Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Getting Back (or trying to get back) in the Saddle Again

Well, I knew these first few weeks of teaching, starting school, and Connor starting a new school were going to be tough, and it looks like I wasn’t wrong.  This past week has perfectly illustrated that point.  Day 1: not bad, considering it consisted mostly of a meeting, me bustling around getting decals, IDs, books, figuring out where I was going to park my car so I don’t get towed or fined, finding my classrooms, making sure my syllabi printed correctly (two typos on one—argh!), figuring out the new printer and new copier.  But, all of that worked out, just the stress (and standing out in the sun waiting to get a decal and ID) gave me a migraine for my very first face-to-face class, leaving me to gobble Ibuprofen, down coffee, and sniff my Young Living M-Grain oil until it dulled enough for me to coherently speak to a group of expectant faces about what to expect of me and my class.  Luckily enough, the Ibuprofen, coffee, and M-Grain came through and I made it through my first couple of classes.  My second went even better—I planned a good lesson consisting of watching a couple of small videos, a writing prompt and group work, and discussion—I the same for this class as I was the previous day, so I didn’t sweat it.  I probably should have.  Class started well enough (not that it can really go wrong taking roll and explaining changes to the schedule, I guess).  But then, as the students got started working on their writing assignment, I started to boot up the computer and find the videos I wanted to show, only . . . nothing was happening.  Despite continuously pressing the power button and checking the plug-ins and mentally cursing the machine, I was consistently met with a blank screen.  Nothing.  Nada.  I checked the controls.  They were locked behind a screen, but they looked on and working.  Little lights were on, anyway.  Okay.  The kids finished their work, I put them into their groups to discuss their prompts while I tried a little longer.  Ten minutes later the kids had moved on from discussing their work to chitchatting and I was no closer to booting up that machine than I was to winning the Pulitzer Prize.  Okay, so this is why I went into English instead of Computer Science.  Well, I had to accept the fact that my lesson was NOT going to go as planned.  I wouldn’t be able to show them the videos I had worked over an hour to find—and was proud of myself for finding—and started up the class discussion.  Needless to say, the trip and distraction that technology gave me that morning led to a stumble in my discussion and though it may not have been as bad as I think it was, I still verbally felt like Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show, trying as best I could to find my footing while I stumbled all over creation.  I wasn’t as articulate and didn’t say some of the things I was proud of saying the day before because my mind had gotten distracted and tripped.  I felt like I’d let my students down.  Plus, I was greeted with bored looks and someone so eloquently saying “This sucks,” when I handed out the first essay assignment.  At least it ended well, with students signing up for conferences for their essay, and I determined from my department head what to do when technology fails me once again.  So, back in a positive frame of mind, I re-learned what I can and should do and I was ready for the next part of the day.  I picked up the kids, only to be told at our next stop not once, but twice, by two different people, that parking was prohibited where I'd tried to park.  Okay, now normally this would not bother me--everyone makes simple mistakes.  I smiled, apologized twice, and said I would remember that for future reference but internally, I couldn’t believe I’d made yet another error.  So, after a little stress-cry that I kept from the kids, I felt a little clearer and knew that it wasn’t just one thing, but multiple things that had added up.  I’ve taken on a lot in a short amount of time, and the things I’ve taken on are not easy and require a lot of time and energy.  And also, I’m at the beginning—in new places, with new people, new rules, and a new schedule (and new technology).  That can be daunting.  The terrain is unfamiliar right now—I don’t always see the bumps or cracks in the road, so hitting a few are inevitable.  And I will probably hit a few more, but that’s okay.  The longer I travel this new road, the more familiar and comfortable I will become.  I’ll learn (I hope!).

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