So I know that it has been weeks since I posted and I really intended to be better about this but apparently time is not something you have a surplus of when you're a teacher. My apologies. I must say... the whole "it's better to have no expectations" concept is ringing true in my life lately. To be completely honest, my first 6 weeks have been nothing like I expected. Despite all the warnings that your 1st year is your hardest, my excitement lead to a blissful ignorance of what was really to come. I had visions of happy children sitting in their desks smiling, an organized classroom where as I flowed around the room pulling things from drawers and placing things on shelves a happy little melody was playing in the background, and an efficiency that allowed me to abide by the 8-4 hours expected. Well boy was I in for a surprise. The smiling children - well I think a more accurate description would be hormonal early teenagers. My "organized" classroom - I've never felt so UNorganized in my life. I haven't seen the top of my desk since the 1st day of school, I misplace things I just had in my hand not 5 minutes before and despite my efforts of trying to teach my kids to respect their surroundings, it still looks like a new tornado came through at the end of each day. And as for those hours of 8 to 4 - try 11 to 12 hour days most days of the week. How do those other teachers do it? I see lights off in rooms right at 4 and I'm dumbfounded as to how on earth those people are getting things done!
And on top of everything else I think the stress and lack of sleep have finally compromised my immune system and I've come down with an unwlecomed head cold. All I want to do is sleep through tomorrow but the thought of having to put together detailed sub plans is more exhausting than actually going and teaching so I'm going to suck it up and start the week off being sick....
HOWEVER... with all those trivial complaints comes the more important fact that I still LOVE my job. I love interacting with these awesome 14 and 15 year olds on a daily basis. They literally crack me up with the things that they say. Life is still just enjoyable at their age (even though many of them have home lives like I could never imagine). They are so hard-headed and yet still so impressionable and I feel honored that I actually get to be a role model for these kids.
The coolest thing that sticks out from this past week is the time that I've spent getting to know a few students who I think often get overlooked. When you have 5 classes of 35 kids it is easy to let a few students get washed up in the mix. In every class you have your intense personalities: the comedians, the "cool" kids, the trouble makers, the athletes, the brown-nosers (both ones that you love and ones that get on your nerves) and the average kids. No matter what kind of students you have, there are always ones who are overlooked by both teachers and their peers for whatever reason. Maybe they keep to themselves and you're so busy dealing with other problem kids that it is easy to just let them be. Maybe they just rub you the wrong way and you'd rather focus your efforts on the kids who care. Or maybe they already have a reputation of being troublesome so why waste your time? There are 3 boys in particular who fit into each of those 3 scenarios that I decided to make an effort with this week. I had a one-on-one conversation with each about my expectations for them and the potential that I know they had. It was almost as if they were surprised that I was actually taking the time to care about them. Each of those 3 boys were like different students after our talks and to be completely honest it actually surprised me! All three put more effort into their work this week than they had in all of the prior weeks put together. I sat back and watched those students work and put forth such an effort and I had an incredible sense of pride for them, their actions and their new motivation. Seeing them care pushes me to continue to care. Those students are the ones that make it all worth it. I am more than willing to put up with the attitudes from other kids, the chaotic mess that is my classroom (and let's be honest - my life) and the long hours if it means I get to have an affect on a student who thought no one cared. So yes... this job is so much tougher than I thought it would be but more importantly, it is incredibly more rewarding than I expected as well.