Yesterday I ran into Wal-mart for a few things and was bombarded by school supplies, which means... its almost that time! I'm 33 days away from the first day of school! This will be my second year teaching sixth grade math in Brenham, Texas. Throughout my first year, my brother told me several times I should be blogging- he wanted to be able to read about the ridiculous things that were said or done in my classroom. I always meant to start a blog, and never seemed to make time. I assured myself there was no way I would forget a single thing about my first year while it was happening... oops.
My first year was certainly a roller coaster, but by no means the disastrous event I've heard from others. My administration is supportive and awesome and the teachers on my campus would do anything to help. I'm a very lucky girl :) The biggest struggle I faced my first year was coming to terms with the reality of finally being in the classroom. I've always dreamed of teaching (minus the brief period when pediatrician was the goal). My four years at Texas A&M only increased my passion. I just knew I was going to the best teacher ever. I was going to change the lives of my students. I was going to care about them more than any other teacher would. I would teach them to love themselves, learning, and mathematics (or at least respect it). I was going to listen to them and love them and teach them about respect, hard work, motivation, generosity, courage, etc.
I'm not so confident that I drastically changed anyone's life for the better this past year. I do know that I cared about them an insane amount and that they got my best.
I spent much of my first year feeling stuck. I came out of school with so many ideas that I couldn't wait to try and so much passion I couldn't wait to share. And then I was handed binders. Of worksheets. Numbered 1-100 or something like that. I tried to implement as many of the strategies I'd learned, but needed to stay on schedule with the other sixth grade math teachers and didn't want to offend anyone by doing things differently. I wanted to assign independent projects to my GT students, but was told the parents wouldn't be happy, so I tried to fit it into class time, and it just wasn't as successful as I wanted or expected. I wanted my students to sit into groups and work together, but the first 4 teachers that walked into my room during in-service week made comments that groups were a dangerous idea... I did it anyway. It worked wonderfully. I was constantly pulled between what I wanted to do, what I felt was the right thing to do, and what others were doing. I respected their experience and valued their opinions but felt strongly about my own ideas too. I struggled to have authentic conversations with students, instead feeling rushed to teach each standard in time for the STAAR test. And I hated seeing myself do things I promised I never would- Did I really just say "because I said so?" and did I really just write a referral for THAT and did I really yell at my class because they didn't line up quietly? I was stuck between my idealistic view of who I would be as a teacher and who I really am as one. I read articles and blogs discussing the failure of our education system... and I'm stuck between agreeing and arguing or defending.