October 9th, 2011
Well, it was one of those weeks. I think since I've been here I've been teaching on adrenaline and excitement, but this week the adrenaline ran out. I had more than one moment where I felt like I was about six inches tall and my voice was muted. I felt like I wasn't that productive and was discouraged about the amount of learning (or lack of) that went on this week. The majority of my time was spent on classroom management, and it was exhausting. After speaking to colleagues and friends, I learned that this feeling is not uncommon among first year teachers, and it was comforting to know that I'm not alone. After journaling about my rough week, I decided I wanted to create a blog that I can refer back to when I have another week like this past one. Although I'm optimistic that the good weeks will outweigh the bad ones, I think it's important to remember why I became a teacher in the first place, and keep the focus on progress, rather than on the fall backs.
So I'm going back to the beginning, and brainstorming all of the reasons I became a teacher, and also the things I have to look forward to. I hope this helps any other first year teachers out there, and I'm always looking for feedback from seasoned teachers! (Hint hint: Someone PLEASE tell me it's going to get easier ;o) )
Reason #1: I Love Learning
I'm embracing my inner geek and admitting that I love school, and always have. I try to keep in mind that school has always come easy to me, and the fact that that's not going to be so of the majority of the students that I teach. I've enjoyed almost every class I've ever taken and I'm always excited to learn something new, take a new class or read a new book. I like learning about new people and new cultures, which is what drew me to this specific teaching job. Across the country there are students that enjoy learning, and students that absolutely despise the thought of having to get up and go to school. I'm trying to take my love for learning and focus it on learning how to motivate those that don't care to be motivated and how to make learning interesting and fun. Everyone has the right to learn, yet the classroom is not always best suited for each individual student. I hope that I can find a way to be an effective teacher by inspiring not only my students to learn, but myself to continue learning in new ways.
Reason #2: I've Been Inspired by Great Teachers
I have been seriously blessed to have been taught by the teacher's that I've had. I went to a public school and was taught by teachers who were passionate and serious about learning. The people teaching me played a huge role in the reason I still love school. I can only aspire to be as effective and inspiring a teacher as those that taught me, but in my mind, it's a wonderful challenge and an opportunity to give back to our society.
Reason #3: I Believe in Education
You can't choose the life that you're born into, the parents you'll have or the opportunities you'll be given. I feel immensely lucky to have been born into a caring and supportive family that loves me and motivates me to learn and to help others. However, I know that not everyone has had it as easy as I have. In our society, education is what leads you to independence, and I believe that everyone, regardless of whatever circumstance they have been dealt, should be educated and given the ability to stand on their own two feet. While I have mixed feelings about the values of standardized test scores and other standards to which students are held accountable for, I do believe that school--public or private, should be the place where kids can learn without being judged, and can develop a foundation for themselves, regardless of the path they choose post high school. I try every day to try to get my students to relate what I'm teaching them to their lives, and to apply it to life outside of school. It doesn't matter where you teach or to what population, education is empowering and that alone is motivation enough for me.
Reason #4: IT'S FUN!
Kids are insanely refreshing. Not a day has gone by where my students haven't given me a new perspective on something or made me laugh. The world changes everyday, and it's so much fun to gain perspective from the minds of your students. As much of a chore that writing seems to be, my students are SO creative! I hope that I am able to get them to recognize and embrace their creativity, and turn it into something productive. While teaching might become exhausting or discouraging at times, I don't think it will ever get old. The anticipation of meeting new students and discovering new ways to meet their needs each year is, at this point, more exciting than daunting. Any of you that know me, know that I'm a bookworm, so if my job entails reading books for the rest of my life, then I'm pretty psyched. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I consider it both creative and therapeutic. I'd like to be able to make it fun for my students, especially those that groaned when they found out that Language Arts was code for reading and writing! You never know what the day is going to bring, but Brendan and I can bet on being able to exchange crazy stories over dinner when we get home.
There are a million more reasons I became a teacher, but these are the biggies. Of course I'll enjoy my summers and holidays off, especially once we have a family. The new technology infiltrating schools is an exciting perk too, one that I'm still trying to get the hang of. The collaborative environment of a school staff has proved to be extremely helpful, and I'll forever get to cheer on my students in sports and extracurricular activities, that I can continue to take part in.
After a long, trying week, I took Saturday completely off and didn't try to work or to lesson plan. I took a nap, read for fun and did some journaling and online shopping. It was refreshing to take a day for myself and to spend time with B. I decided I needed some perspective, so I'm starting my week off with this blog and staying optimistic. There are going to be great weeks and there are going to be not so great weeks, but I think that maintaining a positive outlook and being flexible will make it easier.
Brendan gets his own classroom starting tomorrow, and is about to get a crash course in lesson planning! He'll be in the Alternative Learning Environment, getting back to basics with some kids that need one-on-one, focused attention. I think he's a little overwhelmed, as this all happened today, but he's going to be great! We'll keep you posted on his success! :o)
Like I said before, ANY advice is much appreciated! We are learning so much every day, and are so thankful to have each other. This experience continues to be an adventure and a challenge, and we are still so excited to be here. It's time to get ready for the upcoming week--I'm going into it refreshed and motivated, prepared and hoping for the best!!