Saturday, November 05, 2005

what kind of teacher am i?

Here's a question that all first year teachers are asking themselves: What kind of teacher am I?

There are so many teachers who are "known" for being a certain kind of teacher... there was one at RAHS who taught freshmen English and Honors freshmen English, and she was known for her impressive organizational skills. There are teachers at LSHS that when I have a question--so and so is good at classroom management, at empathizing with the students, at being patient and kind and generous and able to manage time...

At being so many things I'm not.
And want to be.

Being in a school in its very first year, I am not unique. I am new too. Everything is. Veteran teachers go back to the beginning in some ways.

Everyone is trying to establish themselves. Everyone is finding an identity.

And, of course, so am I. I'm not sure... not only--
What kind of teacher am I? but...
What kind of English teacher am I?

It's a complex question. I just know that, aside from the huge frustrations, I (more or less) love my job.

Good lord, does it get easier? I love my kids, I hate my kids. I love my job, I am frustrated with my job. One thing is always consistent--I love my content area. :) I don't think that will ever change! And honestly, I look at my kids, and I am fond of them, but sometimes thinking about them... makes me really tired.

I am amazed at how much I could write about right now. Student teaching, there was usually about one or two major things to write about. Every day, as a first year, there are a dozen amazing things to write about... the student who doesn't belong in Comm-11 because he's too smart but he plagiarized and writes these raunchy captions on the newspaper every day, of which I have been collecting as the special ed. team teacher and I discuss what we need to do about him. The 9th grade field trip to Camp Snoopy yesterday and the peace I was allowed 4th and 6th hour and subbing for Kathy's 3rd hour Comm Theory class (WHEW!). The fact that my students have a problem returning--pens, markers, and books (novels) for independent reading. The fact that one parent (army) offered to supply me with pens, etc. and how I am actually considering it, despite the advertisements. My posters and how proud I am of making my own Poe poster and how I try to change things as much as possible and how I am teased by a male colleague at how I decorate my room. (The fact that my parents are coming tomorrow and I can't wait for them to see my classroom, but the fact that my classroom is 100% different for each hour and how I look at everything.) My upcoming observation with the principal. Being on a committee with the principal. Being on four committees and surviving, thus far. Taking my second sick day on Monday. Contracts and that goofy union phrase that I can't remember... but basically says that we can only work 7-3 and how scary that conversation was this late afternoon and how I know that I can't leave at three, but I think the union rep could swallow me whole if my car was still in the lot at 3:01. How my car has always been in the lot at 3:01 and many, many, many, many minutes (HOURS) aftewards. How I can understand how people can be addicted to their jobs and can't resist... can't leave, can't seem to do enough. How I can only seem to grade while I'm there and haven't done a lick of grading since the school year began--no grading has been done in this new house. (I don't think.) How I love my schedule, but I hope it changes next year. How drama is drama in one million different ways. How I will officially assistant direct the one act, though I could have easily directed it, but asked Denny to direct and asked to be assitant. How that means I'm in charge of dull things, like costumes and such. How I think this directing thing, and my role now, is so much like the journey of teaching... observation, being anxious to say something, waiting... and the one act will be like student teaching, so I look forward to the many ways I will foul that up. How I need to prove myself worthy of keeping for next year. How I will one day DIRECT the school play, etc. How that is scary but wonderful at the same time. How I am finally going to get Lit Mag rolling next week.

There are so many things I can say.

To those of you who are like me, who are just starting--and maybe those who are veterans--HANG IN THERE. All of this is worth it, no matter how frustrated we get (which can very easily be OFTEN!).... I cannot emphasize that box enough. I will not forget MS from English 10 at RAHS telling me, "Ms Sutton, I wish more teachers were like you."

(And somehow, I have managed to accept that so many students might not like me, but so many kids might actually like me. And I'm going to try to keep my class one of the ones they look forward to, but I am managing to realize--there are things they have to learn but don't want to, and that's OK. Not my fault, but I can see the merits.)

Oh. And teaching the research paper to Comm-11... I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. :)

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