Every day I come home and ask my husband “so, how was your day?” To which he invariably replies, “Same old, same old!” Some days I wish that I could say that.
I arrived at school the other day, opened my classroom, turned on the light, and had not had time to take off my coat when a student walked in. I had taught this boy last year and knew him to have social and emotional issues. He, for whatever reason, seemed to gravitate to me. I bade him a “Good morning!” And asked him how things were going. His response? “Terrible. I might as well kill myself. ” And yes, he was serious. It was 8:10am. Welcome to MY day!
Four times in the last two weeks I have had to refer students for mental and emotional issues. It is epidemic in our schools! They come to me sobbing, full of fear and anxiety, terrified of failure in all respects, overwhelmed by course demand, workload, parents divorcing….they are broken kids! I find them huddled in the corners of the halls unable to function or hiding in the washrooms. And I am just a teacher who cares, who can hug them, talk them down and try to get them the support they need. And these are not even the ones I am teaching this year! What is the school system doing to these kids that they have no coping skills or resilience by the time they get to high school? What happens when they get into university? Well, let me tell you.
They will all crash and burn on some level, mostly because they have never had to adhere to deadlines before and can not time-manage. Many of them will burn out in their first year or radically change their path. Some will rethink their goals and continue; some will quit; some will stick to their path but suffer from stress and anxiety. Whatever happened to learning being an adventure? What has happened?
As for me, my day is full of juggling the needs, the fears, the insecurities, the assessment, the learning and the lives of 95 students this semester and trying to make it fun, exciting, stimulating in spite of everything that is being dictated to me by the Department of Education that tries to imply I don’t know what I am doing and in spite of all the factors I cannot know, much less control, that are affecting each and every one of my kids every day.
So? How was my day? Draining emotionally, exhausting physically, mind-numbingly busy and I still have to mark. Oh…right yearbook meeting after school. [Leaves at 5:00.]
“Hi Honey, how was you day?” “Supper? I am too tired.” “From what?” “Never mind; you have to be there to understand” ” Sorry, I am having a nap.” It is 5:30. Lights out. Day over. Marking will have to wait as I will not wake up until the next morning. This is my last year. I just wanted it to be quiet and uneventful. Thanks Mr. McNeil!