Teacher of the year,
teacher of the year
who deserves to be
teacher of the year?
Is it the newbie, struggling in
solitude, toiling on
on a Monday midnight,
pushed into submission
by fellow teachers and students alike,
ready to burst into flames
on a moment’s notice?
the one who remains
students complaining about you,
I remember the stories they told me,
about your nitpicking on their handwriting
and grammar and diction and syntax,
I remember your advice,
“Just use teacherspayteachers,
it has everything you need,”
I remember designing whole units
for you to get credit for,
I remember you visiting my room
for advice on how to teach a certain passage,
I remember sitting in the bathroom
when you complained
with your chummy friends
about my bathroom habits,
I remember quitting,
and I remember your fake concern,
just so you could have another
juicy piece of gossip
to spread around the school
I remember it all,
teacher of the year
School is back in session, and here I am on bus duty this week. Let’s talk about this. (I know I’ve talked about my duties in the past, but today I’ll be talking more specifically and fully about one particular duty.)
Bus duty is pretty fun. I get to open the door for people as the walk in, and I get to tap my little ID on the door to make sure they get in alright. I say hello, good morning, how are you, or something to that effect to everyone who passes through the door.
Sometimes, when it’s the morning and I don’t have bus duty, I just sort of sit around and wait for the bell to ring so school can officially begin. I feel a bit listless and purposeless without something to do, so it feels good to have bus duty sometimes. It gives me something to look forward to in the morning, regardless of what morning it is. I look forward to seeing all the students in the morning, and I think it helps build rapport and a sense of friendliness between us all. That’s one of the few positive aspects of bus duty.
Essentially, on bus duty, I stand outside and wait for the buses to arrive. When they get to school, I mark down on my clipboard exactly what time they arrive, so that there’s a record of each bus for the future. This way, when students say that they came in late because of buses, there’s again a record to prove whether or not they are telling the truth. It also helps us because apparently the bus company needs those records too. The sheet is turned into the bus company at the end of the week, I guess to make sure the bus drivers are on time and aren’t just slacking off.
one… two… three…
This is a test,
Take your test ticket,
to be quiet,
quiet as a bug,
motionless and easily
“How do Victor’s actions
develop the story’s theme?”
“Which detail from the text
best supports your answer?”
“How does this phrase contribute
to the text in paragraph 45?”
“Which of the following
“-best supports your answer to-”
“-contribute to the meaning of the-”
“-evidence provided most clearly in-”
“-Select THREE answers of-”
“-the central idea-”
“-the central idea-”
“-the central idea-”
While looking over students’ baby pictures to bring down for yearbook, I was reminded of my own baby pictures, and what it’s like to look back on the past this way. (The picture included above is not me, just for your information.)
Some students’ baby pictures were fun to look at, mostly because I don’t know these students super well yet and it’s great to see their pasts. A bunch of other teachers are more familiar with the students, some of whom have worked for years and years and have known them since they were in Pre-K, when their baby pictures were probably taken in the first place. As a teacher, I’ve always loved looking at yearbooks, just to see what students write in them and what students come up with. I also love looking at the baby pictures, mostly as a way of guessing who is who. Last year, I didn’t know everyone in the senior class, so it was difficult to play the guessing game with their pictures.
I posted a few baby pictures on my Instagram a year or two ago, and the one that stands out to me the most is of me in my overalls and red shirt (looking like Mario) while sitting on the floor of my grandma Carrie’s house. I can picture exactly where I was when that happened, and I remember how I felt going back to that place. Sometimes I felt dread, other times I felt a mixture of happiness and complacency. It depended on the occasion, what holiday we were celebrating, and who was expected to be there from the family. Sometimes being a baby is frustrating because you’re forced to interact with people you don’t want to interact with, such as surly family members. That’s one of the perks of growing up.
This blog post is inspired in part by the comments made by a student during one of my study halls a couple days ago. We were discussing the importance of all of his classes — science, math, and humanities — and after discussing some of his special electives, he proclaimed proudly that he “already knows everything there is to know about writing an essay” because he “wrote essays every day in third grade.” If only it were that simple dude! You’re gonna have a long next eight years of English classes in the future, if you think that already.
But after thinking over his comments some more, it reminded me of when I was in school around his age, and I thought pretty much the same thing about myself and my studies. I was convinced that I could get by with my intuition alone, without putting effort into my studies or classes. I was, for lack of a better word, a lazy bum, unable to motivate myself to try more because I was satisfied enough with a B+, even though I could’ve scored higher if I tried. The woes of being a lazy eighth grader with a video game addiction and enough friends on Xbox Live to keep me occupied!
I remember teaching students how to write essays in 10th grade, and just from seeing some of their works-in-progress, you have to know that someone in 3rd grade wouldn’t have a chance at getting to their rough drafts in terms of quality. It’s difficult to overstate the difference. One of my failings as a teacher, and something I wish I could change if I went back in time, is that I never explicitly told students what I expect from an essay, the five-paragraph format or whatever. I kept my expectations to myself, I guess because I didn’t have very many expectations in the first place beyond “you should get this done, because I said so.” Times have changed since then, though.
What a weekend, am I right? This past weekend was one for the history books, with a combination of Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Telestrations, Heroes of the Storm, Magic: the Gathering, and much more played between groups of friends and family during the past couple days. It brings me so much joy to see people come together and enjoy the small things together.
Easter is that time of the year when I start to feel like the year is fully in swing. The stride hits around June or July, but right about now, as I enter the last leg of the school year, I definitely feel that 2019 has arrived. In a sense, I’m relieved because we’re one step closer to the next presidential election, and everyone knows how important that’s going to be. But on the other hand, I’m not so relieved because I feel old, like my early 20s weren’t very much.
We used to have larger family gatherings involving Easter, and all the other Christian holidays, but nowadays our Easters are just at home with a small group of close family around the table. We eat, drink, and feel merry with each other. There aren’t any more Easter baskets from the bunny to expect when we arrive home; instead, there are dishes we love and people we don’t get to see often. A different kind of present, offered only during the holidays.
This Easter, I sat around the dinner table with Alex and family and we talked about my (relatively) new job, my nieces, and Alex’s job. We tend to talk about Alex’s job and commute a lot whenever we’re together. Also, getting engaged was brought up by both sets of parents, which Alex and I both know is something we’ve heard a lot about.
I’m not the kind of person to ever use a planner or a scheduler, at least for longer than a week or two, without throwing it away or losing it in the depths of my backpack. I’m the kind of person who wings it, organizing as I go, and figuring things out intuitively. Sometimes it’s easier that way; when it comes to making important decisions, I don’t stress as much about them because I usually just go with my gut instinct. But other times, it’s difficult; when I recognize that a decision takes time, when I know that I ought to have organized and deliberated on a topic for awhile, but I don’t, that’s when it stings.
Scheduling helps with my mental preparedness, also. It relieves anxiety. When I have plans set for my reading group, and my documents are printed and prepared in advance, I feel completely less nervous about it. I am prepared for what’s to come, whatever that may be.
Having a flexible schedule, such as the one I have at work, allows me to write blogs while also observing classes, helping students, and preparing for my reading group. It’s one of the aspects I love the most about my job right now; I can do what I want, when I want, without worrying so much about the time or place. It’s a huge change over the usual teaching fare, with a fixed schedule and classes and students. I spoke with my older sister yesterday about work, what it’s like and all that, and it made me realize how lucky I have things, based on my work schedule. It’s spectacular, looking back at everything altogether like that. I am lucky to have the opportunities I have, and the schedule I’ve been given. It makes work so much less stressful than it needs to be.
