Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I am going to make 2 lists in this blog: Things that are Making Me Happy Right Now and Things that are Not Making Me Happy Right Now. That's right, I'm dumbing it down to something that basic and simple...essentially it's a glorified diary entry. But here's the deal, I'm going to make a concerted effort to make one list longer than the other...because that's the list I want to really focus on.
Things That are Not Making Me Happy
I miss my old school, my old students and my old teacher friends.
You know how much I hate dwelling on the negative, so this is the only thing I am going to put on this list, because it is probably the most overwhelming feeling, related to my job, that I am experiencing right now. In my last entry I wrote about how much I missed the familiarity and comfort of knowing what I was doing every day in my job, now I am missing the actual people I used to surround myself with on a daily basis.
By the end of the school year last year, I felt pretty good about my knowledge of a middle school kid's psyche. I could predict when they would have questions, when they might challenge me, when they might try to pull a fast one, or when they were too uncomfortable to say how they really felt. I knew which assignments were going to make them tick and which assignments were going to make them groan. It probably took me at least 6 months to master it, but I was pretty confident by the end of those 6 months, that I knew how to be a middle school teacher. So now, I am relearning and asking myself every day, how do I become a high school teacher?
What I miss more than my students though, are the adults I worked with every day. I never realized how great it was to be teaching with other young people in their first 5 years of teaching. Though we were all at different stages in our career, we were still all learning together. And the teachers still had the same energy and enthusiasm for aspects of teaching that older, or should I just say more experienced teachers just find to be old news. We would debrief every day, sometimes sprawled out like defeated soldiers in Jessica's classroom, just talking about the little nuances, frustrations and joys of our job. I didn't realize until now how important that was.
Things That are Making Me Happy
Putting a good book in to a student's hand.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from students this past week:
"My mom thought something was wrong with me because I was reading so much yesterday."
"I finished that book you gave me yesterday last night. Now what should I read?"
"Okay, this is really weird, I am actually enjoying this book....you don't understand, Ms. Baird, Ihate reading."
I am still convinced that there is nothing more powerful than placing the right book in to the right kids' hands.
I'm starting to take more ownership of my lessons.
I breezed through the first couple of weeks of school without enough confidence to create my own lessons. I scraped together borrowed lessons from other teachers and half-heartedly presented them like a robot. Then I went home and wondered why I wasn't gaining any pleasure or excitement from my job.
Then it dawned on me! Some people are teachers who enjoy conveying a message through a medium that has already been created. They can easily pick up the "rhythm" of another teacher's design and make it their own. I am not that kind of teacher. I get all my energy from designing the lesson and activity myself.
So, slowly but surely, I have begun to incorporate my own flair and ideas in to my lessons. I'm even beginning to use some of the great technology aspects that I have been wanting to use on a daily basis. Thanks to mom, who never fails to inundate my inbox with new classroom tech tools! I hope to continue to find the time and energy and enthusiasm for creating my own activities every day because I think it is truly what gives me the exuberance in my classroom that I need.
I am taking time out for me.
This summer I discovered a new love: yoga. It is truly the closest I have come to spirituality in a very long time. Yesterday, I mustered up the energy to force myself to go to candlelight yoga from . Since I haven't gone in about a month, I was sweatier than normal, but afterward, I really did feel more at peace with the chaos of my life. My favorite lines that yoga instructors often say are what keep me coming back:
"You have already gotten through the hardest part of this session, and that was making the time in your day to be here."
"There is no judgement here. All that matters is what is happening in the confines of your mat."
"Clear your mind, let go of everything that has happened in your day, everything you are worried about in your future, and just be present."
In addition to yoga, I also ran a 5k with my family last weekend. Again, I had been running all summer, and while I was not thrilled with my run at the race, I was very proud of what I had accomplished. I've found that when I do make the decision to run, it is an escape unlike any other. My body is moving and breathing and beating in rhythm. It is almost like another form of meditation, my mind clears and all that has happened in my day is transferred in to my legs and feet.
Another thing that I did last week that was extremely refreshing was on last Wednesday night. Kelsey invited me to this “thing” that doesn’t really have a name because they aren’t really sure what it is. Its groundwork is in conversation. Essentially, it’s a bunch of people, my age, coming together to talk in guided discussion. While some of it is faith based, it isn’t a bible study nor is it heavy on the things that tend to really bug me about Christianity. There was good tea, good live music, a good story and great conversation. I realized how much I miss being able to interact with other people my age intellectually, like in college. It felt so good to get out of the house on a week night and put my energy in to something new and different and out of my comfort zone. I’m hoping it can be something I make in to a habit.
I am going to stop this list now, because I feel satisfied that I am surrounding myself with people and things and hobbies that are keeping me happy and grounded. Right now, I may not be defining my happiness through my job, and although I some day would like to be, as long as I keep my life infused with these little things, I know I’ll be okay.
