I’ve passed the halfway point in my teaching year here. Though they didn’t have an exam week to close first quarter, the school decided to reinstate it for second quarter. Just when I thought I was getting to used how things work here. We were told to keep a regular schedule but soon I found I was practically the only secondary teacher doing so.
I still have so many moments where I just shake my head, not knowing what’s going on. My ninth graders asked if they could watch a movie when they had some free time. When I saw it was an R-rated horror movie, I of course said no, only to later find them watching it on the large Smart Board in the computer lab, a row of preschool kids with their noses pressed to the classroom window watching a woman in a bathtub spewing blood.
When I was giving one exam to the 8th grade, I saw a group of 5th graders outside my window fighting with big sticks. I scolded them to put them down and be quiet and I thought they were gone, but as my class settled back into quiet, the whole lot of them ran by, sticks in hand, screaming, “To Fight!” The whole week felt crazy, and I’m glad it’s over and we’re back to the “normal” routine. There is an order to how things work here. It's just that usually, I have no idea what it is.
Overall, lots of things combined to make January an incredibly difficult teaching month and there were moments when I didn’t know if I’d be able to finish out my year here. But somehow a corner has turned (lots of corners this year. I’m not exactly sure what shape this life is.) I’m happy to be here. When I’m asked if students can go play soccer for an impromptu game, I readily cancel classes and go sit in the sun and cheer them on. When the ninth graders sullenly refuse to play a review game I have planned, saying they would rather write sentences, I just say ok, and try again the next day. One of my students casually mentioned to another volunteer that I’d changed since the beginning of the year, and it’s about the best compliment I could imagine.