Monthly Archives: September 2011

Time Warp Whirlwind

Yup. I sleep on a wooden block.

I woke up this past Saturday morning having slept about eleven hours straight (much more than I’m used to sleeping). Nevertheless, I awoke feeling a heavy, dazed, (and amazingly, a non-alcohol induced) aura of fatigue. This almost indescribable, tired feeling is something that put the profession of teaching into a new perspective for me this year. It’s how I’ll start my first real recap of the 2011-2012 school year, and the second official year of Mr. Jeromy’s teacher blog.

I’ve titled this entry: Time Warp Whirlwind. In your mind these three words might produce images of Doc Brown and Marty and  Back to the Future, the spiraling black and white time machine from Austin Powers, epic tornadoes, or even the Tasmanian Devil. Mash all of these images and their associated connotations into a foggy dream-like hallway seething with wall-to-wall students, and you might just understand how I feel after two weeks of being back to work.

I’ve wanted to reflect and write a blog entry about nineteen times since September 8th, and the fact that its taken me this long should say a lot about how busy this year has been.

Even without having to go to those dreaded graduate school classes, or complete additional education class homework this year, going from absolute zero work activity to one-million work activity (I patented the ‘work activity scale’), has fatigued my mind and body.

No matter how prepared you are at the onset of the school year, I think it’s nearly impossible to transition easily to the hundreds of little things you need to do as a teacher in the big city.

It's sort of like this game...and the man represents the teacher...and it's more fun.

The first few days of school went relatively smoothly. Meeting new co-workers and students was the highlight of a fairly bland introductory week that felt much more routine this year than the past two. The students’ first two days were on a Thursday and Friday, so the real test was the first full week.

Would the new students understand all the new rules and structures? Had the returning students matured a little over summer break? Which kids would be the first to test the boundaries and start-up the age-old grade school game ‘Let’s Disrupt the Class and Enrage the Teacher’?

The answers to these questions were only flirted with the following week, but everything was still relatively calm and easy going. Students seemed to begin feeling out their classmates, teachers, and school atmosphere, while teachers only just began to cover actual material in the classrooms. It was only until last week, the second week of school, when the many stresses of school began surging back all at once.

"Oh. My. Gawd. That drama is so ugly and deformed!"

Last week incidents between students in and out of class began sprouting up like ugly deformed weeds from the ground. As class rosters were finalized, select students in many of the grades (and I can speak specifically for the 8th grade), began bringing random, pointless drama into the class.

Where students in the first week maintained decent grades because their homework was to bring back a form or to complete a ‘Getting to Know You’ activity sheet, the second week brought to light how far behind so many of our students are in basic organization and school-related skills.

Many students began the trend of being late everyday, a few cut classes and were suspended, and many have fallen behind as teachers are pressed to continue assigning work and teaching the material to those who are able to keep up.

Some of them are like that poor little bird. And is anyone else weirded out by how the birds are walking from right to left?

Beyond worrying for my students who are falling behind, even smaller annoyances such as fire drills in the middle of lessons, or technology problems with Powerpoints, came together to metaphorically slap a few teachers (myself included) in the face and say in a snarky tone, “Welcome back!”

I hope that when I spill all this onto blogosphere that it doesn’t seem all bad.

When it comes down to it, many of these concerns, frustrations, and problems are so part of the job description. Many of these teenagers have really tough lives and all these issues are par for the course. What’s been most difficult has been trying to get back to form in order to mentally deal with it all again.

This all being said, I’m very glad that there is a four-day weekend on the horizon (What’s up Metropolitan Jews?!). It’ll give everyone a chance to catch their breath, and maybe even allow people look back on how things have been going in school.

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Holy ‘Your Favorite Expletive’: Kids Come Back to School Tomorrow

The snooze dream is over once again.

Last year I posted after the poop-filled events of the first week without describing my thoughts before the year actually started. This post is dedicated to the shrinking, shriveling final hours before another school year kicks off for the public schools in New York City.

Reading the statuses of my teacher-friends on Facebook on this humid and drenched September night, reminds me that most teachers have another strong, mutual understanding. On this very unique night, I think that we all have similar feelings of a weird uneasiness; a jittery, nervousness that to me, feels like slowly shuffling forward on the edge of something very high up in the air.

Many are hit with various degrees of pre-first-day teacher anxiety laden nightmares.

I hate these guys. Ahhhhhh, get back in your seat!

Mine usually consist of students not listening to me, turning into weird gibberish speaking creatures, and then me getting fired (there has to be some Freudian explanation of that one). Some teachers know so well that they are going to have trouble falling asleep, they choose to fight it off with a few drinks to ward off first day demons. I say whatever works is fair game.

I remember as a kid I felt the same way, but I was more focused on seeing my friends who had been at sleep away camp for the summer (alright, I know they were mostly Jewish – so am I). I always felt nervous, but really excited, and I wanted to look fresh and fly and cool with my new trapper keeper, shirt, and sneakers.

Fly

I think that those all still apply as a teacher (let’s go blue J.Crew khakis!), but as a part of the responsible party in making the school run smoothly, the first day is so much more important because there seems to be an added weight.

I think that ultimate unease and fear, especially for younger teachers such as myself, is that you’ll flat out forget how to teach (or if you’re brand new, that you have no idea). The idea that you’ll lose the focus needed to maintaining order in a class is pretty terrifying. On the night before the first day, so much time has passed since you’ve taught a lesson, that it all feels really strange (even if you are as prepared as Smokey the Bear).

This was a hard picture to search for. I almost settled on a stick figure.

This all being said, I’m certain that after a week, most teachers will be back on his or her game in the classrooms dominating their students. I’ll soon be dying to report the funniest stories on the interwebs. With hours left before hundreds of pairs of adolescent feet and legs come stampeding up the stairs, I guess the best bet would be to slow down, breathe in the last couple breaths of fresh, worry-free summer air, and brace for another adventurous marathon.

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