This week has been one of the longest weeks of my teaching career. We had a work day Monday and 2nd semester started on Tuesday. I have my same AP kids in different configurations and a new set of standard 10th graders for English II. The AP kids I already know and like, but somehow seeing the bulk of them at 12:00 after lunch instead of first thing in the morning makes them a ton more difficult to deal with. They’ve been out of school for an extended period of time (first Winter Break, then snow, then exams) and some of them have apparently decided that they are on stage at a variety hour, rather than in a desk in my AP US History class. These are basically nice, smart kids, who I have a positive relationship with in general, but for some reason they are currently being more high maintenance than ever before. I felt like riding herd on them sucked all of my energy out. I know that this is likely just a phase and that I just need to hold the reigns tightly for a few more weeks, but oh so exhausting.
On top of that is the new English II group. All indications are that this will be a better behaved group than I had last semester (one of the worst groups I’ve had), but maintaining my “first week teacher” demeanor takes a lot of energy and they’re coming in 4th block, right after my AP bronco ride. Add that to the fact that I have slowly but surely come to loathe the English II curriculum and this already had all the hallmarks of being an exhausting week.
Worst of all, however, was a personal tragedy that came on Thursday. One of our teachers (a well-liked U.S. History teacher who also coaches baseball) was called out of his class at 9:30 in the morning to be told his wife had died. His wife was only in her early 40s and was, as far as anyone knew, completely healthy. She stayed home sick from work (she was the school secretary for the middle school in our system) and then everything else I’ve heard about what happened is speculation. They have a daughter who is a sophomore at our school and who is in my homeroom and Chris’ 1st block. As word began making its way around school on Thursday, everyone was stunned. All of the kids either knew her from the middle school, or had had her husband as a teacher, or knew their daughter–all three were true for many of the kids. I was left sad and stunned all day. The tragedy is not mine personally, but I felt it deeply.
All in all, a long slogging weak of teaching labor unions, thesis sentences, and crying. All there is to say is, goodbye January of 2011, I hope not to see your like again.