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Give and Take

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Yesterday, my eyelids were dragged downward.  My posture was slumped.  My energy level was abysmal.

All because of one class.

I teach five classes a day, and I like four of them.  One of them drains the life out of me.  In fact, I had a dream not too long ago that I was in a hospital for blood tests, but to do the blood tests, the nurses had to take a liter and a half of blood.  It made me so tired.  I think that dream was a reflection of how this one class makes me feel.

The students are sullen and surly.  Not all of them, but a large enough number that the troublesome ones bring down the rest of the group.  They will not participate.  They do not volunteer to answer questions.  When I try to play games with them, a good number of them refuse to play along.  Even a cheerful “Good morning” from me is met with stony faces.

There is a give and take in teaching that isn’t obvious until you have a class that doesn’t give back.  Most of my students will have conversations with me.  They raise their hands and play games and make an effort.  Even if they don’t like the subject matter I’m covering, they have enough respect for me as a human to respond in an overall positive way.

But when a large portion of a class slouches in their seats, wearing glazed expressions, it’s nearly impossible to scrooge up enough energy to carry the whole class.

And that does not help me to be a good teacher.  In fact, if I’m perfectly honest, I cannot wait for the moment that these students walk out of my door for the last time.  I don’t want to feel that way, and I’ve been trying all semester to figure out a way to make this hour of the day better.  Everything I have tried has been met with sulky silence.  I’m at a complete loss of what to do, except to take a deep breath and try to make it through the last few days of school, focusing my energy on the classes that energize rather than drain me.


About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

One response »

  1. I say just hang on (or maybe school is already over for you since I’m so late getting to this post!). Sometimes the “chemistry” of the class just doesn’t work. Hopefully these students will get disbursed & diluted for the next year. Or maybe something will happen this summer to energize them.


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