But, she's also a newer teacher and she knows that my group is... challenging to say the least. She has come to me multiple times, nervous about the behavioral aspect of being me. I guess I can take it as a compliment that she said, "I'm up for the challenge! If I can be you, I can do ANYTHING." Good gracious. No wonder I'm exhausted.
I had a meeting with my principal last Friday, and we were talking about my kids and how to get them to the end of the year, successfully. I shared a thought that I haven't really verbalized because I feel an odd sort of shame with it -- I wish that for this particular group, we had done ICT (Integrated Co-Taught) English instead of the 15:1 self-contained English that I'm teaching. I absolutely love teaching my English class, and it has been a bright spot in my day for the years that I've done it, but this year the behaviors in the small group overshadow EVERYTHING. It takes us so long to get to things and there is a constant running negativity and "bro" culture -- it's sort of like being the house mom at a fraternity. A lot of it is because these students have been together for years and they are like brothers, like family. They are VERY comfortable with each other and in the classroom, which was theirs the previous year too (although I worked really hard to make it look different this year). It results in a lot of managing social behavior, distraction/disruption, and constant song-and-dance to keep everybody engaged. I feel like I work so hard to make things exciting and interesting, but the behavior makes it hard to make headway. It's insanely disheartening.
So, when I said that out loud, I first was like oh shit I just blew myself in as feeling inadequate, and then my principal said, "Well, why don't we make it ICT? Is there another English class the same period? Can we trial it and get them ready-er for next year, when most will be co-taught and not self-contained?"
OH. At first it hit me like a gut punch... I just started a new unit, I just got buy-in, and the other teacher is not at all doing the same thing. I said as much, and the principal said, "Well, can you change yours? Just change it." She must have seen my face because she said, "I didn't mean that quite so flippantly, but seriously... this could really be helpful." I tried to wheedle my way into finishing my unit, but she said, "I want YOU to be able to benefit from the change. Talk to the other teacher, call the parents. See what you can do."
I feel like these kind of situations are so hard because so many of my experiences have been rife with uncertainty, change, and being totally not in control of what happens next. I can be a flexible person, but I do really hate change. Or at least I do at first. I had to process this all day, as I approached the other teacher (who is a friend of mine, which made it easier) and figured out how to morph into her plans, and shift my plans entirely. The original plan was to try to join by this coming Friday, but the way the plans went (small-group literature circles), there was really no way to do it any later than Tuesday. Like, TOMORROW.
So, I did it. I talked to the other English teacher, I talked to my classroom paraprofessional, I called every single parent between Friday and today (although I did say NO to calling anyone after 4:00 on Friday). I'm not sure it was clear just how much work went into making this change.
BUT, it will make my sub feel much more comfortable. It really will help get everyone ready for what English will look like next year. It will help break up the small Animal House fraternity in my room. It will give them more exposure to different adults and students. AND it will make it so I don't have to do sub plans (or grading) for English for the days I'm gone. It really will make things easier for me. (It does bother me that a solution to this only happened at the very end of the year, when someone else has to fill in for me...but better late than never?)
I am proud of myself. I am proud that I let go of my pride and my swallowing down of my feelings of inadequacy, and there was a presented solution that no one resisted. The kids are nervous, but they are also kind of excited. And I think they may finally appreciate me now that they are doing something different (albeit, still with me, just in a different classroom).
Infertility both made me more hesitant and anxious about change, but it also forced me to shift and pivot more and more, the further we got into things. I am glad that I could pivot on this and get all the legwork done to make the change, which should make the end of the year much more manageable.
AND, the best part of today was that I heard from both the other English teacher and some of the kids in the class we're joining, that they were kind of upset that this change was happening (they have a very small, very quiet and lovely section without my buddies), but then someone said, "Wait! Is Mrs. T____ coming too?" and when the answer was "Yes!" they erupted into cheers and yays. One student told me at the end of the day, "We LOVE having you in Social Studies, this is going to be great!"
Yay, yay, yay... I think it's going to be a great 27 days after all.
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