June 29, 2004

those who can't, teach...

i believe i will be spending my next 4 weeks in panic, thank you god. i have no idea why i took this job. it was the stupidest thing i could have done. i could be working at the cookware store where life makes sense and the most difficult task i have is to put up with ingrid and lewis' bickering. but no, i'm teaching 4th graders. you see, as an only child who never baby-sat or spent a normal childhood, i have no concept of what a 4th grader really is. i think the closest i could get was picturing myself in 6th grade, though i couldn't pinpoint what age i was at, exactly. i was rather jaded by then, i've always been rather cynical, and i just figured these kids would be the same bored youths, forced by their parents to take summer math classes they never wanted. turns out 4th graders, 10-year-olds, are wide-eyed, shiny-faced youngsters who have not yet been crushed by the weight of the world. these kids came into the class expecting to do math, and by god, math was what they would do. they had clearly in mind what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn it. i talk, they listen. oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck! i'm in way over my head. they expect me to have control over this mess! i can hardly plan a shuttle to take me to the airport, how am i supposed to structure a 2-week curriculum?? i avoid planning like i avoid emotional entanglements. i am so bloody screwed!

my first class was terrifying. it turns out i had about 20 min of planned activities and the rest of the time i was left to fend for myself. good start... i babbled about adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals for a while, confusing and frustrating the entire class. small victory: i was actually able to fill the hour and a half i had those poor children at my mercy with teaching, no matter how inept. the second class began and my spirit was crushed. i couldn't even do what i had done with the last class as it turned out they already knew what we had gone over in my first period. after a few moments of panic, my boss suddenly came in, talked animatedly about a watermelon eating contest, and in her few moments of animated speech, managed to rouse the entire class out of their post-lunch comas. i was shamed and distraught. but then i was struck with what i can only describe as divine inspiration. i started making up "real-world" math problems involving elaborate shopping trips and the like to amuse the class, and my manic energy finally captured their interest, until, by the end of class, i had them all participating in happy joyous math fun. or so i would like to believe. don't spoil this for me, please. so tomorrow i enter the classroom with another half-assed lesson plan, my only comfort the fact that i know the material better than any of my students (really, a very miniscule victory at best). i'm just hoping that whatever universal forces possessed me to take the job in the first place will continue to help me out and make this not so much a horrible horrible pain. also, i would like to get some sleep. class begins at 8:30, you know, kids, and teacher can't be late. unnngh!

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