Oh and frequent phone calls with my old school friends definitely help too!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I spent the first four days of my summer vacation on the Washington D.C. trip with the 8th grade class. Here I am standing next to Eleanor Roosevelt at the beautiful FDR memorial. You can see the look of sheer exhaustion in my face...the dark circles, the pale cheeks, the tired eyes, the forced smile. That is how I felt the entire trip. Chaperoning 44 8th graders in a foreign city is like hoarding confused, helpless cattle. I mean that in the most loving way. I've never felt more like a mother in my life, and the stress and pressure of taking care of these students left me reduced to an anxiety ridden mess. I barely enjoyed the sights (luckily, I have been to D.C. three times!) I was so bombarded with sensory overload. Watching and interacting with the students outside of the classroom was amazing though and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Jessica and I abandoned our mature adult teacher selves to become incredibly ridiculous 13 year old versions of ourselves. We commemorated our friendship by buying button rings at the American History museum. By the end of the trip, Jess and I were acting so goofy and giggly, students began giving us weird looks. One student said to us, "Um, I think you guys need to get some sleep."
Persona #4: Birthday Princess
My next goal? A vintage patterned A-line skirt... for teaching, of course!
So those are my personas. While I feel like I really haven't done a whole lot yet and the summer is halfway over, after writing this, I realize I have and I am really happy about what I have accomplished. I like living this "double life" in the summer, and turning my brain off from the stress and madness of the school year. Soon, not yet, but soon, I'm sure, I'll be completely refreshed and renewed and ready for my second year of teaching at a brand new school.
Persona #7: The Lazy Morning Blogger
Saturday, June 11, 2011
(Before I begin, I will acknowledge that I have not written since March, and a lot has changed since then. Hopefully, this entry will put what little closure I can on the year)
Today was the last day of school. It was a chaotic day of yearbook signing, rated G movies, and tearful hugs in the hallways.
But I was happy I did it.
Last Thursday I accepted a position at a new school. It is across the river, where I student taught and currently coach. I put in my letter of resignation on Friday. I told my students on Monday.
In the end, I can’t really articulate all that happened this year. I feel like I have grown five years in just ten months. I was telling coworkers a funny story about my six- person college house experiences, and I suddenly realized that was only last year. Students were writing and telling me things today that I thought I might one day, after many years of teaching, hear from students. How did I come so far in such little time?
Kids are amazing. People are inspiring. I am always growing.
All year Jessica and my students were obsessed with the idea that we were actually friends in real life. I think their image of our friendship was solidified after they witnessed us giggling loudly, taking pictures of ourselves on a webcam from the back of the room, while they watched this movie.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Isn't it interesting that right next to the expectedly common words I use like "students" and "school" and "teaching" there is also the word "love"?
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
1. My first week of school as a new teacher
3. Staff development days that are smooth and productive
4. Staff development days that are long and writhe with staff tension
5. Angry parent e-mails and phone calls
6. Teaching 3 books I have never taught before and only read once before
7. Sending kids to the principal's office
8. Non-uniform days (you will understand if you teach at a school with uniforms)
9. Having "the talk" with mouthy kids in the hallway (you know, where I am the one who is probably more nervous than the student)
10. Being observed by my principal (and all good feedback!)
11. The week before Christmas break...combined with a non-uniform day
And so much more...of course.
One thing I've really learned, out of the kajillion things I learn every day in this crazy new experience, was from something my "new-teacher-mentor" told me back in November. I was venting...or most likely fretting, to him about something I was nervous about doing in my classroom. I was probably going on and on, and finally he cut me off and said. "Maddie, it's not about you. This whole thing...it's not about you. It's about the students."
Shot to my ego.
I wanted to immediately defend myself and say, "Oh I know, of course it is, of course it is." But the truth is, I didn't think like that for my first half-school year of teaching. Every move I made, every lesson I planned, I worried about me. "Is this going to be stupid? Will the kids think this is lame? Will I be able to fill enough time? Will this take too much time? Are the other teachers judging me? Does my principal think I'm a bad hire?" and on and on and on.
Shit, this blog is all about me.
And when you are in college, sure, you learn teaching techniques, lessons, classroom management, organization, standards, etc. But all you're really thinking about is fulfilling your own dream of becoming a teacher. You're not thinking about "changing the world, one student at a time." No, let's be honest, I was thinking about how sweet it would be to have 70 kids calling me Ms. Baird and looking up to me like the awesome, cute, funny, charming, responsible role-model I wanted to be.
Time to get over myself and worry about actually being a good teacher.
So here I am, halfway through the school year, and I finally have a grasp on what teaching is all about. It's tiring and ruthless, but it's not about me. If I love my job, then I love it for the effect I have on my students, not for the effect the job has on me.
And if nothing else...I love it because I get pictures like this, from one of my 7th graders, attempting to draw a "rapier" for a vocabulary assignment.
Is that a rapier in your pocket or are you just...
Okay, no, I won't go there.