Monday, September 12, 2011

Not a fun start to my week...but a fun end!

Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to lay down, curl up in a ball, and cry your heart out? The kind of day where everything made you angry or upset and you just couldn’t take it anymore?
Of course you have and it’s (perfectly) normal. I’ll up and admit that I experienced one of those days…in fact, I experienced three in a row. Last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were literally and utterly awful. I am an overly enthusiastic person on a normal day. I try to always be extremely happy and positive in whatever I do. Keeping a smile on my face 99% of the day is important to me. Trying to be that person when 100+ high schoolers are misbehaving, talking back, yelling, not doing their work, and talking constantly is physically, mentally, and emotionally impossible.
Tuesday and Wednesday were about the same – lots of chatting, hitting (they just love to do this-one girl slapped another guy and made him bleed. I kicked her out of my class and locked the door.), and eye rolling. I always start the day (except for Wednesday) and end the day with a mainstream class and both of my mainstream classes are rough. In once class, they all just seem to sit and stare at me. I have to repeat directions at least five times, even when I’m simply asking them to take out their notebooks. It’s not that they don’t understand me, they just take forever to do anything. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m walking around clapping my hands and saying, “Let’s go, let’s go, zip the lips, get out your notebook”…etc, etc.  When I first started saying “let’s go” I had a few people ask me where we were going. I laughed on the inside.
Thursday was the killer day. I had a great lesson planned and as I was walking to school, I gave myself a pep talk to just get through the day because Friday would be that much closer. We are doing a unit on the Great Depression right now and after they took their vocab quiz, I had printed out some photos of the Migrant Mother, bankers, men standing in line to apply for jobs, etc. I was going to put everyone in groups, hand out the photos, have them talk about what they thought was going on, and then have them present to the class. After all this, I would read them the actual caption of the picture to let them know how close they were to guessing.  My first two periods were great – they seemed to enjoy the lesson and they were somewhat quiet and attentive. After that, my day went from “okay” to “seriously?” I’m pretty sure 80% of the kids cheated on their vocab quiz (darn them and their capability to speak another language!). Even though I tell them to be quiet, a few stifle out some words or laughs, and I bet you anything that they are giving each other the answers! From now on, if anyone talks during a quiz, I’m ripping it up in front of them and giving them a 0. Take that!
The heartbreaking moment (or 50 minutes) of the day came when my best class (meaning they always listen, do their work, and pay attention) lost it. I could barely even hear myself say the directions of the lesson because they were talking and laughing so loud. Finally I said, alright, if you keep talking, you’re staying an extra minute after the bell. Obviously they didn’t hear me, so I kept going. I got up to four when one girl finally went, “AUA LE PISA!” (stop the noise) I explained to them that they would be staying four minutes after, and for some reason that meant nothing to them so they kept talking. I asked, do you want one more minute and one of my sweetest kids looked me in the eyes and went, “Yep, give us one more.” UGH. Just thinking about it now gets me all choked up. I responded with, “Alright, fine. For the last 15 minutes of class, you can sit in silence. Turn your face forward, don’t lay your head on your desks, and be quiet. One voice and you’re going to the office.” So, they sat for 15 whole minutes. The bell rang. They sat for four more. I explained to them that their attitude would not be acceptable and that I did not appreciate the way they were treating me. WHY is it SO HARD to be mean? As I did so, some of the kids had bug eyes – it’s like they were seeing a whole other side of me. When their four minutes were up, several of them apologized, and one kid came up to me and said sorry and gave me a fist bump (that made me smile a little). What a day, what a day. When 3:00 finally rolled around, I sat at my desk, turned on my music, and tried everything I could possibly do not to burst into tears. I succeeded – I refuse to let them win!
The next day, one of the kids in the class came up to my desk with a serious look on his face. "Miss, are you still mad?" "No George, I'm not. I just don't want to be treated that way and it's not gonna happen again, right?" He's a really good kid and I don't think he was being disruptive. I feel bad for the kids that actually come to class to learn.
[I must pause this blog post. Mavaega is calling my name and giving me code symbols to come outside and play with him. BRB!]
Ok, back! I just spent the last hour and a half reading an I SPY book with Mavaega. We taught each other new words in our languages. I taught him that “cap” and “hat” mean the same thing, as well as “pail” and “bucket.” We talked about snowmen, we sounded out words, and when he read the word "sweet" on a page full of candy pictures and I asked him what that meant, he responded, "That means niiiice." Hahaha. He taught me how to say sunglasses, five cents, and “Do not touch the boy's ear.” in Samoan. We clearly had some fun conversations. He will be turning 8 in November and his reading skills are excellent for a third grader! Before I SPY we played with some punch balloons that my Mom had sent me. Fun! Abby and I also made the most amazing/delicious/to-die-for lime bars – how sweet it is to live by a lime tree!
Now that I’m in such a happy mood, I don’t really feel like talking about the negativity of last week. It’s over and done with, right?! Needless to say, Friday ended up being an amazing day. My classes listened, they were kind, and we had a fun time. Hurray! Abby and I grocery shopped on Friday night, made blueberry almond pancakes and scrambled eggs for dinner, had some cheap New Zealand wine, and went to bed early. On Saturday, I went into “town” (meaning I got on an ‘aiga bus, sat on the bus and soaked in the ocean as we cruised along the coast for an hour). Yep, it takes just about an hour to get from our house to the post office. I mailed some letters – the week before last I had all my kids write letters to soldiers. They loved it! We talked about what things to include in a letter and how if you wanted to be a pen pal with someone, what would you ask or say. 3 of them brought in addresses of family members that were serving and I sent the rest of the letters to three others that were based in Afghanistan. After getting home, Abby and I eventually wandered down to Sliding Rock again and explored even farther along the water. We found some awesome, crystal clear tide pools…did a little snorkeling and a little jumping into the pools. We even saw some ocean creatures farther out! Not quite sure if it was a dolphin(s) or a whale, but we definitely saw spray from a blowhole and something dark moving in the water. Our mom’s are mailing us binoculars – whale season is just around the corner!
Sunday is coming to a close. I’ve got some rice cookin’ on the stove for a chicken/rice/veggie dish, and I’m sure I’ll end all that deliciousness with another lime bar. Tomorrow is a NEW day and let’s hope that I get through it with a smile.
Much alofa!

