Saturday, August 20, 2011

First week, finished.


I wanted to write this week but I didn't feel like I could hear the creative muse. Fatigue deafens my ears to it so predictably. When I used to have to choreograph dances for school shows there were times when I stood in front of the mirror, staring through my own image, the vocabulary of steps entirely absent from my mind.  I felt the same each time I opened a blank post this week.  No words.  I also didn't want to write entry after entry about how exhausted I was... but now we're at the end of week one of the school year and I don't want to let it pass without writing about it in some way.

As summers go, this one felt long. Being off early in the summer is not my preference, I've learned, but time off is time off and it allows me to face the anxiety and stress inevitable in the rebooting of my school year routine. I know I've talked so many times about how teaching creates a cycle of emotions. Having a blog for two and a half years has helped me to see patterns in how I feel about myself, my children and my students at different times of the year. Knowing that doesn't make the emotions any less potent, but it takes a bit of the pressure off to know that phases shift in a matter of months every year and I always end up feeling better if it's too much.

The monkeys had a good week of school and appear to be, as I said early in the week, taking less time to adjust than I am.  We're blessed again with wonderful teachers and I am pleased to say how consistently apparent the high expectations have been in all of Henry and Addie's classes.  I like that their school sets the bar high in academics and in behavior.  I definitely feel like they're in the best possible environment and that their teachers are keeping them challenged but also helping them to love school.  Some highlights from the week:  Ad's first dodgeball game, Henry's amazing math test scores, Ad's managing to run a mile on the track (thank you, Girls on the Run!), and Henry's new joke (I'll have to videotape it and post it soon).

My school was a little schizophrenic.  Every day was a different schedule, only one of them being a full, "regular" day.  A few of the others were trussed up like Thanksgiving turkeys, bits of first-week stuffing shoved into available cavities.  Days without this stuffing were served with a heavy spoon of activity (meetings, lunches, classroom work time) at the beginning or end of the day.  I can't complain that any of it was too bad by itself, but the constant shift from one schedule to another makes me tired.  I'm trying so hard to make an impression in class all week that the Mrs. P Show is in nonstop performance mode.  Also I'm not good with minimum days--they seem like they will be less work, when in reality they are equal to the work with the kids and include greater responsibility elsewhere for the remainder of the day.  By Friday morning I was sore and really having to push myself to keep going.

But what about the kids?  Oh, the kids were great.  So far not too many of them have asserted themselves.  I maintain that if I know your name already for something you shouldn't be doing or for your attitude, we're going to be having a long year together.  Fortunately there were only a small number of those.  The rest were a nice mix of smiling, bright seniors and timid but friendly freshmen.  I love that I get to be a part of the beginning and end of students' high school careers.  It is without a doubt my favorite combination of grades to teach and I am glad to be three years into this particular schedule so there's a fair amount of predictability to it.

I'm looking forward to a nebulous date two or three weeks in the future when I know my students and I know how to get through the regular routine without too much trouble.  Right now I'm still losing chunks of time in the morning and it feels like I have ten hours of work to do in a 7.5 hour day.  That will all settle and the chaff and grain will separate.  What matters will remain and the rest, the constant worry and busyness, will drop off.  That's good, because right about the time that all happens I'm going to run my first marathon and start a Masters program.  Eek.

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