No sleep last night. Felt strange, wired, tense. Finally gave up around 4am and simply got out of bed. Read half the current NYRB sitting bleary-eyed in the chilly kitchen with a cup of coffee, and likely absorbed a third of what I read. Did the same with Harper's.
School was miserable today. Strangely I didn't feel tired, but the kids have been abominable all week, and I was front-and-center teaching first and third periods today. I had to drop a ten-pound teacher's edition text from over my head to get their attention at 8:06. I simply could not get control of the class. They were shouting, pushing, laughing, wrestling, throwing things. I had Lukie and two special educators in the room and we could not reign them in. When the text hit the floor it made a loud crack that drew them all up. "Thank you," I said in the sudden silence. For the first time all eyes were on me. We were able to move on with The Diary of Anne Frank, but I lost control again before the end of class.
Third period was worse. I couldn't get them to sit and shut up for the first ten minutes, and depleted my entire bag of tricks trying to do so. Finally I took the same abused teacher's edition and slammed it flat on the chalkboard with as much force as I thought was possible without breaking the slate. That got their attention. It also got the attention of the principal and the school police officer, who rushed over and opened the door. "What was that?" the Principal asked. I gave them the "I don't know" shoulder shrug and left it at that. The kids behaved for about ten minutes before completely falling apart again.
Some days it's just like that. The last time I ran these classes solo the kids were darlings. I guess the novelty of having the new guy take over from time-to-time is wearing off. Now they want to test me and see what I'll tolerate. It's hard working from somebody else's lesson plans. Were I completely in charge I'd have a quiz for them to do, and as soon as they got out of line I'd make them close their books and do it while I sat at the front of the room and called their houses. All in good time.
I could have it worse. They respect me more than the math or science teachers, or the social studies substitute they threw books and staplers at yesterday. She was hit in the face by a thrown cell phone, but came back today anyway.
The school year is one-third done. Whew.