I Love My Job

7:30 am – Arrive at school to begin preparing for the day, which starts in an hour. Since I’ve been at my school for a year and a half now, most of the rest of my department knows better than to talk to me in the mornings at this point. If they do it’s short and to the point.

7:50 am – A, who is an Algebra student, comes in to my room insisting that he “didn’t get the homework last night at all!” which I know isn’t true but he insists. I spend about 3 minutes reminding him of yesterday’s lesson and clarifying instructions for him, and he does the whole assignment 100% correctly in the next 15 minutes. Honestly, if all of my Algebra students would come in and see me as often as he does, they all would have earned As last semester like he did. A looks pleased with himself and I remember that I love my job.

1st period – This class is Financial Literacy, which is a senior-level class. B and C won’t stop talking while I’m talking and D and E are the only two people who appear to be hearing a word I’m saying. The rest of the class is staring at me like zombies. They have been traumatized by years of poor math instruction and it’s 1st period. The combination of these two things means that for the next hour it’s like pulling teeth to get them to even attempt to do a problem on their own instead of just staring at me, waiting for me to tell them the answer.

2nd period – I warn this class that I’m frustrated because my 1st period was refusing to work (again) and that I need to see some effort from them today. Most of the class responds very well to this and is very engaged in the lesson. They ask questions, they answer my questions, they do the calculations I’m asking them to do and they yell out answers, and I remember that I love my job.

F and G are sitting in the back of the room giggling together, but they actually appear to be taking notes and sort of paying attention. (They’re sitting together because I figured that way they would stop yelling across the room whenever they wanted to talk to each other.) F calls out to me while he’s working on a practice problem and this conversation ensues:

F: “Miss, are you going to the game tomorrow?!”

Me: “…What game?”

F: Throws his arms in the air, offended, “Miss, get out.”

Me: “F, you’re really lucky I’m not easily offended.”

F basically agrees with me. This class is hilarious. We rarely make it through a day where they don’t make me bust up laughing in the middle of class, which is usually when I remember I love my job.

3rd period – This is my Algebra 1 class – the only time in my day I’m not working with math-traumatized seniors. Now I’m working with math-traumatized mostly-freshmen. I check in with H, I, and J as they work on their bell work and let them know I heard about how hard they worked in their math support class the day before and I’m proud of them. I check homework and discuss with the students who didn’t do it how they’re going to come to tutoring to get it finished and they say yes because they know that’s the right answer. Who knows, maybe they will actually come this semester, now that they’ve seen what can happen when they don’t.

K and L somehow start a conversation about Doctor Who, extracting a promise from me that the next time they have a free day, we’ll watch an episode in class. I’m not sure how that happened, but I remember that I love these kids. I tell them that, and L responds with a smile, “We know, Miss.” They do know – I tell them all the time. I was thrilled last week when Y returned to school from a 10-day suspension and Z returned from spending the last quarter at a different school and had no problem telling each of them how excited I was to see them, and how much I missed them. The slightly shy, but truly pleased, smiles on the faces of these two 16-year-old boys remind me that I love my job.

At some point during class, P is rambling about her other teachers and says, “Miss, you’re my favorite teacher. When my other teachers say they’re proud of me, I don’t really care much. But when you say it, it matters!” I smile at her and tell her how pleased I am that I can say it so much to them, because I’m almost always proud of them. I remember I love my job.

At the end of 3rd period, the bell rings and immediately students start shoving stuff into their bags (we didn’t realize the bell was about to ring) but I have something to say. I raise a hand in the air. “Ladies and gentlemen, give me just 10 seconds please!” Everyone freezes and looks at me. I take my 10 seconds to tell them one comment about tonight’s homework or whatever, then dismiss them. I’m still amazed at how silent they are while I do this; at how much they trust me to only say something important after the bell and make it as short as possible. I love these kids.

On her way out the door, H stops to ask me about the Financial Literacy course I’m teaching the seniors, and what kinds of pre-requisite requirements it takes to get into that class as seniors. She is very excited to hear that there is no such requirement, says she will take it as a senior. This is the first time she has ever looked forward to anything relating to math. I love my job.

Lunch and 4th period – I eat lunch with 3-4 other members of my department, then have my planning period. Most days I have to walk across campus to the office during this time, which overlaps with the other lunch period. Q sees me from halfway across campus while I’m walking and yells “HI MISS!” at the top of his lungs. He was one of my students last year, so I wave and yell back, “Hi, Q!”. He goes back to whatever-he-was-doing with his friends. I love these kids.

5th period – This class is also hilarious, and it’s just as rare for me to make it through this period without laughing. This class is very small and they work faster than my morning classes, so they manage to get through more material in an average day. (This usually means they have more free time at the end of a section.) R tries to go back and sit next to S twice during the class, so I have to tell him to return to his seat twice. S likes to mutter sarcastic comments and then seems surprised when I respond to them, but he hasn’t stopped yet. T, U, and V all played football together so they keep talking when they should be working, but the whole class immediately goes silent and gives me their full attention when I continue with the next example. I’m impressed, and I love these kids.

After school – Tutoring. I go to the library, and immediately K and P from my Algebra class grab me and demand that I sit with them. Since they’ve claimed the table with comfy chairs I do. Neither of them seemed to realize that I was going to force them to do their Algebra homework for that night (I don’t know what they thought I was going to do, since they were at tutoring…) and they complain incessantly in a mostly good-natured sort of way. They do the assignment, however, before leaving for their enrichment activity with their Culinary teacher.

I love these kids.

I love my job.

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