Thursday, August 15, 2013

First.

I shouldn't be writing. I should be sleeping, because I'm in that beyond tired, exhausted space where basically all of your feelings have been simplified in a new kind emotional math to "lay down and cry" and you, like, just can't handle it right now, okay?

My legs and feet hurt like the dickens. There will be no sleeping, yet. This happened last year, too, in the first days of high heel-wearing and teaching and standing on my feet in "don't mess with me" stance for hours at a time behind students' desks and at my podium. I wish there was a way to train up to teaching each fall, a Couch to 5th Period or some such. Maybe then I wouldn't spend a few weeks trying to bathtub and foam roll the aches out of my calves.

But. Other than the ol' feets (which, consequently, were like totally not a problem when I started teaching at 22), today was good. Regular. No surprises. Things are always better once the kids arrive, and that was most certainly the case today. There have been years in recent history when we didn't have any preservice work days because of budget cutbacks, and there have been days when we had preservice work days that were relatively light and unscheduled. Though I prefer to have the work days than to not have them, this year was a year of tightly scheduled meetings and training, the kind of year that makes me want to lay down on the carpet and take a nap before I even start because I feel overwhelmed, tired, and like I might not actually make it to the first day of teaching school.

This was also a new kind of year when I cry in front of both the principal and the vice principal in the days before school even begins.

Hey. Yeah, that happened.

I won't go into specifics, but I will say a few things about that:

a) I'm not proud.
b) It wasn't a good week in hormones.

Unprofessional ladytime outbursts aside, I made it to school today (hair, curled), I made it inside my classroom (even though I locked my keys in there last night) and we all made it through the first day like champs.

I was so excited to meet my first class of AVID students. They were adorable and eager. I was so happy to see a lot of familiar faces in my junior classes--many of them were kids I taught as freshmen, all grown up and happy (or at least not angry) to see me again.

Well, only one kid (one!) gave me a death stare today. Win.

FDOS selfie.

One little thing was weird today. No AP. It's been eight years since I've started a school year without being an AP teacher, and I was worried for a long time about letting that title go. Terrified to even make the decision last year, actually. I've known that I needed to do it so I could get my MFA finished, but I was scared to say it for so long... I think for a lot of reasons. I don't think people like to talk about it, but there's a level of almost automatic respect (or reputation? assumption? something.) that comes with being an AP teacher. I was worried about not having that title this year. (Stupid, I know.) But just like when I gave up ballet... or again when I stopped dancing as an adult, or when I stopped being the dance teacher at our high school, it's hard to stop using a label you've been using to define yourself for a long time. It's hard to stop saying I'm the dancer. I'm the AP teacher. Whatever. (Kind of like how it's still hard for me now to say I'm a writer--am I?) It meant redefining myself, or knowing that I was going to be redefined in the minds of so many students and parents. And even though that's the kind of thing that shouldn't bother zen 34 year old me, it weirds me out to think about. When you teach in a still smallish town, you just know you get talked about. A lot.

I was also worried about not getting to work with those kids anymore, because some of the best relationships of my teaching career have been with those amazing top notch kids from my AP classes. But I was pleased today to have an opportunity to let that fear go. To have a reason to remember kids are kids, and that they don't need labels on them, either. I was so happy to just be with my students and to get a healthy dose of perspective. And to remember that I've had just as many wonderful relationships with kids in all kinds of classes. I was really honest-to-goodness pleased to see so many great faces today. I made the right choice. I have great students. Change isn't bad, it's just scary sometimes to say it out loud, to let something go that you've been using to define yourself.

Today was a good day, and I'm looking forward to this year.

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