Did you know that teachers have back-to-school nightmares? Yup, it's true. For me, I've been having these nightmares about this upcoming school year since the first day of summer (and I'm no even joking).
This school year has brought a ton of changes and a wide range of emotions. Let me outline just a few of them from this first week of school:
Love might be a strange feeling to write about right from the start, but it is true. One of my old co-workers, Spencer Campbell, wrote in his blog about telling his students that he loves them from day one. I really enjoyed reading his post about both the short and long term effects of stating this straight out to your students, so I decided I wanted to try it. I can't lie, I was nervous. But once I said it I realized that I truly do love my students. In fact, I think that is why I have been having back-to-school nightmares all summer; I care so much about them that my anxieties about being a good enough teacher for them spill over into my dreams.
The day before school started, I got a Facebook message from a college friend telling me that a mentor I had once had at another school had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This came to as a total shock for me. Alisha Adams was only a few years older than me and was such a gem. Just this summer I had emailed her to ask for advice for my upcoming adventure of teaching honors. She had responded with a lengthy email providing detailed responses to my questions and offering to share all of her school materials with me.
Her death really shook me, and I cried for a long time. It lead to a deep conversation between Andrew and me about how important it is to cherish life and live worthy of eternal covenants. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch Alisha teach. She has always been a great example to me of how to teach with love, energy, and passion. She will be missed.
Alright, while I am excited to be teaching a new grade this year, I think I forgot how stressful it is to start all over from scratch and create brand new curriculum, unit plans, common assessments, etc. It is honestly like going back to my first year teaching (and in case I need to remind you, that year included a lot of tears). I think one problem I have is that in the last few years I have been able to start the school year knowing what to expect throughout the entire year, but now I obviously don't have that. Maybe I need to learn this year to be ok if I have at least the next 2 weeks planned out. I just have so much on my plate that I start to stress about the details, but I can't let myself do that.
Also, I have 2 new teachers working with me. They are awesome, but that still doesn't change the fact that we all are new to this subject and have to create
Alright, now moving past all those heavy emotions, I really did have a great week with my students. I love meeting them and seeing how each class interacts. It's awesome. On Thursday we had Back to School Night, and I did something rather embarrassing.
(PS: this story is best experienced out loud, so read it aloud to get the whole effect). To preface, I am trying to learn my students names, but with 200 kids it is difficult to learn them all in the first few days. So whenever a student would walk up to my table during Back to School Night, I would ask them to give me the first letter of the name and then I'd try to remember from there. This one young woman walks up with her mother and when I ask her for the first letter she says, "M", to which I reply with gusto, "Emily!".....Uhhhh, seriously?! Haha. We laughed about it and then I tried to guess her name again. "Emma!" I said. At this point it was just terribly embarrassing and I felt the need to reassure both mother and daughter that I am qualified to teach high school English. Sheesh.....One this is for sure. I wont forget that girl's name ever! (It ended up being Mariah).
So, yes, this week I have been filled with love for new students, grief at the passing of a friend, nerves at teaching a new subject with new teachers, and laughter at each new crazy experience. I think this is be a roller coaster of a year, but I am excited for all the ways I learn and grow throughout it.
Andrew and Maichael
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