So...I've been avoiding my blog all day because I literally can't concentrate on anything besides the class I have to teach tomorrow night. I know I've joked and talked a little bit about the difficult class I have this semester, but it goes beyond the few silly questions and excuses I have received. This is truly the most challenging group of students I have ever had at one time. I would even go as far as saying that this class is more challenging than the first English class I ever taught, which was when I was a scared, inexperienced 21-year-old. Now...at 31...I feel more scared and inexperienced than ever. And here's why...
You see...half of my students are these bright, hard-working, talented writers who are clearly not being challenged enough. I only know this because one student came to me after class two weeks ago and told my directly, "Jen...I think you are great teacher, but this class is boring the shit out of me". I always appreciate honesty, but man...that hurt a little. He went on to explain that the reason he is bored is because the other half of our class, the half that is a combination or hard-working, well-intentioned students who are not prepared for college level English, and those who simply can't and won't apply themselves, are spending quality class time asking questions that have already been answered multiple times in multiple ways.
But what's a teacher to do? Leave behind the students who are working hard to grasp the material but can't, or do I continue to teach high-school level English in a college course, abandoning all of my hard-working students who are actually qualified and ready to be here? I feel like I am failing at both ends. My talented students are bored, and my challenged students are lost. I can't find a happy medium. And that makes me so frustrated and so SAD as a teacher! So sad, in fact, that I actually got tears in my eyes last week. Yep...my students saw me cry. I played off my tears of frustration and I am hoping that some of my students didn't notice. But they were there, and I am incredibly embarrassed to go to class tomorrow night. I want to walk in happy, perky and excited to talk about English, just like I do every other week, but to be honest...I am not excited to talk about English. For the first time in a LONG time, I don't want to go to class.
And the stress of all this is effecting me in a very negative way. The classroom has always been my happy place. Ever since I became a mom, I find myself even more excited and giddy to be on campus, dressed in work attire, sipping a coffee and enjoying some intellectual adult conversation. I feel blessed that I get to go to a job that I can honestly say I love. I LOVE teaching English and it is something that I have always felt confident about. I have always felt like a good teacher. I try hard, I work hard, and I genuinely care about my students. But this semester...I feel like I have lost some of my confidence and the pressure I am feeling to "fix" this situation and bridge the gap between my students is giving me an ulcer.
So I find myself a little lost tonight. I am blogging instead of writing my lesson plan for the 5th time because I wonder if writing down all these feelings and confessing them to a bunch of people will give me a sense of peace. I wonder if it will help spark my creativity. I wonder if it will help me sleep tonight. I wonder if it will make my week-long stomach ache go away. I wonder if you all think I am a lunatic :-)
I really hate using this blog to complain, but I suppose that if I look at this blog like a journal (which was it's original purpose) then I suppose I have a right to let it all out from time to time. And maybe there are other teachers out there reading this that have felt the same way as I do. Maybe you don't even have to be a teacher to understand how I feel. I think we all have moments where we feel like we suck at our job, even if we are trying harder than we ever have before. I even feel this way about motherhood. Sometimes I feel like I suck as a mom. Sometimes I feel like I suck as a wife. Or a daughter. Or a sister. And so on and so on.
So what do we do when we feel like we've been beat up? What do we do when we feel like we are giving something our all, and still can't get the results that we want? Do we sit and cry about it? Well...I usually do...but what do we do after we cry? My husband's answer would be to suck it up...and keep working hard, just like I always do. My mom would tell me to remember why I started teaching in the first place. My BF Tara would tell me that I am probably reaching more students than I realize. My sister-in-law Dana would tell me to be my happy self in class, and then come home and drink wine. And if all that doesn't work, my Dad would tell me to drink a big glass of milk because it'll ease my ulcer :)
Well...now that I've got all that off my chest, it's back to work. Thanks for the vent session friends. I feel better already :-)