Bad week. Bad, bad week.

I’ve had such good luck with my classes since the spring. Last session I had only one class that had two kids who were a bit problematic and I had to get all b*tch face on them, but other than that, my classes were a dream.

Summer session started a month ago. We’ve just now finished week 4. Each week we have a new camp start so there’s a fresh batch of kids every Monday morning. Weeks 1 through 3 were great. Nice students, fun classes, I’ve been SOOOO relaxed!

This week, I met my match. I had the week from HELL!

I teach the stop motion animation and Star Wars inspired camps. This week was Star Wars. I had 9 students, 3 of them with known problems such as ADHD and Autism. Mild enough that they didn’t need aides, but bad enough that they made things a little (read:lot) more challenging than normal.

I was OK on Day 1. Day 2 not so bad either. Hey, maybe this camp was going to be OK after all!

Day 3. It all came crashing down. I was trying to do a painting demo. The kids had to do a painting of outer space with a Star Wars inspired character standing on a planet. Seems simple enough, right?

When you have 9 kids between the ages of 6 and 11 it’s hard. When 2 of them don’t ever stop talking (loudly), ignore your call for attention, don’t listen, then sing the Cookie Monster version of “Call me Maybe?” at the top of their voices, it gets to you. Like, really, REALLY gets to you. This is after two days of minor annoyances that I guess added up to the crazy train coming down the track and…..

I lost it.

You know it’s bad when you say to the group that you feel like you may as well be teaching dogs and cats with the lack of listening and understanding going on. You know it’s bad when you catch yourself about to scream SHUT UP! (I caught myself in time.) You know it’s bad when you have to give a 5 minute lecture on respecting each others personal space and how to use their “inside voice.” You know it’s bad when you just want to crawl up into a ball on the floor and weep.

I should have just walked out of the room and taken a few deep breaths and calmed down. But I stopped the class and told them in no uncertain terms that they were making me crazy and here’s why. I felt so out of control, and that, in a nutshell is what’s bothering me so much.

My name is Andrea and I’m a control freak. When I can’t control my surroundings I get agitated and  can feel my stress, anxiety and frustration start to bubble up and all it takes is one little thing to make me lose my sh*t.  Now I’ve lost my cool, and in effect lost control and it makes me angry (and a little embarrassed.)

So, what do I do? Relax? Try to not be so controlling? If I didn’t have some modicum of control over these kids it would be a disaster. Maybe I should just OWN the fact that I’m a control freak and let that be it.

I always thought I was pretty laid back, and in real life (socially and with family) I am. It’s just in the work department where this trait comes out.

Anyone else have this problem? Is it just me? Should I work on it or just let it be?

On a week like this, all I can say is thank god for wine and chocolate. 

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6 Responses to Bad week. Bad, bad week.

  1. Anonymous July 28, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Ah children, they are the description of a work in progress. You do understand that you, at one time in your life, were just as insufferable as the charges you now have in your care. It is the job of the ADULT to teach (think about a lioness cuffing her cubs ears) children to become civilized people. Youa re doing a good job – never forget it but it is so challenging. I’ve been there – I know.
    xo your Momma

  2. My name is Andrea July 28, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    I was NEVER bad! Come on! An angel right here on earth! (:
    I know, I know…. the problem is these aren’t my cubs… they belong to other lions who haven’t really instilled the BASICS into these kids yet. Please, thank you. Shouldn’t this be ingrained in them by the time they’re 9 or 10?

  3. Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    Well, as they say, it takes a village… and sometimes they are twenty before you look at them and say – Yeah, I actually did a good job. I bet next week will be better.
    xo Mom

  4. Michele August 7, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Aww, this is a sad post because I can almost feel your anguish over what happened and how you handled it (although I did giggle over the “teaching dogs and cats” comment).

    First, remember, teaching is HARD. Teaching art to NINE children by yourself is WAY FRICKIN’ HARD. I’m actually shocked you haven’t caved and ripped off someone’s head by now. You should feel really good that this is pretty much the first time you’ve felt so frustrated that you lost your shit a little bit. I think all teachers go through this, so don’t imagine you’re the first and only one to want to go all fetal in the classroom. It’s part of the job! 🙂

    I’m a massive control freak in my own home but I had to learn to put that aside in the kindergarten. I got to the point where any day in which one of our students didn’t die or kill another child was a good-enough day for me. Of course, I was only an assistant, so I had the luxury of being able to concentrate on the child, not the “work product,” as The Real Teacher referred to their little assignments. I knew I was good in the kindergarten when, during an art exercise, one kid deliberately poured a cup of paint on the floor and I just handed him a wet towel and told him to clean it up. Didn’t even ask him why he’d done it, didn’t care at that moment. I did talk to him later but, as I recall, he didn’t really have a reason, which, you know, fair enough, he was four years old and it’s not like he lit the place on fire.

    Sometimes I think you have to admit defeat and realize that some kids are not, for whatever reason, capable to doing what you want them to do. Is there something else some of the special little snowflakes can do while the other kids are doing the art you’re trying to teach? Something assignment-related but easier for/more interesting to them?

    This is going to be a challenging class for you but you’re going to learn so much about handling difficult kids and that will make you a more relaxed teacher. And just remember—thank goodness they’re not yours!! 🙂

  5. Michele August 7, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    BTW, I love the picture you posted with this. Funny!

  6. My name is Andrea August 8, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Sadly, I had help this week, and still lost my sh*t! I think the kids can just wear on you. I’m not teaching this week and having a nice time just recuperating! My co-worker is a parent and she is so calm! She says she just blocks it all out and talks like Snow White. It seems to work for her!

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