Wednesday, April 28, 2010

teaching: day 3

I had two classes yesterday, cursos B and C, who are the most mellow, focused ones, and then I had the other half of C today. (Well, "half". Marcela divided the class into a group of 18 and a group of 26, though 26 is really too big for my classroom.)

It did suck less. I explained the rules first of all, using just a bit of Spanish to explain to them that I was about to lay out the rules, and they're important for making this class be different from their other classes, and maintaining the classroom as a place where we can learn. I really, really should have done that with G and H, the rowdy classes, but I was too much on edge. I'll start over with them next week.

(Actually, I'll be starting with an apology, both to the class and to one kid in particular. I live with the sub-director of the school, formerly the head of the inspectores who maintain discipline, and he asked if the kids behaved well. I said no, and unfortunately I named the one kid who got his name written on the board. Oscar, trying to help me and thinking that my class is like the other classes, hauled him in and scolded him: the consequence that should only have happened after repeated incidents. So I have a ruptured relationship with that kid, and a not-great relationship with the rest of the class. At least I didn't name the kids whose cell phones I took. I have some apologies to make, in Spanish, and then we'll talk about the rules, and then it'll just have to be how it'll be.)

It sucked less, but it still sucks. I'm still experiencing massive anxiety outside the classroom. I guess "anxiety" is the word. I'd label it more "ancient, paralyzing fear", probably left over from junior high school, which was pretty traumatic. It's the giant mound of emotional stuff that I've been able to feel around more and more over the past 3 years, but never been able to penetrate or unravel it. It's all fear and tension and...something. Old, old habits, things I've gotten so used to thinking of as a part of myself that I don't consciously recognize them, or think they can change or disappear. (Which they can. Don't ever imagine anything, inside or outside your head, is permanent.)

Of course, I'm a different person now, far more integrated and capable in every way. When the moment of crashing reality comes and students walk in the door, I seem to do okay. I spent so many years performing that I'm not really self-conscious about looking stupid; it's easy for me, and I look stupid and the kids laugh and get embarrassed, and I'm not embarrassed, so they eventually (mostly) go along with "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" or the Hokey Pokey, or making faces to express moods.

It's the in-between times that kill me. Waking up at 4 AM, wondering what to do for the next lesson to meaningfully follow up on this mediocre one, imagining that I'm doing this another 7 months. It's hard to stay in emotional contact with the situation when there are so many options for avoiding it: TV, Internet, 950 remaining pages of Don Quixote.

I'm extremely grateful my school's annual anniversary celebration has cut my first week in half. I don't know if that was intentional on Marcela's part or not; I know she is often looking out for my interests without telling me. (And occasionally she isn't, and she doesn't tell me that, either. It is a never-ending parade of surprises here.)

It's hard to remain convinced that the brute-force exposure route was the right one, but it's what I'm doing, so here we go.

No comments:

Post a Comment