So, I have officially finished with the first "week" of school. There was actually only three days of classes, but the previous two days were filled with teacher meetings and such. I am absolutely exhausted. I have never worked so hard in my life. I have really been feeling the responsibility I have. It's been scary to me the amount of power one has when you hold sway over 117 souls. As a a teacher at a Catholic school, and a theology teacher, it really is important for me to keep in mind that I am not merely presenting material, but I am also seeking to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to conversion of heart. It's stressful, but it has already been rewarding.
My mind is fried, but I feel that I need to get down the thoughts that the past few days have brought up. Hopefully these aren't too scatterbrained, but please bear with me.
First off, it has been a weird transition from student to teacher, more so because I am now a colleague of my former teachers. As their student, it was easy to keep them easily categorized as teachers solely, and I forgot that they were people beyond their job. This first week, I have seen people that I have known for years as my teachers in a new, and highly illuminating, light. They are fun people. There is a rivalry in the school between Cubs fans and Cardinals fans (that's life in central Illinois for you). I almost feel like I have to pick a side, or at least make my side known. :) (I have always been a Cubs fan...it is truly the superior choice.)
Going back to my first point, that of my old teachers, and now colleagues, being actual people. . . after school today I went out with a few of them, and it was amusing to note that they count down school days as much as the students do. They can't wait until the school year is over, either. It is definitely a new perspective. :)
I sometimes wonder what my old teachers are thinking about having a former student as a co-worker. And I am not just any former student. My Dad has been teaching at this school for 25 years now, and I have grown up with this community of teachers. They have seen me since I was a little kid wanting to be a jedi. I'm sure that seeing me back as a teacher has to be a weird experience for them. On the one hand, they are probably thrilled that their teaching paid off. On the other hand, I'm old enough to be one of them now, and that has to be a slightly odd experience for them. When I get more comfortable with them, I'll have to ask.
It's also been interesting seeing things from the other side of the classroom. The jokes and the disruptive activities that I laughed at as a student (it seemed so amusing then) seem far less funny facing the back of the room. Besides that, the student doesn't really notice all the hard work that goes into teaching. I certainly had no idea, even though I saw my Dad slaving away each and every day. I mean, I would have conceeded the point, in fact I definitely would have said that teachers work hard, but it was only a thought that floated around on the surface. It never really sunk in. I feel like going and giving all my former teachers a big hug of appreciation. Teaching is definitely a draining profession...both mentally and physically.
My brain is totally fried, as I said before. I have had a hard time keeping a coherent thought this evening. And my body is so incredibly sore. I have had a raw throat from talking so much and so loud. I'm a naturally quiet person; I don't know that I've talked this much in a day ever before. My feet are absolutely killing me. I have sores from walking in dress shoes all day. I made the mistake the first day of wearing high heels. I thought my feet were permanently stuck in an arched position. I haven't walked so much since I detassled; my calves have nice knots. The first day I stapled 125 handouts and for my effort I received a huge knot in my shoulder. (I figured out last night how to use the collating and stapling features on the copy machine! God bless whomever came up with that!) I have lost 15 pounds or so this past week. (My stomach has been tied up in knots, so I haven't been eating as much, and I have been burning tons of calories) I have been staying up really late doing work each night, and I have been waking up really early.
I haven't been this tired in forever. I got home this evening with plans to relax, maybe get caught up with emails, my Flickr, etc.; maybe veg out in front of a TV for a short while...yeah, that didn't happen. I laid down and fell asleep instantaneously. My husband called me about 9:30, and I woke up confused. I thought it was 9:30 am (there are no windows in our bedroom...I hate it...I need sunlight) and that I had slept through school...I had a mini panic attack. I guess I forgot it was the weekend, or maybe I'm still used to jobs where you can be called in to cover for someone (I'm so glad that I'm not doing minimum wage anymore...I feel like a real person!). Then I opened up the door, realized that it was dark out, and that I had only been asleep 2 hours. I felt really foolish.
One of the things I have found nice about teaching, is that I have really begun to understand myself better. I found out that I have abilities that I didn't realize were even possible for me. I'm working harder than I thought that I could or would. I am actually able to talk in front of a room of people without my voice quavering. I can talk in front of people! Who'd have thought? :) More importantly, I have found that my faith has grown exponentially since beginning this job. Part of the reason for that is that in the course of writing lesson plans and such, that I have become much more familiar with the material. Teaching is really the best way to learn a subject. You not only have to do the research, but then you repeat it several times aloud over the course of the day. I think that this coupled with prayer will really help me increase my faith.
One of the odd things about this whole experience so far, has been how well I have adapted (for me, at least). I was weirdly calm going into the first day. I had expected to be panicked. I was nervous in my first hour, had the whole voice quaver and such. I think that going into the first day, the fact that I was in fact teaching had yet to fully sink in. I was prepared, but it just seemed so unreal. It still does. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop or something. I feel kind of separated from reality right now. I think this is probably a good thing, really. If I was too much in my mind, I think I'd be worse off. It must be a adaption technique, this odd, almost zen-like, separation from self. I keep thinking that I should be scared to death, and a part of me is screaming in terror. But it is off on its own, compartmentalized and somehow under control, and not through any conscious act of my own. It just sort of happened.
Not only that, but I have actually been smiling and feeling happy at the end of the day, which has been a nice surprise. The first day, at lunch, I went to my Dad's room and started to break down a bit. The first couple classes were rough. The students were talkative from it being the first day of school. They had not seen each other in a while, and I guess they were trying to catch up. They also picked up on my nervousness. Sigh. (It's alright, I scared them into silence the next day, and while I know it won't last, I still felt a certain satisfaction from the looks on their faces). But by the end of the first day, I was fine. My last two classes were well-behaved (mostly) and actually paid attention. And I had gotten less nervous. I had had a stern talk with myself; I had to be reminded that I am in charge, and while I still feel young, to my students I probably look older than I am. I was much more confident by the last class, and I think that was reflected in the behavior of my students. It does help that my last class is smaller in size. A packed classroom can be rather chaotic.
OK, so, I know that there are more thoughts floating around in my head, but I have already written a really long entry. Thanks for sticking with me through this. If you would keep me in your prayers as I go through this year. I hope that I will be able to be flexible in whatever is thrown at me (like helping with Homecoming). God bless!!!