Wednesday, October 12, 2011

you can't do it all.

Every time I hear these words I feel both relief and frustration. I want to do it all... But I really can't do it all! I'm so conflicted!! And this is why I cried in one on my classes today... Kind of embarassing.  I can't even fully explain why I just needed to cry.

In my cohort we've been working with a second grade class to learn how to teach math. Last week we went in to get an idea about the math concepts these students have grasped and where we should begin with our math lessons we will be teaching. We each got a chance to work with an individual student and I worked with Little Miss S we will call her :)

Sadly, she was way behind her classmates in her mathematical understanding. At the beginning she would simply guess a random answer without even giving the problem a try. As I worked more with her we began to have the funnest time putting our own names and favorite things into the math problems. ex. Little Miss S has 7 scoops of ice cream. Karina gave her 8 more scoops of ice cream. How many scoops of ice cream does she have now? As we were both laughing and having fun she began to try the problems and was even solving a few correctly!  She was the sweetest little girl.

So today in my math class, we began to plan a group lesson to teach to these second graders. Because the other students were so advanced, we planned for our next lesson to use concepts that I knew would be way over Little Miss S's (haha) head.

As my teacher came around to check our groups on the lesson we were planning, I expressed to him that I was worried about Little Miss S and how this lesson would not be developmentally appropriate for her. He put his hand on my back and sweetly told me that this isn't our class and we were just going to have to focus on teaching the best lesson for the group as a whole. And those words I need to hear but also hate, "you can't do it all."

And the tears just came. I thought of Little Miss S sitting there in the back of the class, not understanding what was being taught and not motivated to learn these difficult concepts. Alone, and not getting the attention, individual instruction, and time that she needs. Why is she sitting in the back? The furthest away from the teacher when she needs her time and attention the most?

I think I really gravitate to those students that are not getting the attention they need. The ones left out, needing a friend or a little bit of help. I had a similar experience working with a little girl, J, last semester. Her father had abused her, her mom was not in her life, she had moved to the school just a few months before and she was falling behind in math. Her teacher didn't take the time to get her a math book, flashcards, or any of her own supplies to do the work expected of her, but instead sits her as far away from the teacher as possible in the back of the class! And then I, the only one who would give her attention and the care she desperately needed, was asked to stop volunteering with J (just as she was making progress!) because the teacher thought my work with her was not necessary/more distracting to J than helpful- she would rather have J struggle on her own. This broke my heart. 

A lot of my feelings on this could be because I was the one in high school that was alone and forgotten... and that hurt. And if I can do anything to reach out to those who have ever felt that way, or just need someone to care about them, I want to be that person and do everything I possibly can. I don't want to hear that I can't do it all.

And at the same time I do. I'm stressed. Practicum is starting on Monday. I know I won't be perfect at teaching, I know I will have so much to do all the time, but I still want to do all that I can for those students I will be working with.

How am I going to do it all? Or be ok with not being able to do it all?

Ok that felt really good to get all of that out :)

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