Thursday, July 28, 2005

Getting Ready to Go Back

Perhaps a cardinal sin for many teachers, I've been thinking, planning, and working toward re-entering the classroom this fall... and it's still July.

This is the fourth July of my teaching career, and the only one not fraught with significant anxiety, tension, ball-shrinking fear. My first year, coming out of Teach For America bootcamp, I felt like I wasn't going to be any good at this, that the general malaise I experienced standing in front of a class would persist, that I was taking responsibility for the intellectual and social development of a group of young people and had literally no business doing so and maybe should be severely beaten for so presumptiously believing in myself, previously. Before my second year I worried that the successes of the first had been a fluke, non-reproducible, only attributable to the kids I worked with, not myself as an instructor. Then last year I knew I had a tough assignment waiting, kids with beginning and low-intermediate levels of English Language Proficiency (CELDT 2s), all of whom would be further below grade level than any group I'd yet taught.

Now, I feel good. As the Institute Director for a program that recruits and trains career-changing professionals to be teachers (think TFA for real adults) I've been in an educational environment all summer, benefitted from the talents, knowledge, and resources of my colleagues, and had a chance to really reflect -- the word itself carries with it so many shit-bag connotations -- on the last few years.

I can bring it. I can engage students, get em invested in success, relentless deliever targeted lessons, push, push, push, and reward them along the way. I've enjoyed a relative level of success while still being a little unfocused, less planned than I'd like, and at times, lazier than I should be. This year, that falls away. Even looking over my resources and plans from previous years, I know I will not be satisfied merely repeating what I've already done. And a big shout-out here to M.G. for stealing my CD-ROMs last year with all my teaching files, thinking it was an audio CD. Without all those fallback documents, I'm forced to innovate, escalate, and raise the bar.

So let's go. Paint the boat. I'm ready.


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