Recovering my calm

This morning was stressful. I gave our last unit exam in calculus today, so I knew I’d be at school later than normal grading the tests so the kids could have them back tomorrow. They really don’t take me too long to grade. I have a system: I grade first hour’s tests during my planning period and into fourth hour; fourth hour’s test during fifth hour; and then all I have after school is fifth hour’s test (at which point I’ve graded so many tests, I can basically just glance at a page and know how many points were earned). It’s a good system. I only stay about an hour after the last bell. But this system is contingent upon having a planning period on test days. 

During first hour, a principal walked in with a dreaded white slip–the slip that says you have to sub for another teacher during your plan due to an uncovered absence. 


My heart sank. I texted my husband that he’d probably have to pick up our son from daycare today, which is typically my duty and something I look forward to every day. Also, this was the fourth time I’ve been asked to cover this quarter. So I was disappointed and mad and frustrated all in one little ball as second hour came hopping in. 

I started teaching in second hour (Intermediate Algebra) and the hands went flying left and right. I hadn’t gotten to all the questions before other students were already finishing and needing their first round of work checked. Naturally, today was not a day I had my co-teacher with me, either. 

Also throughout the hour, calculus students kept interrupting for various needs. 

I finally sat down to check some papers when one of my students (who is on the spectrum) yelled, “I need some assistance on Number 11!” 

“Can you jump in line here, so I can get to you when I’ve talked to all these students?” I asked, knowing a change in routine would not be met well. 

And then came the first bright moment of the day. 

One of the students who was waiting to get her corrections checked said, “Would you like me to help him with that one?”

I could have cried. 

“YES! That would be so lovely.”

Up until that moment, my stress level had just been rising and rising ever since I laid eyes on that white piece of paper. It seemed like every couple minutes, I had to deal with another need or another interruption. I consider myself a pretty calm person, but my calm was gone this morning. 

That is, until a student stepped in. She saw a need; she saw a fellow peer who needed help, and she didn’t hesitate to help him. 

Of course it’s a kid who helps bring in the calm. It almost always is. 

May we be more like them. 


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