I took a variety of classes when becoming a teacher, math classes, pedagogy classes, classes about classroom management, as well as a semester of student teaching. It doesn't take long to see that there are many things we don't learn in the classroom. They never prepared me for the emotional toll of teaching.
This year has been especially hard. We have many students suffering from financial hardships lately. We have a designated room with donated clothes, food, personal hygiene items to help out families. Staff members have contacts with different resources, and are able to refer families whenever needed. We expect these things during an economic crisis.
What you don't expect is to see a former student's obituary in the paper. It is the third student I have lost in 14 years. He had two small children.
You don't expect to have a 16 year old who lost her father five years ago to cancer, find out that her mom has cancer...again. I watch her floundering, because her older sister has gone to college, and she has very little support system.
You don't expect a girl to get a text in your class telling her that her mother, who she thought was recovering, is dying.
You don't expect to find that another students parents have spent his entire college fund... on cancer treatment for his mom. Which didn't work, so now, no college and also mom is dying. And his little brother is friends with Owen.
You don't expect your colleague to come to you because one of her students isn't returning after spring break because he is in a coma.
I feel so powerless, I can't fix things for these kids. I have spent so much time crying for these kids, it breaks my heart. I don't think people understand how emotionally draining teaching can be, both for the good and bad.
I have a student that I first had as a freshman, he is just a great kid. He isn't the top kid in class, but he is sweet and funny and kind. I have him now as a senior, I know he isn't 4 year college material, so I was overjoyed to find out two weeks ago that he has a great opportunity playing sports in a different country. He will get paid, and his housing is paid and he will get 2 years of vocational training. I am so happy for him. Then Friday he came to me crying because his family had 5 days to move out of their home. He is now homeless. He will be staying with friends, and the rest of his family will scatter to stay with various people. He still has to buy his plane ticket, and is hoping he can get some money from his dad to buy it.
For a change this is something tangible that can be fixed. An assistant principal, another teacher and I are going to buy the ticket for him. I can't keep people from dying but I can throw a few hundred in to help a kid. I wish I could do more, but I am happy that I work with people who will go out of their way to help kids out.
This is why teachers need summer vacation. By the end of the year you are emotionally raw, when the next year starts I will have scabs and scars, only to start the whole thing over again.