It’s been a while. This site’s gone through some ups and downs, and of course, Teacher October – though better this time around – kicked me while I was down.
I don’t know how to sum up this second year; it seems like everything – from my students to my campus to even myself – has changed so dramatically.
I know there are probably many of you who read my postings from last year. Do you want to know how things ended up? They ended up like this:
My instructional coach went back to the classroom. She is one of my closest friends. I consider her to be the older sister I always wanted but never got to have. We have brunch every few weeks and marvel at how lucky we are to have one another.
My MTLD is still my MTLD this year. She buys me coffee and gives me life advice and urges me to stay in the classroom. I think I’m going to listen to her. She knows my soul.
My original 2013 TFA cohort is still going strong. Not a single one of us has quit. I think more than half of us will continue to teach a third year in our original positions, at our original schools. And no matter where we go or what we will do, we will always be fortunate to have had each other to learn from and grow alongside.
My best school friends are still my best school friends (though we’ve added a few). We do things like watch deep movies and then talk about them over margaritas, or have pumpkin-carving contests, or host one another for Friendsgiving, or frequently brunch. How lucky I am. How lucky we are.
My kiddos from last year survived my first year of teaching, and are now rocking high school, allowed to wear makeup (for the first time!) and running Student Council. They still visit me and sit on my couch. I marvel at how they have grown. I love my students this year, but the Class of 2018 will always hold a special place in my heart.
My co-teacher and closest school friend is still teaching, though at a different school. We send each other funny emails throughout the week (like we used to), though it’s different not having him here with me to dance to “Timber” every Friday afternoon at 4:10 PM. We are both happy in our new lives.
The student who passed away last year, T, is memorialized in a photo in our front office. Sometimes potential new hires will pass by the photo and ask about him. The conversations we had, that day after he passed away, burn in my mind and I remember them from time to time. That day – more than anything else I have ever experienced – is why I am teaching a third year.
But, with the turn of a new season and the start of a new year, life goes on. Things have changed this year. I started a book club with some school friends and we meet once a month to discuss race, class, and life. I play Ultimate every Saturday morning in a league over at the dental school nearby. I pack healthy lunches nearly every day. I remembered to call my mother on her birthday. I run a few times a week and sometimes cry at how grateful I am to watch the sunset after a day of doing what I love.
I’m a better teacher. That’s for sure. I try to differentiate, sometimes, when I have enough energy. Kids track their progress towards their Student Achievement Forecasts. My lessons are aligned (but sometimes we still get off-topic and discuss the meaning of life. Hey, what can you do). 70% of my students passed the first district-wide exam, compared with a 58% pass rate from last year. That’s not to say it’s easy. 99% of the time I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, or even where to start…but at least I don’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.
My Full Observation is Tuesday. A year to the day of my first one last year. At this time last year, I was having nightmares and panic attacks over evaluative scores. This year…I bought a new sweater, I went for a long run, and I made some green beans. Life is good.
There’s been an article floating around Facebook. “Your Brain on 23.” It’s spot-on for me…except for the part about a meaningless job. My job has meaning. I have never doubted it for a second. And sometimes, when I feel like I’m floating aimlessly in the universe…I come back and teach my kiddos and everything is okay again.