Well, now that I’m no longer terrified, at complete wit’s end, nor totally overwhelmed at all times, sometimes I even have these moments where I actually realize just how easy I’ve got it. Such that I almost even feel bad. For a moment. At just how lucky I am to be in my current situation as a new teacher.
Let me list the ways in which I am fortunate:
1) I’ve got 7 students. I expected to have 13 (I teach in a 12:1:1 special education classroom. For the uninitiated, that means twelve students to one teacher and one paraprofessional). If I had just 1 or 2 more students, the whole dynamic of my classroom could shift substantially — in the wrong direction. Even at the beginning of the school year, I had one student who didn’t show up ’til the second week. That one student alone completely changed my classroom from well-managed to always chaotic.
2) My para is great. She has managed to get all kinds of supplies for my classroom that I would have no idea where to find in my school. She leaves me apples on my desk. She’s been with my students for a few years now, so she knows the kind of trouble they have been in the past, and she continually boosts my frazzled ego to remind me of how much they have been turned around this year.
3) I’ve got a Smartboard in my classroom. Sure, it’s an old one and the projector is askew and it continually gets off-kilter whenever a student knocks into it. I have to lug my old 15″ laptop to and from school each day to use it. But it’s a great asset to have in a classroom. As a technology geek, it makes my life a hell of a lot easier for lesson planning. And even more importantly, it brightens the day of my students. Just the fact that they have a screen to stare at and a technological gadget to play around with is enough to make them slightly more engaged.
4) I’ve got windows in my classroom. This is a luxury not to be discounted.
5) I’ve got most of the supplies I need in the school.
6) My students may constantly harangue, harass, punch, and belittle each other — but they do not stab each other. They do not draw blood.
7) My students are all smaller than me.
8) It takes me less than 50 minutes to get to work.
Compared to some other teachers I know, I’ve got it cake. And compared to others, I’ve got it tough. It’s all relative of course, but the important thing is that I feel like I’ve got a handle on the situation at this point. I’m still strung out and overwhelmed by many a thing each and every day, but I’m beginning to get into a rhythm. I’m in a situation where I am learning just what I need to at just the right balance of overwhelming but not debilitating. And there’s a lot of helpful and positive teachers in my building who go out of their way to share when they have a spare second.
So I’m just gonna leave it at that and keep it focused on the positive. Because that’s what keeps me going each and every day.