Sunday, September 11, 2005


Sorry that I have been MIA for a few days now... the first week of school was definitely an adventure!

I wish I had more time to write about this first week, but I have to work on the house. Saturday and Sunday are my only days with energy for anything but school, so this will have to be brief. The problem is, I don't feel comfortable blogging about work at work, even if it is past the designated 3:00. I doubt I would say anything that would be construed as bad, but I could understand how they wouldn't want me to use their equipment to babble on about teaching. Better use with productive things.

The first week was OK, though I can say right now that I need to start sleeping more and drinking more water in order to somehow get to the point where I will have more energy.

The freshmen are great--you can basically get them to do what you want. They're at that age where they are still self concious, but are also kind of like puppies--eager to please and ready to get things done in a timely fashion. Not as organized and clearly distracted much more easily, but they also aren't quite as grumpy as some of the other kids can get. They don't have cars and can't drive, so they don't know what that kind of freedom is like; their social life has a much earlier curfew, and they usually get enough sleep the night before. But lordy, do they ever TALK. That's what is the worst, and my sixth hour "earned" a seating chart already. I'll have to work on that tonight before I go to bed. Very frustrating group as I have it at the end of the day, and they cannot seem to sit still (understandably). I wish I could just take them on a jog around the school or something.

The juniors are pretty good--they are the lower level Comm-11 kids who are supposed to mostly be LD but there are a few EBDs in there too. And even if they don't technically have some kind of EBD, they are frustrated with learning and school at this point. I have a fifth hour from hell; they are individually mostly good at heart kids, but there are twenty one of them, and me along with a paraprofessional and a special ed team teacher. And we still can't seem to get through sixty seconds without some kind of outburst.

Some days have been good, some have been bad. Friday was pretty bad; it ended with my having to raise my voice past the point of comfort at the end of my 6th hour. I cried that night. Actually, I cried at school too, but I made sure no one saw me (especially the kids, of course). I spent a while talking to one of the department heads, Derek Otten, who is absolutely phenomenal and has to be the absolute nicest person I have ever met (not kidding--some of you know how nice Ryan is, plus a great handful of my other friends who are bursting with kindness and patience, so you know this is a big deal and I'm very lucky to have Derek as a dept. head--along with Ryan as a boyfriend and my friends as my friends--patience and kindness are always needed). He told me about how his first years had been hard too (and he teaches English 10B, which is basically Comm-11, only for sophomores), and he ran through some scenarios on how to progress through classroom management and referring kids to BIP (Behavior Intervention Program--for the kids that are extra bad and you don't want them back in your room until the next day). He told me that I need to be frustrated and let that out and take that frustration and turn it into courage. That was the absolute perfect thing to say. He also tried to encourage me against burning out, and I know that I won't--I am determined to be a teacher until I retire (I say this after my first week--we'll see what I say in a few months or even years).

I truly love what I do, but I know my schedule is probably about as rough as it could get. The only English teacher who might have a harder group is George, another new teacher--he has English 9 and English 9B (you guessed it, the freshmen equivalent to my Comm-11's). Of course, freshmen might be easier to get to do things, but he still has to have more energy then I had as a fourteen year old to get through the day.

I'm interested to see how my life will change once drama is thrown into the mix. I had my first official meeting with my drama captains on Friday afternoon, and we're holding off the first actual meeting until a week after this coming week... Monday, I am to be trained in on the light boards after school, then Tuesday through Thursday are read throughs to determine which play we will pick. (And when I say "we," I of course mean Denny. Why would the assistant director get a say in it? Ha, ha.)

Anyway, I have a game plan for next Monday. We are going to the library (all five hours), but I want to make sure I give them a little "talk" about how they need to go back to the first thing I emphasized--RESPECT. I had them write their own expectations of the class, and ironically, most of them wrote that I could expect them to not talk while they are talking. I plan to type up this list in full and copy it for all of them (different ones for different hours) so they can refer back to it. And I'm going to go through Derek's recommended process and I'm going to be brave about all of it.

And I'm going to cry when I need to (when my kids and colleagues can't see me, of course). I'm going to talk to Roshelle, who is my new friend and fellow English teacher at LSHS that I feel I can trust. I'm going to talk to my cohort friends, who are forever supportive. I am going to get through this and I'm going to be a better teacher each day, no matter how much a failure I might feel I am. Because I can already tell I have improved since I student taught. I can sense things a little better--walk people through things slower and anticipate questions they might have. I am more organized and I feel more comfortable in front of the class. Gone are the days of the podium; I now have a lone stool (no tables even) up front with me.

I will get through this year, oh yes. And I am definitely going to have to look into yoga classes. :) Or find some way to medidate before the day begins... too bad there isn't a break between my last hours of the day--going three through six is pretty hectic! Next semester, both of my Comm-11's are going to be in the morning, which is ideal. They are tired and haven't had to sti for too long, so they are probably more willing to be quiet and get through the day. The dept. heads and special ed. folks actually requested that it be the first hours of the day, but it didn't work out that way.

There's always tomorrow, there's always next semester, there's always next year. I can only improve, and I can only find new ways.

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