It's been a while since I was last in a high school classroom, 4 years, 2 months, 1 week and 3 days to be exact...until last Tuesday that is. A week ago Friday, I got a call about an open teaching position at Leading Edge Academy, and sent my resume that evening. Saturday evening, I got a call from the principal to schedule the interview for Monday, August 2. Since I had decided teaching was what I really wanted to do, I was a nervous wreck. Yet through the whole thing I remained calm knowing that what was supposed to happen would happen. After my interview I went home to bake cookies (which turned out great by the way!) and wait. Around 4pm, I got a call from the principal that they wanted to hire me and I should be at school the next morning at 8:45 for meetings.
Tuesday morning, the gravity of the whole situation hit and I realized the huge-ness of getting a teaching position straight out of college with limited experience. I felt blessed and challenged to perform at the same time. After 3 hours of meetings and introductions and filling out paperwork, my head was spinning. I went home to collect my thoughts and look over my curriculum. At 6:00, I headed back to school for "Back to School" night. Parents were very nice and I started to feel a little more acclimated to the idea that I'd be teaching in 2 days.
Wednesday morning held more meetings, this time with the whole district of LEAD Charter Schools. Following the morning meetings, everyone headed to lunch as a campus. So the Gilbert campus (the one I work at) headed to Joe's Real BBQ for lunch. It was a great opportunity to sit down with the staff in a no stress environment, get some food in my system and laugh. The people I work with are great and funny! Wednesday afternoon, I frantically set up my gradebooks, finished syllabi, and planned for the first two days of school. As the clock approached 5:00pm, I headed home, with still more work to do and about as nervous as I could be.
Thursday, school started and the whirlwind began. It has been a crazy adventure, but I have already learned so much about myself and my students. I've learned that no matter what, I will get the job done. Even if I stay up until 2:30am, like I did last night, my students will leave my classroom and understand history. I've learned that students respond well to positive feedback. At my school, we have merits and demerits. Merits = you did something good, let me recognize you for it. Demerits = you were disrespectful, please watch it. I gave out a few merits in my World History class and it instantly changed how those kids acted toward me. They have been kinder, more appreciative, and very focused.
I've also learned that some things take students a lot less than I anticipate, and some things take a lot longer than I anticipate. The first day of school, I ended up letting my World History students ask questions to get to know me because we finished everything super fast. Today, we ran out of time to watch Schoolhouse Rock because they were so chatty during notes. I've also learned I can't take their scores personally. Last night after grading a take home quiz, I started crying because so many students had missed a question I had gone over in class. Someone told me, the first year of teaching will hands down be the hardest, but it will also be the most rewarding. So far, I've only really cried twice (once was before students even came), and have only pulled a near all-nighter. Tuesday morning, one of my students brought me a piece of her birthday cake from over the weekend. It instantly brightened my morning and put me in a better mood. Small things really do mean a lot.
So, as I continue to plan lessons, I find I am grateful for the opportunity to be back in the classroom and am looking forward to one adventure of a year (and more!).