I LOVE it!
It's the best teaching assignment I've ever had.
Let's start with my students. When I first became a teacher, I heard it said that you never forget your first class, and while this is absolutely true, I think I've actually had more of a lasting connection with the students from my second year teaching. They are the ones who still text me, message me on Facebook, and ask to get together for lunch or coffee now and again. Of course, there are students from every year who do this, but I've remained close with more of my kids from my second year than every other year combined.
Bonding with my students is kinda my "thing." It's what makes me tick. Of course, I've connected with and grown to love many, many of my former students. What I've found, though, is that this bond isn't as quick to form as it was in my early years. I found this especially frustrating when I was working in Baton Rouge, when I didn't even like my students until Thanksgiving (yes, there were exceptions, but I'm speaking about my students as a whole). I ended up loving them to pieces and calling them my babies... my babies who made me go gray... but it took a while to get there. And I was convinced that this is just the way it was going to be for me.
Last year, when I worked as a teaching assistant, I L.O.V.E.D. my students. But I was also in a position where I got to be their helper, not their disciplinarian. I didn't have the stress that comes with dealing with the paperwork of teaching (planning, grading, IEP meetings, parent communication, etc.), which left me plenty of time to just get to know my kids. That was my favorite part about that job.
And here I am, four weeks into a new position in a new school, and I already ADORE my students. Yes, you read about one who gives me headaches (whom I've now taken to bribing with a piece of gum each day for behaving in class... and it's worked like a charm), but I genuinely like my students. Thinking about leaving them at the end of this leave is already breaking my heart. I feel like they're my kids, and I don't want to give them back!
Not only are my students amazing, but my coworkers have been so wonderful as well. I've never worked with such a genuinely nice and welcoming staff. Since day one, I feel like I've been fully embraced as a teacher, not just a substitute. I was invited to join a group of coworkers who eat lunch together in the art room each day at least 5 times by multiple people until I finally tagged along (instead of working through lunch), and I feel like I've been part of the group forever. I like them as people and as coworkers. They make coming to work enjoyable!
I feel supported by my administration. I like that they cut to the chase in our staff meetings instead of filling time with pointless activities and rhetoric. When I seek their advice about student concerns, they respond with immediate reaction and reiterate their confidence in my decisions as the classroom teacher instead of micro-managing, as I've experienced in the past.
And... even though I never imagined I would say this, I'm LOVING teaching social studies. I never envisioned myself as anything but an ELA teacher, but I have to admit that this has been an awesome experience. It's an entirely different world. Not just because I have twice the number of students but because of the content. It's so much easier to teach content that doesn't rely so much on previous knowledge. And I enjoy teaching a subject that's objective. Either you know it, or you don't; there's no middle ground subjectivity, making it complex to assess. And even though I have twice as many papers to grade, I'm grading them less often... with far less writing!
For all these reasons, I'm sure you can imagine why I was torn apart to learn last night that the classroom teacher I'm subbing for is coming back a whole MONTH early from her maternity leave. Something about the district changing policy and not allowing her to use her sick days. Whatever.
I'm not mad at her because I totally understand not being able to go for so many weeks without pay, but I'm kinda pissed a the district, if I'm honest, because I SIGNED A CONTRACT, which states I have SIX more weeks of work. How, then, is it right for them to come back and tell me I'm done in two weeks?!
I have bills to pay too. I crunched a lot of numbers when I was offered this job to see where it would leave me. Now, this leave me with significantly less money even if I find day-to-day jobs every single day simply because it will be at the regular sub pay instead of long-term pay. Had I known I would only get 4 weeks of long-term pay (because my first two weeks were at the regular pay per district policy), I may not have taken this job.
I'm not happy.
And I don't want to tell my kiddos. I'm going to miss them terribly.
My principal was enthusiastic in her response when I emailed last night about getting a letter of recommendation from her. Her daughter is in my class this year, so this gives me hope that she's hearing good things. And hopefully will help me secure more work for myself.
I knew this day would come. I just thought I had much more time.