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Entry date: 1-21-2022 - Thoughts on the first year of teaching - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I want touch on a few things today, so forgive me, up front, for another ramble.

I was thinking this morning about how my feeling about being in the classroom has changed from the beginning of this school year until now. When people talk about the first year of teaching being the hardest, they are not wrong. Even though I had spent literally tens of thousands of hours in a classroom working with children, I don’t know that I was adequately prepared for what having my own classroom is like.

As I met the students back in July and their parents, as well, I could only really pretend to know what I was doing. Each day was an adventure, from the first day on, and I felt like a tightrope walker a lot of the time. If one thing happened, I wasn’t expecting, I could easily tumble down to an unsettling death. The kids seemed like they could smell my doubts, at times, and at other times have proved to be most forgiving people I have ever known. Luckily for all of us, we are going through the most uncertain time in educational history.

I feel fortunate that I am teaching at a time when teachers can take back the art of teaching. Information is so available to these children. Even at 7 or 8 years old, I am regularly astounded by what these children know about and, more importantly, what they want to know about each day. In some ways, this made being a newbie even more daunting as the inner people pleaser wants so badly to always give them what they want.

This is a bad strategy, though, and I’ve learned it the hard way over the past six months. What they want and what they need is often terribly different. Also, to be truly equitable and do the best thing for my class at any given time, I have to make sacrifices that disappoint some or many of my students to benefit the greater good. I’ve come to learn that I need to make them work in a way that shows each other what to do.

What I mean is this: I’ve known for a long time that students would listen to each other way more than they would listen to me. I’m an adult. I can’t be trusted. I am bossy and mean and expect them to be better than they feel they are, and this makes me an enemy. But what I can be is a facilitator and this is something they are comfortable with because a lot of what is on TV and the internet is people facilitating the distribution of information. I’m a talk show host sometimes and that’s okay.

What really threw me in the beginning was the behavior stuff I wasn’t ready to deal with on a daily or even momentary basis. I had the whole spectrum of personality types in my classroom, and I wasn’t quite ready for just how much they were going to test me. They seemed so nice at meet the teacher night.

HA!

Even the nicest of the kids had an agenda that didn’t include following every direction I gave. I’m still learning how to give good directions to 2nd graders. They just don’t think right.

I’m kidding, of course. They think the way they are supposed to think and that’s a good thing. The worries and concerns and interests of the under four and a half feet tall set is something they need to go through to grow. It’s a main reason why I really like this age. They have a few basics but are really just sponges looking to find out how to be a proper person.

I realize this is a common thing in this blog. Clearly, I’m working through something. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey, friends.

*****

Is there a better song than “Waiting Room” by Fugazi?

The answer is yes, of course, but I freaking love the song. It’s been part of my life now since the late 80s and it still makes me get the goose bumps a lot of the time. I’m so glad I got to see them play it live and feel the power of Fugazi run through the air between the band and I and into my body.

There isn’t a better way of describing it.

One of the coolest rock and roll moments I ever had was looking down from the stage in 1989 when were the very first band on a bill opening for Fugazi and seeing Ian Mackaye and Guy Picciotto looking back at me. We lucked into the slot at a place called Time Out of Mind and there we were.

I mentioned this a few blogs back when I talked about Religious Skid. We ended up hanging out with the Fugazi guys a lot that night. All of the straight edge bands were so jealous. It was killing them to see the band they worshipped hanging out with us non-straight-edge guys.

Anyhow, Ian and Guy watched our whole set and were very kind to us. They all also signed a copy of the first EP for me and I’ll cherish that thing always. Not a bad first opening slot.

*****

It’s Friday and that means a weekend to recharge batteries. We have a big day planned for tomorrow so I’m not sure when I’m going to get my words in here. I’ll figure it out, though. This is my 22nd day of picking away at these keys. I hope it makes sense. I hope there is something here that will help people. I haven’t gone public with this yet. I will at the end of the month. Maybe sooner. Who knows? I am being a bit wimpy, but I’ve haven’t really shared my soul like this since high school when I used to write tons of poems, mostly for girls.

I’m guessing most of those have long since been thrown away or forgotten or, hopefully, both. I’m guessing I wrote a lot of sad bastard stuff.


See you tomorrow.



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