Friday, January 27, 2012

When the going gets tough...

Today was a rough day in Room 10.  One of those particularly hellish days where everyone seems a little off, and a little off for each kid ends up being a lot off as a group… I’ve had a number of fish tanks in my life over the years, and I can liken today to this… You know when you sprinkle the fish food on the surface, how sometimes at first, nothing happens? Then all of a sudden, one fish heads for those flaky little morsels, and suddenly it’s a writhing swarm of open mouths flailing all over each other in a seemingly unending tangle of crazy?

That was today.

Maybe it was the fact that I was at a workshop yesterday. Maybe it was the big fluffy snowfall this morning. Or the fact that it was Friday. Or the fact that it was assembly day and the routine was a little off-normal. Maybe all of these things together, who knows?  What I DO know is that by the end of the day, all I wanted to do was lock myself in the Sensory Room and have a good cry, throw myself off the padded walls for a bit, and maybe peruse the Want ads in the paper for a nice quiet office job.

I hate days like this, and thankfully, they are rare. I don’t hate them because of the stress, or the worry that someone is going to end up hurt or injured (which happened). I don’t hate them because of the precious, hard-gathered classroom items that get destroyed beyond repair (which also happened). I don’t even hate them because I end up tired, sore, and emotionally drained (which happens fairly regularly).  What I hate most about days like these is that I come out of them feeling like a terrible teacher, because I know that I could have done way more for my kids, as a teacher, than I was able to demonstrate today.

I want to enjoy my kids! Goodness knows I love them, each and every one, but I have to be honest, on days like today, sometimes I don’t like them very much. And I know that sounds horrible, I do. I don’t like ME, because of it, but I can’t help it. It’s very hard to like the child running in circles around the room, shoving other kids and laughing.  Or the one shrieking, refusing to eat and smacking people in the face. The other one shrieking and running around pulling hair, also laughing. The one darting around the room to grab and throw things, or the one dumping food on the floor because all the others are getting attention from misbehaving so why shouldn’t they get some, too? It’s maddening.  It’s infuriating. And it most certainly doesn’t bring to mind the words “like” or “enjoy” - even when you know in your head about communication and behaviour, sensory processing, and the myriad of other reasons for what is happening. You just CAN’T pay attention to everyone at once, and if you manage to get through the day in one piece, you end up like this – re-reading your post in horror, because you’re admitting all the things going on in your head, which on one hand, you really want to delete and write something positive, but on the other, you feel like give some perspective to all the good things that DO happen in Room 10.

It’s not always wonderful. Or magical. We have really bad days.  And I don't just mean the kids - I mean all of us.  One really bad days, I don’t usually blog.  I try to let go of days like today, not record them. Certainly not share them with the world. But there it is, and I refuse to delete it.

I guess the point I’m trying to make, though, is not that today was awful, but that in the end, it’s only a day. Not every day is like today. And really, if I’m being honest, even today had its moments of sparkle. This IS my blog, and try as I might, I can’t just leave it to the negativity of the day.  For myself, and for anyone reading this, I have to leave it with the same positivity that I depend on to project me into the next day (although I have to admit, a weekend to unwind doesn’t hurt either!) I LOVE my students, and sometimes loving them as much as I do and wanting so much for them makes for very hard days, when things don't go the way I know they could.

Here’s what was great today: I watched one of my students participate with the other second graders in a Lunar New Year parade at today’s assembly. I wish I had a picture of her face as she bounced around with them, banging her tambourine – it was exquisite! My big boy was requesting beautifully all day – asking for help with no hesitation when he needed it, finding the right words at the right time – great progress.  My littlest was a quivering ball of energy today – I swear he couldn’t have been more wired if Red Bull was running through his veins – but bless his little heart, he FINALLY handed me the picture exchange at snack time to ask for more Cheerios – twice. Finally, at the end of a very long day, after the kids, the after-school meeting, the inbox full of emails, and the paperwork gathered for this weekend’s “homework”, I was blessed to have a friend sit on the floor with me and laugh for half an hour, as we attempted to blow up my brand-new ball pit for our gross-motor “Wiggle Room”.  We failed miserably, leaving it half-inflated and sad, and shaking our heads at my “wisdom” in deciding that a giant inflatable pit full of plastic balls was a GOOD idea for the room after the craziness of the day. Stay tuned for how THIS turns out!

Happy Friday, everyone...  Thanks for helping me get out of the fish tank alive. J


  1. As a parent of 2 kids on the spectrum I can tell you that you just discribed how I feel on a lot of days, your only human and can only do so much!! Understanding and compassion go a long way and you have it which is what we all want from someone teaching our kids!

  2. Thanks! I always try to think about what response I would want as a parent, and I find that really makes a difference. You parents are truly the superheroes for your kids, especially when they are very young, and double that if they have very limited communication... You know them best, and are the most amazing advocates - I thank goodness every day for my students' parents and the things they do to support their child.