It most certainly is. I last updated this blog in 2010. That’s gone. Starting anew. Writing is good for me. I’m supposed to teach it; I might as well do it. It’s something I can use to de-stress (a more positive spin on procrastination). It’s currently 9:09 pm on Monday, January 2. I’m returning to teaching tomorrow relaxed, rejuvenated, optimistic, and apprehensive.
This has been a most hectic year. I didn’t understand what “preps” meant until I really started teaching, and now I’m an expert, as I have five of them. “Preps” is short for preparations, I’m assuming, and it just means how many lessons you have to plan out for your classes. For example, if I taught language arts full-time, I would probably have anywhere from two to three preps, one co-taught, one standard, and one advanced at the most, or any combination of two.
Last year, as an intern with Rhonda, I had two co-taught classes and two advanced classes, and while there was much variance in ability and interest among my two kinds of classes, it’s most efficient to plan to teach the same things to the same classes. A lot of times, we’d teach the same thing to all classes, just in different ways. So, at most, I was reading and preparing to teach one or two texts at a time. And as only an intern, I was stressed.
This year has been better and worse in a few different ways:
- I get paid to do what I do. More than I would have in the other position I was offered.
- I have more control over my classroom than I understand, even still.
- I am respected more.
- I am motivated most of the time.
- I’ve never been late to work. I’m usually at least 40 minutes early.
- I’m learning. A lot.
- Lots of professional development is giving me good ideas.
- I’m getting a lot of praise for my work with my lowest group of kids, which means I’ve come a long way. I was blown away when I first started with them a few weeks into school.
- My language arts students are scoring very well on assessments, despite my feelings about my teachings.
- When I take a step back, I see that some of my students have made significant progress in less than half the year.
- I don’t get paid a lot. I knew this coming in.
- Five preps are really hard, even when four of them are scripted. I’m not a “scripted” person and I don’t work well with them, so I infuse so much of myself. Additionally, the scripts are all new and lengthy.
- Not everyone respects me. Certain co-workers, certain students. This is expected.
- I leave extremely late–usually after 5:00 (one to two hours past required time), sometimes as late as 8:00.
- I still don’t finish everything I expect.
- I still bring home one to three bags of stuff to do, with no attainable goals to make myself feel accomplished.
- I stumble on my words. Often.
- My classroom management is non-existent most days. Sometimes even with my groups of eight or fewer.
- I eat. All the time. And it’s showing.
- Some of the students I see as my “brightest” are not performing as well as I think. I feel like I limit some of their creativity and opportunity.
- It’s really, really hard to see progress when it’s as gradual as it tends to be. It’s easier to feel like you’re in an endless slump sending off kids to high school who are simply not ready.
I’m trying to find more positive. I know it’s there. And even when I can’t find it, there’s the thought in the back of my mind: I’m living out my dream since I started college. I am a “Mr. Miller” to these kids. I have so much potential and opportunity, if only I’d be confident enough to let it flourish. Sometimes I realize that in the middle of class, especially when I’m with my one-on-one reading class.
Tangentially, that has been one of the best surprises. It’s really hard having to plan for five completely different classes, but as I’m familiarizing myself with the programs, planning is becoming more second-nature and I’m finding it easier to think more about my kids and less about delivery. Teaching reading, despite its dominating script, has been quite a journey. On days when I teach Wilson (kids who are learning, at the most basic level, consonant sounds and short vowel sounds in three-sound words, and at the more advanced level I have, multi-syllabic words and long vowels, both decoding and encoding), I leave with aches in my neck, a thirst in my throat, and an unbearable headache, but I know that I’ve given students who can’t read one more stepping stone to be able to read fluently one day. I never saw this in my future, not even in my last year of college, but being here is rewarding when I let myself think about it.
I go back tomorrow with a fresh start and for what I hope will be a good month. January has the potential of snow, high school exam early dismissals, HSA early dismissals, professional development days, a possible road trip to Nashville with a co-worker.
I’m continuing a unit on theme and symbol with my language arts class, starting out with a screenplay version of The Diary of Anne Frank, which I’ve started reading for the first time today. Yes, leave it until the last minute. And I’ve only read one of the two acts. I’m actually really enjoying the play. It’s pretty deep and interesting. I think most of the kids will like it. I could teach such good lessons if I would just be confident enough to dig deep and find materials. I have so many ideas, but I see myself scraping by with me reading the play with them not paying attention. I hope I figure something out. I should have started reading the play sooner. I still did accomplish a lot this break.
I can’t believe I will be teaching a class in 12 hours. Sometimes, I can’t believe I’m teaching at all.
Yes, it’s all I talk about, it seems. It consumes my life. The rest of my life is pretty unstable and difficult to address. Friendships on shaky ground, little social life to patch things up and meet new people, lack of confidence to get out there in the world. I’m working on all of it. It’s silly, really, New Year’s resolutions, but I have them, kind of like I have a lot of my lesson plans–roughly sketched out in my head in abstract terms that I can’t fulfill as expected in actuality. So here’s to writing down plans.
New Year’s Resolutions 2012
- Exercise. Daily. If not running, then some quick cardio when I first wake up in the morning. Running at least four days every week, at least two miles, increasing over time. I have a 5K in March with my aunt and uncle, and I know they’re going to beat me, but let’s decrease that margin of defeat. Or stay positive and not look at it as defeat, but accomplishment of a goal.
- Write. Daily. Handwriting a sentence completely unrelated to school every single day. Perhaps in the morning after I wake up. I’m going to start having to wake up at 4:30.
- Blog. Weekly.
- Evaluate values, morals, expectations for myself. Adjust as necessary.
- Be nicer. To everyone. This means stop gossiping. I hate that about myself. Keep to oneself.
- Move out. Before school starts in the fall, surely.
- Be honest, reflective, thoughtful, and intentional.
- Find confidence.
- Make friends.
- Eat things that are good for me.
It’s a lot. It’s all completely realistic. It’s all mine.