Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Teacher Mojo

I try to keep the personal posts rare on this blog, in fact I actually count the number of times I use the word "I" and nix any post that goes overboard, but in this post I am throwing that to the wind.

I seem to be having minor difficulties locating my teacher "mojo". I consider myself to be a good teacher; I care deeply for my students, I am knowledgeable and creative, I love what I do and all that stuff that makes learning happen. I am an eleven year veteran teacher in a field where most people don't make it five years. I consider myself a "lifer".

However right now I can't seem to find my balance in the classroom. Part of it is that we are in a building that is not particularly desirable. We do not have internet or even enough outlets to plug in all our computers. We have two three touch screen but only one works. We have two switch interfaces, but only one working switch. We don't have a access fax or a copier without begging on our hands and knees. We do not have a wall phone that works, only a cell phone. We haven't a sink big enough to do dishes in with out going up two floors. We are on the third floor and 2 out of 3 elevators do not work. We have mice and they are not our pets. I spend hours and hours using crazy, improvised techniques to be able to give my students access to technology only to have those techniques fail at the last minutes do to things like blown fuses. The averages daily temperature in the classroom is 82 degrees, however we have IEPs calling for temperatures no higher than 70 degrees, but if we run the air conditioners we cannot use the computers, APH book on tape machine or CD player because we will blow a fuse and if we open the windows the close to zero degree wind makes it impossible for us to have students on one entire side of the classroom.

To top it all off I have had eight Donors Choose grants funded and the school has lost six (SIX!!!) of them so far! (I now have at least double the number of gray hairs I had in August of 2007, when we moved in.)

Another part of it is that I did not have a full staff until January 8th. Today was the first day of the school year I ate lunch without taking one or two students with me, granted I was writing the daily notes home to all of the parents like I do every day at lunch, but I did not have any students with me (I admit that I sort of/kind of missed them).

On top of all that is a constantly changing student census. I don't know about all the other intensive special needs teachers out there but I tend to have the same students year after year, after year, after year. However last year I had several students move on and I have two in the process of moving on right now. I have also had new students move in. The level of need and type of student has changed. Absenteeism is very high. It is hard to establish a group dynamic when there is a different group every day, and in our room both the students and the staff seem to be different every day.

Oh and of course I had a nasty flu the end of last week and all last weekend and my throat is still killing me, so that is not helping. And it is a full moon and only SPED teachers and psych nurses can tell when it is a full moon without looking up at night.

I know I need to trust myself that I will bounce back up and regain my balance and that it always takes about six weeks to feel things are going smoothly after a transition (six weeks to break a habit don't you know), but I miss my mojo.

So I am asking my readers out there, if your teaching mojo is with you right now could you drop me a line of hang in there support? Maybe a funny story? Tell me what you do to regain your mojo? Do you take you staff out for drinks? Rent a hotel room alone for a weekend? Go to a spa? Join the circus? You can put it in the comments for everyone to read or scroll down and click on my profile to send me and e-mail if you want. I sure would appreciate it.


  1. I am with you...the rest of our school is out for exams but I have all my students, because the parents complain when they are not in school. I finally got all of my staff by December and my two touch screens work, but the computers were so antiquated that I had to buy two from my own funds just to have something that works. My husband bought me a lovely laptop, but I use it with the kids, it is the best computer we have. Mojos are candies that I used to buy 5 for a penny (does that age me?) We are surivors, we are creative, we are innovative, we are caring, we do what we have to to provide the best education for our students that we can and we beg borrow steal or write the rest...We are special education teachers! Be proud. Hope you are feeling better.

  2. Hang in there! Right on for reaching out. We all get by with a little help from our friends!

  3. A great big hug from Kansas! I've been where you are (as a first year teacher with NO idea what I was doing and no support either, 8 kids and 2 paras in a 10X20 foot storage room that had the ONLY heater registers for our section of the building...). Things will get better. You are such a dedicated teacher and I've very much enjoyed locating someone out there on the net who does what I do (I have middle schoolers w/ mult. disabilities) and have really appreciated the resources you've shared. Anyway, hang in there. You are not alone!!

  4. Hang in there - mojo regenerates in time. Wish I could ship you extra!

    [Please excuse mistakes/brevity, typed via on-screen keyboard due to disability] 

  5. Keep your chin up - the low mojo will turn before too long - normally does with me. Something small to get excited about will turn up. Then things build up again.

    If you didn't get down - you probably wouldn't be you - a caring and passionate teacher. You've great ideas and you're building something brilliant here on-line too.

    Here's an on-line present that might brighten your day a little:

  6. Greetings from Scotland! I dropped my mojo recently and survived to get it back. Its not a nice feeling. I dont know what to say to help you other than thanks for blogging and I hope things improve for you soon.

  7. Hi there! I teach English to adults in Spain. What helps me out there when I'm down is the students themselves. When I think I'm not doing it right, when I think I'm losing it... They come out with a funny line, with a supportive sentence, with an appreciative comment, and I remember why I'm here.

    Last day, for example, I brought a bunch of newspapers for them to have a go and read "real English". We were all looking at the papers when one of them started: "Wow! This is really nice! Sudokus in English!"

    Everybody burst out laughing. Such naivety, such candour... The oldest reaches 85, and still eager to learn everyday. They make my day.

  8. I hope this helps your mojo... what an inspiration you are to the rest of us out here. I find myself complaining about poor tech and other issues common to our profession but in the end, like you, I'm a lifer that enjoys the challenges and creativity that my student's educations demand. I really hope that you get your donorschoose orders figured out. I've had one project funded and it sure is an awesome organization.Just think of all the special ed teachers you've helped by recommending it. And also think of the kids you have helped as a result. This blog alone should fire up your mojo because your ideas and links inspire the rest of us to work even harder for our kids. You teach us and as a result so many students.


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