Thursday, October 05, 2006

From Grace to Chaos

Yesterday I officiated at the performance of Morning Prayer. That is a pleasant time for me because it is solitary and gives me much needed, and often neglected, time with God. As it turns out I really needed that time. Some of it was spent in prayers for others but some was spent asking for healing for me. I'm still hurting over the loss of my friend.

When I was through with Morning Prayer I thought the day would go well. Instead it was almost total chaos. The teacher in charge had a meeting to attend so she left 3 aids in charge of the classroom. During that hour and a half we had: 2 students who hurt each other's feelings and thus weren't cooperating with each other in loud angry voices, one student who just totally refused to cooperate with the aid's requests and left the room twice without permission to go wandering the halls thus requiring an aid (me) to leave the others in charge and go following him around to be sure he didn't run off the campus, yet another student was so late from a quick trip to the restroom that she was given a "tardy" thus destroying her perfect record (they get rewards for this) and later that day she made a rude hand sign to another student and was put on report by the teachers who caught her in the act, and to top it all off I got to watch eight 8th graders retake a history test which they had all done poorly on and the administrator of this test gave them the answers as he was reading the questions to them. Now where is the education in that? Heck, where is the plan?

Saving grace? When the teacher got back and heard what had happened she went on discipline mode and had a long talk with the kids. The end result is that they are assigned the homework of writing letters of apology to each aid. I was pleased to hear the lecture. The apology letter makes me squirm almost as much as Susan's evening made her uncomfortable.

I'm not sure why this assignment embarrasses me. The students are certainly going to think about what they have done when they write it. It is a good learning activity. The aids are definitely entitled to the apologies. Maybe this is my old "could I have done things differently and better" alert system raising its head. When I watched the student who roamed the halls walk into our Spec. Ed. Clerk's office and talk to her and a teacher I watched compassion in practice. They recognized he was having a bad day. They tried to joke him out of it. I guess I was too far along to have seen it till it was shown to me. That makes me feel so guilty because all of my career as a teacher I am going to run into kids who are having bad days. One of my jobs is going to be to teach them how to handle that kind of thing. I don't think I did very well yesterday.

The day closed better than I hoped for after that. A teacher friend gave me the needed transparency film thus saving me a trip to the store. I have written a letter of sympathy to the teacher who was in the meeting because during her lecture to the students she mentioned having a friend who was probably going to lose a family member to illness. This was the same teacher who went out of her way to write me a sympathy card earlier. I want to show her the same care and consideration she showed me. And so I grow even as I struggle. Are we back to Grace? Not quite, but we are getting there. Now if only I could think of a way to teach my students what I learned from yesterday, which is that even when you are struggling with not having done well in areas that matter you can still find some places to redeem yourself.


Susan Palwick said...

That does sound like a tough day, Lee. I hope things go better foe the rest of the week!

Lee said...

Thanks Susan. Today, sadly, wasn't much better. The teachers and aids are trying to chalk all the craziness to the full moon. I hope that is all it is. (g)