Archive for December, 2010
I got back from China last summer energized after a summer of writing only to find myself at the end the calendar year wondering just where the time has gone. I started my first year of teaching, inundated with the tasks, challenges, and surprises of my new job and then BAM! I’m on Christmas break. When I started blogging, I realized I developed eyes and ears that wrote stories as I observed or experienced things and I had no shortage of ideas to build upon. The last few months have been no different—full of stories and experiences that have shaped my year and affected me deeply. The only difference now that can explain my lack of writing is best described with the standard cliché: “There aren’t enough hours in the day”.
Now that I’ve closed my gradebook on the first semester, I feel like I’m really starting to feel the value and rewards of my work and the variety of experiences and challenges that keep me on my toes. Teaching Chinese is a new challenge, simply because it’s my first year and I’m setting my own pace and structure for the first time—a work in progress as I like to think of it. The rewards on that front are obvious and range from the excitement on a boy’s face when he says something correctly, to intensity of competition in our vocabulary games. It’s been so exciting to see them grow and make Chinese more real for them.
Here’s my classroom when it was freshly decorated to begin the year:
Coaching has been an interesting challenge too. I started the fall season as the sole coach in charge of the intramural group—22 boys with every spectrum of athletic ability. Despite some rocky patches and assumptions that intramurals were a “joke”, we more or less turned our motley crew into a team, bringing legitimacy and respect to our ranks. As fall transitioned to winter, my coaching duties were reduced to a few days a week, and now I work with middle school strength and conditioning. Having more natural athletes in the group, the workouts are harder and the competition steeper, but I still make it a point to throw myself into the mix, selfishly wanting my own workout, but also inciting the competitive energy of the boys (they don’t like losing in sprints to their female teacher).
I’ve truly enjoyed my job also because I’ve found a way to bring a bit of what’s important to me into my routine. From required dance breaks with my 6th graders to karaoke competitions with my 7th graders to making sentences about Glee and Justin Bieber with my 8th graders, I’ve tried to balance academics with other outlets that keep the boys smiling. These activities, in addition to getting to know many of my students and others at the school in non-academic settings, has helped me connect with them and brought another layer of value to my day to day work. It’s an unexpected perk and keeps my days interesting.
Some of my 6th graders at their best:
Apart from work, I reconnected with another part of my life this fall that had long since been dormant: rugby. Despite feeling like I had hung up my cleats for good in 2008, it wasn’t long before the vibe and dynamics of my new team reminded me why I had committed my college years to the sport. Rugby was a wonderful outlet this fall, introducing me to remarkable women in my area who represent everything I respect about female independence and individuality. I learned a lot, and I also had a lot of fun. Being in a group with whom I felt comfortable let me reconnect with myself, and for the first time since I moved to this area, I found a group of people I genuinely enjoy being around.
As 2010 is racing towards the ribbon for its momentous finish, I feel incredibly grateful for the year and all the wonderful things it brought for me. Looking ahead to 2011, I am excited and ready to embrace the life in front of me. One of my new year’s resolutions will be to write more and I will try my best never to go on quite as long of a hiatus again. Best wishes to everyone for a happy new year!!