Days 6-8: Along For The Ride
Wow. What a week. My first full week of teaching in my entire life....and boy, was it full. Full of ups and downs - both professionally and pedagogically. Full of stress and happiness. It was basically full of every superlative you can think of. Whatever highest highs were achieved were inevitably countered swiftly and intensely by some pretty low lows. I think the takeaway from this week is the fact that so much of what you learn as a first year teacher happens on-the-job and happens whether you're prepared to learn it or not..... the key is whether you adapt quickly enough to make sure you only have to learn it once. The caveat is the amount of things you're learning come so quickly and in such great numbers, it's basically unavoidable that some of those little pearls of wisdom or corrections you should be making in your everyday procedures fall through the cracks...and you WILL have to learn them a second time... or third time....
First things first. Back To School night. Hands down, the most crazy day so far at my job. A seventeen hour day has never seemed so short. The craziness wasn't necessarily because of the evening's festivities - more so because the during-the-day chaos that forced me to run on full steam from the moment I arrived at 7am until the moment I left at 9:00pm was so unrelenting, I actually felt lightheaded enough to ask to take a seat mid-Readers Workshop Lesson while being observed. I blame a lot of my stress that day on Rose Zbornak. ***Warning!! Deep passionate understanding of The Golden Girls necessary to appreciate approaching discussion***
You haven't met Rose Zbornack yet. I have. She was our unofficial Readers and Writers Workshop guru before we hired a brandy new ACTUAL guru who works hand in hand with her while training Cady and I (awkward professional tension!). She's the perfect combination of Rose Nylund and Dorothy Zbornack.
She's a brilliant and highly dedicated educator whose advancing age has only expanded her already impressive knowledge base; Dorothy. She talks incessantly; Rose. She's very assertive and intense; Dorothy. She's easily distractible to the point that she can be mid-GIANT-lecture, passionately explaining something about literacy and you can just mention one key word about a different topic and off she goes for another hour on that new topic; Rose. She's keenly aware about how to connect with children; Zbornak. She's completely clueless about social nuances between adults; Nylund. One more - I promise! She knows how to word things in just the right manner while addressing children; Dorothy. If you joke with her, there's a strong chance she'll take your playful idiom or attempt at sarcasm at its word...at the very least, you'll confuse the hell out of her. Quintessentially Rose.
Anyway, Rose Zbornack in all of her Zbornackness politely demanded that I meet with her, Cady and the AMAZING new district literacy coach during my only free period left - which happened to fall just before the meeting about Dennis (our emotionally disturbed boy) that had been rescheduled THREE times already to make sure all of his teachers would be there. Long story short, despite the request of my principal, Clarissa, Zbornak kept me from the meeting about Dennis which I was desperately waiting for, just so she could babble on incessantly a la Nylund about basic literacy concepts I already knew.
Thank you, Rose Zbornak - now I missed lunch, missed time to prep for my upcoming observation, but more importantly, missed the discussion about Dennis' Reactionary Attachment Disorder and how to manage it in the classroom. She's the kind of woman who you know when she says "Let's meet for 15 minutes", it actually means "Let's meet for 4 hours or whenever I'm done babbling...whichever comes first." She's physically incapable of streamlining and/or condensing her thoughts into a few succinct takeaways... much like myself in most of these blogposts... You know, I always knew I was mix of Rose and Dorothy...I'm definitely Sophia in many ways too... and Blanche? Well....how I'm similar to Blanche is not really appropriate for this blog - at least not right now. Must I recall my quip about fetishes and my old Halloween bunny costume?
So, after the chaos of lunchtime meetings and an afternoon of rambunctious 10 year olds was under my belt, it was time to plan for Back To School Night as quickly as humanly possible. Ten bites of dinner... photocopying welcome packets while sweating profusely.... laying them out in piles and stapling them together while tying my tie and cleaning my room...Staging my room perfectly while jotting down speaking notes.....and finally getting my parent-teacher survey that I worked on in grad school ready for its pilot year. (I will use this year to guide my future usage of it and make any necessary changes - my goal? My grad school partner and I will try to get it published!!) Well, after some severe moments of panic when I realized unexpectedly that nearly every other teacher had so many more cool things ready in anticipation for their parents' arrival, (i.e. poignant poems clothespinned to adorable PERSONALIZED apple shaped magnets [THANKS, CADY!?!?]), I calmed myself down, and rocked it out.
Keep in mind, my day was so hectic, I never got to Costco to pick up my photos of all the children's Me-Bag contents... my awesome idea was gone....and there was no hope of making it work....So I improvised. Last minute student-to-parent notes written in computers last period, and a fun interactive contest b/w the parents, the students and myself involving D'Angelo dollars and a mathy guessing game symbolizing my strong belief in the equal partnership of parents and teachers cooperatively functioning as experts in bringing each child to their fullest potential. Success.
On a side note - I knew they were thinking "Who is this new teacher?" the whole time...and I caught quite a few of the moms staring at my wedding ring trying to make sense of my identity. I hope I confused them as much as possible. (It becomes a fun game for me to subliminally mess with overt nosiness.) Maybe at parent teacher conference night, I'll dress in a football jersey and discuss muscle cars while crocheting and reading Cosmopolitan. Then I'll make dueling references to Sex And The City and something I saw on Spike TV in the same breath. Messing with people about stuff that's none of their business is fun - but I'm smart enough to know messing with my qualifications in such a high stakes district is just plain stupid. So, to alleviate their educational concerns about my identity, I confidently reminded them of my qualifications which was met with that quietly impressed upside-down mouth movement and eye brow raise that always seems to say once and for all, "I'm impressed!" ...and "Ok - now I approve."
They LOVED the room...they LOVED the Mr. D'EPOT catalog system....they LOVED the beanbags....they loved my enthusiasm...and surprise, surprise - I was a much bigger hit with the ladies than the men. On another side note, it was quite funny to scan the room and see so clearly who was related to who. Often the child had the exact bone structure and face of one parent, but the body-wide coloring of the other....and in some cases, the look was so exact, I honestly felt like I was looking at my students in 25 years. Very cool...and yet, somehow incredibly disturbing at the same time.
Ok - I gotta go. So much more to chat about. The beanbags had to be removed to prove a point (and negative reinforcement goes against everything I believe in) - but we'll cover that later....and Dennis had a wonderful Thursday after an ATROCIOUS WEDNESDAY. And after verifying the absence of any child-rodent allergies, the children voted on a guinea pig to replace the fallen turtle...so this week may be the week the class pet FINALLY comes together.
But before I go, I wanted to get excited about something. My first follower who is someone completely new! I'm so grateful and excited to have accumulated eight loyal followers thus far....all of which are personal friends and/or family members (THANKS, GUYS!)... and I'm even more honored to find out more and more people are following casually without being official "blogspot followers" (THANKS TO YOU TOO!).... but today, I noticed a brandy new follower! (Someone I've never met who must have found the blog online and decided to officially join in on the fun!) So, I say to you: WELCOME! You're OUR FIRST! So happy to have you along for the ride! Please keep all hands, arms, and legs inside the car at all times until the ride comes to a complete stop. Thanks, and enjoy your ride! See you in 172 days when the ride finally does come to a complete stop.
No - really. It's fun. I swear.
at 12:55 PM