Wednesday, September 22, 2004


This is what I say all day long, in vain mostly. Actually, all week. But it's early yet, I'm not giving up.

Today was a decent day. I had three classes in a row, one prep, one class, two preps, and one class. The monster class was there third period today. I made sure to get the dean over, to let him know about the not-enough-desks/too-many-children situation. He brought me more chairs and took four students to transfer out. A bit later the principal came and took a few more students out. It was certainly an improvement and relief to have places for all the students to sit. They were definitely still noisy and rowdy, but it was okay. Not a disaster.

When I got in to school this morning, I asked about this class--will I be staying there? Do they have a "real" teacher for it at all? And the guy who assigns us was like, no, so yeah, you'll probably be staying there. Are you okay with that? I said, well, this week I'm fine. But since I don't speak Spanish, I would begin to worry about teaching it after that. So he knows, not like that will likely change anything, but oh well.

Thus, I realized that I have to begin thinking of myself as a real teacher. A "real teacher" with "real classes" and "real problems." All of that "well, I'm in the Reserve Pool and they're supposed to place me and so I'm all temporary and not really a teacher and hello no one told me I would be dealing with full-grown teenagers!" is out the freaking window.

And with that, I began my quest to set down behavior management rules. I put signs on the doors, one saying Enter (in English, Spanish, and French) and one Exit. That way I can control how the class comes in. No more kids running in and out willy-nilly! I made all my classes line up in the hallway, explaining that I would know they are ready when they are silent, facing forward, and in a straight line. All of the groups grumbled and took some time to get ready. And I only made one class do it all over again when they were noisy inside the classroom. During a prep, I went to the resource room and made a sign about how to enter the classroom, and taped it on the wall beside the Enter door. I'll have to go through it with some new classes tomorrow, but I think it will definitely serve me well to begin making rituals and routines. All the same, cross your fingers for me.

Today, as well as a bit yesterday, I had the students pair up to practice their letters. I was able to circulate and hear them and help them practice. That felt good, because I could see that even the ones who were distracted were still making attempts to work, at least when I was standing at their desks. And some students needed help and so I was able to do that. Again with the real teacher thing.

I think I forgot to mention that before, how on Monday I kind of had a little inner freak-out. This week is the first time I have been in a classroom, by myself, all on my own (god, in so many ways!), all day, actually teaching. It's still surreal. I'm actually a little worried that I'm starting off too mean/cold/sarcastic. I don't want them to think I'm bitter and turn against me just for my personality or lack thereof. That's different than being just a plain bad teacher. Which is of course another worry. Although honestly, at this point, being a first-year teacher, AND being thrown into a subject which I know nothing about, I totally expect to be a bad teacher, or at least not be a good teacher. No one is a good teacher at the beginning of their first year.

All of this introspection this week has really surprised me, because I'm handling it fairly well. I'm totally swimming, you know? Obviously, this is a highly-stressful situation, but I haven't cried or lost my temper (though I did snap once yesterday with the monster class), and I feel like, as much as is possible, I've been able to keep a fairly level head. Frankly, I'm surprised and rather pleased and impressed with myself. I knew this was going to be hard, and it is, and that's that.

What's totally killing me is not being able to sleep. Sunday I tossed and turned. Monday I tossed and turned most of the night. Last night, even though I felt ready to drop at 6 but stayed up til 11, I tossed and turned most of the night. My mind just will not stop whirring. Singing "heads, shoulders, knees, and toes" (because I am trying to do that as an activity to learn the Spanish words), or thinking of activities, or of situations in which I performed poorly, or spoke harshly or too sarcastically, or thinking about what to do with my room, or thinking about what kinds of rules or procedures I might use. Etc, etc, etc, forever and some more, until the stupid alarm goes. All morning my whole body felt half-dead from sheer fatigue and exhaustion. This happened most of the summer too, with the summer school classroom experience. Clearly I am scared about that and will very soon be thinking about chemical aids to help me zonk out.

No comments: