We have a new business teacher. Her name is April. She’s young and has only been teaching for a couple of years. She took the computer lab that I didn’t want. The small, cramped little room with 30 computers arranged so close you can’t walk around without making zig zags and detours. She asked me for help in setting up some of the computers and getting her email straightened out before the students came back and we became friends.
We’re down at the far end of the building. Nothing is close to us. Not the bathroom or the copier or the mailroom or the sign-in sheet. We don’t even have parking spaces because all the parking spaces at that end of the building are “sold” to seniors who are allowed to paint and decorate their spaces. Still, April’s bouncing around, hugging and kidding with her students. She stands at the door, greeting each of them as they enter. Everyone is talking and kidding around until the bell rings and then they all get quiet and get to work. Her classroom is calm and serene and the lights are dim. Classical music is playing and the kids are whispering; if they’re talking at all. She’s loving her job and loving her students and all is well in April’s world.
I’m across the hall. I have the big room with 30 student desks and 30 computer stations. I have 6 students who are labeled as BD (behavior disorder) in my four class periods. Add one girl who’s legally blind, four students who are Learning Disabled and very low achieving and a sprinkling of other ECE issues in each class. Another three students who speak limited English and the general assortment of kids who just wanna have fun. My first and second period classes are a royal pain in the ass. Then I have my planning period. Fourth and fifth periods are actually pretty good and I enjoy working with them but I’m usually stressed out by the time I get them and just want some peace and quiet.
I look at April and then I look at myself. April’s still in love with teaching. I don’t think I am. I feel frustrated and overwhelmed. I don’t see it as a challenge. It feels more like a burden.
I’m not sure if I would have seen what was happening if April and I hadn’t become friends. She bounces over to my classroom everyday at lunch, running a hundred miles an hour, throwing her lunch into the microwave and running down the hall to the restroom while it’s heating. She’s young and agile and bubbling over with enthusiasm. Bows her head and says a fifteen second prayer over her lunch and then wolfs it down while chatting about all the wonderful things happening in her classroom. And I’m loving her and seeing the contrast between us. Kid’s deserve Aprils in their lives. She’s bolting down the hallway in her six inch heels and I’m struggling to stand with my swollen ankles and aching feet.
And that’s when I realized that I need to retire. Because I’m not April anymore. I’m tired. I’m not giving my students what they need and I’m not getting what I need. It’s not fair to either of us.
More about this tomorrow. For now, I’m going to help Andrew with redoing his room. I know I could have done this in a weekend not so long ago. Now I’m really struggling to get it done and I’ve been working on it for two weeks.