Struggles of a NYCTF: One trimester into the school year.

Being in the fellowship is incredibly hard. Each day is almost like its own Mission Impossible. Which i tell myself is fun and exciting, I actually think I believe myself most of the time too. Its always been difficult explaining to other people why the fellowship is so taxing and time consuming. Teaching as a profession is incredibly demanding. Each night when I go home I go home knowing that the very next day a class full of students will be depending on me to run a lesson, answer questions, guide through practice problems, demand high academic and behavioral expectations. I’m not a parent, but I imagine this constant feeling of being responsible is what parents feel especially when their kids are young and unable to look after themselves.

The students aren’t the only ones who demand a high level of attention, there is literally always something going on in the school that needs my (your) attention as well. As a special education teacher, we’re required to review and update student’s IEPs, gather info from gen ed teachers about students’ strengths and weaknesses, we also facilitate the IEP meetings with the IEP team, student and parent. Then there’s always the need to give students school-wide assessments, school development meetings, department meetings, covering for absent teachers, as well as managing general student traffic and behavior in and around the school building. This isn’t an exhaustive list, its just what I can think about right now at Starbucks. There’s a million needs constantly rolling around in my mind. The process of juggling and prioritizing these things is a gargantuan task that I wasn’t ready for before the fellowship. Its because of this that I never really feel like I’m getting ahead at my job. If anything I feel good when I feel like I’m only 1 step behind versus the normal 4 steps.

Here are some of the things I’ve struggled with over the past 6 months:

  • —- Staying in communication with people outside of my job. Work is an overwhelming priority that takes up about 90% of my brain capacity at all given times. I have to try to divid the other 10% between grad school, personal health and wellness, rest and relaxation, eating, and fiscal responsibility. Communication is always last on my list of things to focus on, my family has been pretty open about their disdain for my level of contact and visits.
  • —- Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession. I feel like I’m able to stretch myself and try new things in my classrooms and with my students. However, its demotivating feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. I basically feel like I don’t know what I know, and don’t know what I don’t know. This makes it difficult to replicate my positive teaching traits and change my negative teaching practices.
  • —- My daily schedule is so chaotic that I often miss my meetings with my mentor teacher. We both teach during all of the same periods so it is difficult to observe her and learn from her teaching style. There are also 3 new teachers including me in the building, and we all have the same mentor teacher. Its frustrating hearing that the other mentees get to enjoy more regular meetings with our mentor, and seem to truly benefit from the weekly checkins. I don’t know if I can say I’m experiencing the same luck with my checkins.
  • —- I always feel like I’m on different page than most other people in the school. Translation –  I be lost as fuck in most meetings and classes. This always irks me. Example: On election day we had a staff-wide PD. Part of the ice-breaker was to build a contraption that would prevent an egg from breaking when it hit the ground. Every group made some contraption that packed/padded the egg once it impacted the ground. I suggested and pushed my group to make a parachute with out piece of newspaper to support the padding we had done. At first there was silence, then there was murmors of support, finally I convinced them the parachute would work. When we presented our creation we got a bunch of laughs from the rest of the staff. But low and behold our egg was one of 3 that didnt break. This is a amusing example of me thinking completely differently than everyone else. Most of the time it just leaves me feeling awkwardly different in a room full of people with similar ideas.
  • —- I really care for all of the students in my school. But they drive me BONKERS when they launch a million questions at me (you) without giving me the chance to explain the activity/theory/lesson we’re going through. They also complain all the time. Sometimes I just have to look at them with my You’ve gotta be kidding me -face.
  • —- Anytime I think of a challenge or a struggle I have with this work, I get upset with myself because it feels like I’m making excuses rather than finding solutions.

These are just a few things that I have on my mind right now. I say these not to complain, but to give you a better sense of some of the things I have to think about on top of creating meaningful and engaging lessons for my students. I’m optimistic that I’ll find ways to changes these struggles into growth opportunities to become a more effective and impactful teacher for my classes.

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1 Comment

  1. Diddy,

    It’s wild for me to read this post, as I have to same struggles over here in America. Being a teacher for the first time, and requiring a different language to get these kids on board- behavior wise. There are so many similarities, I can’t believe. P.S. I’ll be super sad if we don’t meet when I am home!

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