Friday, December 31, 2004

The last day of 2004

Wow, this year is coming to an end. That is weird, as always. I wonder what 2005 will bring? I know that whatever it is, I will be surprised. Look at 2004!

*In January, I went to Paris, Brussels and Bruges. Yay!
*In February, I decided to quit my job. That was scary.
*In March, I went to NYC and interviewed for this whimsical teaching fellowship. I also moved back home.
*In April, I was accepted to the fellowship. I tried to find a temp job.
*In May, I got two temp jobs.
*In June, I packed up all my shit and moved across the country. I began the summer intensive training for the teaching fellowship.
*In July, I worked my ass off in the outer boroughs. Studying, observing, riding trains and buses all day long.
*In August, I finished the summer intensive training, then got to rest and play.
*In September, I visited home for a week before starting A Real Job In An Actual School. I worked in a primary school with a kindergarten teacher, in a junior high teaching Spanish, and then finally to my permanent job teaching 6th grade English. Good lord, talk about scary.
*In October, November, and December, I worked my ass off. I got sick twice, but kept going to school. I got through the first report cards, then the first parent-teacher conferences, then the first holiday season.

God, last January, I had no idea that any of this would happen. At first, I figured I would try to stick it out at the mortgage job until the summer, then quit and then try to do some kind of "adventure" before finding another job. I guess I kind of did that anyway, except a lot sooner than expected.

I am glad that I had the chance to travel abroad. I am proud of myself for taking a chance on me and the city by moving out here all alone. I have not really dealt very well with it, but I get through, I suppose. I feel fairly comfortable in my daily routines, even if they do get lonely.

I am very grateful for the time I got to spend at home in September, and also for the time my mom came out in August and December. I'm hoping my dad and them will make it out here sometime next year. With these super cheap airfares that my favorite Jetblue is offering, I'm thinking of going home for a few days of winter break (in late February).

Some job observations:
Teaching has been very eye-opening. To say it's the hardest thing I've ever done certainly qualifies as the understatement of the year.

I have learned a lot about myself, and about education. And about Spanish, too. :) I have learned the power of thank you, the power of asking for help, the power of stubbornness. Most of all, I have learned that I still have a lot of learning to do!

I have found kindred spirits in my colleagues, and hopefully we're on the road to becoming friends. I have had the excellent fortune of an unofficial mentor who helps me, listens to me, and offers me tips and most of all, support.

I have learned that I actually am passionate about education. The day-to-day stuff is beyond tough, but I find that what drives me is the desire to instill in the children a love for learning. I know that mostly I do a pretty crap job of it, but I can work on that. I try to point out things that I know or love, and hope that my enthusiasm is exciting for them. If not, well, then we can all laugh together about my weirdness.

I do enjoy most of the students, and I am thrilled that some of them choose to spend their lunch breaks in my room helping out. Whether it's avoidance of the lunchroom chaos or actually liking me, I take it as a compliment that they find it a safe place. And so many of the kids are good-hearted. Even the tough ones, I've seen most of them try to get better. Some days they let the devil take over, but some days, they really make an effort. I do my best to make a point of noticing and encouraging that. I can only hope that they see that.

This is a landmark year. By the end of June, I will be talking about this stuff even more than I have so far since September. I hope to god that the second half goes a little smoother than the first half. Mostly, I hope to keep learning things that will make next year better. That's really what gets me through; knowing that I WILL get through til June, if only in anticipation of next September, when, basically, I get to start all over again, only knowing infinitely more.

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