Saturday, January 31, 2015

Halfway through the first year of teaching

Yesterday was the end of second quarter at school. In a way to me, that seems super late but we just did midterms at the high school. The end of the second quarter symbolizes a lot of things for me and has made me reflect upon the first half of my first year of teaching.

During the second quarter, I covered a high school class for one of the HS Spanish teachers. She was due on Nov 8 to have her baby and I was suppose to "shadow" her on 11/3 to see how she ran her class. I met her 10/30. Halloween she went home from school, went into labor, and had the baby 11/1! They had a sub for that Monday and I started the day after election day. I still don't understand why they just didn't hire one person for all her classes (instead, 4 teachers at the HS and myself all took one of her classes over). My chairperson asked if I would do it and as the newbie, you just don't say no.

Teaching the high school class was definitely an experience because it was the first time I taught high school! Ha! I am certified to teach Spanish 5-12 but all my student teaching experience and the last two years when I was a TA, I worked in the middle school setting. Trust me, after the last quarter, I will gladly stay in the middle school setting! Don't get me wrong, the high school kids were definitely interesting and you get to teach more advanced grammar concepts. But my first love will always be the middle school setting. I only saw them Monday this past week (Tuesday-Thursday was suppose to be midterms but Tuesday we had a snow day and yesterday I went on a in-district field trip with my department) but it was definitely an experience. I am super happy to be going back to my normal routine come Monday!

The past few months have definitely taught me some things:

-No matter how many times you proof read a quiz or packet or SOMETHING you make to send to the copy center, there will always be that one (or few) students who finds something wrong with it. "Isn't there suppose to be an accent on here?!" Sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out with that and then there are times that I think "Well at least they know that there should an an accent there." (Sometimes when I make stuff on my Mac compared to using the school computer, the accents disappear or the page alignment gets messed up. It's all trial and error, folks!)

-Planning ahead is my biggest problem. I feel in my methods classes in undergrad (because we definitely didn't discuss this in grad school), unit planning was only briefly touched upon. One of my colleagues said that they generally teach a topic a week, introduction Monday, quiz Friday. She gave me the first 12 packets that they had made up and were on the share drive so that saved me about 3-3.5 months of work and all I had to do was make the quizzes. I think my biggest problem is just having everything made.

I feel like once I get everything made this year (and guinea-pig test it out on my classes) I can improve on it over the summer! Everyone always says the first year of teaching is the worst because you're just getting your bearings and as you continue on, it gets easier. Let's hope that holds true.

-I feel truly blessed to be working in the district I am in. I have a great department who is so helpful. By doing that one class at the HS, I got to know everyone there and it made me feel like this place was the right fit for me. One teacher saved my behind with sharing everything she did for the 2R class with me so in regards, I only had to make the power points. Any time I have questions, the other teachers are willing to help me out which is so wonderful. And my chairperson is super awesome. I was saying how I didn't have any of the teacher resources for the textbook that we use in 7th grade and that I was buying the unit resource books on Amazon. He went into the closet and gave me a TON of books!! Maybe I should have asked him earlier, ha ha. It's just so nice to be in a district where I work with such friendly people who are extremely helpful.

-I have never been more tired in my entire life than I have these past few months. There are some nights when I get home from school and just want to go straight to bed. Last night, I came home from working my second job and fell asleep with the dog on my lap on the couch. At 10:30. Real winner here! I don't know how I am surviving working at the school and the restaurant on the weekends, but I guess it is thanks to my good old friend coffee. Let's see how many more months this can last.

-My 9th period class is SUPER CHATTY!! People say 9th period is the worst class to teach. For the most part, they are good kids. There are a handful that no matter WHAT I do, WHERE I sit them, how OFTEN I call home/email parents, they don't stop TALKING. Yesterday, I was just about ready to lose my marbles. We share classrooms and the classroom my 9th period is in had a test in the other class so the kids were in rows. The kids in my class came in FREAKING  out ("We have a quiz today?!!!). They think they can just come in and do whatever they please and not follow the classroom routine "Do Now/Have homework out, Review hw, lesson, practice, closure" and I am tipping at my breaking point. I just may have to have the dean come in 9th period and talk to them (one of the Spanish/Italian teachers told me she did that for her 9th period class of 20 boys and 4 girls and it worked!).

-Getting to know your students helps so much. One of my students LOVES to watch Dance Moms. As soon as he (yes, he) found out that I like it to, he asks me every Wednesday if I have seen it. I know one of my 6th graders has a semi-acting gig. 3 of my other 6th graders are very talented. I enjoy getting to see what they like to do outside of school. Next week is our school play (Beauty & The Beast Junior) so I am excited to see some of them in it.

-There are just some days that require a glass or two (or a bottle) of wine. Enough said.

-I would not rather be doing anything else. I love that I can be creative and do fun things (I get paid to play Simon Says in another can't complain at that!). While there are days that are frustrating, meetings to attend, paperwork to do, grades to calculate (I'll be doing that tonight), I would not change it for anything.

And now I am off to go create the rubric for my French class's family tree project and the webquest for the weather units!

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