I have always loved this time of the year. I love the fall because where I am from it is one of the most beautiful times of the year because of what we call (likely erroneously – thanks a lot Columbus, you muppet) the Indian Summer. Then again, my love for the fall could be totally to do with my birthday. Or the mind-numbingly awesome opportunities to purchase office supplies.
For whatever reason, I am psyched for the fall more than ever this year. And to be back at the helm of my own classroom next week. It has been five years since I have been in the classroom and I cannot wait, really. Things are going to be different this time for sure, and not just for the passage of time, but because, like the freshmen I will be teaching, I am embarking on something totally new. After something like 14 years as a Social Studies teacher, I am now going to be teaching Literature and English.
I feel like a total rookie, but it’s kind of cool. And the bonus is that I know a little bit more of what to expect than I did as a real rookie, but I have all of that crazy nervous energy that inevitably (hopefully?) translates into high-performance (though it could be mania… sometimes it’s a little hard to tell.) I am thinking about things that I have not considered in a while: class rules, syllabi, organizational strategies that must be completely reconfigured for courses that do not allow me to rest on material and strategies long tested and tried through my career.
Someone I met recently – who has a fairly good idea about teachers, as he is himself a student – said to me, “I just can’t picture you as a teacher…” I am not wholly unused to this observation and it doesn’t bother me in the least. On the contrary I rather enjoy being a bit of a surprise. A week or so later I found myself at Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands where one of the large motivating factors behind my attendance was that I would have a chance to see some of my former students. I told them about the former comment and they laughed saying they could only picture me as a teacher. That made me giggle as I drank my beer and staying true to my affiliation with the group “Intelligent, classy, well-educated women who say “F*ck” a lot.”
The thing is, I am a teacher. And right now I am getting ready to head back to school.
Back. To. School.
I am very curious to see how I have changed as a teacher after five years of teaching overseas and I am even more interested to see how I take to this new curricular challenge. And amidst the the sea of the unknown, what do I know? I know that beyond being fortunate to have a job in this current economic and educational climate, I am working in a good school surrounded by people who seem really interested in teaching. I know that it is a totally different feeling to be around people who are interested in teaching rather than the climate in Hong Kong where teaching is often a default and truly seems one of innumerable bad clichés to do with the Asia ex-pat scene. I know that I am ready to be right here, right now. I know I can do this. I am excited for the challenge of the material and the pace and the opportunity to see what this new direction is all about. At this point I am honestly giving it up to the powers that be to see how it unfolds; I have certainly been well-served by that practice recently, so why fix what is not broken.
Looking back at all the kids I have known before, I am considering what they have taught me about embarking on new things and trusting in the unknown (me) when they had any number of other options. I figure I have taught more than 1,500 kids over the years in some capacity. Not always perfectly or even really well in some cases, but in general… it’s been a pretty cool ride. Time to back back up on that horse.
Welcome back to school, people.