Tag Archives: back to school

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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Summer Fades and Reality Lurks: Year Three on the Horizon

My last blog entry was about the gloriousness and bliss associated with summer break as a public school teacher. This one is about how this same  majestic summer of 2011 seems to be vanishing – slipping right out of my hands before I’m ready for it to be over.

"Nooooooooo!!!!!...Ohh Nooooooooo!!!!!"

In my summer soaked mind (which has become so accustomed staying up late and waking up, well – whenever),  it’s starting to feel like one of those cliché action movie scenes where the summer is tumbling off a cliff and I’ve dived and caught it by one hand at the last second. Our hands are gripped tightly, but of course, with sweat appearing to loosen us at our fingers, we’re gradually slipping away inch by inch.

On September 9th, when students begin to ascend those grey concrete stairs to the fourth floor once again, summer’s sweaty metaphorical hand will have left mine, and it will fall, and be pronounced dead until next June. R.I.P.

Alright, I admit that got a little weird. Sorry, I hope we can move on. You get the point though – summer has been lovely, albeit fleeting, but it’s now time to look forward to teaching.

My third year as a teacher (believe it or not) is right around the corner, and quite frankly, it still hasn’t actually hit me yet. We’ve had some of the most beautiful days I’ve ever seen in New York lately, and the thought of being back in front of the class saying “I’ll wait as long as I have to until we’re ready to start the lesson” seems as foreign to me as Amharic (the Ethiopian language that sounds like made-up clicking).

I'm trying not to curse. This blog is family friendly.

In addition, a wave of uncontrollable and instantaneous anger fills my body when I see a JC Penny Back-to-School advertisement, or hear a Staples radio bit. No lie, it has actually taken me minutes to snap out of this intense feeling, and remind myself that I’m supposed to be an education advocate, dying to get back in there and continue fighting against the achievement gap with my students. This is what the summer has done to me, but I’m sure that it will only take a few days to get back in the swing of things, but it’s so odd to be away from it for so long.

This past week I attended a bunch of professional development classes (teacher classes that we are paid to go to – score). The result was that I started to get my brain semi-ready for school by attending some wonderful meetings about curriculum and reading strategies! More importantly, I started the process of re-learning that I hate having to wake up early.

I think that the only thing better than the invention of the snooze button (which has to be on my top five inventions of all time) was the invention of the ‘I can sleep until I want to wake up button’.

Next week I’ll go back into school for the first time since June. Seeing all the co-workers will definitely be exciting, and I think that one of the most understated aspects of my job (in my blog), is how lucky I am to work in an environment where a majority of the faculty are good friends. I’m also pumped to meet all of the new personalities coming in to teach, as we are adding seven or eight newbies because our school is continually growing. Usually you can count on a handful of great new people, and a few wild-cards who may just provide some entertainment.

A smiling manatee for your enjoyment.

Hopefully everyone else is enjoying the summer while it still lasts, teacher or not. I’ll be posting as I prepare for the real first days of students. Until then, keep living it up, and thanks for all the support at the one-year anniversary of the blog!

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