Since I post this blog bi-weekly, it’s always interesting looking back on my notes from the previous, less recent week. I’ll read them and think, “Oh, that’s how I felt about that? Lol, well anyway, here’s what’s hot right now in My Pysche…”
For instance, in last week’s notes, I compared getting better at lesson planning to a diamond being formed under intense pressure, trial by fire, etc. The amount of pressure to lesson plan eighteen, hour-long classes, every week, is absolutely overwhelming, no denying that, but I would NOT compare my progress to a diamond? It’s more of like my Kia Soul back in the States screeching along from destination to destination, just tryna make it to and fro home, like hey, this isn’t pretty, but I’m doing what I can.
The past two weeks have consisted of, you guessed it, me, teaching my little ass off and having most of my free time spent planning around said career choice, but for the first time ever… I got paid for teaching.
Yes, after 4 years’ worth of debt from student loans ($80k fyi), over $1,000 in teaching tests, $3,000 from moving overseas, and four months of paycheck-free student teaching, I earned a wage.
I get paid once a month and it is a lot less than I would be getting paid in America, and the GBP (Great British Pound) continually dropping because of the Brexit is doing me no favors, but it is mine and it is compensation for putting so many hours, stress and work into my career. I’m also not too concerned about the pay because my frugal self lived off of $600 a month for two years, so tripling that will feel like a class change from knave to queen.
As for the actual two weeks of teaching, what’s there to say? Teaching is tumultuous, it’s like one of those vintage, wooden roller coasters they have at modern amusement parks: up, down, a little dated, and a slight wondering if you’re going to make it to the end of the ride.
When I have a good lesson or a good day of teaching, it is a GOOD day, it feels like I’m walking on air. When I have a bad lesson or two, I, for the most part, shake it off and keep going. This probably applies to other fields, and life in general, but in this job, you can’t really dwell on your shortcomings: you learn from them and keep going.
Some things will irk you for a while and have a bit more staying power, but as soon as school hours end, I just think, “Ayy, another day, another salary-included dollar.” A couple hours after that, when I physically leave the building, I leave the school contemplative and satisfied.
Something else I have been doing after school hours has been calling parents, which has been absolutely wild. When I student taught, that kind of power was not bestowed upon little ol’ me, but not anymore.
The first time I did it, I was pretty awkward because no one really prepares you for calling up a student’s parent and finding a roundabout way to say, “Hey, your kid’s a mess…” Now that I have done it roughly 12 times, this week alone, I have mastered my little spiel and talking points.
Honestly, I credit so much to how well I am able to be incredibly fake-friendly to two things:
- Working at JCPenney. I have a firm belief that experience in retail helps you learn how to fake a smile for anyone.
- This girl from my high school who would default smile to people to be polite. She kind of had dead eyes and ended up being a pretty terrible friend, but still a lesson learned, or as they say in this country, “learnt.”
Whenever I do phone calls home, I tend to try to balance out the good to bad phone call ratio. For example, if I have three misbehaving students, I will also call two or three really good students and praise them to their parents. I called this one students’ parent to tell them their kid does everything nearly perfect and is constantly trying hard. The parent was over the moon and told me they were thankful I called because their kid puts in a lot of effort to produce the work they do; it was Emotional.
I think it’s beneficial for students, as well as parents, to call home when they are doing what is expected of them or making progress in class. It’s also beneficial to my mental health because having to make a series of negative phone calls can be a real downer.
More often than not though, parents are fairly supportive when you tell them about their kids misbehaving. A lot of them thus far have responded with a sigh and, “That sounds about right,” I even got one parent who said “Ok,” like six times and that was the conversation, but in most cases, bringing their home life into the fold usually benefits their life at school and in my class.
Now that we’ve talked behavior management, let me share some teacher-related moments that I usually find myself the only one laughing at.
Last week a student told me that a different student said they saw me dancing earlier that morning. I responded with something along the lines of, “Yeah, probably,” and then remembered that that morning I was singing Nicki Minaj’s verse in “Monster” to myself as a pump up for the day to come.
I had a table of four boys, in a very small class, that I refer to as One Direction whenever I needed their attention or am curious as to what they got for an answer. Kind of ironic though because I split up their table because they were too unfocused #BehindtheMusic.
My favorite story of the week though was when one of my slower classes was actually getting the material, so they all kept enthusiastically asking me if their work was right. This one student came up to me and put their work book in my face and I go, “Oh, an autograph? [writes my initials in their book] I love my fans.” The student was unamused, but I was cackling because I am my own biggest fan.
I also found this piece of art on my floor last week:
I doctored out the student’s name on the note for anonymity, but I love this note.
- I can’t believe notes are still passed in 2016.
- I love that “I’m not afraid to sing” is one of the selling points this student is making.
- On a social analytical level though, the presumably boy student who wrote this is alluding to the fact that the recipient, this girl, appreciates that he isn’t too bothered with appearing macho or masculine to belt a song every now and then.
This same week of autograph signings and forbidden love notes, I somehow accidentally lost my bus ticket moments before the bus came? I literally boarded the bus with my bags in hand, unable to find my ticket, before shamefully getting off the bus and ending up being That person.
Little did I know, while frantically looking for my ticket, I left my cellphone and headphones on the bus’ front dashboard/counter. Seconds later, I realize this, drop all my bags and chase after the already departing bus, yelling and pointing at my phone as I ran alongside the bus. Thank god I’ve become a runner because the bus did stop and I, even more shamefully, apologized for this incident.
I found my bus ticket a minute later, just chilling in the street. I mean no harm, no foul, but I give credit to whoever is writing these romcom antics into my life because boy is their writing consistent.
The last thing I want to talk about is the title of this blog post. The title quote is parsed from a conversation with some rando Tinder man, but I’ve gotten variations of that questions from several different people.
I didn’t really ask myself that question until last week when chatting with a friend from home. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog, but it was one of the moments where you vocalize something for the first time, never explicitly thinking about it prior to that, but nonetheless having the statement be very much true.
Why am I in England? Why did I move thousands of miles away from everything I know? That is what I am in this country to figure out.
My initial reasoning was that I wanted to put myself under different circumstances, away from my safety nets, and see what I can do, who would I become. That sentiment still stands, but it’s evolved a bit.
I think part of me is afraid of being disappointed, that I moved all this way just to be unimpressed, while the rest of me just goes, “Shut up, Doubtful Self, who asked??” I did come here to see what I am capable of doing, but I also came here to just see things. I’m technically (?) still in Europe there are so many opportunities I wouldn’t have in America and won’t have when I eventually return.
Opportunity is what this stint abroad really is. For instance, I wanted to go Ireland for my break in two weeks, but got swindled by rising ticket prices. Even though that original desire got delayed, it opened me up a different opportunity: Luton.
she’s waitin’ for me
I have a week off at the end of October, a week to finally get to traipse around Luton. Yesterday, I was in town to buy supplies, hang out at the library, and use my new gym membership. It was a lovely little afternoon, but on my walk home, I had a hunch that if I went this more scenic route, I would end up at my bus stop. I missed the mark by one side street, but stumbled onto the other half of the park adjacent to my house.
I live in urban place, where if one thing falls through, I can easily find something else to do, but hey, isn’t that just a not-so-subtle metaphor for life?
I’ll leave my dear readers with one last humorous anecdote:
A couple nights ago, I was feeling my Late Night Look™, as well as feeling a little drowsy, so I opened Snapchat to take a selfie and stroke my vanity once more. I was also listening to some tunes while all this went down, a.k.a. headphones in ears, and for some reason, Snapchat amped up my volume up to maximum and here’s the resulting candid: