Weeks are flying by to the point where I’m actively surprised next week is Week 4, and I wonder….HOW DID WE MAKE IT HERE? Scary and surprising all at once. Twirled around my mentor’s room yesterday singing “I SURVIVED WEEK 3!” And truly, it was survival. On Monday, I had a flat tire at the school and had to get my car towed (warranty is weird) to get it fixed. Tuesday, I sliced my hand open. Wednesday there was an oil leak in the school that locked us out for twenty minutes and that made me very sick from fumes at the end of the day. And Thursday I flipped an entire bottle of water on myself. Also the family I live with has strep so avoiding the plaque was scary. Fun times!
So essentially, it was a long week with problems outside of just teaching. There were also great moments, like when my kids realized they could write possessive noun sentences about me, and most wrote how much they liked me or that my dog was cool. Or when my kids were excited to have me read their papers. One kid told me “I wish I never had to leave your class Ms. Romm.” I think my heart grew on that comment. At the end of Friday when I decided to start a routine of handshake, hug, or high five before they leave, almost all decided on hug. I love my kids, but teaching and being fully prepared is hard. I still have A.R. levels to triple check, 6 or 7 pages to grade, and to get my materials ready for next week. But I love my kids and each week feels more and more natural, so it will work out.
I’ve always heard about how much teachers do and balance. There’s no real how-to guide for being a teacher and all the systems, websites, and assessments that come with the teaching. In school you are taught about lesson planning, teaching math and reading, and building relationships with your children. I wasn’t taught about this complicated system called NWEA that wasted half an instructional day and had me almost pulling my hair out from the complexity of the testing. Or about A.R. and how to adjust kids levels or PALS. I taught a lot this week, but before and after school I spent a lot of time learning about these systems. In some ways, I could see systems like these burning teachers out, as there is no guide except to spend valuable time playing with the system. Almost daily these past two weeks I’ve been emailed websites to sign up for with no guide other than to go online and attempt. State testing IDs were slipped into my box with no forethought to tell me, a new teacher, that STI was the acronym and they could be used to enter my new students into PALS.
But I love teaching. I love the hustle, the stimulation that it gives a person, and sometimes the adrenaline of the rush against time. In a single hour on Friday I had: entered my students into PALS, ordered a laptop from IT, emailed about a textbook, had five conversations with five different people, researched the Google Summit I’m attending, made a newsletter, hung a poster, and sent something for copies. In. One. Hour. Teaching definitely isn’t for those who can’t put in the work and keep the organizational level to keep everything in line. I have many sticky notes on my clipboard to keep track of everything that needs to be done.
I also love the absolute adoration that your children give you, even when you’ve had to come down on them for talking far too many times. One day my kids were leaving for specials and after one kid hugged me, they all hugged me as they walked out the door. Friday, my assistant barged in singing “Happy Second Week of Teaching Miss Romm,” and all my kids starting saying it so I videotaped it. Sweetest video ever. Those are the precious moments that remind me why I went into teaching, not because of all the assessments.
I’ve survived my first week teaching and let me tell you, if anyone ever tells you teaching is easy–do me a favor and sock them. Hard. Honestly, every career is hard in its own respect and I have respect for all careers–doctors, nurses, mail delivery specialists, and janitors. We all have our own trials and tribulations and no career is perfect. However, that being said, I have fully witnessed in this past week how hard teaching can be. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. I student taught in a wonderful kindergarten classroom in Chapel Hill. My mentor teacher is a fantastic woman and my assistant was amazing. They were a great support system that I dearly miss. I truly loved every day in that classroom and was heartbroken to leave. I’m now in a third grade classroom at a fantastic school. I knew from my interview at this school that it was amazing as the principal bonded with me over a love of continual learning. I believe that we are never done learning, as every day we have new experiences. When I accepted my job with my school, the Human Resources Director had been director of my elementary school for ten years and told me how much of a family it was. And I have been shown the compassion, understanding, and helpful hands of my school family these past three weeks. From helping me carry in supplies to multiple people checking in on me at the beginning and end of the day. My mentor texts me daily to ensure I’m surviving and I know I can ask her anything. Third grade was a big jump from my Birth-Kindergarten degree, but I love the challenge. I’m truly growing my brain and experiencing so much on this adventure.
But there have been challenges. On my first day, a child told me that she didn’t have the money to buy lunch and didn’t have a lunch packed. I sent her through the line, but to hear that as a teacher and a person, it broke my heart. To have a child who already doesn’t care about school and just sits there is hard. I also didn’t realize that I had only a certain number of pages I could print in the classroom as in Chapel Hill, it was unlimited. Well, guess who has 9 pages of printing left for the month of September? I can still make copies though! Luckily my colleagues are copying everything they have for me as well.With those challenges have come some amazing moments where I can tell I’ve reached them. Whenever I make a mistake, my class echoes “it’s cool” at me. Side note: Whole Brain Teaching is the absolute best. I try to email 3 different parents every day about something awesome their child has done, and recently a parent told me it was nice to hear something positive on her child when she normally gets negative feedback. And finally, I changed around some seats on a whim and sat a girl who had too many questions on the assignments next to a child who seems to have a problem advocating for himself and asking questions when needed. She helps him to advocate for himself and she explains the assignment to him or gets me to explain it.
It was an exhausting, amazing, and exhilarating week. Like a long slow jump off a bridge with a resounding splash in the water. Week 2 begins tomorrow and its a full week. Pray for me.