Back to School – Meet Your New Teacher!

So, the first time I tried to write about this topic, I ended up just scribbling spirals and zigzags in a notebook. A completely failed endeavor.

Before I defaulted to spirals to help myself contemplate my feelings of anticipation and nervousness associated with the start of the school year, I had in mind a witty vignette for this post, in which I would muse on the monstrous back-to-school displays at my local Target. I planned to deftly tie in some commentary on the differences between being a student and being a teacher during the back-to-school madness.

But I think there’s something more honest to take away from my writing-turned-doodles (other than the fact that I draft my blog posts on paper), and that’s this: I really do have a lot on my mind. So I’m going to keep it real. As a first year teacher looking to September 1st, here’s where my thoughts are going…

1. Who’s going to walk through that door? I am so excited and nervous about meeting my students. I was lucky enough to be hired at the school where I did my middle school student teaching, so I already have an idea about the school population–it’s actually really fantastic, because there are students from so many different backgrounds, races, and languages… I love that. I’m teaching 7th grade English, 12th grade English, and Writing Lab, so I’ll get to see a broad range of age levels. Also, I’m really pumped about the fact that I’ll eventually have some of my former eighth graders again, once they become seniors. But I’m also aware of the huge class sizes and wondering if these kids will be as sweet as the students I had there last year. Since I’ll have about 130 students total–that’s a conservative estimate–I’m really worried about logistical things like learning all those names, remembering who’s in which class, and enduring the giant workload when it comes time to grade papers.

2. Can I handle this without going insane? Self-explanatory… I technically have 7 months of true full-time teaching experience already, but I can’t help feeling that this is the “big deal”, since it’s my first permanent postition (and the first to offer a full salary). Teaching takes a spark, and I’m very aware of mine… and afraid of losing it. I’ve done so well so far, but the possibility of self-doubt lurks around a couple corners. Can I really do this?

3. I am SO thankful for the many supports I have in place! One thing that eases my nerves is thinking about the awesome support system that I am fortunate enough to have. MPS has historically given very little support to its new teachers, and as a result has seen a tremendous turnover rate. Lucky for me, they have recognized and remedied this phenomenon by assigning various mentors at the district and school levels. I feel totally upheld by my district level mentor, who I just met this past week. She’s unbelievably bright, experienced, and simply nice. And get this: she will be checking on me and offering support every week. Unbelievable, right?! Not only that, but I have a great mentor at my site, and my “buddy teacher” is my former cooperating teacher, who I trust and respect completely. Add to the mix my super-supportive family and friends, and I have a very fortified network. I am deeply, deeply thankful for all of them.

4. Will I be able to get my classroom and unit plan ready in time? The first day of school is fast approaching and I’m still moving in to my classroom, and I have many things I want to revise for my first-few-weeks game plan. I’m trying not to get overwhelmed, but I certainly don’t want to be underprepared. I’m trying to work as much as I can, yet still find some time to enjoy these last precious days of summer. Deep. Breaths.

5. Why am I doing this? Amidst all the nervousness, it’s good to remember why I’m here. I’m here because teaching is my calling. Because I care about this city’s youth. Because I have passion and creativity that I want to share. Because writing, reading, and critical thinking are some of the highest human callings. Because I love literature. Because I love to question. Because I want to share my knowledge and excitement with others. Because I love to have intelligent discussions about things that matter in this world. Because I am commited. Because I know how to teach well. And because no one can do it like me.

Here’s to a successful fall term. Wish me luck!

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