exploring, examining, exchanging, expressing
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I've been teaching here for about 4 and a half months now, and every single day - every single class - is a different challenge. This job is difficult in ways that I never would've imagined. I knew that I'd have to deal with lesson planning and odd shifts. And I even knew I'd have some trouble-making students. But I never expected that it would effect my emotions to the degree that it has.

If I have a great class, then I'm on top of the world. I'm confident, relaxed, and happy. When my students are engaged and enthusiastic, I really feel like I belong here, like I'm doing something positive. The time flies by and I look forward to the next class. I become inspired, filled with ideas for future lessons and activities.

But if a class goes sour, I'm crushed. It only takes one or two students with bad attitudes to ruin the whole classroom. That's the joy and pain of teaching classes that rely heavily on participation and communication. One student, in a small class, can effectively shut down an activity. The class as a whole will then turn negative. Time drags on. The air becomes thick with boredom or frustration. It's a disease that seems only to be cured by the words "class dismissed." And it ruins me. When I have bad chemistry in the classroom, I feel horrible. My mood is dark. I toss and turn all night. If I do manage to sleep, I have awful nightmares. And, of course, I dread going back to the school.

For whatever reason, my mental state is closely tied to the classroom experience. I can't help but take this job personally. Although there are other people and things involved, when it comes time for class, it's just me and my students. Perhaps it would be easier to remain emotionally unaffected if I were lecturing to an auditorium filled with 30-50 students. But when I'm facing 6-10 individuals, there is a very personal connection.

It's rewarding when the connection is positive. I've had students thank me for helping them. Some have really shown appreciation for my work. There's nothing better than hearing that I'm a good teacher.

And there's nothing worse than students who would rather be anywhere but my classroom. It's absolutely soul-crushing. That's the most dangerous part of this job that I've found so far.

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