First week: great success!

So it’s Friday of The First Week and I am ex-hausted. Wow.

But still in way better shape than I was when I first started teaching. Especially because I had one and a half ridiculous things happen to me. The first is that we got new doors in the building over the summer. On the first day of teacher meetings, we always have a big staff breakfast. I brought doughnuts, but because I am a klutz, I got glaze all over my shorts. I went into the bathroom to wash it off, and as I turned to leave, I realized that the new, big, heavy door that opens inward…. does not have a handle attached to it. Thankfully, another coworker was upstairs so I could bang on the door and shout to be saved. Yep, that’s how I started my school year.

On the first day with students, I woke up at 5:42. My alarm was set for 6. (I checked it multiple times.) I thought, ‘I can snooze a bit longer.’ The next thing I knew, it was 6:38. I leave for work at 7. Whoops! But because I am a veteran teacher and not a newbie, I knew 20 minutes was still plenty of time to get dressed and I could eat in the car, since I have a 45 minute commute. The only trouble is that it put me off my pain med schedule, and my collarbone/shoulder hurt the entire way there. Ouch.

Other than that, I have had a most fantastic week. I have great classes. My only complaint is that my 3rd period is a bit large (I have a section of 6… and then a section of 19) but it still beats the 23 I had to squish into my room at one time my first year. I haven’t had any major boundary testing yet and am working hard to refresh my relationships with returning students and build relationships with new ones.

I really feel like this year is It. The Tipping Point. The Year I Finally Got My Ducks In A Row. First of all, my school has moved to Google Apps for Education. We also went 1:1 on laptops for grades 7-12. I am a huge tech nerd, so I am ready for the challenge. I think it will make some things harder, but most things much easier. After all, my biggest problem will probably always be students talking when I’m trying to teach, and technology won’t change that.

The second thing is that I finally have the vision of where my students are, where I want them to go, and most importantly, how to get them there. In prior years, I had only parts of my vision aligned with each other. Now I’ve even got fancy unit plans (though some are more complete than others, haha) and it makes planning so much easier. The hardest part right now is that I didn’t change to full-on comprehensible input until shortly after Christmas last year, and in my Spanish 1s and 2s, then I had a student teacher! So my first semester is going to require a lot more work than second semester, where I already found videos and readings and other items appropriate for teaching. I decided this year that if I couldn’t decide which mode of communication an activity fell into, I probably shouldn’t be doing it. The exception is if I’m specifically using the activity with the intent to clean up grammar, rather than just doing it because that’s what the book told me was next. I am also going to clear out a lot of space (digital and physical) because I can say adios to all those conjugation exercises!

Another important note is that I will be finishing my master’s degree in the spring. Well, technically – the last class is just a portfolio and capstone course, but I still have my portfolio from undergrad, so all I need to do is update it a bit and that will be finished easily. I only have one week left in my current class, and two more regular classes to go. After that, I’m not sure what I want to do in a professional capacity. I might go for a second master’s (in Spanish) because UNK now offers an online degree for that. I might also attempt to become a National Board Certified teacher. That would be a lot of work, but a great honor.

The final piece of the puzzle is that we have a new superintendent. Sam Stecher comes to us from an administrative position in Kearney, but he’s already integrating well into East Butler. He really emphasizes personal relationships with students, and although I haven’t had much time to connect with him myself, I hope I will have a chance to just shoot the breeze sometime in the near future. He even co-runs a website called Mission Monday that is all about giving a weekly ‘mission’ to staff, students, and parents, to generate a conversation to show interest/caring and put dollars in those relationship banks. I like that he is tech savvy and is already working to be very approachable to everybody. For example, he stood outside the main doors on the first day of school and greeted everyone as they walked in. How cool is that? I think he’s going to do great things for our district and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

How are things going for you? If you’re already back, I hope your year is also going well. If you’re not back until after Labor Day, enjoy these final summer days!

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One thought on “First week: great success!

  1. What an awesome year this is going to be! I love the ducks-in-a-row feeling! The communication mode epiphany is a powerful one I’m going to try to keep in mind. Good luck on your capstone, and if you need help on National Boards, you know who to call!

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