A fortnight and a half

So I’ve survived three weeks.

If you’d asked me last weekend how it was going I would have said “Well, it’s tough, but there’s also some really great parts.”

Then this past week happened.

I have been struggling with curriculum development for about four months now. My lesson planning skills are pretty good, but big picture has been difficult and my stress about it has been nigh on paralyzing. But after looking at the Common Core appendix and stealing some stuff from my friends at another school, I thought I was on the right track.  Then Tuesday afternoon I get pulled into a meeting, the basic premise of which was “I love what you’re doing, this is how math instruction should be, but it’s not working for our kids and I need you to change everything.” Or at least that was my takeaway from it.  Mind you this was after a Monday when a student had a seizure and I had to start teaching an extra class on Microsoft Office and there was a neighborhood shooting outside , and after a Tuesday that was just generally terrible. So I had my first cry of the year.  Good times.

Then I spent the next four days in a spiral of confusion and no confidence and on more than one occasion considered just not going back to work. But Friday after a particularly terrible class, I spoke with the other math teacher at the school and decided to completely reboot things. I’m now moving away from the Common Core slightly back to a more traditional approach, but trying to work in some of the CCLS along the way. We’ll see how this goes, especially come exam time.  The good news is this change is Just in time for my first official observation on Tuesday. *jazz hands*

I still struggle with my 7th period, but I keep getting told that’s my pacing issue. Maybe it will get better once I have new material to work with? Who knows. I’m asking other people to come in and observe so I can get more feedback.

It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve been building relationships with some of the kids. I’ve gotten some great exit slips out of them about what they’ve learned. The quizzes weren’t a complete disaster.

Here are some takeaways so far:

  • They told me starting a new school was a lot of work. That is an understatement.
  • Working with administrators that have a Math background is very, very complicated.
  • In any situation, there are resources available that can help you, and resources available that can make you develop a drinking a problem. Figure those out early and only seek out ones that will help. (I knew this before, it’s probably my biggest takeaway from my 20s. But it has been reinforced a thousand times over the last three weeks).
  • My first year of teaching is difficult, but not in the ways I expected. I knew there would be long nights and poorly planned lessons and missteps galore when dealing with students. I was prepared for that and even when it sucks I can tell myself “Well, you’ll get better.” What I wasn’t prepared for was all the other stress that popped up. A lot of which ties into the “Starting a New School” thing.
  • I’m officially tired of being told “Your first year of teaching will suck” every time I have a bad day. It’s ceased to be helpful.
  • Kids are hilarious and complex, even when they’re being a pain in the ass. I yelled at a student to get out and not come back one day, and after I apologized we seem to be getting along better than we did before.
  • I need to get over myself, just in a very general sense.

So yeah. It’s been rough. But yesterday we went to the Citywide high school fair and we brought along some student ambassadors, and they were amazing. They were selling our school like nobody’s business and it was amazing and awesome.  On Tuesday students were staying after school and teaching us slang. PS – Giving Neck needs to stop right now.

I’m off to plan my first rebooted lesson. My co-worker compared it to the Batman films.  So we’re now in the “Algebra Begins” period of my year.  I may start teaching in a Batman voice.


4 thoughts on “A fortnight and a half

  1. You chose an exceptionally complicated position this year. I would have given up days ago. Your hope and persistence is inspiring. Really.
    And sometimes throwing a kid out of class is a relationship builder. Sometimes.

    You rock.

  2. I found myself at a low point today with similar thoughts running through my head: “Why did I do such a terrible job teaching this first unit? Why did I assume they would know ______? Why did I assume they would be ready for _______? Why didn’t I see any of this coming?” And then I read your post, and it was my salvation because I suddenly felt less alone.

    And THAT, my friend, is the only time you’ll ever see me say something so nauseatingly sentimental. I can’t wait to hear about your rebooted lesson plans, and hopefully in person; I’ll try and come out this week!

    And maybe, just maybe…you’re the hero your students deserve, but not the one they need right now.


  3. I have no doubt it *will* get better…. and yet it will remain challenging, too. I haven’t taught in any but the easiest situation (medical students – very smart, [usually] very motivated, and will all the basics long behind them), OTOH, I still recall my first day in private practice almost 30 years ago. Saw three patients… and I was utterly exhausted! Who would have though there so very many details I hadn’t yet figured out how I was going to get done . Minor things, like, you know…. paper to record the notes from my visits on, LOL!

    It’s hard because, well, it *is* hard, and because you *care*. Don’t let them get you down too much,. and lose that vital spark!

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