Sixth Hour

Within moments of sixth hour starting today I knew it was going to be a rough hour. We introduced solving systems by elimination in Intermediate, a topic they are all capable of mastering but also a topic that required their attention to detail. Every time I would go to start the example, I would notice another kid that didn’t have a pencil or someone else who was drifting off or yet another one that was glued to his phone. It felt like the whole class was just everywhere except in the moment…and as soon as I got one kid with us, I’d lose another two. 

Not surprisingly, when I was done with the “lecture” (aka working the first two problems with them), there were still several students who were lost or asleep. 

I tried to wake up one kid probably five times. The first few times, he would acknowledge my presence and then his head would immediately hit his desk and he would be back in a stupor. The last time, I couldn’t even wake him. 

That is, until two minutes before the bell–at that point he was alert and ready to leave class. 

I asked him to stay after class. 

(At which point the entire class got dead quiet. No one said anything until the bell rang. As my co-teacher said, “Longest minute of our lives.” It was so awkward.)

The kid did stay afterwards (not gonna lie, kinda thought he might bail). I asked him what was going on today. 

“Nuthin.”

“Well, there’s not much point in coming to class if you’re going to sleep through the whole thing…”

“There’s no point in coming to school at all any more!”

“What makes you say that?”

Then my lovely co-teacher intervened (thank God). “Do you think you’re smart?” I love it when she asks them this. 

“Nah.”

Well. That is the incorrect answer for us. That’s something neither of us stand for. We verbally bombarded him about how intelligent he is and how capable he is of succeeding in our class. 

When we finally started getting some smiles out of him, we proceeded to tell him that not working the whole hour is not an option. He was very kind to us and I think we made our point clear. 

Today was a hard hour with these kiddos. But, thinking back on my first year teaching, I remember when every day felt like today. 

I’ve grown as a teacher, in the sense that I know how to prevent issues like these more and more (obviously not all, as today showed). I’ve grown as a person, in the sense that I don’t take things nearly as personally. Aaaaaand I have a friend who co-teaches with me most days who helps me in the moments where I know we as adults have to show a kid that we will never stop caring and never stop fighting for their education. 

Even in a hard hour, there was good that came out of it. 

Now let’s hope everyone stays awake tomorrow. 🙏🏼

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