Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The New Kid

"You have no enthusiasm!"

"Can you say that again?"

"I don't get what you mean."

"I know this is rude, but can you stop saying 'um' all the time?"

"How was that disrespectful?"

"I don't know how to start that problem."

"You want us to write all that?!"

"What are we supposed to do again?"

The first thing you learn in a teaching credential program is Classroom Management. They will tell you to have the students rehearse the correct way to enter and exit the classroom. They will tell you to make the students do this over and over again until they do it correctly.

There are other things I paid $600/month for them to "teach" me, but having shared that piece of knowledge about Classroom Management, I'm going to bare my soul to you and say that I was way too proud to take this advice to heart for the past four years. Me, take time out of my lessons?!? No freakin' way!

Last week I learned a very important lesson: The students have to rehearse the correct way to enter and exit the room. And you, the teacher, cannot let up until they do it correctly.

I had more of an epiphany today while talking to the school dean during our professional development (PD) time.
"I'm tired," I began, "but I don't feel like I should say so because I'm working at a job -- a career -- that I like, I'm passionate about, and hearing myself say that I'm tired just makes me feel like I want to quit."

"Well," he said (I'm paraphrasing), "if you're tired you can't help but be tired. Maybe it's not a physical tiredness; it could be mental or emotional."

I had an amazing summer, folks. Not only did I complain about being "bored," but after I was done bemoaning the fact that I didn't have any responsibilities (unlike many others to whom I'd like to extend a personal apology for my naiveté), I started enjoying the time off. I'll just knit all day! Watch four documentaries in a row -- is that even a question?! Make me another cocktail! I think I'll spend by the afternoon by the pool, working on my latest project of The Perfect Tan. (FYI: mission accomplished.)

Now that we're on Day 7 of school, I find myself doing the only thing that gives me both infinite gratification and infinite head/heartaches: teaching. I know it sounds mushy but I was deliberating the role of High School Teacher with coworkers and acknowledged the fact that we all do so much more than simply introduce ideas from our content areas to people. I'm not only a math teacher, but I am also your Counselor, your Advocate, your Binder-Organizer, your Cheerleader, your Intervention facilitator (both in the academic and non-academic context), your Favorite Person on some days and the Most Dreaded Person if I call home at dinnertime . . .

Having said all that, being "the new kid" has never felt better for me. I used to dread the idea of moving on to new surroundings, then I welcomed it as a part of the flow of life. Earlier this [calendar] year I recognized that change of scenery was imperative towards my professional growth. Even though at times I felt like my brain was going to slush out of my ears from all the new policies and new names and faces, I knew I wasn't alone because there were new teachers, too, and I luckily would be teaching new students. It's only Day 7 and even though I acknowledge I'm tired, I believe in the school, the system, and the students.