First week. Lesson #1 – The Internet is NOT Your Friend. Neither are the students.

So my intention was to write daily until I “got busy.”  Well, that didn’t take long.  With the schedule change, there was a lot of time dedicated to shuffling plans around and making dates for lessons and things of that nature. But today, the Friday of the first week of school felt like a disaster.

See, the internet is an incredible resource. It is is available to google lesson plans for virtually anything and there it is. With small adjustments to your own ideals, you can find amazing lessons from all over the US from incredibly talented teachers. The best part is that most of it is free.  It has been a lifesaver when I have been stuck debating on the layout of a worksheet or creating a step-by-step lesson for many levels of learning (low, mid, and accelerated) and fusing them together to find what fits for your own part

The bad thing about the internet is that even the most innocent and pure intentions can be skewed to ruin you. Last year, my personal experience was going to nail shop and having a student tweet a photo of me mid-eyebrow wax. No lie. Why would anyone want to take a photo of something like that is beyond me.  It was a Saturday when I got waxed. Monday morning, I had a student tell me “Hey, you got your eyebrows waxed on Saturday. I saw a picture.” I never felt so naked to the world. Truthfully, everyone waxes their eyebrows nowadays. But, my grandmother always insisted on grooming being a private affair. I mean, waxing means you have hair. Hair in places that you don’t want hair. Not cool.

But this week’s experience was no waxing matter.

This week a former student of the school I teach at got a hold of a photo of teacher’s in their personal experience. There was alcohol and smiles. The photo ended up trending on social media after only one hour online.  The photo was a happy one. Everyone was smiling and everyone had a shot glass in their hands. So the student created buzz with it.  I was informed of it after that first hour and contacted the student directly and informed him that it was no party. It was a funeral. It was a funeral for a man who brought love and smiles to one person who was very near and dear to each of the teachers in the photo. The shot glasses were filled with alcohol he loved but we didn’t particularly enjoy. We did that day, though. We did because we did it in his honor, for fighting a valiant fight and for loving our friend so dearly.

None of those details matter when the glass wall that you attempt to shield your personal life from students crumbles to the ground. The attack on our character, the misperception of that one single moment in time, all of it  was destroyed in that single misconstrued image.  If it isn’t clear by now, at this moment it is forever cemented: every. single. thing. on social media is up for judgment of a teacher by their students. So if social media is your thing, never let them connect you to it.

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Schedule change

Day 1:

Schedule change. It turns out that I’m teaching two subjects that I am familiar with: English 9 and English 10. I’m excited and looking forward to making a strong impact but just growing in terms of teaching. I feel that this year is going to solidify the knowledge behind my lessons. But, there’s also the factor of incorporating Common Core into the curriculum that I already have knowledge of.

That is one of the  elements of teaching, it is constantly changing so teachers have to stay fluid. They have to be willing to incorporate new standards, new visions, new direction-approximately every five years as instructed by the powers that be with minimal input from teachers.  This is where visionaries start to find a fork in the road. The span of a teacher’s career will affect approximately 3,000 students, give or take a few hundred. Administrators can affect up to 3,000 per year. What will be satisfactory, direct small-scale relationships or leadership and direction for a large group of students and staff?  For now, let’s stay the course and think about the students. The positive is that there won’t be pressure to try to figure out unit plans, but just ironing out details.  The negative is that right now, I have a total of 224 students on my rosters. Out of contract boundaries so we’ll just wait to thin out that number and let the dust settle the first few days.  In the meantime, I’ll have some worksheets and get-to-know-you-as-a-student assignments. 

It’s starting to feel a little bit like a routine. This is a good thing.

So yeah, the day before school staff return is usually a day of positive anticipation. It is a time to mentally accept that summer vacation has come to an end and return to the focus and rush of teaching.  This year is one that has me a bit uneasy. I knew that back in June, though. For the past 4 years I have taught the following:

Year 1: English 9, English 9 Support 

Year 2: English 9, English 10 Accelerated

Year 3: English 9, English 10, English 12; Semester 2 add CAHSEE English Prep

Year 4: English 10, English 10 Sheltered English Immersion, English 12

On Friday, I learned that I will be teaching: English 9, English 10 (with a Magnet curriculum added), English Language Development. 6 sections, 2 apiece.  I want to die.  The idea of teaching 3 preps with 6 sections is enough to write my letter of resignation. I give up. Another stressful and overloaded class schedule to add on top of the new Common Core Curriculum.  Many people would say to suck it up and just deal because I’m in a better position than many other folks, mainly the unemployed, substitute-teacher-permanent-hopefuls, etc. Which is true. It will also be the fifth year of five years that gives me a brand new curriculum to learn. Two if you add in the magnet program.  At this point, I’m just excited that I am participating in a major food chain’s taste testing on Tuesday.  Let’s hope that sometime between now and Wednesday my schedule gets fixed….11 months till June.

The day before….

So the whole idea behind this blog is to really process the fifth year of my teaching experience. You see, statistics show that by their fifth year, 50% of all new teachers leave education. 50%. After a bachelors degree, credential program, student teaching, subbing, securing a job, and 4 (!!) summers off in the books, 50% still leave.  If I were to walk away today, I would leave with close to $100,000.00 (yes, one hundred thousand dollars) in debt and nothing to show for it except failure.

So what gives?

There are so many layers of the teaching profession that you can’t really understand it until you cut open the ginormous onion that is education to see what is at play. What my overarching goal here is to give you an idea of what it is like on a daily basis. You see, from afar, one might imagine worksheets that magically grade themselves, well-behaved kids who bring your Starbucks because you are so fantastic, and long, luxurious days with your toes in the sand soaking in the summer days on a tropical island for month’s on end. Remember, teaching is a Monet and the brushstrokes that paint that sun-kissed portrait are short, abrupt spurts of effort. Lots and lots of effort.

Hopefully this helps to see the pros and cons of teaching. I hope this makes someone laugh, as I know that there will be things to laugh about. Maybe some of it will make someone mad about the state of disarray that teachers are required to work in. But for now, it’s about my fifth year reflection of that madness that is my teaching career.