I’ve been teaching for a year now and I’ve tried to start writing about that once when my power then went out and I lost what I had been writing and then considered writing a couple of times only to feel like “meh, I don’t really know what to write.” I feel like most of my feelings I want to vent at the end of the day are completely hateful and today is no different. But I don’t like to post hateful mean things. I know that I am just temporarily frustrated and I will feel better soon but I’m stuck in this classroom with these students for another 2 hours and I might go crazy if I don’t vent somewhere.
It’s 5th period. Every other class has more or less straightened up, at least enough to take their final exam and finish for the year. Even 1st period (which is full of delinquents: students with diagnosed mental problems and behavioral problems, as well as students with learning disabilities) got their act together yesterday and paid attention during the review and took their test and finished. IT’S JUST THIS CLASS. And I am so fed up with their crap.
So to set the scene for today: We’re taking final exams in Algebra 1. The deal was that every student who passed their SOL did not have to take the exam. Because of previous misbehavior and not paying attention, almost every student in this class failed the SOL. But it’s not a big class so I still have only 9 students taking the test (2 of which get small group testing in a different classroom). 7 kids. They should be able to do this. But no… We have a 30 minute review period before the exam. I finally get them in their seats.
I start with the generic “Before we start does anyone have their extra credit test review to turn in?” No, of course not. Half of them left the test review in the classroom the day I handed it out. “Okay, then does anybody have any questions on anything we have covered this year and/or that was on the review?”.
One student raises her hand and shouts out “Mean deviation and absolute deviation!”
“Child S that’s not on this test, you’re safe. Anything else?”
Child S again “Systems of Equations!”
Okay, that I can work with. “Does anybody remember what we can do with systems of equations to check the answers since this is a multiple choice test?”
I start to repeat the question but my 2 small group students show up at the door with another random child in tow. “Where are we supposed to be?”
Me: “um…here….because you have an exam”
Group of Children (GOC): “What? Why do we have to take an exam?”
Me: “you’re in this class….”
Random extra child “well where do I go?”
Me: “You’re not my responsibility”
RC: “but I don’t have a class…can I come in here?”
Me: “no” I shoo away the random child and practically drag the other two into the room. Meanwhile the class has devolved to chaos.
“Okay, eyes up here: same question, does anybody remember what we can do with systems of equations since our test is MULTIPLE CHOICE. You should not be talking when I’m talking. *stares at Child J until she shuts up and makes a face at me*
“Let’s try again, does everyone know what I mean by system of equations?”
Child S: “2 equations!” (she has a habit of asking questions she already knows the answer to so I’m pretty sure she already knew everything on this)
this continues in a slow and tedious manner for a little bit. And by continues I mean everyone keeps talking and yelling out random non-relevant questions about “well what if I don’t take this exam” and “What even is summer school” and other things that WILL NOT HELP THEM WITH THIS TEST. I try to restore order. I kick one student out into the hallway cuz she keeps threatening to punch another students who is just asking her to PLEASE be quiet because she has a headache. Then another student farts and everyone is freaking out because god forbid someone fart. You live in a freaking farm town. You should be used to unpleasant smells. I tell them they may move and instead of picking another seat them go press themselves into the corner between the bookshelf and the wall and start yelling. I tell them to be in a desk and they start dragging desks across the classroom. I try to continue reviewing despite their antics and they keep telling me “Can we just start already?” Child S yelled “CAN WE JUST START?! OBVIOUSLY NONE OF US WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU”
I’ve finally had it. I’ve dealt with this all year. And some days are worse than others I’ll admit. And I’m not saying I’m the best teacher ever but these students don’t seem to understand that there are repercussions for their actions and they can’t just sit around and be ridiculous all day. They already failed their SOL twice because they didn’t want to come to remediation because they have plans after school and they don’t wanna pay attention in class cuz they have boys to discuss and drama to deal with. This is the same group of students who would start twerking during class at the beginning of the year and who kept breaking out in song WHILE I WAS TEACHING. And they do this in other classes too. They get all quiet when the principal walks in but as soon as she leaves they start complaining and fussing about her too and nothing she says sticks with them. Most of them have low scores right now for the 9 weeks solely because I gave them a project which should have taken less than 2 hours to do and they didn’t even try to do it. So if they want to fail at this point I don’t care.
I threw my promethean pen down and moved the students. I sent the small group kids out, the farting kid across the hall to another teacher’s classroom, and moved the ones that kept talking. This is the only group who doesn’t get the privilege to listen to music while they test because they couldn’t even get through the review and they don’t deserve to be rewarded. I hauled the desks that had been moved back because Child S didn’t bother and left hers in the middle of the floor. I hauled another desk out in the hallway for the student out there. I practically threw the tests at the students and told them to start and that I didn’t want to hear a single word and they better not have any questions and if they wanted to fail then that was up to them. Child S tried to give some sympathetic “but Ms. Shaffer..” story and I shot her down right away. I really wanted to yell at them IT’S GOING TO BE YOUR FAULT YOU’RE FAILING YOUR FUCKING TEST YOU DON’T LISTEN AND DON’T SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO FUNCTION IN THE REAL WORLD. YOU’RE SPENDING ALL OF YOUR TIME FUSSING AND TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO SUMMER SCHOOL AND YOU REFUSE TO GO AND ARE ONLY GOING TO SHOW UP ON THE LAST DAY FOR THE SOL, LIKE YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO PASS IT WITHOUT STUDYING
but obviously I can’t yell at them like that.
This is one of only a few times all year I’ve felt the need to curse at them. And I think I might just also be stressed out because of stuff going on with Drama club and the play we have in a couple days. Helpers and Actors keep dropping like flies and it’s really frustrating. But really…
And now I’m sitting here listening to Child R fussing about how hard the test is. How it doesn’t make sense. I’m not answering any questions because they didn’t want my help when I tried to give it. I can’t wait until they go into the real world and get jobs. I want to see them realize that they can’t always be like this. I really hope all of them learn that lesson.