02 June 2015

I was going through some old files...

And I found the beginnings of a blog post about my first week as a teacher.  It's not complete but it at least is no-holds-barred honest.  Being a teacher isn't about free summers (which we don't really get free) or coloring or watching movies.  I'll let you decide if that first week was telling of my new environment.

Week 1

That's how I would describe how I felt at the end of this week.  Never would I have ever believed how exhausting and taxing being a new teacher is.  Every single class period, we were doing something different.  It all goes along with this new Freshman Academy my school is implementing this year.  All 9th grade teachers have the same rules and expectations as well as consequences.  This entire week has been spent reviewing rules and procedures, doing drills and getting-to-know-you exercises, and putting classroom management into practice.

Let me tell you, I've been spoiled my entire life with peers who behaved well in class and would do what was asked of them the FIRST time, not the fourth or fifth time.  I don't recall one teacher in school that ever had a problem with managing a class.

Suffice it to say, I was NOT prepared in the slightest for the behavior of the students I was about to receive.

I THOUGHT I knew how to handle a class... these kids put me to the greatest test I've ever had.  There is non-stop chatter all the time.  It's like they can't handle silence.  There is serious disrespect towards everyone - teachers, students, anyone who walks the halls.  It almost seems like they don't want to take you seriously unless you're yelling at them.  Then, if you do, they get all defensive and want to blame you (the teacher) for THEIR mistakes.  I'm sorry, but no.  I don't give you a grade you don't earn and I won't treat you with disrespect unless you've proven you can't handle the respect I do give you.

They beat me down to my bare bones by the end of the week.  I didn't feel like I had accomplished anything - rapport, management, work.  Nothing.  Plus, doing something different every class...
And that was all I got to.  Pretty rough, huh?  And to think that I long for those days again.  You can only imagine what teaching is like for me now if THAT was the best year I've had. 

I will say that by the end of that year, the kids were better and the culture we had established really did work.  Those kids are graduating next year and I couldn't be prouder of them.  They did put me through the ringer and back, but I grew as a person and as a teacher.  I definitely was NOT prepared for the role I was given but I'm better because of it.  Sometimes you gotta get beat down really good before you can stand up again.  I've been getting up and standing for 3 years now - time will only tell if I've made a good decision to come back again.  

I suck at these things!

I can't believe it's been 3 years since I last posted on this thing.  Goodness, the time does seem to get away from me.  The last time I posted, I was just about to start teaching at a high school in Arkansas and I was SO excited to start!  There were many new procedures and activities that we had planned for that year - there were so many good signs about things to come.

In sum: that school year was the best year I've had at that school.  We had established such a positive culture that it was a fantastic year for students and teachers, alike.  I actually think back to those days quite often and wish our 9th grade still had that positive culture.  It does, but I don't think it's close to what we had established that first year with the Freshman Academy.  We've had more, different, procedures on our minds that have taken away a LOT from the culture of the 9th grade.

What did we do?

We became a New Tech school.

Don't get me wrong: I buy in to the New Tech ideal and their goals, etc. But I do NOT agree with a lot of the things our school has done to implement it.  For starters, we completely ignored culture in order to teach New Tech, which really did us in as far as classroom procedures and expectations were concerned, which made classroom management a living nightmare.  I hated that second year of teaching.  The other thing they did was combine subjects.  I teach a combined course of World Geography and English.  I absolutely LOVE the girl I team-teach with, but I do NOT love the 40-student classes we get.  I'm already not a group person - lots of people in a room for prolonged times makes me nervous and severely stresses me out.  These gigantic classes have, honestly, ruined the teaching experience for me.  I no longer look forward to going to school, grading is more of a chore that it should be, and I don't sleep well anymore.  

This has been going on for two years now.  I just wrapped up my third year of teaching and I'm going in for another round in August.  

I can't wait for a small class again.  It will kill me to leave my team-teacher but I will be a saner person overall.  Not sure when that's going to happen, but I'm afraid it will be sooner rather than later.

Do I still love teaching?  I could learn to love it again but I can't love it where I am.  If you, reading this, have any suggestions for me, I'd be open to suggestions.  Until then, I'm on my own in finding what I love again.  It's out there but now I don't know where it is.

Yikes.  That's a scary thought.  But a good scary thought because I can do ANYTHING and love it.

Will I be a teacher forever?  I can't answer that question.  Not because I don't want to, but because I don't know the answer yet.  I hear the retirement is fabulous.  But I'm not staying in any job for the money - even if that's 35 years from now.  They payoff wouldn't be worth being unhappy for a majority of my life if the only thing I thought about was money.

Dear God, please help me be patient and keep my head up.