I am mind-blastingly, numbingly tired. I was up too late marking last night, but I am doing pretty well. The experienced teachers, who are badass and made of solid steel, cheerfully admit that they were ragged with fatigue by their first Christmas. They admit to taking naps after the last afternoon class and to hanging their backpacks on their bikes rather than on their backs. They admit to being utterly spent. These people are younger than me and more skilled. Damn.
I am doing pretty well. After class today, the well-smart Lando (name changed to protect the innocent) stopped behind, stalling from going to the Sports Day and talked. He was fed up. He loves maths and he loves the care I put into making presentations. He would like the chattering to stop, for the class to be completely orderly so that he could absorb the explanation (which would go pretty quickly in his case) and start burning through the exercises like an acetylene torch on a mountain of butter.
Him and me both, but no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and that scenario might trample on the kids who need the most help, so I point out to him that persuasion works better than coercion and that I am the process of educating the class about many things, many of them being about themselves, as well as mathematics. He is too hot-burning, too impatient to be a helper and co-educator, as Ella is, but perhaps he needs to learn that. I make a mental note.
I shall however create a space for Lando and the wicked-smart Ella and business-like Selim to do their magic and work independently of me. Selim has been into me to let them run a project. Selim rocks and I cannot tell him. Selim's quiet, self-effacing mother barely spoke at the parent-teacher conference, but she is the motor behind his love of maths and the basis of his skills. I have no way to tell her how much I respect that.
Lando is impatient. He is a mover and shaker in his heart and will someday be making decisions about other humans. I have an early window to make sure that those decisions will ripen in understanding and compassion, that he will realize how fallible we all are, even grown-ups, so I take a moment to talk about perspective: we never know what it truly going on in the other person or what their ability truly is. He goes to Sports Day, with my good wishes and respect and I have another ideal to fulfil and a pile of marking. Truly this job has no outer boundary, not quality drop-off that I can accept.
But I am doing OK. Christmas is coming and there will be some sleep and some chances to set things up for class two: no boundaries, none that I can accept.