Let’s pretend I work in a shoe factory. Last year I was expected to make 18 shoes per day. This year, I am expected to make 23 shoes per day. Wouldn’t it follow reason to expect that this year’s shoes will be less quality, have more flaws, and just be less perfect shoes?
In the shoe factory of first grade, last year I had 18 shoes. Not a bad number. A low number, by most standards. An ideal class size, I say. (Unless somebody will really let me have about 8 or 10, which would be loads of fun, and I could do a REALLY good job, but much more expensive for the taxpayers!) This year, I have 23 shoes. Still not a very high number. But here’s the deal…I don’t have 5 more kids worth of time, space, or resources. I don’t even have 5 more kids worth of pencils! Everyone gets a little less of me, because there are more of them. And although most of them will probably go on to live the lives they were going to live with or without 23 kids in their first grade class, for better or for worse, there is a part of me that says, NOT FAIR. These 23 are beloved, worthy people. They did nothing to deserve slightly less instruction and attention in first grade than the others.
My 23rd “shoe” arrived to me on Monday. And we are the third “factory” he has been to this school year. Thus, the mania. I was feeling good about things. I was feeling like finally, things were rolling along in a good routine, we were a solidly connected community, we all knew what to expect…and suddenly all my small moments I used to use to maintain those connections and routines are gone, now being used to get the new “shoe” integrated into our community and routines. I’m especially discouraged because the previous school had the ball rolling toward some more support for him, and now, with no IEP in place, the process has to start all over. With 33 days of school left. Which means this will be some other teacher’s problem in a few months, at the expense of this dear child.
What am I supposed to be, a miracle worker?
This job… As soon as it starts to feel manageable, something reminds you once again that it is impossible.