I have a one year provisional license until I complete this first year of school. At that time, I will receive a regular five year license. I've completed my coursework, but monthly posts on Blackboard are required on various topics. This month's topic: Share one of your success stories with us! Coming off my SOL trauma, not to mention the fact that the majority of the F's I am giving out this 9 weeks are related to student apathy (i.e., they don't bother to turn any work in), and the fact that my 11th graders hate Lord of the Flies so much that the mere suggestion that they read it (versus me reading it to them) results in mutiny; I'm not really feeling so "successful", much less in a mind to toot my own horn in a public forum.
However, after some reflection, I can be objective enough to offer the following:
1. I am not taking things nearly as personally as I was at the start of the year. This means that when a student is disrespectful, doesn't do their work or any of the other unacceptable things that I experience on a daily basis, I react much less emotionally. This means I come across as more in control to the class and its also less exhausting.
2. I have done a fairly good job with the work/home life balance. I am really organized and I hardly ever bring work home. I grade things promptly and stay on top of my other work. Part of this is because I don't do a lot of socializing at work. I will say that I am very good at multi-tasking, which means I can grade papers and chat at the same time. Beyond that, I work through lunch and I grade papers during my duty. Its worth it!
3. My lesson plans are pretty good for a rookie! First of all, I am pretty creative. For example, like I just said, my 11th graders are really struggling with Lord of the Flies. So every class we do some kind of interactive activity that is related in some way (even if its a stretch) to the theme of the book. Its helped quite a bit. When I am at a loss, I rely on two other important sources. The first is my colleagues. Unlike other schools, they are more than willing to share and I so appreciate that. The second is that the Internet is a beautiful thing, rich with lesson plans that other teachers have been kind enough to post. Why reinvent the wheel??
4. I think I have the respect of my colleagues (am I right Mr. I?). They all know that I am green as hell, but that I work hard, I care about the kids, and that I am always open to suggestions. My department head said to me once "One of the things I like about you is that you recognize that you don't know it all and are willing to learn".
5. Generally, I am having a good time. I love walking in each morning and passing various kids in the hall and saying hello to them. I enjoy my first period off when my department head and two other teachers share stories, blow off steam, do immature things like cut the fingers off the clacker we were given ("give yourselves a hand") so that only the middle one sticks up, and say saracastic things to each other like "Go make a difference today!" and "I believe that children are our future!" I like that I can be my oddball self in class and its to my advantage. I love when kids come and talk to me personally about things. I love when a kid wants extra help and I have the opportunity to truly teach. I love when kids connect with a lesson. I love it when (this happened the other day) a kid who I have zero expectations for, surprises me not just by turning in a book report, but an unbelievably fantastic book report.
Anyhoo, I'm going to end with a tale of what happened in my infamous 7th period (or as I like to call it, EFF...English for Future Felons). "T" arrived in my class 5 minutes late--no pass, no explanation, no apology. Then, while everyone else was doing their work, T pulls out her markers and proceeds to colorfully write out in big letters "Becky is a nigger!". This is so wrong, I don't even know where to start. However, it merits saying that "T" is of the same ethnicity as "Becky". I'm not sure what the thought process was there. Five minutes later, T's phone rings in class, so I took her phone.
After class T says to me, "Miz Nilknarf, are you going to give me my phone back?" I told her I was not.
"When can I get it back?" I responded that she would get it back from Mr. Administrator.
All during this, T's two friends, who I had asked repeatedly to leave class, attempted to persuade me as well to give the phone back. When all of this was for naught, T stood up and yelled to her friends "You betta git dis bitch out my face!" and stomped out of the classroom. Interestingly, this is the second time T has told me to "get out her face" and neither time was I anywhere near her face.
Eighteen weeks ago, an exchange like this would have devastated me. Now, its just annoying, like a mosquito buzzing around my face (that's a simile, kids!) and a great story to share with my friends and family.