Running on Empty

Just so utterly drained tonight.  All day.  All this last week, actually.  Hoping this next little while of no night classes will mean I can sleep more, remember what it feels like to operate on more than 3 or 4 hours of rest.

The term has officially ended.  And my last classes went well, even better than well.  I had a lot of fun with the morning class, but that’s the group where there’s no pressure.  I’m teaching the highest level class, so there’s no ‘next class’ into which students are hoping to be promoted.  The only movement from my class is to sit for the GED, and none of this week’s testing had anything to do with readiness for the GED (don’t ask, it’s too annoying to explain … see yesterday’s post-testing post).  So today we could just have a fun day and say goodbye at the end, ready to spend a couple of days apart (no real break between cycles for the day class).

My night class is different.  At night, I teach the beginning pre-GED level, so everyone can’t wait to get out of my room.  As much as they like me, they don’t want to be my students for more than a minute, and certainly not for more than one term.  So conference night is pretty charged because it’s the night everyone finds out if they’re moving up and on.

Nearly all of them have earned promotions to the next level (yea!) … but then there are the unhappy few who aren’t.  One student I’ll have to conference with on Monday because she had to work tonight.  At Monday’s conference I’m probably going to give her the chance to retest next week.  I think her scores aren’t reflective of what she can really do, so a second chance seems only fair.

And then there’s my most troubled and most troubling student, Rebeca.  All term I’ve been wondering how difficult it would be if I had to tell her she wasn’t moving up.  And with her 50% attendance rate and her too-messed-up-to-fathom home life, there was a good chance she wouldn’t be getting promoted.

Rebeca comes to me with a history of violence that has earned her the behind-her-back nickname of “The Table Thrower” with staff at the Ed Center.  Yeah.  It didn’t go well.  We were able to talk calmly for a few minutes, though I could see she was getting angrier and angrier.  She did a good job of holding herself together, though.  I think she was waiting, imagining that if she could keep it together until I got to the end of my long explanation of what went into my decision, I’d end up by saying I’d decided to give her a chance at level 2 after all.  When that didn’t happen, she stopped holding it together.

No table throwing, though, thank goodness.  She did slam out of the building, however, throwing one of the 5-gallon water cooler jugs into the street as she went.  But jug-at-street works for me.  I’m willing to accept throwing an object at another object.  Those tables from her nicknaming story were thrown at a person.  I’m seeing tonight as an impulse control success … and counting myself lucky.

But also sad.  I really like Rebeca, and I want to keep working with her.  She needs to stay at the Ed Center.  It’s the one bit of normalcy in her currently very chaotic and distressing life.  So I want her to rant and curse and vent and hate me for a while (you know, until Monday), and then I want her to answer my call when I try to talk to her about this again next week.  And I want to see her in my class when the new term starts next month.

Fingers crossed.


4 thoughts on “Running on Empty

  1. Ah, teaching…part educator/part social worker/part psychologist/part miracle worker…I admire your stamina and dedication. All you can do for Rebeca is BE there–I hope she finds her way back.


  2. A day away from it all, I’m feeling better about my decision not to promote her. It’s always such a hard choice because I know that no promotion is almost always a guarantee that a student won’t return the following cycle. And that was sure to be true of Rebeca. But to send her up to the next level when I knew she wasn’t ready wouldn’t have been doing her any favors.

    My fingers are still crossed.


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