It is what it Is

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 21 2012

Back from Hiatus… (otherwise known as, No, I’m not dead)

Some pictures from my classroom

I’ve just been teaching full time. Which I totally thought would kill me, but so far, I’m craftier. Every time teaching tries to take me out with another task, assessment, obligation or faculty meeting, or – heaven forbid – certification class homework, I’ve been savvier. I borrow from other teachers, I quick test build with TestWiz, I rearrange my schedule and decide I don’t really need five whole hours of sleep, multitask (faculty meetings are my new dinner time), or in some cases, just straight up procrastinate. Except for that last one, I’m doing okay.

I think I’m in such great spirits since I just came back from a run. Let me make it very clear: there is a time and place for running, and that is when you are being chased by a psycho with a knife. However, societal pressure being what it is, and the fact that my entire school team is crazy fit… I’m bowing to peer pressure! I will also be a Girls on the Run buddy come June at Soldier Field. Plus, I got compliments from a bike rider in the vein of “Mmm, yeah girl, work it” and a wink from another guy walking with another girl. Clearly, I’m sexier when sweating.

So what has it been like since November, you ask? Well… that’s like asking someone who lived abroad to tell you about traveling Europe. I haven’t done it yet, but I hope I adopt a superior air once I do. The daily trials and tribulations are exhausting, the rewards are incredibly astounding, and I’ve recently gotten into the habit of pausing at a random point in my day and thinking, “Oh God, what am I doing? How did I become responsible for 31 lives? I can’t even keep a cactus alive!”

- True story; very traumatic. I also killed a bamboo. And a palm tree. I’ve got skillz. –

I’ve recently realized that either (a) I’m hitting my stride! I’m a better teacher now! (b) I really suck and just subconsciously can’t work up the effort to care (c) I’ve gotten way better at faking it and stealing stuff! (d) a and c. I think I’ll use my test taking strategies and select d. I’m just getting more relaxed. I’m not pressuring myself to work all the time and micromanage every minute of my classroom time.

I’ve come to a realization that I’m sure my MTLD would not be a fan of. Sometimes, I let my kids read independently for almost a whole half an hour of the day. And that’s okay. Sometimes, I don’t redirect in the ten seconds when a scholar talks to their neighbor. I’m absolutely pulling my support from my middle school theory class – my kiddies are ten. Honestly, I need to let them talk. I absolutely am in control. For example, I caught a note in midair as it was flying across the room today – it was fairly epic. But they need to socialize. I do not want to turn them into the automatons that our school culture, with its emphasis on obedience and conformity, sometimes produces. I want creativity. I want debates. I want scholars who ask questions and find their own answers. If I need to justify my work as transformational change – there it is right there. I’m schooling thinkers and researchers… I hope.

Not every day is great. I came home recently head dragging because there are two children I can’t seem to reach. Earlier in the year, their behavior had not been problematic. Now, they are constantly the central figures in my story. I’m scared to death that they will harm themselves as they scramble down the stairs or slide across the classroom floor. At times, I want to seriously consider Velcro connecting pants and seat bottoms. And I hope that I can find a topic to help them silently protest – mainly so I can enjoy the silence.

There are a lot of students I’m helping – both within my classroom and in other grades. Through coaching the boys and girls basketball team I have worked with several seventh and eighth graders who need a teacher who isn’t automatically against them. Unfortunately, some of them feel in opposition to their classroom teacher on a daily basis. My favorite part of a day is when I get an in-school suspension student and can reason through their choices with them and help them identify and problem solve negative behaviors. Sometimes, I’m really teacher-y ; sometimes, I keep it real. I’m more fun when I keep it real.

So while my life hasn’t slowed down, I have. I still tutor Mondays and Wednesdays after school. I still have faculty meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I still have professional development, class, homework, and prep work to do. But I’m making a commitment to carry less home – literally and metaphorically. I’d rather leave it all here. This is my recommitment to myself to reflect on my teaching and work every day to find the joy. So, till tomorrow, good night and good luck.


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