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How I survived my first year teaching

Okay, so I am realizing that teaching is much harder than I could have ever anticipated, especially in an inner city school. I don't think college (with all of my student teaching and internship experiences) really prepared me to take over a classroom. I am also realizing that I'm not that much older than my students (22 to their 16). When did I become an adult and how did it happen? Wasn't I just a college student a minute ago?

All of my internships were in the suburbs/rural areas....where farming was the major career choice and kids came from 2 parent households. Quite a few of my teenage students are parents themselves. I am now of the opinion that anyone who wants to be a teacher should have to do an internship in an inner city school...to show them what it's really like.

(that's it for the brief rant....now back to the endless lesson planning and grading........) *headdesk*
Sooooooooo.....I wrote this back in October and am only just now getting around to posting it here lol

Today was certainly an interesting day. I say interesting because I don't know what other word to use, and I don't think any other word can convey how I feel. My day started out fairly normal, all I was concerned about was whether or not I was prepared for the day and if my students were going to behave. We had been on a trip the day before, and my administrator was appalled at the behavior of the entire grade. For the most part, those students who were under my supervision were well behaved, but apparently some of the students on one of the other buses were throwing items out of the windows and at passing cars and were misbehaving at the theater we were at. *rolls eyes* But in any case, today we had to write letters of apology to the administrators as well as to the people at the theater. My students were not happy with this requirement, but I persisted and told them that even if they were behaving, they were still required to write a letter.

My day went well until I reached the end of my 6-9th period class. It was about six minutes before the bell was supposed to ring and the students had already been in my class for nearly and hour and a half when the intercom came on. We were informed that we were to keep our students in our class until we were told otherwise. My mind immediately went to about a million different scenarios---from a fight in the cafeteria, which is right down the hall from my classroom, to more sinister imaginings. Like any teacher though, I kept my cool as I instructed my students to stay in their seats and continue with the letters that they were writing. They ignored me until I told them I would find out what was going on but only if they behaved.

I poked my head out of the door and saw some of the other teachers in my hallway doing the same thing. We looked at each other, all of us with the same confused looks. One of the administrators came down the hallway, almost running and called to us. "We're on lock down! Keep the kids until you get the all clear." We all pulled our heads inside our classrooms and locked our doors. Everything was quiet until we heard sirens coming up the driveway of the school, several police cars came tearing onto the school grounds. Some of them came right up to the doors and others stayed at the end of the driveway.

There was no hope of keeping my kids on task after that, so I assigned extra credit work to them and promised some of the more unruly kids that I would put their extra credit assignments towards their first quarter grades. It seemed to work, but I noticed that they kept turning their eyes towards the windows when they thought I wasn't looking at them.

As the clocks edged farther into tenth period, more police cars and a fire engine pulled into the driveway. Some of the teachers, including myself, stuck their heads out of their classroom doors again. We looked at each other with the same looks of confusion that we had initially given each other. Now the administrators were sending the students who were in the cafeteria out into the halls. We were told to let them into our classroom and keep them there until we were told otherwise. As students rushed down the hall, my colleagues and I pulled them into our classrooms. My own students were trying to peek past me into the hallway, but I corralled them back in. I didn't know any of the students that I had pulled in, but what else could I have done?

I met the eye of the teacher across the hall from me. "Do we get combat pay for this?" she asked as she pulled kids into her room.
I laughed. "Are we taking any kids into our rooms? Or just the ones that belong to us?" I asked back.

She shrugged. "I'm taking in any that I can and damn the consequences." I nodded, that's what I was doing too.

Some of my students were a little frightened by the proceedings, but I kept assuring them that everything was going to be fine, that they were going to be fine. Many of my students had their cell phones out, but I didn't bother reprimanding them for it, what was the point? They were texting their friends and getting different versions of rumors of what was happening in the school. Some were saying it was a fight, others were saying that masked men had stormed into the cafeteria with guns. No one had any clue what was happening in the school.
We spent a total of 2 1/2 hours in lock-down before we got the all clear from the principal to let our students leave. After a cursory look in the hallway to see whether the other teachers were allowing their students to leave, a move that was echoed by all of the other teachers in the hall, I let my students go. I stood in the hallway as they were dismissed, keeping a careful eye on all of them. All after school activities were canceled for the day and all students were required to leave the building. They were herded and reminded by the hall monitors to make sure that they all actually left.

