Friends, I am having a rough year.
Those of you who followed my exploits last year -- or, for Pete's sake, since I began teaching three years ago -- may be throwing your hands up and thinking, "Seriously, Miss Brave, again?" Last year, alone in a classroom full of maniacs, all I wanted was for another adult to join forces with me to stop the madness. That's why I was so eager to teach in a CTT classroom at my new school. Now I'm...not alone in a classroom full of maniacs, and all I want is for my co-teacher to disappear.
I haven't blogged about it because I'm still not quite clear on when it all started to go downhill. I know that I come from a school where, by necessity, we ran a pretty tight ship on time management of our lessons. Because we had many push-in teachers for various subjects, if math was supposed to end at 9:37, math had to end at 9:37. I got a little frustrated with Ms. Halpert when it was 9:37 and she was still working with one student instead of transitioning to our next activity. But I never said anything to her about it, and that was my mistake.
The year progressed. I started to leave school a little earlier at the end of each day, and Ms. Halpert (who is a first-year teacher) continued to stay late. As it turns out, she was becoming more and more resentful of the fact that I wasn't there with her. But she never said anything to me about it, and that was her mistake.
Meanwhile, both of us became increasingly fed up with trying to plan with each other; I tend to over-estimate students' capabilities, and Ms. Halpert tends to want to over-scaffold them. But neither of us said anything to each other about it...and that was our mistake.
It all came to a head during a grade-wide writing planning session in which Ms. Halpert sat with her back to me (not very "turn and talk to your partner"-like behavior) and an extremely tense and awkward vibe seethed in the air. The next day, our principal asked to speak with us individually; Ms. Halpert went first. I don't know exactly what was said at that meeting, but it was alarming enough that my principal told me he thought he might have to take one of us out of our classroom mid-year.
Eventually we agreed we would salvage our partnership through the end of the year. (We also privately agreed that we did not want to work together again next year.) But that decision has opened up a whole new world of work for both of us. In the process of transforming the layout of our classroom (again -- having 28 students and two meeting areas makes for an extremely cramped classroom space), I got whacked in the ankle with a heavy table leg. It hurt. We've been asked to work with the literacy coach and the math coach, which naturally makes us feel scrutinized. To add insult to injury, the literacy coach (who has never watched either of us teach a lesson) has been bringing us to other classrooms to observe the "structure of the mini lesson," which is something we both know we can recite in our sleep. Ms. Halpert was a student at Teachers College; I was a reading teacher for a full year. Both of us know how to teach a mini lesson; what we don't know is how to navigate each other.
We agreed to try to do it, but it's a long, hard slog through the bleak, dark days of January, and what awaits us now doesn't seem all that rewarding. Some days it makes me question my commitment to teaching altogether. Other days, I just want to make it all the way to June.