Monday, September 17, 2007

observation #1

There are three observations any new teacher must leap through. At my new school, the first two are planned, and the third is a surprise. I actually like the idea of the last, just as I like the idea of a principal dropping in on my classroom at any given time: it keeps me accountable. And it keeps me from behind my desk and in front of the classroom, moving, keeps each lesson just as planned and important as the ones before.

Today's observation went well; I scheduled it with the ALC kids. I cannot even begin to truly explain how lovely it is working with this group of thirteen kids. I had braced myself, thought this would be tough, without a team teacher, had thought I might be miserable--to the contrary. I anticipate this hour, love it, enjoy each moment. These kids are fabulous.

And halfway through the lesson, my principal got a phone call. She left, and I relaxed a little, because being observed makes my pulse rate leap just a little, and when she came back, she was quiet. This principal--well, she speaks with this pace, this jutting tone that spreads her passion, these little phrases that she breathes out to her audiences, lets them know, as she gets down on her knees, that she loves education and she wants us to become a better school, one of the best in the state, in the nation. And someone like me--well, I believe her. So to see her return so subdued, a little red-eyed... it was humbling.

We had a good, well paced lesson. The kids are easy to work with, and she knows that. After they left, she apologized for leaving (no problem--I think of that phrase, "I serve at the pleasure of the President," from watching too much West Wing), and let me know it was her vet, letting her know her eleven and a half year old dog had to be put down. My principal was crying in my classroom, and I hugged her. (How many principals do you hug in a lifetime? I think I've hugged Husband's father at some point, but I'm not sure, and that doesn't even really count.) I cannot imagine losing Penelope or Zephyr or Libby or Gatsby, though I know that day will come. I cried when we lost our last hamster, Pinky, who had the shakes and could no longer drink from his little bottle; we had to take him to the vet to have him put down. My body became ill--flu-like, throwing up into my mittens, when we lost Maggie, the golden retriever we had growing up, and this was when I was a freshmen in high school. No, I cannot imagine, and to learn this at school.

I think of when I was told the budget wouldn't allow for me any more, that they could not renew my contract. I think of crying in my car, the winter thawing, calling Husband again and again on his cell and Kelly telling me to buck up. I think of returning to the classroom and my students seeing me cry, how good they were. I think of ourselves in vulnerable places where we've always thought we cannot be vulnerable, but how good it is to be too--how human we then become. How we all share the sorrow too.


EWH said...

What an intimate moment to share. I'm SO happy to hear you enjoy your students and your admin. Life is good at Local High School, eh?

Life at This High School ticks by with moments to cherish intermingled with moments of frenzy and even despair. Despite your absence and all of the things I hate, life here is good as well.

Medea Zorba said...

"I think of ourselves in vulnerable places where we've always thought we cannot be vulnerable, but how good it is to be too--how human we then become."

This is beautiful. Vulnerability has been on my mind a lot lately, and, as you did in your "answer to where I'm from" post, you expressed in words what I had as merely vague feelings. You're very gifted. And insightful.