Not so long ago I was hanging out with my friends in my high school locker room after cross country practice. I was deciding where I would learn to become a teacher. I was moving into Suite G in Thorp Hall. I was planning ice cream parties for the 1200 students who live at RIC.
Now I chaperone school dances with colleagues who could practically be my parents. I am deciding how to best use what I learned about being a teacher. I am hanging inspirational posters to decorate Room 111. I am planning a field trip to Salem for the 100+ students on my team.
Being an adult is weird.
In this role of teacher, of course, there’s a lot to manage. SLOs, reading logs, emergency cards, copy codes, induction meetings, seating charts, NECAP schedules, and jammed lockers. So. Many. Jammed. Lockers.
But of all this, one of my favorite things (besides homeroom joke of the day) is just watching my students and their interactions with one another. This week, I had to opportunity to see some of my students outside of my classroom and their usual front hallway stomping ground. I spent some time at dusty Foster Field for the girls soccer game and the b.o. stenched gymnasium for the first dance of the school year.
As I observed, I couldn't help but imagine who I was at age 13 - a much quieter, less social, still nerdy version of my current self. It’s fun to try to figure out which of my students I was most like, and who my friends would have been. It’s a way to reflect on my own practice as a teacher. What would 13-year-old student-me think about 23-year-old teacher-me? Am I creating a learning environment that would have been conducive to my needs? Am I falling into habits of that teacher who I vowed I would never become?
My observations have also led me to be curious about the people that my students will be. They all have some pretty distinct personality traits and I am wondering what role I will play - intentional or not - in influencing them to become kind, productive people in the world. What can I/will I do to help them become better versions of themselves?
Because the other thing about being an adult is how my conception of time has dramatically shifted.
Gone is the age when I waited light years and eons for Christmas to come again. As I get older, time goes by faster and faster and faster.
We are already starting week five?
Wait, what? I have never taught students for more than seven weeks at a time! Well, I guess that’s a topic for another blog...
In any case, it’s unbelievable.
There have been so many amazing moments in just the first few weeks of school - academic or otherwise. I have seen students light up at a correct answer, help open a classmate’s locker, present in front of the whole class after explaining they were too shy to do the same at their old school . . . But I know this is only the beginning.
I want to capture all of these things and keep them tucked away to return to at some point in the future. In the back of my head, I recall the end of my student teaching when so many of Mrs. Ballard’s conversations with students would start with, “Remember how hard it was for you to write just one sentence at the beginning of last year? Look, now you wrote paragraphs and paragraphs all on your own.” I just think there is so much power in looping with students for two years.
However, since I’m in a one year position, there is no guarantee that I will be teaching at the same school next year, never mind even being on the same team. This means that the time I have with my students now is all the more precious. I want to spend as much of it as I can getting to know who they are academically and socially.
This means some more afternoons at the soccer field and Friday nights in the gym.
Being a teacher is weird . . .
I wouldn't trade it for the world.