Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Coffee: Teaching and Disillusionment


The first nine weeks of school are over, we've entered first quarter grades, and I've reached the phase of disillusionment. I started the school year out with passion and drive and barrels of optimism. Now I am dragging myself through the week and running on fumes.

I'm afraid this is normal.

There are many good things to say about this school year:
I have put the right book into the hands of many students. If I have any evangelistic impulses, they are all channeled into one simple idea: get the kids to read. The one phrase that guarantees I'm going to haunt you: "I don't read." It will become my life's mission to hook you on books if you say that to me.

I have spent hundreds of dollars of my own money on books for my classroom in the past three months. This despite the fact that my paycheck actually gets smaller every year. 

Right now the books that are "working" for me in my classroom:
* the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
* Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
* The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
* anything by John Green
* The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

I could use more suggestions for realistic fiction or good non-fiction that appeals to male readers, especially the reluctant readers who read at or a little below grade level. I've had good success with authors Gary Paulsen and Watt Key, but I need more suggestions.

Teachers, how do we dole out our energy for this job? How do we teach with passion and not run out? How do we deal with recalcitrant students, disillusioning experiences with district and school administrators, and the general hostility toward teachers these days?

I do find reading to be a continual escape, and I'm almost finished with Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. This fantasy novel is unlike anything else I've ever read, and the first hundred pages went slowly as my brain tried to wrap itself around the completely alien universe Mieville creates. But now I am grateful for the alternative universe where I could lose myself when the world of work was making me lose my mind.

I have to remind myself to keep my expectations reasonable and to count my victories, Most of my students are reading. My plan of allowing students to read books of their own choosing has seemingly lit the fire for many of my students, and many have read five or more books already. When I lie in bed at night or in the early hours of the morning, and my mind is running like a gerbil on one of those little metal wheels, I need to come back to this fact.


Shannon @ River City Reading said...

I always found November to be my toughest month when I was teaching...it was like I was living for that four day Thanksgiving break. I think the stress of first marking period grading/getting to know your kids/parents/etc. finally hits you and you just don't have a way to recover from it for another month. I know some teachers refuse to do it, but I always took a good mental health day up against a weekend to give myself three days to reboot...I think it made me a better, more pleasant teacher.

bermudaonion said...

I know quite a few teachers and I do think they all struggle to keep the passion alive. I think it's especially hard these days. I wish I had some great book suggestions for you but I don't.

bibliophiliac said...

@Shannon-we have a sub shortage in our building, so mental health days are not an option.... But November is full of holidays, so I plan to try to recharge on those days. And, yes, I'm living for Thanksgiving! :)

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-some days it just feels like a huge battle! It's good to know I'm not the only one who feels that way.