READING – Mr. Ellis

As the morning sky brightens, I get ready for another day at Lincoln Middle. I’m Mr. Ellis, and I love teaching history. It’s exciting to share important stories and lessons from the past and see them come alive for my students. But lately, mornings are tough. While I’m looking over my plans, I can’t help feeling a bit down. The classroom, which should be a place of learning, feels more like a challenge I’m not sure how to win.

I have students like Jasmine. I love her laugh, but she constantly distracts everyone. Marcus is incredibly talented at drawing, but he focuses on his sketches instead of the lesson. And Elena, really smart, but she questions everything so much that we can barely move forward.

Just yesterday, I tried to lead a discussion on the Civil War, but it turned into chaos with distractions at every turn. My attempts to bring everyone back were met with disinterest. Nobody seemed to care, and it felt like I was talking to myself.

When I walk into school, I do my best to start on a positive note, hoping today will be better. But as soon as I begin talking about the Industrial Revolution, the usual disruptions start. Notes passed around, whispers, and it’s hard to get through to anyone.

It’s  really frustrating. Every time we get sidetracked, it feels like we’re losing valuable time. Trying to keep everyone’s attention is exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if they understand how much work goes into planning their lessons, or if it matters to them.

The day feels long, filled with moments when I question if I’m making any difference. But then, there are these small victories—a student staying back to say they enjoyed the lesson, an apology note from someone who’s been disruptive, a moment when everyone actually works together and enjoys learning.

These moments remind me why I chose to teach, but they feel less common than they once were.

At the end of the day, as I sit in the quiet classroom, I think about what teaching really means. It’s not just about sharing knowledge; it’s about connecting with my students, understanding where they’re coming from, and helping them see why learning is important. But it has gotten so difficult, and I’m not sure what to do.

So, I’m preparing for tomorrow, hopeful and ready to try new ways to engage everyone. Teaching is tough, but I do still believe it’s possible to make a difference. I’m not giving up just yet. I just want my students to know their behavior and effort in class really do affect their learning and the learning environment for everyone. I want them to understand that the way they behave matters, and it affects their futures more than they understand. I want them to realize that education is a literal gift that should never be  taken for granted, but at the same time, it’s something that they must work hard to earn.

As I turn off the lights and lock the door, I’m ready to face another day. This is what teaching is about—showing up, trying to make a positive impact, and believing that every lesson is a step towards something good.