I was excited to get back to teaching, and still am!
However, jumping in the middle of the academic year is challenging especially teaching the grade I was not used to teach in the new environment and new of everything. Everything is different from the school where I taught before.
I am thankful for the support of people surround me. And I believe in the power of prayers. Thank you for those who read this and prayed for me. I survived my first week teaching in Sun Valley Indian School only because of His grace and because of prayers support.
I have 6 students in the 7th grade classroom. And each of them is special 🙂
E is a boy, the son of the staff couple working here. He is Caucasian. He has mild Asperger’s and I believe he also has ADHD. He is easily distracted and shows many other symptoms.
J is the other boy in the class. He is an Apache. He has behavior problems, very talkative. Just say, he is rebellious!
Both E and J are skinny and short compared to the girls.
M is a tall girl. She has eating disorders. She doesn’t want to eat. I have to force her to eat during lunch. My colleague just told me that she comes from a schizophrenic family. M witnessed her older brother tried to kill their mom with a knife. In the class prayer request time, M keeps on asking us to pray for her older brother and her family’s safety since he is coming back home from juvenile next week. I didn’t ask details to M, but now I understand why she didn’t want to tell us details and why she asked us to pray for her older brother.
A has Navajo blood, but she looks more of African American than a Navajo. She looks just like other girls, but you can tell there is a problem with her the longer you spend time with her. She is a good girl though. She is the least trouble maker in my class. She is very helpful.
D is a very quiet girl. She seems never talk. Yet once she gives comment, her comment will be sharp and hurtful. She talks with a very soft voice, which is bothering me. She likes to copy and write almost everything…hard to make her stop and follow the class activity/discussion.
L is a small girl with a big body. She gets frustrated easily. And when she is unhappy, she bangs things. She is very talkative. She is that kid in the classroom that you know will give you problems all year long (if you are a teacher and you know what I mean). She worries about her grades so much because in this school, you have to get at least B in your grades to be able to play in Basketball team, which is in season right now. She also worries too much about getting braces for her teeth this weekend.
First week – Monday through Wednesday – went okay. On Monday, Ms. Hudok (the 8th grade teacher, my partner) told me that the students are afraid of me that she never witnessed them so quiet before, haha. When the principal (Mr. Miller) asked how was it going, I said it’s fine. He looked at me with that look and said “Ah…honeymoon period”. After two weeks, I know exactly what he meant!
By Thursday, I caught D and L exchanging note cards talking about me. They wrote they didn’t like me and commenting about me touching the boys. (I like touching my students hahahaha, I wish I could hug them). I ignored the first encounter of the note. I just took the note card and put it on my desk. What made me take action was that while I was in the restroom, someone took that note card from my desk, torn it into pieces and threw it in my trash can. I told them with a very stern voice that whoever it is needs to come talk with me and that she/he will not get recess (after lunch). I knew who did it, but I want to teach them honesty.
What do you think? A 7th grade student took a note from the teacher’s desk (which obviously will be noticed by the teacher) and threw that note in the trash which can be seen by the teacher. That’s the moment I understood my colleagues saying that 7th graders here are 1st graders in big bodies.
Out of my expectation, L came to me even before lunch admitting that she was the one who took and threw the note card. I taught her to say sorry and not to do that ever again. I let her go this time.
Since the first day of school, I told them my rules and that I have trust issue. I told them not to lie to me or cheating in class. I told them that once I find them lying or cheating, it will be hard for me to trust them again. I think they remember that one rule: not to lie! (at least to Ms. Viliya)
That Thursday, a dear church friend in Wichita texted me telling me that she is praying for me that day. There is no coincidence! When I needed prayer the most, someone did for me.
That Thursday was only the beginning!
By the end of the first week, E whines and makes crying sounds whenever he is frustrated/he thinks the task is too hard for him. For you who know me as a teacher, whining is a trigger for me. I scolded E and told him I would give him a warning every time I hear a whine. After three warning, there will be a consequence to follow.
I told them from the beginning that there is a consequence in everything you do or say and there is time for everything.
By the end of the second week, I know more and struggle more with my students. I am still learning them and trying to figure them out.
I learn how rebellious J can be. He keeps on talking back to me. He is smart, yet very rebellious. He always says that he cannot do it. He always puts his head down on the desk and cover it with his arm. He is that young man who has no motivation in life and is taught his whole life that he cannot do it and there is no point of doing it. Motivating him is a challenge for me and he keeps on talking back. One day when we talked about his behavior, he said he is cursed. I am brokenhearted. This story about curse in the native american culture will take another blog post.
Motivating L not to worry too much and not to get frustrated easily is another challenge. And it is not pleasant to have a talk with her while she is mad.
Disciplining them is a challenge as they don’t get discipline at home.
By the end of the second week, I learnt how broken E‘s family is. His parents work here. His mom is a nurse and his dad was a dorm parent (but not anymore). They are getting a divorce for the second time. Christian parents do not mean that they are perfect. My heart broke as I heard the story from him and he was just easy going as he can be. He is a cheerful young man. His dad is for sure going back to NY in May, he has resigned from this place. His mom is not sure what she is going to do after May. When I asked what will happen to him, he doesn’t know.
Praying and loving my students are one thing. Running the class and preparing the materials are another thing.
I am struggling so hard and working so hard preparing materials I am not familiar with. I thank God for my working brain and body! I work over time every single night.
I an struggling as I encountered that my students have no motivation in studying and doing academic work while I am working hard to teach them what they need.
Then Friday of “coming home” weekend came. The students here go home every other weekend. And during that going home weekend, most parents pick them up one day earlier or early on Friday morning. It discouraged me when on Friday morning I found that two of my students had gone home. Then late morning, another one being picked up. Then late afternoon, J was picked up. So, by the end of Friday, I had two students left in my classroom! I found it discouraging, but I try to find positive side of it. I wish parents appreciate school more and let their kids stay at school until the end of the day.
What’s the point of sending them to a boarding school if they keep taking them back home even before the appointed time. My students missed one day lessons.
It is only the beginning…..more adventure to come.
Thank you for praying for me!!!! 🙂