Over winter break I spent a lot of time, as most “out-of-towners” do, at their family Christmas party catching everyone up on what I’ve been up to in Rochester and how I’ve like or disliked it. I realized, after talking to my seventh or eighth relative, that I don’t remember a time in my past where I felt so many things at once but was perfectly ok with all of it. I’m nervous because we just started new placements, I’m sad at times because I do get homesick (although, mostly for my dog and bagels… sorry mom and dad), but mostly I’m happy because I finally feel like I’m where I belong, geographically, emotionally, and educationally.
My first placement really got to feel like home for me, and while I did have a few issues with it by the end, the school, the teachers, and the students really felt like my own. Jill and I unfortunately had to give a test on our last day but with the long, block scheduling that that placement had we were able to have a mini party afterwards where we handed out individual goodie bags and thank you’s to all our students. I really wasn’t expecting to feel so sad when we were leaving but after talking to our first class about it being our last day and that we appreciated that they were so welcoming and respectful towards us I almost did get a little teary eyed. Now, I am a huge crybaby for sentimental things like that so I guess I should have seen that coming. What really did almost throw me over the edge was when a particular student that we were close to had to go outside of the room because she started to cry a little and, when at the end of class students started to ask for goodbye hugs and when we were going to come back and visit them.
This whole experience, in addition to the anxiety of starting a new placement made me start thinking about how these feelings are something that I am going to experience every year for the rest of my career. Being that (ideally) I will be teaching chemistry next year and after that my students will be older and probably within a year or two of graduating so I won’t get to see them much after they leave my class. Now, I’d like to think that it’ll be easier because I’ll be seeing my students graduate and move onto bigger and better things than high school which is exciting, but I know it’s not going to be easy… I’m just hoping the universe will compromise with me and settle for easier.
Jumping into my second placement in the middle of the year was also harder than I expected it to be. I have gotten a better system down for learning names, which was good, but it has been much harder to get down the classes’ routines than it was at my first placement. I think it has a little bit to do with coming in in the middle of the year but I’m trying not to give myself excuses.
So far at this placement, discipline will be my biggest challenge. I got better at my teacher presence last semester; but this school, and the grade level team that I am a part of, is all about their discipline routines and managing behaviors before they get out of control. My CT and her co-teacher are very upfront about their expectations and with their willingness to support me as a transition into the lead role, which I’m so appreciative for already. My goal for the first half of this placement (which I plan on continuing) is to be serious about discipline so that I will be seen as an equal to my CT and her co-teacher. I know this will be a challenge for me, because I tend to want to go easy on kids. I like to think that I’m the Queen… eh, Princess of the Warning but I rarely go beyond that. Kids have already started to test me a little bit and I think I’ve done okay with not overstepping my bounds too soon; once I’m a lead teacher though I know I’ll have to be making decisions quickly and with more discipline than I’m used to. I guess I think a lot of my anxiety about this is coming, first, from my nature of being a generous and giving person, but also because the discipline and classroom management in my last placement was completely different from this school. That’s not to say that kids were running the room and going wild but my CT at the time had the approach that “if they’re not distracting and mostly on task, whatever they need to do is okay.” Now, I get that, and I really started to own that mantra but at my new placement, with a new grade level, and a MUCH smaller room I’m beginning to see that that management style isn’t going to work, because kids can’t just stand up to stretch their legs or get up to throw out a paper without disrupting 85% of the kids in the room (mostly because they’d have to climb over at least four people just to get to the trash can).
Change is a good thing, and I’m really loving this change a lot more than I expected to so I like to think that things will smooth out after my first day jitters finally leave. Also, I think once the kids see what I have in store for them on day one (#PoopSock) they won’t be so quick to test me, because they’ll be engaged with my material, and won’t have time to think of making distractions. However, the world isn’t perfect so I know it’s not going to go so smooth; so, tips and pep talks are appreciated, and I’ll probably need them to start…. In addition to some background knowledge on body systems (#ChemistryForLife). Go time is Monday so I’m already preparing nightly pep talks for myself already. Hopefully the Super bowl pumps me up as well!