Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Thoughts on the End of the Year

These are my initial, fragmented thoughts on completing my first year of teaching. I promise to write more and expound later, but right now I want to capture a complicated feeling.

-Everyone is nicer at the end of the year, other teachers are more friendly, first names are thrown around, and people chat more. I learned first names of some teachers for the first time this week gone past.

-I have invested a seed of friendship with many people in my school…and really didn’t think about missing those folks until today.

-What am I going to do with two months of paid, free time? (Aside from summer classes)

-Oh my god, I made it. Relief. I haven’t started true reflecting yet, but I can say I made it.

-Damn, teaching is really hard. Harder than I thought. This one year felt like six. I gained 20 stress-pound and lost 15. Goal for next year: take better care of my body and don’t let stress control food consumption.

-Taking the classroom apart really sucks. And those barren walls and empty bulletin
boards are ugly.

-I hated throwing away student work, and resented my students for not taking it home. Then I felt pity that they weren’t proud enough of their academics to WANT to take them home.

-Note to self: Write a blog post later this week about how teacher parties really rock.

-After teaching ED (emotionally disturbed) students for a year, I feel pretty ED.

-I locked myself in a bathroom and sobbed like crazy when my last student left around 11 this morning. Tears built from a complicated mix of pride and fear for this student’s future. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I imagine having a child must be a little like this.

-The RCT math results came in last week…and my school did really, really bad. But two of my students passed. I called one student last week and left a voice mail where I must have sounded insane, screaming and getting emotional about how proud I was. That student called back today a little after my crying jag…And I got to tell him to his face (To his voice?) how impressed I was.

-Proctoring exams for ED kids is torture. It broke my heart to see them struggle so hard to stay seated for 3 hours at a time, and get frustrated with only answering a few questions on their scantron.

-I’m a teacher. I teach in Brooklyn. This is real. Teaching made me feel alive. I can do this for another year, maybe I could do it for 20.

-Already I miss the awesome air conditioning in my classroom.

-How do you go from seeing people everyday for 10 months…and then not at all for 2 months?

-Thank the lord I had the good sense not to pursue teaching summer school this year. I don’t think I’d survive the coursework, teaching, and getting ready for next year without burning out mid September.

-I feel like a real adult, building networking relationships with other adults.

-There will be new, first year teachers starting next September. I look forward with morbid curiosity to watching another person travel that same road I just traversed.

-This year has been hell on my emotions. I’ve cried like a sissy in joy, frustration, despair and fear. I’ve brought anger home, and gone without sleep. Am I still me? Am I a different me?

-Teaching poverty level minorities has really made me more sensitive to the everyday prejudice that goes on. (I went to a Mets game yesterday and saw an usher escort a white family to their seats, brush the chairs off and pleasantly remark to enjoy the game. I saw the same usher merely point in the general direction of seats for a black family. WTF?)

There will be more later, and it will be more cohesive. I can’t really focus on more than the weird sense of loss and accomplishment…and the fact I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Congratulations all new teachers.


Blogger Paul said...

Every day you are a different you. Some days make bigger changes than others; some weeks and months and years even more so. But you are still you. Just like the you you were at 10 is different from the you you were at 20, but both are still you.

To paraphrase: Life is change, Princess. Anybody who tells you different is selling something.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 1:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Ah, familiar sentiments, all of them. That, I think, just about wraps it all up. Nicely done!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 3:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

Learn to enjoy the summer off.
It's also a time to recharge. You can also think of how you can change your lessons or room. Your college courses will also keep you busy.

You made it! I for one do not think I would have survived your experience. Thank goodness for teachers like you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Congrats! I too dread standardized testing with ED (and LD) students (although I try not to let this attitude show to my students - they're discouraged enough already). One thought-- if it is warranted and in a students' IEP, he/she may test over multiple days. For some students this really helps (although for others, it just prolongs the agony).

--the relationships that will still be there after two months off will surprise you!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 4:30:00 PM  
Blogger Proverbs16three said...

Throwing away GOOD student work is a NO NO. I save the work to show to the next year's students. A sample of how its done. I take it and have it laminated. There is drawer for good student work. B/c you are new you don't have too much of it. But as the years go on, I'll purge those drawers.

Enjoy your summer vacation. . . I can't wait to hear more on your reflections. Enjoy EVERY MORSEL of sleep b/c when school starts, it is severely limited.

WTG on your first year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 7:33:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Davidson said...

Nicely done. And a really terrific closing sentiment. Can't wait to hear the elaborations.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger Ms V said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to start and finish my first year teaching. Thanks for inspiring me with every new blog I read. =)

Saturday, June 30, 2007 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jennie said...

Congratulations to you! Well done making it through your first year, and hopefully there will be many more. :) I too had a difficult time with the testing in my "resource" class--I had one other teacher mention all of the work she got done while the students were "sitting quietly;" I just had to laugh. I don't think I sat down once the entire time.
Keep up the good work; I love reading this blog.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jules the Crazy said...


Interestingly, I would alter the same quote differently: First-Year Teaching is Pain; anyone who says differently is selling something, or is not teaching in NYC.
Seriously, I so know exactly what you mean about teaching making you feel like a grown up. I feel OLD all the time around my 11 year olds. They say things like, you know what myspace is?! I retort, Of course! I'm neither dead nor 80!

Use the summer well to recover from the roller coaster ride, and prepare for a much better second year. Good luck with course work, and enjoy all your rest!

Oh, and also, about keeping good student work: also keep it for your teaching portfolio.

Monday, July 02, 2007 6:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Jose said...

Congratulations to you in your first year. seems like so long ago since I was in your position (I just finished my second year). I tell you what, next year's going to be even better as far as your preparedness for the classroom, though the crying for your kids won't change ... if you still have the same passion you do now. Good luck and enjoy your summer.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger graycie said...

When I was a little baby teacher (way longer ago than I can even believe) it was commonly held that if, during your first year, one kid learned one thing -- you won! Since back then, a pulse and willingness to 'go in there and teach' was all that was needed to get a job, I have seen a huge increase in the competence of beginning teachers over the past 30+ years. You clearly exemplify a very good one -- your post captured so much of what it means to us personally to live this life.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Athena said...

This was my first year teaching, too. And I echo Proverbs love of sleeping. Especially this summer.It seems a wonderful luxury to sleep in after working 10 hour days for 9-10 months. I was a little scared of this time off, but I am loving it.

Congradulations on surviving! They say the second year is easier. I guess time will tell. ;)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 10:31:00 AM  

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