Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Beginning of my Middle School Education

It is finished.  The first week of school has come to a close, and thus concludes my very first, first week of school.  I will never again be going in blind.  In a way that is both comforting and very weird.  Everything is so new right now that it seems strange to think about ever really being a "seasoned" teacher.  Today, as a treat to myself, I have not even opened my handy dandy "teacher bag."  I slept in, had coffee with my sweet friend, Noel (who also got her first job teaching 7th grade and who I am thrilled is living in the Rock town again), and treated myself to an hour long massage and lunch from the always delicious Boulevard Bread Co.  Today has been an excellent day.  However, now that I've taken a step away from Week One, I feel like I can accurately blog about it.

I've already told you about the first day.  It was such an adrenaline rush--meeting the children, realizing that I'm in charge, not only of their behavior but also of their educational fate for the next year, remembering all the gazillion first day tasks required school-wide as well as staying on track with my lesson plan.....I'm can't lie, when I got home, I felt a little bit like a rock star.  Not necessarily because I was a rock star.  Far from it.  Mostly, I was just so pumped that it all went according to plan.  I can tell you this much, by the end of Day Two all that adrenaline had worked its way out of my system and my feet HURT.  I came home and completely crashed out.  I am not exaggerating when I say I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.  Ridiculous.  However, after that momentary crash, the rest of the week seemed to go progressively better each day.  By Friday, the kids were quietly staying on task and even getting a little excited about English (Yay!!).

Instead of walking you through the whole week, I decided to make a Top Three list of my favorite moments.....

1. Student: "Ms. Herring, you look too young to be our teacher."
Me: "Oh yeah?  How old do you think I am?"
Student: "19."
Me: "Well, I am not 19...."
Students begin calling out guesses ranging from 21 to 30 years old.  Finally, I said, "I'm 46."
Student: "Wow! Did you have a facelift?!"
Lesson Learned: 6th graders are not to be trusted with that kind of humor.  Ever.  EVERYTHING is taken at face value.  Literally. Oh yeah, for those of your who don't know, I'm about to turn 23 years old. 

2. On Thursday, I asked my students to paste photographs or pictures in their writer's notebook and write about how each picture told me about them as individuals.  I have one student this year who has a difficult time with verbal communication, but is also obviously very intelligent.  While most of my students did the assignment and chose pictures of sports or family vacations, this student used pictures symbolic of the way he felt.  He chose six pictures that told a story, in extended metaphor, of how he felt overwhelmed at school.  When I asked to see his notebook, and he showed me what he had done, I was a little overwhelmed, too.
Lesson Learned: I can't always know immediately what kind of poetry is hidden in a child's mind, and, no matter what, it's my job to find it and nurture it.

3. On Friday, I had my students draw Heart Maps.  I saw this assignment when I student taught last year, and I blogged about it then.  It was one of my favorite assignments last year, and I knew I wanted to use it to get to know my students this year.  What made my week so wonderful was watching students share their Heart Maps and seeing my name on some of them.  Made. My. Day.
Lesson Learned: Even on a tough day, I might still be the best part of my students' day.  I want to teach in an impactful and exciting way.  I want to always be the very best I can be, not just for myself, but more importantly for my kids.  They deserve every ounce of energy I can give. 

So that's Week One wrap-up.  I'm excited to see what this year has in store for me.  I know there will be days I want to go home and cry, but I also know that there will be lots of tiny little blessings and pieces of wisdom hidden in every day.  For now, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of this lazy Saturday and bask in my lack of productivity for at least a few more hours.  Happy Back-To-School, guys!

P.S. Please check out Noel's blog, too.  You can find it right here.

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