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Anna

Anna is a real student teacher in the process of gaining her master's degree in Education at a major university. She is teaching Spanish for the first time in a suburban public high school in the New York area. Although these are her true diary entries, all names and identifying details have been changed.

Anna's diary entries are in chronological order, from the most current entry. You can also browse the entries by month:
2002
March | April | June

June 2002

Dear Diary,

I am experiencing a range of conflicting emotions as the school year draws to a close. Part of me is tired and eager to take a break from the kids and the craziness that school brings- I can't wait to get started watching my recordings of Boston Public. Talk about a busman's holiday! On the other hand, a big part of me is sad to see it come to an end. Sure, I know that it'll start up again next year, but it won't be the same.

Joanne DaCosta is leaving; she decided she did not want as long of a commute so she's accepted a position closer to home. Poor Cheryl's been de-staffed because the numbers in German have gone down. And then there's dear, dear Mike with his "old-school" approach to teaching - "the kids do whatever I say, I do whatever I want, I'm the boss, the end"! He's retiring and claims he wouldn't put in one more year if his life depended on it. I don't know who he thinks he's deceiving, but I hope those golf clubs we gave him come in handy.

Then there are the kids: I will truly mourn my "parting" with them. They were my very first students: the ones that struggled through the first year with me cheering me on every step of the way or aggravating me no end, just because! Although my feelings, as a new teacher, are undeniably magnified, I'm sure that all teachers experience these mixed feelings every June. It's almost like the close of a play: the actors, stage crew and directors celebrate the completion of the project, but at the same time wish it weren't quite over yet.

I know I'm not supposed to have favorites but…Diana's going off to college, and will hopefully keep in touch with me through e-mail, so that I can make sure she keeps a good attitude, and DOES HER HOMEWORK. And though I wouldn't have dreamed it possible at the beginning of the year, I really will miss Joey, my own personal "learning experience"! After all the headaches and frustrations he caused me, I've come to care for him and I hope his teachers next year care enough to see past that tough guy façade to the intelligent, insecure boy beneath.

Yep, this will be another hard part of teaching - going through the emotions of the end of the school year: sad and happy, exciting and mysterious. Maybe it's good to get to start over - next year I'll have 150 more students to teach and inspire - a couple of new colleagues to learn from and get to know. But for now, just give me SUMMER!

Anna

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April 2002

Dear Diary,

I made it to Spring Break! I don't know who was happier once the final bell rang on Friday - my kids or me. We all need a break to give everyone a breath of fresh air and get energized for the 4th quarter (the most difficult of all, I'm told).

So, now that it's Spring Break, I intend to dedicate my time to my social life (or the little I have left, that is). Teaching really takes a lot out of you…or me at least! Most days I come home and I just don't want to be bothered. I mean, my goodness, I've just spent 7+ straight hours being bombarded with questions, demands, comments and excuses from all directions! I'm more than ready for some quiet time once I'm back in my own home. A good book or some "mindless" TV watching (to keep up with the lunch conversations about ER, Boston Public, and the like) is perfect.

I find I have to make a conscious effort to go out sometimes, to keep my life outside of teaching going. It's too easy to get completely wrapped up in it, and not make time for me. It seems a teacher's job never really is "complete" - meaning that I could always do more: think up new ways to present my material, make my classroom more diverse, or get through to those kids that are impossible to motivate (like Joey, who, by the way, I've "tricked" into learning several other times - I think he's actually beginning to enjoy Spanish!)

So, because there is always more to be done, I truly have to remind myself that I will be a better teacher if I maintain a life outside of teaching. Everyone - myself and my students - will benefit from my keeping up with other interests but, here's the problem: many times that I go out with friends, I find myself incessantly talking about "my kids". Everything that I see, or that anyone says, reminds me of "my kids". And I always have an uncontrollable urge to share my thoughts with my friends. So, I start to tell them about Mary and Jessica and how they can eat sour cream and onion chips at 8:15 in the morning! Or that my kids had never seen an episode of "The Love Boat"!?! I go on and on, commenting how my kids are so funny some times…and then I realize that I'm doing it again - I'm not leaving my work at work!

I don't know if it's even possible for a teacher to leave her work at work, but I need to try. I don't want to generalize or idealize, but I sometimes feel that teaching is like no other profession in this sense. My job is not about getting a report done, or finishing a project: my job is about "my kids". It's really hard to close the door on that after a day's work and leave it sitting there until morning. Perhaps doctors could relate, or maybe psychologists and social workers? Or maybe anyone who REALLY cares about their job could identify with this feeling?

Well, I'll have to leave it to think about, because I've got lots of places to go, people to see and things to do during my 7 days off!

¡Hasta pronto!
Anna

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March 2002

Dear Diary,

What was I thinking when I said I choose to see Joey as a challenge?!? Scratch that. What I really want to see, is Joey in any language class other than mine! Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I don't know what to do anymore-that boy pushes me to my very limits. Ugh!

Here's what happened: as usual, I worked hard to design a game that would engage the kids and teach the current grammar concept. I was proud of myself for developing a learning tool they would enjoy and like a fool, I imagined the students beaming with delight as they played my game and realized that learning really could be fun. No chance, I realized immediately.

Anyway, so I had given the directions, handed out everything and divided the students into groups. I scanned the room, and so far so good…the groups were fairly active and engaged in quiet discussion. Then, unexpectedly, from the back of the class, Joey yells: -This is so stupid- scrunches up the work sheet and throws it across the room at me. The room fell silent as the students looked to see my reaction.

Something told me not to confront Joey, to let it slide. The kids would quickly forget what had happened, as long as I didn't make a big deal of it, right? But I couldn't let it be! How dare he. Besides the fact that it showed an outright lack of respect for authority, it was just downright mean. It was like being back in elementary school and having someone was make fun of what I'd brought in for "Show & Tell". I felt humiliated.

So, after a mental count to ten to help regain my composure, I went over to Joey and calmly said, -Joey, do you understand the point of this game? Do you see how it's teaching the grammar concept that we are learning? Would you rather we practice the concept with dull and boring worksheets- (here I thought that I surely had gotten him…how could he respond to that!?). Classroom Management 101: Do not get into confrontations with students; you will always lose! -Well, this dumb game is about as much fun as those worksheets - Joey shot back defiantly. That's when I ended our conversation by walking away.

Despite being on the verge of tears, brought on by sheer frustration and helplessness, I refused to breakdown in front of the class, because if I did cry, that would only put me in an awkward situation with my students, not to mention that it would be the gossip of the school for days! Unfortunately, making a teacher cry is considered a real feat by some kids.

I'm so mad and hurt; I don't know how to deal with him. Why can't Joey see that his teachers are here to help him, and we are not the enemy?

Anna

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