I decided to call it a day. There was no way I was going to get anything done, as worked up as I was from the experience. As I was walking down the hall, I fell in behind two police officers who were carrying a roll of caution tape, and were discussing the incident. I wasn't able to listen to a lot, but apparently, a group of people in dark clothes and masks came into the cafeteria and seemed to be a threat. They were apprehended and were waiting in the police cars outside.

I hope that I will get the rest of the facts at the next faculty meeting or something because I would like to know what really happened. All in all though, I'm glad that everything turned out okay and that everyone made it out of the building alright.


UPDATE: so here's the scoop, some teenagers who didn't go to the school got in and wanted to attack another kid...they obviously failed and were apprehended.....

“Wounded Knee”

“Wounded Knee”

I left my heart at Wounded Knee
Still beating, yet broken
Waiting for peace to rise like the sun
I left my voice at Wounded Knee
As my people wailed in the darkness
Lamenting over too still forms
I left my feet at Wounded Knee
Walking the paths of my brothers and sisters,
Their blood bright markers
I left my hands at Wounded Knee
Clasped tightly together
Praying for an end to war
I left my eyes at Wounded Knee
Still witness to blood and tears
Waiting for the siege to end
I left my children at Wounded Knee
Inheritors of sorrow and death
A legacy that perseveres
I left my body at Wounded Knee
While my soul flew free.

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“Right and good”

“Right and good”

What is right – what is good
Where do I stand – where have I stood
I straddle the line, and yet I find
I’ve not done all that I could.
What is right
To end the fight
To smile, laugh, and sing
To hold out a hand
And never demand
Of anyone, anything.
What is good
To do what you could
To dance, kiss, and dream
To never lie
Or ever spy
And be always what you seem,
What is right – what is good
Where do I stand – where have I stood
I tell the truth, yet have no proof
That I’ve done all that I could.

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“Hiroshima”

“Hiroshima”

I dreamt the world would end
A cold wind sweeping over the earth
Turning all it touched to stone
Breaking and crumbling in it’s frozen state
I am alone and shivering
Crying tears that never break the earth
I alone am untouched
The dead and dying have burned
Their faces falling, melting away
Grotesque, they reach pleading hands
Praying for an end
But it is not the end—
Only the beginning.

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I have seen

I have seen the best minds of my generation
Dulled by endless reading,
Ravaged and torn apart by war.
Minds engaged in pursuits to better the world,
Chained to tables of wood and despair
I have seen children wounded by cold hearts
Unknowing minds who beat them with another’s hands
Frozen worlds that crush and break,
Shattering light into darkness.
I have seen an endless night,
Unbroken and unchallenged
A dark shadow that is ever hungry
Always eating everything that it touches
Until there is nothing left.
I have seen robots marching,
Moving without feeling or purpose
Going about their meaningless tasks
Hidden away in boxes and mazes
Never achieving, never dreaming of anything better
I have seen hope rise in the east
Light shining on a broken world
Bathing and renewing it.
As a new generation dawns.

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Class on an early windet morning

Raised white footprints
Over a sea of broken pavement
Rimed thick with salt
We wander across the graceless plain
So many lost souls
Praying for the sun to rise,
Yet hoping it won’t.

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A Cold Morning

The sun rises golden
Across a crisp mirror lake
Echoing mornings past
Warm breath mixes with cold clearness
And steam puffs like smoke
Signaling to the world the joy of the dawning day
Life shivers
Out into the growing light,
In between worlds
The cycle of life continues.

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Writing

Pen I my hand,
Ink stains my fingers
The crisp clean smell of paper soothes me
The pen glides smoothly
Creating delicate lines
That grace the paper
Echoes of my heart.

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For Dustin

We watched in silence as they came for you.
Men in dark suits and gentle voices
They led you away to a quiet corner
Where you stared lonely at the wall
We cried frightened tears
And prayed for a peaceful end
Your return to normalcy
But you would not speak
And the white walls held you
Keeping us away
We could not see,
Only hear of your sorrows
We packed your bag and waited
As your parents drove up from home
To see you, but you would not smile
We called to you,
But you would not answer,
Just sat in stony silence
You tried to run away
But we would not let you
We held on tight
And watched the warning signs
Then you fell apart,
And we fell with you.

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