Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Future is NOW

I think a lot about the future. I wonder about and hope for the things that will happen, the things that I haven't yet done or acquired, the direction I really want my life to go in. I think lately that train of though has actually been interfering with the way in which I live out the present, the here and now.

I've talked a lot about how teachers aren't really allowed the luxury of having bad days because we are standing up there in front of those kids day after day. But that's not really true. We DO have bad days. There are times when we walk into that classroom halfheartedly and don't give it our very best effort. It's nobody's fault and I'm not saying it's wrong. We're people and we have emotions and that's just life.

I think the problem comes when we start to look so far into the future that we're not giving our attention to what happens in front of our faces every day as we wait for the future to arrive. There is an entire group of little people for whom you have a very finite amount of time to positively affect. You get one year, that's it. Not even a full year...what? 9 1/2 months? That's almost scary to think about because there is SO much that I want to offer these kids both academically and emotionally. But if I am wasting some of that time brooding and hoping and basically keeping my head so far out of the game that I'm not helping anyone, I have only myself to blame.

My job is to be a teacher. I don't get a second chance next year. Why? Because all kids are not the same. You can't just swap them out and get a re-do. You mess us this time, that's a whole year that those students don't get back. Basically, the whole point of this post is re-commitment. I'm not quite sure what it will take, but I have a great belief that the future and my hopes for it will be realized. It's what I do in the meantime that counts. I have an opportunity every day and I can't imagine anything more precious than that (different yes, but not better).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Uh Oh...I Think Your Personality is Showing

I have made mention several times (to friends and family) over the past 5 weeks that I believe I'm destined to only last two years in any given school district before I stop being polite and start getting real. (yes, I stole that line)

You see, on your first year in any new place you are worried about looking nice and friendly, being cooperative, and generally just giving everyone a reason for why they hired you. Especially as a new teacher you take on any project offered up and just really overextend yourself in the name of looking good. I have found that on the second year, everything that bugged you about the first years starts to slip out in dozens of tiny ways. You start to have a little bit more ownership of your classroom and your place within the school, you know people better and are therefor more careless in casual conversation, and sometimes you are just plain tired of some of the rules and procedures that you just can't determine who they're benefiting.

Even I realize that this is starting to make me sound like a nonconformist jerk. Who knows, maybe I am. Truthfully though, I don't dislike my school or my district. In fact, I have nothing but respectful things to say when it comes to trying to make you feel included and supported, and the resources going directly to benefit the children EVERY time just blows my socks off. There is a lot that other districts (waves at my old friends) can learn from this one. So rest assured that this is not all doom and gloom.

But to be a realistic teacher is to know that any system could use improvements and that motivation should constantly be reevaluated. Just as teachers need workshops and inservice days to continually learn and grow, our intentions must grown and change to meet the needs of our students. Because I can't tell you how many times I would have loved to scrap a high-energy, material-rich, content infused lesson for a day of coloring pictures for your grandmother (because that would be SO much easier, and I was tired!)

So, coming back to my point, I've started to say things. And you know, they always come out in the worst possible way when you've been holding them in for far too long.

I guess what I've realized and what I need to work to become a part of, is that no matter where you are and what district you're in, new teachers have valuable insight and so much to offer. That's why they were hired in such a competitive market. So what I would ask for is an environment where teachers felt comfortable sharing in a professional way from the beginning. For me at least, it might have alleviated 4 years of foot-in-mouth moments when I didn't feel like I could or should stir the waters until it was too late and too frustrating to not have ineloquent frustrations explode from my lips.