There are three things that have gotten me through the first two months of school: an incredible husband, an awesome assistant principal, and deep breaths.
Having had no real mental break over the summer (I was on two hiring committees and also worked on developing a new teacher induction program), the year got off to a rough start for me. Every day felt like a huge challenge. I confess that I really felt like I’d forgotten how to do this teaching thing.
But finally, things settled down. The eight-week graduate course I was taking wasn’t as difficult as I had feared, and I actually finished it in six weeks. (With an A, I might add!) The stress of the summer, which didn’t feel like stress at the time even though it was, faded away. The skills needed in lesson planning came back to me. And although a couple of my classes are still exceedingly talkative and less focused than I would like, classroom management doesn’t feel quite as hard as it did during the first six weeks or so.
But apparently, there is a part of me that enjoys insanity.
One of my former students, now a high school freshman, saw me in the school library the other day. I asked him how high school was going. “So much better than middle school,” he said. “Nothing about you,” he insisted. “It was just all the drama, and, well, middle school just was not fun. I don’t know how you do it.”
I said, “I know, people think I’m insane, but I love middle school. I could teach high school if I wanted to, but I really enjoy middle school.”
And, like so many others do when I say those words, he looked at me like I was an alien.
Not only do I love the craziness of middle school (and their goofiness and their silliness and their thoughtfulness and their growing-up-even-if-it’s-hard-to-see-it-ness), but it is becoming apparent to me that I must like insanity in my own life as well.
I mentioned that I finished up a graduate course. This was my third of four courses in my pursuit of licensure in gifted and talented education. I’ve got one more eight-week course that begins next week, and then some big test I have to take in order to be licensed. I am hopeful that I will take (and pass!) that test by the end of the school year.
So that’s enough, right? I could be done with coursework, happy with my bachelor’s degree and my extra certification. But no. I have also decided to pursue a master’s degree.
I know. I’m totally crazy. Why on earth am I doing this?
Well, it turns out that I kind of like taking classes. I’m good at school, which is probably one of the big reasons I became a teacher in the first place. Also, I don’t know whether I want to teach middle school forever. Will there come a year when I just never hit my groove? Will there be a year when I simply can’t relate to adolescents anymore? I hope not, but I’d like to have options in case that day does come.
The master’s program I’m looking at is in Curriculum and Educational Technology. I’d focus on the curriculum side, and that would give me options to eventually become a Curriculum Developer or perhaps an Instructional Coach. I could possibly work with teachers in the middle and high school setting, or maybe even teach pre-service teachers at the college level.
When I mentioned to my husband that I was thinking about continuing my education, he encouraged me to do it, which I didn’t really expect. I knew he would support me in whatever I decided to do, but he actually said he thought it was a good idea. “It’s fun to learn new things,” he said. “You just have to remember that you get a little crazy when you’re taking classes.”
He knows me so well.
I’m hopeful that for at least the next several years, I’ll also continue to be able to work with my fantastic assistant principal who has been so encouraging and supportive, even when I’m completely nuts and stressed out.
And of course, I’ll continue breathing deeply.