December 29, 2008

Highlights of 2008

As the new year rings in, I thought it would be fun to share some of my highlights of 2008:

1. Subbing - The 2007-2008 school year was a tough one for substitute teachers. Many districts had moved to electronic systems that no longer gave anyone preferential treatment. This is certainly better for the new subs, but for those of us who had worked our way up the ladder, this was a tough pill to swallow. Jobs I would have been guaranteed in the past were now taken by others (it is a first-come, first-serve kinda thing). I went from working 4-5 days a week to hoping for 2 (and most of those I nabbed because my friend and I cheated the system... and because he gets sick a lot). Combined with my knowledge of the upcoming weeks of zero paychecks, I was a stressed girl for a while. The good news is that I really did learn a lot from subbing. The great thing about being in so many classrooms is that I get to see so many ideas - and steal the ones that work for me! :) I also made some good friends in the process!

2. Student Teaching - In March, I began my student teaching experience. My cooperating teacher was amazing, and I feel eternally grateful for her guidance and support. I taught 7th grade language arts and social science. It was a much different experience than my subbing days. I certainly missed the paychecks, but it was awesome to be in the same classroom each day and really having an opportunity to know my students. I was challenged by the new curriculum and by learning classroom management (something that cannot be taught). I really enjoyed working with those students and came to feel like they were really my students!

3. Graduation - In June, I received my Masters of Education from DePaul University. I don't think I was very challenged by this program, but I do feel that it prepared me for the classroom (for the most part). I had some fabulous instructors and made some great friends in my program. The decision to obtain my teaching certificate was certainly the right choice for me. I think about where I might be if I had stayed in marketing, and I know I would not have the sense of accomplishment that I feel today. I needed a career where I could feel like I was making a difference. My only regret is that I didn't do this earlier!

4. Summer School - For those that don't know, I am an instructor for the summer school program at the local community college. For the past two years, I have been assigned the Freshmen English. To say the least, this is a challenge. Freshmen are the hardest students to teach for a multitude of reasons. My classroom is filled with students who failed the first (or second, or even third) time around, which should give you some insight into their attitude about English (and school in general). My challenge for the summer is to find a way to reach these students, who resent being "sentenced" to my classroom from 8-12 five days a week.

The hardest part is getting students to "buy in" - but I think that my enthusiasm is kinda contagious, so I work with that! :) Our final project for the summer was for students to prepare and present "How-To" speeches, and I was so impressed with their work. I was able to teach them so many important skills by allowing them to choose their own topics. Our last day of class was spent presenting their topics - I saw everything from skateboarding and beading to a fiesta! What a fun way to end the summer!

5. New Job - In August, was fortunate enough to start a full-time teaching job in a fabulous school district (at the same school where I student taught). With so many friends unable to find positions, I am well aware of my good fortune in avoiding that stress and landing this job in a highly-respected district. I also can't tell you how comforting it was to have all those familiar faces during my first few weeks of school (co-workers and students).

I have a great assignment teaching my 7th grade language arts. 7th grade is such a unique age because students are walking a fine line between dependence and autonomy. It's so fun to watch their personalities emerge as they learn and grow each day, and language arts is the perfect curriculum for that growth. How fortunate I am to be in a classroom where I can encourage students to express themselves through journals, stories, poetry, music - where they learn to make connections and learn from each other. I know they are challenging themselves because they challenge me - what an awesome opportunity!

I feel so blessed to be able to wake up every day with enthusiasm about my career!

6. Co-Workers - While we're on the subject, I can't talk about my new job without mentioning my amazing team. If you don't know, middle schools are set up so that the core classes (math, science, social science and language arts) take place within a team. My team is awesome - I can truly call them my friends and look forward to working with them each day. I didn't know it was possible to laugh so hard or so often at work!

7. Friends - I went through a time last year that caused me to evaluate my friendships. I started to ask myself what friendship really means and who I could truly consider a friend. I can honestly say that at this point, I feel confident in my relationships. Old friends or new, the people who are in my life are people I truly care for and know they care for me in return. After years of trials and tribulations... this is a good feeling!

Happy 2009 to you and yours!

1 comment:

  1. What a neat way to look back at your year. I loved this post. Thanks for sharing Erin!