Friday, November 19, 2010
Overwhelming..maddening..exhausting...satisfying...exhilarating...confusing...lost...found....that describes my first couple of months teaching Advanced Placement World History. I really wish that I had come back here and had been documenting what a journey it has been. I am not sure if there is anything that could have prepared me for the "I've dropped the reins..the horse is tearing towards the cliff...whoa...omg...omg....here we go...ahhhhh" ride that it has been. It is a totally different beast from regular classes but don't let anyone tell you that you're lucky to have these classes because they're easier. Oh no no. Now yes, I get the kids going with a prompt, lesson or project and it is amazing to watch them brainstorm, create and just take things to a whole new level. It's humbling at times how smart, hardworking and creative these kids can be. But there are time when I do not feel as smart, hardworking and creative as them and I am sometimes forced to bluff because I am relearning and sometimes learning this stuff along with them. I really should learn to play poker again(well...if I had time) because I can bluff with the best. I'm even a good bullshitter too. I'm not proud. One silly thing but major to me at the time that threw me for a loop and blew up my confidence like a first year teacher is the fact that in my district, kids can drop your class after the first six weeks. So...just about the time I learned my students' names and got some sort of routine down...suddenly there are empty desks and the whole dynamics change. Now, some of the kids who dropped..they were really way over their heads and I kinda breathed a sigh of relief. But I gotta say, my feelings were a bit hurt by the kiddos who were solid B students heading toward A's who dropped also. I was bereft. The 11th grade AP US history tried to convince me that it was for the best but I felt rejected. Until one day, I was moping around after another kid dropped and one of my students said, "Ms. 100 Farmers, don't worry about it. It's not about you. They like you. We like your class. They just didn't want to do the readings." And suddenly, I may not have had both reins in my hands but at least I was veering away from the cliff. I'm not going to lie and say I'm not wholeheartedly looking forward to winter break, but the whole history "geek" feeling of really getting into the hows and the whys is making dormant brain cells come to life. I may not be riding on an educational thoroughbred at the moment but this cattle pony seems to be veering well out of the ditches.