testing the waters…

It’s funny how difficult it is to compose an exciting first sentence. Second and third sentences often wait excitedly in my brain, waiting for that closing punctuation mark to wave its green flag. My students would probably tell me that that first sentence of my first entry is severely lacking the “hook” factor so vital to writing a “killah lead” for my piece. At least that’s what I hope they would say at this point in the year.

The long and short of it: I teach middle school Language Arts–8th grade, to be precise–at a medium-sized public school in a small town in central Virginia. Oh, and this is my first year doing so. I actually set up this blog over a year ago, intending to document my student teaching experience prior to employment in the trenches. But, in case you don’t know many school teachers, I found myself, like many dedicated, over-zealous, hard-working teachers, overwhelmed with work and couldn’t seem to muster up the time to publicly reflect. As I write this now, the questions still linger in the back of my mind–are you crazy? isn’t your to-do list is gigantic enough as it is? The answer, to both, is a wholehearted YES, but after being poked and prodded, nudged and inspired, I have decided to jump in.

I’m not quite sure where this journey will lead me, but my dream is that it will provide a source of ideas and inspiration for fellow teachers or future educators (whether student teachers, substitute teachers, veteran teachers, first-year teachers, or others) while stimulating discussion and the sharing of ideas. I also want to be able to reflect on the things happening in my classroom, in my school, with my students (who will be given aliases in posts), and with my own growth as a creative educator as a way to document my first year of teaching and beyond. I intend to do this by posting reflections, anecdotes, observations, lesson ideas, book reviews, and comments on current educational events.

Ideally, I should have started this blog the first week of this school year–before the first week, even. Some of those thoughts and incidents will certainly be impossible to re-create (and some of them I have, admittedly, tried to block out of my mind). But to be honest, four months ago I wasn’t even sure I would have made it to winter break. The extra routine of writing in a blog might have helped me stay sane, true, but at the time, it was just one more thing I would have done if I had had unlimited hours in the day (and on this last point, I still don’t! Could someone do something about that, please?). For the sake of those in the same position as me (and perhaps for the bemusement of others), I will refer to these events from time to time for…educational purposes…to show you you are not alone, as I once thought I was.

So what’s changed? I made it through December, and I’m happy. I recently spent 2.5 hours writing a reflection to my friends, family, and mentors–the ones who must have thought (until recently) that I had disappeared off the face of the Earth–about my first semester teaching. That process, and their support, have encouraged me to believe that I do have something to share–something beyond the griping and complaining about students and administration that you might expect from a disgruntled teacher’s rant. Call it idealism, call it youth, call it naivete. But I choose to think of it as just me, (to borrow from one of my inspirations) humbly learning to master the art of teaching: successes and failures and everything in between.

I welcome you to join me as I experiment, find my groove, and ride out the rest of this year. I invite you to laugh with me, cry with me, and learn from my mistakes and my successes as I reflect on my life as a teacher, after the bell.

P.S. I promise a more enticing first sentence with the next post.

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