Lost in the Beginning

I guess this could be a cry for help (or maybe a moment needing therapy, I’m unsure).

Many important things have changed in my life since the beginning of this blog, and I wonder if I was a better person then. New home, new team, new relationships. Perhaps, I was only naive back then and maybe that was better.

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First Year Teacher: First Meetings & Other Faculty

I teach in the library, as I am also the librarian. My room is the biggest classroom and many meetings are held in there. The teacher before me had the highest test scores in the school. Man, these are some big shoes to fill, but I will in my own time and in my own way.

But already I can see that these meetings will complicate the structure of the classroom. As there are many chairs and garbage left around the room… Ugh. It’s going to be a struggle, but for a dream job then I guess this works.

I just feel a little overwhelmed. There is so much information being thrown at me and it’s a little difficult to keep up, but I am doing my best to manage everything. I’m such a newbie that I’ve considered many aspects of the room, but I am still discovering my own practices for implementing expectations and other protocols.

I’m so excited to meet the kids tomorrow that I doubt I will sleep, but I will have to try to do so. My outfit is ready, I still need to paint my nails, and all the copies have been made. I just need to get started on the copies for Friday lest I need to spend money in Staples on said copies.

I feel like I’m still missing key pieces of information here, and I am unsure if I should go and ask the first day or wait until the smoke settles a bit. But then again, I’m very eager to become knowledgeable about this school’s way of doing things. I’m trying to not be a perfectionist and I’m trying to practice being an essentialist. That way I am not overwhelmed by little things. And so far, it has been working.

But I can definitely see I still have a lot to learn and a lot to watch out for. While my mentor encourages me to not look at the last teacher’s materials and create my own, another encourages me to do so because she had the highest test scores. I know it’s definitely helpful, but I can already feel the pressure building. My APs are kind and encouraging, and they have told me that I will make a thousand mistakes and that it is O.K. And they they remember what it was like their own first year. I’ve been studying like crazy, designing skill-centered lessons, and trying to stay authentic for myself and my students.

“My students.” Well, I’m going to have to get used to the terms. All 120 of them.

I’m buzzing with anxiety. Both good and bad. AH! And the countdown to the first official hour begins. . .

First Year Teacher: The Room and Worries

It has been a couple of days since my first visit to my new classroom. I’ve cleaned it up, moved stuff around, and I’m trying to figure out my own classroom flow. How do I want the desks? What are my behavioral expectations? How will I communicate bits and pieces of myself for authenticity? How will I encourage students to use the library? What events can I do to encourage reading as a teacher and as a librarian?

I have tons of ideas already. As for the classroom stuff, I’m going between several ideas. A friend of mine, who is on her second year of teaching, shared with me a lesson on multiple intelligence. She also teaches 7th grade ELA. It’s kind of funny how we both wound up teaching the same grade with similar and dissimilar passions. She loves poetry, and I really like it. I love young adult fiction, and she really likes it. It’s nice to have a balance.

But. . .oops. I just pulled on a knot in my hair and many strands fell out. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the start of the year. I want students to check out books, but I don’t know the system yet. I want students to feel excited to be in my classroom, but I don’t know how to encourage that yet. My room will be occupied for the entire day for a meeting. (The principal apologized profusely, and I know I can work around it. However, it’s still stress inducing.)

I think I’m just psyching myself out. Maybe. Probably. I just bought some more things for the room to make it my own. As my new mentor explained, she said I should find my own way to do things and not to follow someone else’s footsteps. However, when you’re new and nervous. . .well, then what happens? Blah. I just really, really want to do a good job. I want the kids to learn and be happy and be excited to come into the room. I know I’ll do a good job, but I don’t know if it will be good enough. I’m trying to avoid being a perfectionist here, as I am still learning. And the greater the perfectionism, the more likely I will stress over little things and miss the great accomplishments I will, hopefully, make with my students.

I was nervous teaching college, and I did it. The students learned and improved and came to appreciate writing. Which, for them, was a big step in their academic careers. I was nervous teaching my new college class this semester, but I did it.

(sigh) I just need to do my best. But also I need to spoil myself so I can make sure that I have things around me that inspire me and let me know that I’m new and no one expects me to be perfect the first year. In reality, though, I kind of want to be… Blah. I think I just need some sleep.

I cleaned the room today like crazy and made sure the tables shined. I also started organizing a bunch of other things and learned that I might be able to see my students’ sixth grade portfolios, which is great. I did find an awesome bus as well, though, that gets me to the school much sooner. And it’s comfortable. Hehe! Also, there’s a 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts right across the street. There goes my money! . . .I just need to make sure I surround myself with good vibes. Wish me luck? (insert nervous laugh here)

New Beginnings: First Year Teacher

I was hired on Tuesday. I love the school, my assistant principal is great, the principal is supportive, and my (possible) mentoring teacher is awesome. I will be teaching four 7th grade ELA courses: two general courses, one ICT course, and one SP course. And I will also be the librarian. Although the specifics are a little blurred due to my excitement, it seems it will either be (1) for the whole “house” or (2) for the whole school. I’ve always wanted to experience both of these positions, and I will now be able to, or at least try my best to, support good reading habits in many different ways. (I can’t wait to help students find some fantastic books! AH!)

At this point, it’s a dream job. I’ve been skipping around these last few days, as it is now technically Saturday after midnight, in Cloud Nine.

Life is great.

I’m very nervous, however, since it is my first time teaching middle school. Many friends of mine have been worrying me with the following phrase: “They’re going through puberty; that’s a rough and terrible age. Are you nuts?” I’ve been ordering books like crazy on lesson planning, Common Core, and avoiding teacher burnout for the first year. Oh, and those handy First Year Teacher books that will make me feel better on those rough days.

I know I’ll be doing the best that I can do with everything that I am learning so quickly. And I think that’s enough, right? I hope so. I hope I can make a difference, as I’ve been told many of the students have a very low reading level. I truly hope I can help them get to where they need to be.

Now, time to look around online for possible things for the room. My new mentor has explained that I should buy the basics as well as some things that will cheer me up on those rough days. She also suggested a couple of books for me to read, and I’m excited to get them tomorrow. And I’m meeting my new college students tomorrow as well!

I hope I have not bitten off more than I can chew. But here’s to my first post as a first year. I think I’ll go get a dessert to keep myself from overthinking and panicking a bit. Ha!

Other Possibilities: Explorations of Alternative Careers

WP_20150328_002As of late, I’ve been slashing my résumé with a red pen…which hasn’t helped the job search. And with my graduation on the horizon, I’m uneasy without my usual plans and goals. I’ve always had a plan, you see, and a deadline. For the last seven years, I’ve planned my entire academic career to make sure I graduate on the deadline I’ve set. I guess it’s a little hard to break such habits… And it becomes impossible when you have so many interests.  (more…)