The Worst Is Over!
I have said many times that I love my teaching job, and I really do. But I hate, absolutely hate, the beginning of the school year. I always feel overwhelmed in September, and by the time I trudge home every afternoon, I'm totally exhausted.
Part of the problem is simply one of adjustment. I do work in the summers, but it's a very easy job--monitoring our weight room for five hours a day. My life is very unstructured, and it's pretty nice. I can have that second cup of coffee in the morning, I've got lots of time to do things that I want to do, and I can even go to the bathroom whenever I want. And after you turn 50, that's a biggy!
Then, September comes, and I go to a life of total structure, and it always takes me a while to get used to. Here is a typical day.
4:30 Wake-up, fire up the coffee, have a quick cup, check my blog, and see how the Twins did.
4:50-5:50 Jog, work-out, exercise
5:50-6:35 Shower, get dressed, breakfast (and read)
6:40 Out the door, walk to school.
6:50-8:00 In my classroom, get ready for my day, give make-up quizzes, tests, etc.
8:00 Out in the hallway.
8:19-9:08 A. P. American Government (seniors)
9:13-10:02 Economics (mostly seniors, a few juniors)
10:07:10:56 American History (sophomores)
11:01-11:23 Lunch in my room; correct papers
11:28-12-18 American History (sophomores)
12:23-1:12 Basic American History (sophomores who have had a difficult time in social studies)
1:17-2:06 Prep hour
2:11-3:00 American History (sophomores)
3:05-3:45 Work in room.
3:45 Walk home.
4:00-4:30 My half-hour snooze. If I don't get that, I'm worthless for the rest of the night.
4:30-6:00 Eat supper, clean up, watch Special Report With Brit Hume.
6:00 Back to school until about 7:30 (some days it's 7:00, some days it's 8:00)
7:40-9:00 Unload the dishwasher, visit with my wife, read.
9:00 Lights out.
Because our school has made cuts, and my load has been increased (my regular American History classes are the largest I've had in my career), I've had to spend most of my weekends up at the school, so far. I hope that will change as the year goes on and I get faster doing some of those things that I got rusty at over the summer.
No, I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm certainly not expecting any from KDeRosa, who is such a fan of teachers, or Rory, whose life is probably twice as structured as mine and who faces the realistic possibility of getting shot or blown up in his job. But this is a pretty full day, and it is tough to get used to every year. (It also makes it tough to keep up with the blogging world.) What makes it worse is that early in the year I don't know the kids. I hate that! Especially, those first few days when I don't even know the names, and I've got to have a seating chart in front of me whenever I call on anyone. "Hey, you!" just doesn't have a lot of charm. It also doesn't help that early in the year I have to do a lot of explaining about the way I do things (boring!), and since some kids have attention spans of about three seconds, I have to explain it over and over and over. As the year goes on, kids figure out what they need to do, our relationship develops, the chemistry of the class develops, and then it becomes fun. But that is totally lacking for those first few weeks, so everything seems like drudgery.
Another reason why the beginning of the year is so difficult for me is that, as sophomore class advisor, I am in charge of running our homecoming dance. If you knew me well, you would probably laugh hysterically at the thought of that, as many of my colleagues do. I was appointed to the position fifteen year ago, so I've been doing this ever since. Although everything has always gone smoothly, as they used to say in the late 60s and 70s, it just ain't my bag. Hiring disc jockeys, helping to organize decorations and clean-up, making sure the concessions are available, handling thousands of dollars, finding chaperones, having to act like a Nazi anytime some kid asks me to make exceptions to our rigid, but necessary, dance policies, fearing that there will be some disaster--ugh! Every year, when school begins, the responsibility of the homecoming dance looms in my mind like a dark cloud rapidly approaching from the horizon.
Well, the homecoming dance was last night. Other than one girl, who managed to capture everyone's attention with a strapless dress that refused to stay up on her chest, and some 15-year-old brat telling me to "chill out" when I told her she couldn't re-enter the building if she left, there were no disasters. In fact, the dance was actually quite successful. Today, I am done! Already the year is beginning to look a lot better. I know that the worst is over.