The controlling idea is failure

I’ve stared down a class full of students not knowing what I would teach them once the tardy bell rang. I’ve allowed a small pocket of jerks to set the mood for my entire class. I’m even guilty of what I believe to be a cardinal sin in the teaching world: busy work. But none of these mistakes make me feel like a failure as much as grading a stack of papers can.

Essays are a culmination of so much learning, it’s foolish to expect all students to nail it all down perfectly. Some kids didn’t pay attention to the story we read for four weeks. Some guy wasn’t paying attention when we went over what a thesis is. A few of them fell through the cracks of middle school and have no business taking on 9th grade-level work. However, I’ve got plenty burden-wise to accept.

As I grade papers here at Mrs. Winner’s, drinking their delicious tea-flavored sugar and listening to their surprisingly good music (I expect to hear Hall & Oates but Spoon? Don’t mind if I do), I’m realizing all of my own missteps. These kids are, for the most part, trying their best with the information they’re given. Just because I told them to make sure their paragraphs have main ideas doesn’t mean they know how. Many of then asked me how to write a conclusion, and I really didn’t have a good answer for them. Lo and behold, their conclusions all suck. If I come across a decent one, it’ll be to the credit of a previous teacher or the kids innate writing abilities.

Anybody else starting to notice the pattern of posts lately? Kids suck; I suck; repeat.

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