Monthly Archives: June 2009

Lessons learned

Well, Friday was my last day of school. I cannot believe I made it through this first year of teaching alive. I must admit, despite all the craziness and stress of this first school year, I can’t believe how fast it went. I feel like I just met many of my students for the first time, and now they are moving onto eighth grade and I am getting a new batch of students. It’s absolute craziness.

I also cannot believe how much I learned this year. I think I probably ended up learning more than I taught (whoops). So many people warned me that this year was going to be a learning/play-it-by-ear year, and I have to say, they were 100% right. I thought it would only be right to share what I have learned in my first year of teaching. Honestly, this is more of a reminder for myself than for any new teachers out there or anything like that, because, as I discovered the hard way, with teaching, you really just have to experience it for yourself to truly understand it. Anyway, here are some of the things the 2008-2009 school year taught me:

  1. 7th graders can be some of the funniest, most creative, wittiest, kindest, and smartest human beings on the planet. There was never a day that passed that one or more didn’t cease to amaze me in some way.
  2. 7th graders can also be the most stubborn, foul-mouthed, meanest, and laziest human beings on the planet. There was never a day that passed that at LEAST one of them didn’t test me, sass me, or make me rethink my career choice in some way.
  3. There is a HUGE difference between being an organized person and an organized teacher. The former does not translate into the latter. I am an organized person. I discovered very quickly, very early on, that I was not an organized teacher. Part of my summer is going to be spent turning into one.
  4. It is much, much, much easier to start off the year being mean than to be nice. I started off this year being too nice, and paid for it the rest of the year. I plan on starting next year being much more GRRRR in the beginning, and slowly easing off (if my students earn it).
  5. Despite what people say, 7th graders are not young adults. They are big kids. They need to be reminded to raise their hands, not to wrestle in the building, when it is an okay time to sharpen their pencils, and to put their toys (yes, toys) away during class.  You can give them responsibilities and privileges, but they have to earn them. Some of them will earn them right away. Some of them never will.
  6. It is easier to find a needle in a haystack then to get middle schoolers to read silently for 30 minutes, even when you let them choose their own reading materials!
  7. As much as you hope to change lives and make a difference, in the first year of teaching, you are literally in survival mode. I often came to school inspired by my fellow teachers and co-workers, not by the students. I am hoping this will change.

This year has been an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs in a way I did not expect way back in August. However, I can also say that, despite the breakdowns and frustrations, I am sincerely looking forward to next school year. But, I am also looking forward to summer, summer, summer . . . so I’ll start looking forward to next school year in about two months, okay?

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Sorry, it’s been a long time. Life has gotten away from me lately, and I haven’t had the time or the will to blog. Let me give you a quick recap of my life so far:

1. Summer has officially begun. We took the boat up to the lake two weeks ago and went boating for the first time this weekend. It was a lot of fun.

2. This week Jason and I will have been married for one year (our anniversary is next Sunday). We’re planning on going to Washington, D.C. for our anniversary weekend. Should be lots of fun.

3. Also this week is the last week of school, meaning that on Friday I will no longer be a first-year teacher. Yay! I’m planning on being at Milton again next year, so let’s hope the second year goes a little more smoothly than the first.

4. Last week Jason and I played hosts to my parents. They came up for an extended Memorial Day weekend (Friday-Wednesday) and it was so nice to have them here . . . although it is nice to have our house back to ourselves!

5. Also, in some sad news, yesterday my texted me to tell me that their (our) cat, Harper, died. She was 13 years old and have had some thyroid and muscle issues. But, honestly, I’m a little bit devastated. Jason and I were with his siblings and their significant others stopping at some wineries when I got the text. I finished the wine tasting that I was in the middle of when I got the news, and then immediately proceeded to the car and started crying. Jason and I left early because I wasn’t in the mood for any more wineries. I am not a cat person, but Harper was the first cat we had that I was there for from the beginning. I was 10 years old when we picked her out from the SPCA, and I always joked that we got her for my birthday since it was during my tenth birthday weekend that we got her. I am sure my family is devastated right now as well. My sister was especially close to Harper, so it’s going to be rough couple of days (weeks? months?) for them.

In fact, I am starting to get choked up now so I will just leave it at that. Hopefully I will have time to blog more now that summer is *almost* here and I will have more spare time. Also, I am planning on starting a new project that I’m hoping to launch here in the next few weeks, and I’m excited about that.


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