Saturday, October 23, 2010

Staying Positive

Hello friends and family. I haven't updated recently and you can probably guess why. Most of you who are teachers most likely remember your first year teaching as one busy, overwhelming, fuzzy year. Well, that's where I'm at.

On top of grading 80 personal narratives, 70 book reports, and creating new lesson plans for The Giver, I also began teaching a book I have never read--Esperanza Rising, and decided it would be a good idea to completely revamp the essay rubrics from the teacher before me (while I now stand by these new rubrics philosophically, it was a daunting, time-consuming task that I should have saved for another year). In addition to this, I have my first observation of my Paideia seminar with the 8th graders this Thursday, AND I have been given the task of creating a new rigorous, classical grammar curriculum for the 7th and 8th graders.

With all this, I have begun to feel a little negative about my career choice. I use my 30 minute commute to school to therapeutically repeat to myself, "I love my job. I love my job. I love my job." And then my 30 minute commute back home to ask, exasperatingly, "Why did I choose this job, again?!"

I realize now, why so many teachers, the positive beacons of the future, tend to fall into that deep dark pit of negativity and cynicism. Like I have mentioned before, negative teachers are what irk me the most about this profession, and I have always swore to myself I would never become one.

So I decided to compile a list of all the things that I have experienced thus far that have given me that warm, gooey feeling in my tummy. You know, those moments where you smile, sigh deeply and think to yourself "Now this is why I love my job"...

1. When my students 'prepped' me for the Staff vs. Senior volleyball game at pepfest last week. They showed me how to properly stand and hold my hands so I didn't break my thumbs, then lined up to high-five me after the game (though I probably made contact with the ball one time).

2. When students rehearsed their arguing points for my "Lady and the Tiger" trial during recess, so they could prepare for their trial in class that afternoon, which proceeded to get extremely emotional and heated.

3. When the social studies teacher told me my kids referenced Atticus Finch when she asked them "Who is a great role model?"

4. When a group of jocky 8th grade boys stopped me in the hallway before school to apologize for reading ahead in To Kill a Mockingbird, "I'm sorry, Ms. Baird, but that was just evil you made us stop right before Tom Robinson got on the stand. I just had to keep reading."

5. This is going to sound mean, but when I failed a student for not following directions or typing his book report, asking him to please re-do. Based on the student's history with me, I expected him to completely blow it off. He turned in it the next day, re-written and typed. I realize that was probably with much parental pressure, but I was still just happy to know he finally took me seriously.

6. When I have trouble starting my class because the students are all angry and upset about their reading from the night before in The Giver. "The world Jonas lives in is just STUPID. How can they call it perfect when there are so many rules?!" I've never seen so many kids get so involved in a book!

These are my favorite moments that have stood out above any other. Of course, there are some of those cute "aw, they really like me!" moments, but those aren't nearly as significant as the ones where my impact as their teacher can be recognized. If you're not a teacher, you are probably rolling your eyes or shrugging your shoulders thinking, "what's the big deal?" but if you are a teacher, especially a first year teacher like me, you probably realize just how rewarding these little things can be in a day.

So, while I look ahead to my Saturday slurping down a chai, hovering over 50 more papers with my correcting pen in hand, I can at least put it all into perspective. Yes, I am busy. Yes, my job is hard. But looking back at this little list, at least I can repeat therapeutically to myself "I love my job. I love my job. I love my job" with a little bit more conviction.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This is what happens when you get busy in life...

My room accidentally exploded this week.

I realize this post has nothing to do with actual teaching, it is more just the side effects of teaching. It's amazing that in the interview for my job, I actually sold myself as a "highly organized person."

In other developments, last week, around Thursday, I finally started to feel somewhat comfortable in my job, like I had a hold on things. Of course, this week I have 165 papers coming in (85 personal narratives, 80 outside reading reports), so that might change. But I do feel like I have developed bit of a rhythm, I know what to expect from my students and they know what to expect from me. I'm not nearly as exhausted every night, nor am I desperately scrounging for lessons at 11 PM every night. Don't get me wrong, I'm not quite cool as a cucumber yet. I'm still an anxious, insecure first-year teacher. But my stress-induced heart palpitations have definitely decreased :-)

With this newfound comfort, I think I might be ready to start living on my own. I've been perusing craigslist lately looking at apartments. I'd like to live in St. Paul, which would shave off a good 10-15 minutes from my commuting time. I imagine myself inhabiting the childhood home of F. Scott Fitzgerald, with the original hardwood floors and porcelain sinks, his writing inspiration seeping in through the white wood trimmed windows. *Sigh* But I'll settle for something close...a 1 bedroom with hardwood floors will do. Anyone know of anything available?