Saturday, December 5, 2009

Remembering Day One

I wrote this blog on September 8, 2009 - The first day of school - and it never got posted.

How do you judge a first day? Is it on effectiveness? Is it on how many students you met? Or is it on how good you started the class? I think, for me at least, this first day was one of stress, new beginnings, and a great opportunity.

First, stress. My job at the FAIR Downtown School combines my love of teaching with the joy of being able to help other teachers integrate technology into the curriculum. Together, at times, it feels like I am doing two completely full time jobs, and today it did feel like that at times. However, at other times it feels like I have the best job in the whole world because I get to play with technology and then help others implement it in their classrooms and into my own. So there are clearly positives and negatives about the arrangement. So far it has been a great time doing all the technology stuff at school, because it seems like everywhere I go there is a need for this or that (which is good job security if you ask me), but that does not always allow me to get my own classroom stuff set-up and ready to go. For instance, getting ready for class, my own stuff, has only really happened on the weekend or when I go home at night. I realize that I am a first year teacher and I am blending the boundaries a little bit, but at the same time I need to do two things better: One, use the time I have at school in a more effective way (i.e. say to people, “too bad you decided that you wanted to print your syllabus fifteen minutes before school starts, we will deal with it another day,” which I have a really hard time doing and would rather break my schedule and leave what I am doing so that they can have the right materials and equipment to start class). Basically I need to learn to say no. Second, I need to take time for my self. I realize that my sister calls me a “workaholic” and for the past few weeks I have been. Still, it was nice to take a little break this last weekend and get some sun and enjoy some time water skiing with friends. I need to take that time, to step back, relax, and really enjoy life. You work to live or do you live to work? I think it seems that at times it is both, but for me lately it has been the second one too often. I enjoy what I do, but I also need to take that time to step back and recharge the batteries. In part I was really looking forward to this first day because I think it will really allow me to get into a routine with working out, spending time with family and friends, and really enjoying life.

Second, new beginnings. Being in front of the class all by myself for the first time was amazing. It was freeing, scary, incredible, fun, and hard all at the same time. I did not have that safety net to throw my class to when they were a little out of line. I did not have that extra person to look over my notes and tell me that they were ok. Instead, I have amazing colleagues that support me, my search to be a great teacher, and help me to succeed in any way possible. Nonetheless, I still had an amazing time of starting off a class for the first time. The students filed in one-by-one and I greeted them at the door. Did a little introduction activity with them, which went over ok. I struggle with getting the names of each of the students down from the beginning. I need to have the students in some sort of order with a seating chart, at least to begin the period with. My original intention was to have the students sit wherever they want for comfortability and flexibility sake. However, that turned out to be a farsighted aspiration. Instead, some of the students I did not get a handle on their names, like I would have if there was a seating chart. So next year, and the next time I see these students, there will be a seating chart. However, it will be one that the students start with and then I will get them up and move around. After the opening activity then we went into a little piece about classroom rules. I told the students to remember one rule for these few days, as we will be going through the rest of the rules early next week. So the one rule I told them about - Respect. Yes, pretty easy, but one that they clearly were lacking and taking an advantage of as the class began. We then discussed the schedule, because it has changed radically from previous years, which it was good to do. I am always more comfortable in a situation when I know what is happening and when. So I tried to create that environment for the students in my classroom.

Overall, it was a good first day. A day that I will remember for a long time...a day of new beginnings and new opportunities. It was great.