Two Week Whirlwind of…Happiness

I haven’t written in 2 weeks. So many times, I’ve told myself, “You haven’t blogged in too long” or “You need to blog today” or “You have time to blog today.” But do I ever end up having time? Nope. The last two weeks have been some of the craziest times, but in some weird way, I feel all too sane. Like, it’s kind of eerie how calm I am. In the last two weeks, I purchased a home with my husband. We took two days to paint, one day to move, and one day to unpack. We unpacked on Monday (Labor Day), and my first day back to school with kids was Tuesday. On my first day of school, I was pulling my work clothes out of plastic trash bags to put them on. I was digging through boxes to try to find my school ID badge. Pure mayhem. On top of that, I’m teaching collaborative this year, so I’m working with students whom I’ve never worked with before, and I also have another teacher in my room. A whole new environment. And any working mother (especially teachers) know that having a long vacation with your little one taken away and having to go back to real life is never enjoyable. I think there were tears on both ends.

But, almost at the end of the second week of school, it’s time to take a breather. Looking back, I handled it all too well. I may sound like I’m bragging…well, maybe I am. In the past year, my life has been mayhem, and while I survived it, I did it barely holding on. Barely above water. I always felt crazy, hectic, chaotic, about to lose it. I still carried the lingering effects of postpartum anxiety with me. I carried the weight of my husband’s PTSD, which flared in some horrible way last school year. At the end of last school year, and even early summer, I found myself unpleasant to be around. Negative. Maybe even a little depressed.

But I told myself: THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT. (And I’m a teacher, so anytime I refer to year, it means school year). I told myself I would be positive. I told myself that I would carry a smile on my face, with the intent of it being contagious. And I never looked back.

In the last two weeks, I have been happier with my career than I did at all last year. I can feel with friendly vibes with my co-workers, vibes I didn’t get last year. Students have been making a point to come visit my room or talk with me in the halls. I just feel really good about work. We are getting settled into our new home, minus area rugs and pictures on the walls. Our new home–even though it’s a tri-level–has this open and airy quality where I feel relaxed. My marriage has been making strides. My husband has learned to hold back explosive anger and replace it with calm conversation (most of the time), and that’s huge for him. I am starting to feel like I don’t have to walk on egg shells, and if I feel something is wrong or needs improvement, that I can actually bring it up.

It’s good to just stop and take a look at life and be proud of where you are. Even if it’s not exactly where you want to be, you’re on your way. All it took for me was an attitude change. A true change. Not one that I exhibit some days but not others. There is the quote,

“Happiness is a choice,”

and I have found it to be completely true.

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Teaching High School English: Year 2

In two more weeks, I’ll be preparing to get my second year of 9th grade English students. Last year, I had a mixture of 9 Honors and 11 Academic (a.k.a average/standard). This year, I have my 9H group, but they threw me for a loop by trading my 11 for 9 Collaborative. I’m looking forward to having a co-teacher, but did I mention I am terrified of working with students with special needs? If I’m being honest, I’m pretty clueless. I was identified gifted in 2nd grade, and I was essentially isolated with a group of about 10 kids in my city from 2nd through 8th grade. Then, in high school, I took Honors/AP everything. I’ve never even shared a class with a student with any issue aside from a behavioral disorder. I’m worried I won’t be able to communicate effectively or meet all of their various needs. I know my co-teacher for those classes (who I like, thank goodness) will be a huge help, but I’m still so nervous. Not to mention, over the summer, I feel like I forgot how to even get ready for work, much more TEACH teenagers stuff. I’m freaking out a little. I’m going to guess that once I get back in my room and get going, I’ll chill out, but right now, I’m way more terrified for Year 2 than I was Year 1. I also have to revamp my discipline system. I haven’t had to deal with many behavior issues aside from some cheating and an occasional cuss word. I’m very much against calling kids out or going in the hall during class. I like to keep teaching and keep them from being embarrassed. I need a red-yellow-green light type system, but in a way that it fits high school. It’s harder than it seems. Even the teacher community on Pinterest gave me nothing. The only other tough thing is going to be differentiation between my Honors and Collab. We’ll be doing most of the same material, but the instructional delivery, practice, and assessment will have to be totally different. I’m just going to keep breathing and telling myself it will all come together.

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