Archive | September, 2011

Getting on the Case

28 Sep

I cannot believe it is already the fourth week of school! I am pleased to report that I am settling in nicely and that even my rowdy seventh hour seems to be taming down a bit as we get used to each other.

Today was a particularly exciting day for me because I found out that I got approval to run both a writing club and a book club for students after school. While I’m slightly worried that I’m biting off more than I can chew, I’m beyond ecstatic at the prospect of getting to delve into books and writing in a more open and in depth fashion than the classroom allows for. So, wish me luck on that!

Probably one of the funniest stories that has happened so far his year happened yesterday. It was during my last class of the day, which is essentially a homeroom for the students. Every Tuesday in this class is independent reading time. One of my students, we’ll call him Max, was having a coughing fit so I told him to go out in the hallway, get a drink, and compose himself. When he came back, one of my other students (let’s call him Jeff) would not stop whispering to Max. I had to go over there repeatedly and remind him that there was no talking during silent reading time. After class let out, Jeff came over to talk to me, and our conversation went something like this:

Jeff: You know why I was talking to Max, right?

Me: No…why?

Jeff: Because I had to tell him that I’m pretty sure he has bronchitis.

Me: Well that was nice of you to offer him advice, but you are not his doctor and your job was to be reading.

Jeff: But I had to tell him because I’ve had bronchi-

Me: BUT, your job was to be reading, not talking to Max.

Jeff: But you see…I really don’t like people getting on my case like that.

Me (dying of laughter on the inside): Well I’m sorry to hear that. Next time we have silent reading, if you do your job, I won’t have to get on your case. Now go, or you’re going to miss your bus.

Sometimes these kids just crack me up.

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Ten Years Ago, But Ever Present

11 Sep

There was a moment of silence on Friday morning at the middle school where I teach in remembrance of 9/11. As I talked with my students Friday afternoon about what they had thought about or felt during that moment of silence, I felt an inexplicable need to express the magnitude of 9/11 on our daily lives. While my students understood that the events that unfolded on that day were tragic and terrible, most of them were only one year old when it happened. To most of them, 9/11 is little more than a story told to them by their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and other adults who remember the day as though it were yesterday. I suppose to them, it is like how I feel when my father recalls the day J.F.K. was shot. Obviously awful. Obviously unsettling. But there is little personal connection or emotion associated with the events of that day.

My students don’t remember that life was different before the towers fell. There were no such thing as lockdown drills in school. You could walk all the way down to the gates at the airport to see your loved ones off. Hell, you could even bring a full-size bottle of shampoo on the plane. And there was never any doubt, even for a second, that America was untouchable. Invincible. Safe.

To the vast majority of my students, September 11, 2001 is just a date in their history books. But there is little question that their childhood is markedly different than my own was, because of what happened on that day. It may have been ten years ago that it happened, but the effects of 9/11 on our lives are ever present.

Beautiful Minds

7 Sep

For my creative writing classes I had each of my students fill out a writing interest survey to give me a better idea of why they’re taking my class and what they hope to write about over the course of the year. I’m going over the various responses tonight, and one of my students had an insight so beautiful it almost made me cry.

The question was, “How do you feel when others share their writing with you?”

Her answer: “I feel like the other person is making a memory with you.”

*Dies* Just gorgeous. And to have that thought at only 11-years-old? Talk about inspirational.

A Day of Firsts

7 Sep

Yesterday was truly a momentous day of firsts for me and my family.

For me, yesterday was my first day teaching at my very first teaching position. It’s so bizarre to think that at this time last year I was meekly sitting in the back of the room watching in awe as my cooperating teacher walked a class of first graders how to proceed through a lunch line. Throughout my entire program, there was always someone observing or popping in to check on me. And now, here I am, flying solo. All afternoon yesterday I kept waiting for someone to come in and confirm that I was doing alright, but I guess those days are (for the most part) behind me. It’s scary, but exhilarating, and there’s no place I’d rather be than where I am right now. I could’t ask for a better school, a better staff to work with, and a better position than the one I’m in.

After yesterday, it’s clear that I still have a lot to learn and adapt to in terms of teaching middle schoolers. It’s a completely different world than that of elementary school (especially first grade). I have a couple of spitfire students that are going to keep me on my toes, and my English class in particular does not seem like a group of kids that will be easy to please. But, now at least I know what I’m dealing with and I will definitely be putting in the extra effort to keep all of my students engaged. It’s going to be an amazing year.

Yesterday was also a huge day for my family, seeing as how it was Child’s first day in daycare. To be totally honest, the transition appears to have been harder on me than on Child. He was crying when I dropped him off yesterday, which broke my heart and almost made me want to quit my job. So, it was with an anxious heart that I raced out of school at the end of the day and hurried to pick him up, convinced that he would shed tears of joy and run straight into my open arms when he saw me. Instead, he barely looked up from playing with the toys. It turns out that my boy had a fine afternoon and even slept soundly on his cot during nap time. Who’d have thunk it?

Day one of the school year = done. No matter what happens the rest of the school year, I’m completely proud of that simple accomplishment.

“Attitude”

2 Sep

The principal at my school included a sheet with this quote on it in our start-of-the-year folders. It’s a quote I’ve always loved and it’s been quite useful to me this past week as I deal with the stress that naturally comes with a new teaching position. Because of this, I thought I would share it here for all of you.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
—Charles Swindoff