First Day

I think it’s been a long while since I’ve been nervous about starting a school year. I don’t even think I was ever nervous switching schools or moving away to college. Even when I went abroad to teach in South Korea, I was nervous about a few culture issues, but I was thrown into the classroom so fast that I didn’t even have time to be nervous. It was a here are your books and do your thing. To some that may seem pretty nerve-racking, but for some strange reason, I like to fly by the seat of my pants.

This year is different. I’ve started the year with a contract. I’ve had the summer to procrastinate and ruminate about what I could be doing and what I shouldn’t be doing, but not doing anything yet. I’ve never been a great thinker. I spend time running through different scenarios and possibilities that I get so far away from where I started that I don’t know how to begin again. I’m trying to slow down and breathe and take it all in, but there is a part of me that doesn’t want to fail, and that part tells me I need to go, go, go.

After yesterday’s staff meeting, I did panic a bit. The division’s push for assessment, inclusion, critical thinking, and innovation started a chain of thoughts that made me wonder if it will be even possible to tackle all of those things this term. I drifted to thoughts about what about the second term, will I still even have a job? I shifted to how ill-prepared I am to teach certain stories that I still need to read. I went back to thinking about how much I’ll be held to my course outline, and how much time will I really need to finish a unit?

I stewed on all that for a while then decided that I needed to utilize the fact that for the first time in my teaching career, I didn’t just have colleagues but a department that genuinely supports each other. I went to one team member for ideas on the texts to choose from, and then I had a long chat with another team member about the actual make-up of classes. I came to him with my worries and concerns about not wanting to mess up by bringing to many different takes or approaches to certain topics. He told me that so what, if you take up 3 classes with some idea that you think is neat and it bombs, you learn and I learn from that. I kind of forgot to think like that lately. I used to always preach that openness to my students and staff in Korea. I left that talk feeling so much better, and ready for my second day.

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