By the time this post goes up, I’ll be on break. One of the absolute best parts about working at a school as a teacher assistant is the days off afforded by school breaks or snow days. We’re past the point of snow days being feasible, but breaks still occur. April Break, taking place during that time of the year when everyone needs a short reprieve from school, fills that snow-day-shaped hole in my heart perfectly. Having a break allows me to recharge and refresh when I need it the most, and being able to relax like that gives my anxiety the chance to restart. Sometimes you just need a break from seeing the same faces every day, five days a week. Not that you are tired of them, but rather you need some time away from them. It’s the way of the world.
It also gives us all something to look forward to, through the weeks of toiling at work. Being given a break from work is a blessing that is only really offered regularly to people who work at schools, considering the way the school schedule is outlined and works. You won’t get days off at the same rate if you work at, say, a Gamestop. You might have vacation days, and more sick days, and great benefits, and all those other wonderful things, but wouldn’t you rather have a week off in April when you really need it? I’ll leave that question up for debate.
Alex doesn’t get breaks the same way I do, but she’s going to take some time off over the summer so we can hang out together. I’m looking forward to that, as I won’t be working once June comes around. Now that’s what a real long break looks like. It’s funny how, during the longest breaks, you end up waiting for it to be over, after spending so much time waiting for it to begin. Ironic, but funny.
Remember being in school and having a yearbook? Remember passing it around to all your friends and fellow students, asking for signatures or messages to remember them by over the summer? Remember looking through to see your class picture, your pearly whites gleaming in the perfectly symmetrical lighting of every one’s pictures at once? Maybe you remember looking back at your yearbooks in the years and years that have passed since school was relevant to you. I certainly do; just a year ago, before we moved to Stamford, Alex and I spent some time looking at my old yearbooks before packing them away to be brought to our new apartment together. It was a nostalgia trip, just poring over those pages and viewing the signatures I had from friends I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s really been years, believe it or not, and it feels like it’s been years, too. Nothing compares to the nostalgia of looking at your picture from 8th grade, the year you hated the most, and seeing positive messages there that you forgot about. The phone number your first real crush left there, the HAGS and more and more, repeated forever.
I mention the yearbook because, as someone who’s currently working at a K-8 school, I was enlisted to help program the yearbook online. I’m a member of the faculty in charge of the yearbook, and we’re working together to complete this thing in time. We have about a month left (at the time of me writing this) to finish it. We’re waiting for pictures to be sent in from parents and students, but there aren’t many yet. It’s a work-in-progress, but it illuminates for me how much work must have gone into all the yearbooks people have made for me throughout the years. They weren’t just imagined out of thin air.
Today, I’ll be discussing what it’s like to dress up. Being someone who has a job that requires a certain dress code, business casual, I’m used to dressing up for work. I’m used to getting out of my morning shower and rushing into some clothes that I’m not sure will fit me. I can’t just walk into my job on a random day wearing a t-shirt and jeans, even though that’d be pretty comfortable and fun. That being said, on Fridays, I can wear jeans and whatever top I want.
This brings up one of my major fears of dressy clothes, though, that they’ll no longer fit me or I won’t be able to wear them any more. I love the variety of clothes that I have, but I would hate to wake up one morning and find my pants tighter than they were before. It’s a perpetual fear, returning whenever I feel especially guilty for eating something I shouldn’t have.
But overall, I’d rather wear dressy clothes than casual clothes when going to work. When people say that it’s important for us to distinguish ourselves from the kids, I get that completely. I don’t want to be confused for a student while walking around school, you know? It used to happen sometimes during my initial middle-school internship, back in graduate school when I had to observe classes a few times a week.
Dressing up feels good, though. I feel professional, like the master of my domain. I feel motivated to take on the day when I slip on somewhat tighter clothes than I would usually wear. When I get home, I usually get into sweatpants and a sweatshirt, so anything will feel tighter than those. I never had a strict dress code until I started work, but I don’t mind it.