Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Well, we closed off 1st semester of the 08/09 school year today. One more to go: my final semester.
Even before the pregnancy I had been struggling with my choice of profession. Everyone says that 5 years is the burn-out rate for special educators, but I was convinced that was just "most" people and not me. I was gonna go the long haul. And I still may, who knows what the Lord might have me do after raising my child/children. All I know is that my job, as well as any educator's job, is exhausting. I'm just mentally and physically TIRED. I'm tired of my lessons falling short of what they could be because I don't have time with all of the IEP's, progress reports, grade checks, meetings, etc. I'm TIRED of the students on my caseload not getting my full attention and concern because of lessons, grading and the everyday duties of a teacher. And I'm really TIRED of trying to jazz up Ohio Graduation Test prep. when the knowledge and skills my students really need to prepare them for life after high school are nowhere to be found on that test. Those have been my thoughts about life as a special educator in a nutshell.
Now on to the more positive part. I have to say that those "this is why I teach" moments have been few and far between. However, I experienced one this week. Last year (let's call him "Joe") hated me. He hated that I didn't let him sleep in class. He hated that I called on him just as much as everyone else. He hated the expectations that I tired to hold him to. And he hated that I was pretty consistent with all of it. He could have cared less about English, but the one reason that made him want to pass: he couldn't bear the idea of having Mrs. Martin again. Fast forward to one year later after Joe failing my class. At least this time around I would know what to expect, but half way through the semester, Joe surprised me. One day he pulled me aside to ask about his grade and what he could do to change it. The solution was simple: keep your head up and do your work. Joe started staying with me during extra help and even after school. Talk about change of heart, mind and attitude! There was no explanation for this sudden motivation other than, "Well, I realized that if I'm gonna be here, I might as well do the work." Ya think?! The rest of the semester you might as well called Joe's grade The Millennium Force. I would say Top Thrill Dragster, but there were many more hills than that. If it weren't for the absences, there would have been no argument. Going into the exam this week Joe was well aware of just how borderline his grade was and I think we both knew that the exam grade just wasn't going to help. Regardless, on his way out the door after the exam, Joe says to me, "Mrs. Martin, I just want you to know that without you, I wouldn't be trying this year."
Thanks, Joe. I needed that. More than you will ever know...