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  • I have been gone a long, long time, recruited to a world that is new and foreign to me. I am teaching a second grade class in a poverty ridden section of Philadelphia. I am teaching my little Cretins.

    Don't get down on me for calling children Cretins. It is an apt description. My class was tough for their much more experienced teacher last year. This year, they have had no permanent teacher until I arrived in November. In the space of two months, they managed to run off a bevy of well-meaning substitutes. No one chose to teach them twice.

    They pee on the bathroom floor, or worse. They spit on the floor. They punch each other in the face. They swore. They ran away. They hid. They threw desks over. Aw, my sweet little Cretins. You should have seen the way their eyes bugged out of their heads when I came back that second day.

    I have been their teacher for 45 instructional days now. I have cried. And cried. I have thought seriously of resigning. I don't need them. I don't need this. But it is clear that they need me.

    I was unprepared for how hard this job, Teacher, could be. I was unprepared for finding myself out of my depth, for waking up in the middle of the night because my mind was still working on the problem, for trying and failing and trying again.

    I will continue to work on the reformation of the Cretins. Some days, they even become Students - even if for only a few hours. I'll take it.
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