Today, a student got really mad at me. The kind of mad where you are fearless in the face of authority because you are so certain of the rightness of your cause. Truth is he had every right to be mad. I didn't know his name. We're entering into the third six-week period, and I didn't know his name. He's completed assignments that I've inflicted upon him, both the necessary and pointless ones. He's bothered to listen to my lectures, even the ones where I ramble aimlessly. Quite literally, learning his name is the very least I could do. Learning a student's name is step one of the teaching process. How can you discipline, how can you instruct, without knowing their names? I stress respect in my classroom, and yet, a name is foundation of one's respect. I feel like the king of all jerks. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself? After all, I do have some 150+ students, but I can't let myself off the hook. "All my other teachers know my name. You don't." Those words hurt, because I knew that I lost him. For the rest of the year, no matter what I say or what I ask him to do, I will be the teacher who didn't learn his name. I plan to talk with him and apologize.
Some days, it sucks to be a teacher. Parents are weary of you. Other teachers are just as worn out as you are. Politicians want to make "bad teachers" the root cause of all educational failures. (Why worry about the budget when "bad teachers" are plaguing our fine institution?) At times, it feels like only the students are on your side. Yes, the students. There's an amazing sense of community in a classroom. "You don't like this benchmark test, I don't like this benchmark test, but we'll get through it." "Isn't The Crucible a great play?" "I'm sorry to hear about your friends. It'll get better I promise." "During lunch, come by and we'll play a game of chess." "I know this essay is hard. Let me help." As a teacher, I'm there for the students. That's my job.
And some days, even the students are against you--not just rowdy, disruptive, and goofy, but actually against you. That's the worst.