Silver and Gold

In Teaching by Jenn0 Comments

Today was day 3 (technically day 4 but first day was freshman only and I had maybe a dozen kids for 10 minutes at a time) of the school year, and because of my blocked scheduling, the first time I’d seen any of my students for the second time. (If that makes sense. I’ve been up since 5:30am.) I’m rapidly getting a read on individual personalities, but it will probably be another week or two before I get all the names down.

Last week was tough, although not in the dogpaddling-for-dear-life way it has felt in years past. I spent a good part of the summer thinking through and planning systems for curriculum and classroom management, so I feel generally less like I’m juggling sharp objects that are on fire. My larynx and calf muscles were not pleased about the dramatic increase in activity, but the overall soreness has tapered already.

Last week was tough because despite actually feeling familiar with and mildly competent at the mechanics of my job, I was still “the new teacher.” Which means I don’t know where anything is in the building, I don’t know the myriad behind-the-scenes procedures for attendance and discipline, and I don’t know (m)any of the staff and students. I’m a fish out of water. This has been the case every year of my teaching career, and I think I’m feeling it especially acutely this year for several reasons.

  1. There’s part of me that feels like I “should” be over this feeling of outre by now. Which makes no sense because I’m in a new building, in a new district that is incredibly different from any I’ve taught in previously, and I’m still new enough to teaching not to have a set way of doing things. Many parts of my classroom management and lesson planning are still works in progress. I know all of this rationally. I guess maybe because I’m not 22 and fresh out of teacher school like a lot of the new staff I met at orientation, I have swung to the opposite extreme (as is my wont) and begun channeling an old fart.
  2. No one else in my department is new to the building, even though there are some who are new to teaching full-time. The other new teachers have subbed or student-taught or coached in the school, so they know the kids and the kids know them. The hallway is a sea of strangers right now. I know it’s temporary, but it’s still kind of hard. It has been really nice to run into a few kids whose families I know outside of school.
  3. The connection I had with my kids and school last year was very powerful (as evidenced by the buckets of tears I cried during my last week there), and even though I made the choice to take a position closer to home, I miss them. I miss the individual relationships, I miss the unique community of my old school, and I miss the overall familiarity.

I know all this will change relatively quickly so I’m not afraid of being unable to settle in at my new school. But after the first two days last week, I realized that I needed to mourn a little for what I’ve lost in moving from school to school. And…there’s a small part of me that wonders, given the likely trajectory of Science Guy’s career, whether I’ll have the emotional energy to start over yet again when we (almost) inevitably have to move. I’m choosing to believe/assume that I will (though if I don’t, I can probably accept that as well, having stepped out of the classroom once already) because of my stubborn faith that nothing is ever wasted, and that even when I have to say goodbye, I was able to do something.

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