Abby on the left, dried up (?) lava on the right!

A new view of the Sliding Rock coast. Do you now understand why I like to come here so much?

Tide pool! This one was too shallow to swim in.

I had just jumped off the rocks on the right. It was pretty deep in this pool. We snorkeled a little, saw some really bright blue fish (I failed at taking a good picture of them), and swam around enjoying the peace and quiet.

Mavaega playing with the punch balloon. He just loved it!

My BFF and I.

We spent a long time on that hammock. I SPY is fun!

I have more pictures I want to load, but the internet is not being very nice. Guess I'll try again tomorrow! Manuia le Monday!


Mom said...

Very nice blog, Quinn. Talk about taking us on a ride of emotions. Love the pictures of you and Mavaega. in adorable! I will say though, your dinner of blueberry almond pancakes, scrambled eggs and cheap wine was rather unsettling!

Kat said...


I love you Q!! I wish I could take you out for something rich and sweet and just talk talk talk. No matter how tough it gets, you'll find something that will cheer you up :) Like playing with Magaeva ;) What a cutie!!
Kids can be jerks, just stand your ground! You're tough.

I really enjoyed that you drank wine with breakfast food! haha! Sounds totally wonderful.

Your pictures are amazing. I love it.

Kristine said...

Hang in there Quinn! We all have those days and the hardest part is getting out of the funk. I'm so glad Mavaega was there for you. Speaking of your little friend, is Halloween a big deal in Am Sam? Is he going to dress up and go trick or treating? If not, you'll have to introduce him to the tradition. (and yes, I know it's only the beginning of September, but you know US stores already have aisles of the stuff. Out with back to school and in with Halloween.)

Anonymous said...

You're breakin my heart! I'm thinkin you need some good old-fashioned comfort food. I'm on the job!;) I also think it's funny that your Mom is unsettled by your dinner!;) heehee Take a breath ~ you are amazing & have been goin @ break-neck speed. Glad you had better days after this. The pics are incredible! Jan:)

Ami said...

Mavaega sounds like such a great kid - so glad he is there to cheer you up! I giggled at your mom's comment about your dinner - sounded pretty tasty to me. ;-)

Margaret Ann said...

You have a real zest for is evident in all you say and do. I am so glad the teaching profession and expecially your students have someone so kind and full of joy as you. Your photos tug at all our heart strings. Continue to enjoy this wonderful adventure of yours...I will continue to follow you...every step. Hugs :)

Margaret Ann said...

Ummm...make that "especially" in the above comment. My fingers are working faster than my brain...LOL :)