Some days I really feel that I may be an awful teacher that I cannot make more progress with my students then I seem to do. Some days I feel that I am God’s gift to education when it all goes as planned.
But then, there are days when I feel not dejected or jubilant, but irrelevant. This news story in the local paper recently reminds me what I am often up against as a teacher. And this was one of our better comprehensive (large, non-magnet) high schools.
Yet, an incident this week involving gang violence affected my classroom more personally. A group of six junior boys, three of whom are in one of my periods and another who was once a student of mine were caught “ganging” (blindsiding and attacking) a defenseless special ed student. Some time during the day (not during my period with them; yes, they are all in the same one) they stalked a special ed student from a rival gang and beat him to a pulp. These were boys whom I had been struggling to reach all year: one of them the chronic class skipper who refused all help, another a cognitively disabled boy who read at a 4th grade level, and an attention-craving immature one who I thought I had been making progress with.
Likely, I won’t see any of them for a while, if at all again. The class period they were in has an empty feel to it now.
It just sickens me; it just makes me feel rotten inside.
But worst of all: I feel irrelevant. I remind myself of all the students who are learning. Today, it simply doesn’t feel like enough.