Wednesday, August 23, 2006

less than a week, fewer then a few days

I woke up yesterday morning knowing full well that it is my last Monday to sleep in not on the high school schedule. While technically Monday is a trade day, it is indeed my first day back at HS.

I went in today to turn in my laptop to have it reimaged or reconfigured or resomethinged. At first I was cranky that I had to drive in to school on my day off (you know, among the eight hundred days off I've had so far), but K suggested we go check out the BodyWorks exhibit at the science museum while I was in town. So I had an hour to burn and while I said I would run out to Target to print out photographs from our recent social gatherings, I opted to check out my room.

I haven't seen my classroom in about two and a half months. I was in in late June (after a graduate class on teaching AP Lit to make copies of musical perusal copies) and a week or so ago (Activities Fair), but I didn't run upstairs to my room; I'm not sure why aside from laziness. Get what I needed to get done and go.

But with all this extra time, I decided to go to my room (I was curious at this point)... I almost felt like I did a year ago when I was doing my training as a person new to the district. I remember wandering around the building before last year's activities fair, just kind of peeking in because I had an hour or two between the fair and some training or maybe it was a shirt at the bookstore, actually, and I remember eventually finding my classroom. I called my parents and everyone else right away, so thrilled that I could peek into the locked room where I would stand up in front of a few dozen kids and talk about literature and writing and the passion & eloquence of words.

I survived a year of that and while it was rocky, I think my friend B. said it right on his recent visit to our town... he said that he's been reading this blog occassionally and his impression is that what I do is pretty darn stressful but I like what I do. He got it completely and utterly right.

I adore what I do, however. I'm pretty shifty and am still interested in finishing up that M.Ed so I can finally get my MFA and Ph.D in Literature, but I as a profession, I don't think I want to do anything but teach high school English. And while I was disappointed that I didn't get the AP Lit position (a teacher who has taught it before got it--huh!), I am completely glad at my schedule. I've got freshmen English, which I taught last year, and I've got creative writing.

In some ways, I'm pretty sad that I lost the remedial class I team taught, but at the same time, it was a pretty difficult class to work with. The thing that really got me was that some of the kids, who seemed to have a decent relationship with me, was the whole you're-just-putting-up-with-us sort of speech. These kids deserved someone who would stand up for them and fight for them and care about them and care about their education. And I can't say that none of those things were true for me, but I was frustrated getting up in front of them and I was extremely frustrated when I would read their writing. I really enjoyed a good number of those kids and the ones that I didn't fully enjoy, I know that I appreciated them on some level. In fact, even the one that was the most difficult, I still am anxious to see if she will return again in the fall.

But the person whose name I was attached to, HL, is returning this fall (no, she's not the one who was the most difficult!)... (though she unknowingly caused me a bit of pain, but if I were in her place, I can't deny that I would do the same). HL requested this class I taught, and I willingly said, "Nope, don't mind." And I don't. Here's the thing. I wouldn't mind teaching the class for a while as I think it's one of those things where we teach tough classes to put us in our places; I also wouldn't mind teaching the class because there are plenty of things I wanted to do to change it. It was a running joke between my second hour team teacher and I (after I found out I wouldn't teach the class again)--"AH, when I teach this again, I will do it this way..." Poor J. She was in such denial about my not teaching the class; she swore that HL would never return. But HL is on our lists for just about everything, so here we go...

I have a packed freshmen schedule plus one of creative writing. I also have my first several months of freshmen English more or less mapped out (the whole first semester would be mapped out except I haven't finalized which short stories and whatnot I will teach as I swore I would teach new stories this year, or at least better ones, but I'll probably do the same as last year because that's how it goes), my first week of creative writing and an overall plan for the semester plan, but I think this school year will be a thousand times easier then last year. That's the hope anyway.

I think the main point is that I was in my classroom, making some semblence at organization, and I was excited about being there! We had to clear up our rooms so that the custodial staff could move all the furniture out and clean, so most of us scrambled to stuff our 'things' in the cubbords and shelves that were unmoveable. So today I started to unpack that mess... I put all of my unit binders out on the student desks and began to work my way through the paperwork. I knew it much of it would date to before the musical as that's when my (very proud) organizational skills fell apart... I had one row dedicated to the five co-curriculars I worked on. I had one row dedicated to freshmen English (storytelling, research essay, speech, poetry, Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, misc.), and one for misc. (remedial English, handouts from admin, other folks lesson plans that I haven't taught, creative writing ideas). I stacked and stacked for two hours, then I realized I was very late for the BodyWorks exhibit (which we didn't go to as our puppy was in much need of a walk).

It was nice to spend two hours cleaning out some shelves... most of that time was in front of the recycling bin, plucking staples from student work and mourning the loss of those students. Seriously, this is the first time I have had 180 days with kids and I wish I was teaching sophomore English. I would rather have to re-learn material rather than losing them, but I'll get over it because I know that I have a list of 130 fabulous freshmen that will hang out with me periods two through five (I have first hour prep and sixth hour creative writing).

It felt so natural to be back there again. I'm glad I left my cell in the car as I probably would have called Ryan to postpone (which we are doing anyway). I was content drifting through those piles of papers... my originals, their responses, my photocopies, my copies of copies... my tens of units sorting themselves out and so much student work. I took down things from my walls that have been there since January--an ode to my stool by one student, a poster of Irish writers since St Patrick's Day, a Shakespeare action figure.

I have a tough time saying goodbye.

It was easy on the last day of school.

They had worn me out so much, especially with the musical (I feel like this is definitely my refrain and I have a sneaky feeling it will be the same next year). I loved them, but I wanted to boot them out my door! Now how do I get them back again? Ha. I don't. I start over again and hope that I will have the same gems as I did this past year. And maybe can tolerate some of the struggles a little better.

I feel like I'm saying the same thing over and over again.

I love my job. It is frustrating.

Welcome to another school year of my blog.

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