Where did we last leave me?
The last time I blogged was at the end of my first full term of teaching, as of today, I have finished another half-term. If you’re still confused by the UK term break down, in lament’s terms, I have actually completed half of my first year of teaching.
I have been teaching for over five months and I am still taken aback by the fact that I am a certified, practicing teacher; it’s surreal that I have a salary and am legally responsible for a class full of teens daily.
But to back track, after fall term ended, I high-tailed it to America for some TLC (tender, love, & care, not to be confused with T-Boz, Left-Eye, and Chilli). Not much happened when I returned back to the homeland, other than that I spent time with friends and family in America.
I haven’t watched Maury since I was in middle school and even then I didn’t enjoy it, for whatever reason. Fast forward ten years to my now incredibly opinionated, socially aware self, who is not really in favor of how exploitative, staged and disparaging the show is. This quote from Wikipedia aptly hits the nail on the head:
Again, America was pretty uneventful, but it was nice to be around the familiar after being gone for almost four months; a little ironic though to be visiting America and to participate in something as trashily American as reality tv.
When I came back to England, I only had a few days to adjust to the five hour time difference before school was back in session. This half-term was only six weeks long, so it kind of flew by in one big blur, but I can showcase some teaching highlights through a series of tweets.
I feel like I say this a lot, but with teaching, it’s very much a learning process and as time progresses, my teaching abilities do as well. There are also a lot of levels to teaching, seeing as the main people I work with are teenagers, who each bring their own personality, strengths, and set of complex issues to the table.
But I do feel myself getting better. I am still an absolute work in progress, but I am making that progress. For instance, I got observed twice this term and I am still not in the “passing” grade section, but one of my observers told me they could see me getting better, improving, and doing a good job.
Until they told me that, I hadn’t really accepted how thankless of a job teaching is? So much time and energy is put forth in trying to make decent lessons, keeping students engaged, and managing different students’ personalities. In most instances, my efforts have ended up being all for naught and have very rarely resulted in a pat on the back.
I’m not saying I have the expectation of or deserve affirmation constantly, but I did not realize how undervalued I felt until someone actually threw me a compliment, which is pretty damn sad.
It made me think about how bright-eyed and optimistic I felt when I first came to Luton and…
[Carrie Bradshaw voiceover]
I couldn’t help but wonder…
What happens when that first sizzle of a new relationship begins to fizzle?
Does everything in life eventually turn as lackluster as last season’s Prada pumps?
Will every spark eventually just… burn out?
. . .
Meanwhile, uptown, Samantha was having her own sizzling dilemma.
*pans to Samantha having sex in the bathroom of a Sizzler*
Joking aside, the optimism and warmth I felt towards Luton and teaching in early fall has slowly, but surely, waned away. That being said, I honestly still love teaching, even as exhausting and reward-less as it is, I still love it.
Another bit of teaching-related news is that I was enrolled in a teacher improvement program this half-term, which I, at first, took offense to:
‘I’m sorry I’m such an awful teacher that you have to put me in a course to improve how horrendous I am??’
But after the initial blow of being told I need to “improve,” I was informed that it’s less black and white than it seems. The program cost several $100 to enroll teachers in and schools only want to enroll candidates they see potential or value in, so there is a takeaway here.
The actual program is lovely and has me very nostalgic for my education classes at New Paltz. The curriculum for the course is very much breaking down aspects of teaching, self-assessing, and determining ways to improve. The whole program is structured on the idea that we are the problem solvers and can create solutions to our own problems (metaphor for life?). Obviously, because the program is rooted in critical thinking and a discourse on education, I absolutely love it.
One of the facilitators for this course meets my criteria for ‘bad ass, role model women in education.’ I’ve talked about this with Fahmara, but there is something exceptional about professional women in education. Instances where I see the fear of god being placed into a young person’s eyes by a stern, middle-age woman warm my heart to no end. I have encountered so many women teachers like this and one of which, we’ll call her Cassandra, co-facilitates this course.
Cassandra is very amicable, but something about her cadence and presence is very stormy; she’s powerful, commanding, something you take notice of when it’s coming your way. She has the perfect response for any comment or thought and she poses thought-provoking prompts and questions with insane immediacy.
If the above isn’t evidence that I have the creativity and ability to one day make a really great teacher, I don’t know what is. The program runs for six weeks, meets once a week, during school, which means I miss class for it, and so far, so good.
After the program met on Wednesday, I attended my sort of (?) first therapy session. The session was an hour and a half-long baseline assessment to determine my level of need for therapy, figuring out what I’m trying to take out of the experience, and various questions exploring my past. No tears this first round of therapy, but I was emotional for some of the family-oriented questions because there are so many layers and so much history there.
I’ve always considered myself a fairly mentally healthy individual and therapy is something I thought would be a good thing for me somewhere down the line, but what made me put my money where my mouth is:
- I have a salary and can afford it since it’s reasonably priced.
- I am in a different country, on my own, and it feels like now is a great time to analyze and review what brought me to where I am.
One of the most interesting aspects of the session for me was listening to how I talk about my family and friends. As I was telling the counselor my history, I could feel myself taking mental notes of how I describe these people and instances to somebody new; how you feel about something can easily be revealed in the words you choose to explain it.
A lot of the big Aha! moments were realizing and acknowledging that something that happened was not okay and that it affected me in a certain way. Before the assessment, I would think, “Well, I’m fine now, so the past is in the past; let it go.” Whereas post-session, I have re-considered that stance and accepted that being fine now doesn’t override the fact that something harmed you and/or maybe should not have happened in the first place.
Overall, I really enjoyed the session and it felt so incredibly powerful to analyze and address so many things I don’t love talking about. I think with time I will make some immense steps forward with the help of therapy. May god have mercy on anyone who crosses the path of this powerful beam of light I am becoming.
That’s all for this round, but on a final note, I just saw La La Land and boy am I sucker for journeys of self and how the pursuit of a dream reflects that.
I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and until next time: