend” (what we call our students) in foster care, specifically a group home, and while I don’t need to share everything, believe me when I say, it’s sad. You can just trust me on this one. He’s told me his story many times. This student begged me to call their “home” today to tell them about an accident they had… from yesterday… and that they still had the same clothes on because they were scared the house would be mad if they found out. Thankfully, the woman I spoke to on the phone sounded kind and told me to let them know that they weren’t in trouble for having an accident. Who knows what really happens at home, but I can only hope and pray she was sincere.

Today I also got to use my planning time to meet with a “buddy” that I was paired with from another grade level because he struggles behaviorally. Despite what I’ve heard about it and the remnants I’ve seen from these episodes (all of his things and computer thrown on the floor when I’ve gone to pick him up, his classmates are always quick to give me the scoop, and no we don’t leave until it gets picked up), we’ve been able to color, paint, play games, and share cookies together once a month all year. Today, he turned to me and was like, “What’s your name again?” Sigh.

In addition to this, I went to a meeting about 5 different struggling students prepared to defend myself and prove that, “why yes I’ve been doing my job all year…” I also heard the most colorful words from a pre-k student this week, who also looked at one of my students and told them they were gonna kill them. (Both kiddos from the group home.) I held a kid’s back while he threw up into my trash can with his class waiting in the hallway because all of the bathroom stalls had been full. I had a student’s mom tell me she had cancer. I watched a student, sitting next to me at my work table, with a live lice crawling around her bangs as a million little nits glistened in the light all around her head. (I stopped sending her to the nurse because she’s been so many times already for lice and it never gets properly treated at home, whatever that looks like. The nurse is tired of me and the parent isn’t fixing anything. Another really sad situation.) I also got to “help” group home friend clean dried feces off their leg from the day before. By help, I mean, I gave him a pile of wipes and was like, “No really, I think we need to get that off. Here are some more wipes. Keep going. Scrub harder.” I can take a lot of stuff, but no thank you.

There are just some kids you wish you could take home and properly take care of. Wash their clothes, give them a good bath, feed them decent food, and give them a calm and quiet place to sleep at night. Literally basic necessities for kids to grow healthy. (Mallow’s hierarchy of needs is always on my mind. Are the tired or hungry? Do they feel safe?) And those kids just kind of stick with you. Their stories mess with you and make you question a lot of things.

These stories are all just from the last few days.

Not all teachers are alike. Some days it’s really easy to leave and disconnect and forget about the job, but other days it keeps you up at night. Teachers with healthy boundaries (not answering all of your messages after hours, not giving you their cell) are actually not bad teachers. They/we are doing what we have to do to be able to keep going… to keep caring.

Overall, our hearts will be proud to see our kids in the next grade the following year. (Unless they were little turds. Then we are just glad they aren’t our problem anymore.)

We are tired. We are overwhelmed. We are heartbroken. We are worried about “our kids”. We are bloodied and bruised, sometimes literally by kids like said 4-year-old sailor mouth. We are mentally and emotionally depleted.

We are teachers.

I need to process. I need to journal. I need a break… and a hot shower. And comfort food. And sleep.

3 responses to “Teacher Tales: Marathon Month(s)”

  1. Bless you and all good teachers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I agree that as teachers we need to process, to journal, to take a break… and a hot shower, comfort food and sleep. Keep going and enjoy. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

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