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Back.

The only writing I did in the blink that was summer was the anxious penning of tentative lesson plans and scribbles in a travel journal damp with humidity.

Some things have changed (I’ve been to Africa).

Some things haven’t (I want and don’t have a kitten).

My absence from social media and namely, this blog, has been purposeful. The if-you-can’t-say-anything-nice variety of purposeful.

Traveling always jars my perspective in a way that can make me discontent with my current situation.

The same thoughts play on repeat. If my students could simply glimpse what life is like for students in Liberia or India, they would would be overcome with gratitude for the free education that is handed to them. I get so frustrated in those frequent moments when I’m fighting, trying to convince them to try, to learn.

But I’ve worked to reconcile these situations.

My students have every opportunity to succeed and every excuse not to.
The children in Liberia are so thirsty for opportunity they literally cling to every morsel of hope they can get their hands on.

You can’t quantify dreams, hope, or pain.

I owe it to my current students to earn their respect and make learning accessible. I don’t know their stories but I know their struggles are real.

I had a great summer but it was so brief that it’s taken me 3 weeks of being back to garner any excitement for school.

But I am indeed back and I am ready.

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One year anniversary.

teacher

A year ago today, I signed my contract and started teaching, fresh off a plane from India.

In that time I’ve had 540 students come through my classroom. I’ve graded approximately 1245 papers. Gotten 14 paper cuts. Overslept once. Played hookie twice.

They say your first year of teaching is hard.
They say it’s nearly impossible.
They say you’ll never forget your first students and you’ll change lives.

I’m too wrapped up in this life-consuming profession to know if those things are true.
But I do know there are days when I love it and days when I hate it.
I know it’s not easy, but it is far from being the hardest job in the world.
And I know I love 2 hour delays almost as much as I love snowdays.

 

 

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Teaching: in three simple steps?

3easysteps

Tomorrow I will meet my new students. All 140 of them. (I’ll have 26 of the same sophomores).

And I’m nervous.

My incoming students have enormous shoes to fill. The kids I had last semester were incredible. I loved every second I got to spend with them.

They left my class wanting to change the world and believing they had the tools to do it. I said goodbye to them knowing it was true, they were capable.

The thing is, I’m not certain I can make this happen again. I’m not sure how it happened the first time, but I think I may have narrowed it down to a few steps.

STEP 1 Trust: I haven’t been teaching  long, but long enough to learn that they key is trust.

In order for my students to learn from me, they have to trust me. Trust that I’m going to do the things I say I’m going to. Trust that I’m going to be there every day. Trust that I’m not going to humiliate to demean them. Trust that I genuinely want to help them improve and I care about who they are as a person.

STEP 2 Belief: A student has to be motivated for learning to occur. In order for that to happen, I have to convince them that they are worth the investment of time and effort. They have to believe in themselves.

STEP 3 Love: I don’t get to go to work, go through the motions and get the job done. I have to do it with love. I have to get attached. I have to care. I have to feel their successes and I have to endure the disappointment when they give up. That’s what makes it real for me and I think that authenticity is a necessity. I’m not just playing a part, I’m their teacher and they deserve the real deal.

What else is there?

I’m sure there is more to it and  I just don’t know it yet.

What do you think? What does it require for a teacher to be successful?

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I don’t get to actually start my new year until I get to go back to school so here is what I want this year.

More:

  • tea
  • organization
  • loving
  • writing thank you notes
  • baking
  • of my Mom
  • listening
  • doing
  • laughs
  • trying to eat hard boiled eggs without vomiting. 
  • confidence
  • photo taking
  • cats 
  • phone calling
  • stickin’ it to The Man
  • empowering/inspiring/motivating my students 
  • hugging

Image

Less:

  • stress
  • talking
  • ignorance
  • googling pandas
  • scrambling
  • snooze buttoning 
  • attitude
  • insecurity
  • complaining
  • texting while driving
  • SNOW DAYS FOR THE LOVE OF SWEET TEA PLEASE DEAR LORD MAKE IT STOP I WANT MY LIFE TO HAVE MEANING AGAIN #cabinfever

Drops mic.

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We’ve been in this apartment for so long, every room is a panic room.

The roads are really bad. It’s been four days since the snowpocalypse and the bearded fella won’t let me have a panic room.

Me: We need to build a panic room?
Him: Why?
Me: For panicing.
Him: But why?
Me: Intruders and stuff. You don’t really need your closet, do you?
Him: So you’re just going to shut yourself in my closet? Okay.
Me: No, we need to reinforce it with steel and snacks and a password.
Him: You need to stop reading the internet.

I miss real life.  Real life is buried under the snow and I wonder if I’ll ever see it again.