Friday, January 14, 2011

Reflections on my first semester

When I walked into this classroom five months ago, it was a mess. It looked like a tornado had struck; so, I stripped it down and began the gradual process of making it my own.

I suppose the initial physical chaos was a perfect parallel for my spinning thoughts ...

Well, my room is still not the neatest classroom in the building, or best decorated, or something you'd see in a textbook.

But I love it. I love it, and I cherish every activity that's gone into shaping and decorating this humble little classroom where we try and tackle big ideas. And I suppose as the room's slowly come together, my thoughts have leveled out as well. Chaos has been replaced by an increasing sense of calm.

Kate Chopin said the beginning of things are necessarily vague, scary and uncertain. Becoming a first year teacher, and switching careers, felt like I had moved to another planet. (Not to mention moving from Ohio to North Carolina, and getting married, and buying a house - all in a period of weeks). Oh, and we got a puppy, too.

It feels as if all of my previous experiences have paved the way for a degree of initial success: The highs and lows of my life positioned me to enter the classroom with at least a little bit of poise.

But man, ultimately, was I clueless. Preparing now for the second semester, I feel like a wizened old veteran. But I know at the end of the year I'll look back to this moment, and smile at how naive I am, sitting here typing ... still largely having no clue.

Sure, there's fear inherently tied up in beginnings, and in the unknown. But there's a beauty in it too: I know can never have these moments back.

I don't know if I'll become hardened and jaded - I suspect everyone does, at least to some degree. But right now everything is still gold.

Better classroom management, tighter lessons, diving deeper into content knowledge ... of course these are my focuses.

But I have the gift of shaping a child's character, and impacting lives every day. That remains my real focus. Frost says nothing gold can stay ... but that's not entirely true.

Dawn goes down to day, and beauty is temporal - but the values I'm working to instill are in fact timeless. I offer up this little prayer: May the seed I plant this new semester be worthy, and true, and live on in my students. To be neither a sheep, nor a wolf - but a sheepdog, day in and day out.

Thank you to my mentors past, for your time and dedication; and thanks to my current mentors (there are several) who are helping me in the coolest profession there is - teaching.

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