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Wednesday, November 09, 2005 

Day 53: Class council

Yesterday was a thoroughly exhausting day. After teaching for the full 7 periods (and I mean lecturing the whole time since we needed to get through some material before they can do any kind of exercise on their own...), I went into a 4-hour meeting they call "class council".

I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't realize how this would actually feel like and affect me in the end.

So all the teachers of each of the four groups of grade nine girls get together and examine EACH GIRL'S fist semester results in each subject, and give comments about their performance and behavior. The girls each have a file which follows them through the 5 years of high school so the notes of the previous year are available. Those in need of private tutoring are noted, those in "bad behavior" situation are assessed and troubleshooted (what can we do, how do we do it, etc).

I was shocked at the talent of these teachers to notice that this girl is having identity problems, this girls is a little depressed, this girl is slipping because she is hanging out with a gang after school, etc...

So many things about the girls are KNOWN to the teachers
(the REAL teachers) and I felt both shocked and inadequate as all I could really bring to the table was positive stuff unless the girl is a pain in the butt, or failing because she is lazy.

The whole exercise freaked me out somewhat and as I drove home at 8PM, starved and mentally drained from this loooooong day at school, I felt "dirty". I'm not one to speak behind people's back - if I have a problem with someone, one serious enough that I feel it should be adressed, I simply speak with the person about it.

I know this was the point, that the person in charge of each group will be getting in touch with either the girl or her parents about some of these things, but I still had an overwhelming feeling of having spent the evening bitching behind their backs. For their own good, but still behing their backs.

I went to bed, after drowning my sorrows with a 2-hr Law & Order Criminal Intent episode, accompanied not by my dear hubby but rather by a pounding migraine.

And since one of the kids woke me up at 4:20AM looking for her sucee, I decided to get up and prepare today's lectures and go through the little surveys I handed out the students yesterday. More about those in the next post...

The art of caring is very exhausting. You obviously do. Teachers like yourself will make a difference

Identity problems and depression will be more on display in some classes than in others, so it may be that some teachers are not that much more observant or experienced, but just in a better position to see what is going on with the girls.
In my first year it did not occur to me to look for that sort of thing and tactfully dig it out of the students, because physics is not a class where it is most on display - compared to say writing or art class, especially. Keep that in mind, or you can feel guilty about what you hadn't noticed.
It's very difficult to realize that a student is having problems and you didn't notice it on your own. But just like anything else, some people are very practiced at it, some people are positioned well to discover it, and some of us are just learning how to see it.

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  • I'm Lolita
  • From Canada
  • Challenges... don't we all love a good challenge? University, married life, a mortgage, kids, keeping my sanity while we cruise through life at 100 MPH... why not try my hand at teaching for a year. After all, a school year is only 180 days - anyone should be able to survive 180 days, right? Well, I'm about to find out - follow my journey and enjoy my trials and tribulations as I embark in this 180 day rollercoaster ride of teenage hormones and drama, spiked with discipline, homework, exams and surprises I'm sure...
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