Sunday, 18 October 2009

Head of the Class

I have been back in front of the classroom for well over a month now -- a month which has brought with it both challenges and rewards. Putting aside the difficulty of balancing work and motherhood (which will most certainly end up being a whole other blog entry in itself), stepping back into a teaching role has been an interesting, exciting and, yes, sometimes stressful experience.

In some ways, it's been like riding a bike. All of the planning, grading and disciplining (it's amazing how effortlessly my "teacher" voice has returned!) has come back to me, as if I had only been out of the classroom for a summer instead of three whole years. In other ways, though, it's like I'm the new kid at school. Only, I'm the new teacher at school. I'm not sure which one is worse. I'm teaching a completely different curriculum to what I am used to, and, although I feel fairly confident in the job I am doing, there is always that pressure to prove myself to "the people that matter." I'm also learning the ins and outs of a new school, and it can be a bit awkward, sometimes, to find your niche within a new workplace. Seven years ago, I stepped into the classroom for the first time -- but in a very familiar setting; I was working at my alma mater. I worked with teachers whose classes I had been in, and, though I'm not saying I didn't experience my share of awkward moments, there was a certain comfort in having a personal history with the school. Now, I'm starting from scratch. I have to build relationships with colleagues and create my professional persona all over again. And then, of course, there's getting to know my students, and them getting to know me. I may not have to deal with the same kinds of issues I dealt with while teaching at an American public high school (thankfully), but kids, no matter how much money they may have, will still try to test their limits (and mine) in their own ways. The trick is finding the right balance between firm and flexible, and I have to be careful with the reputation I gain among the students this year because it will be very hard to reinvent myself if I get off on the wrong foot. So far, I hope I'm succeeding.

Despite all of these challenges, I am enjoying (nearly) every moment of my new gig. Even The Other Half has commented on the fact that I've barely complained about the job at all, which is more than I can say about my last teaching job. I don't dread going in to work every day. I've been able to manage (mostly) to keep my work at work so that when I come home I can focus on my family. Teaching can so easily consume your life (spoken from experience), but I have different priorities now than I did seven years ago, and at the end of the day it's important to remember that, even though I will put in 110% while I am at work, at the end of the day it is just a job.

Let's just hope I'm still feeling this positive next June....

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

And the prize for the best excuse for coming to class unprepared goes to...

... the student who recently told me, "Sorry, miss, but I forgot my book at my house in St. Tropez this weekend." I honestly never imagined I'd hear an excuse like that in my career, or that such an excuse would be anything more than the ambitious fantasies of an adolescent. I think it's safe to say that this kid's weekly allowance is more than my monthly salary. I'll stop here before I get more depressed.

More on my return to the classroom to follow soon.