A high-fiver from a colleague on Friday afternoon felt good. “To surviving your first week of teaching,” he exclaimed with a smile on his face.
“Yes, I survived,” I sighed.
“No, I didn’t survive my first week, I lived it. I prefer to to say I lived it,” smiled another newish teacher.
When you understand the colour of the French language, it gets even more interesting. In French, the past tense survived is rendered SURVÉCU, and lived (or experienced) is VÉCU. Therefore, she said: “Pour moi, le l’ai vécu plutôt que survécu.” I liked that. Add three little letters at the beginning of the word, and the whole perspective changes.
I walked away reflecting on the short encounter. I honestly felt like I survived my first week. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING prepares you for teaching. I had four years of educational psychology, child psychology, pedagogy, practicums practica in the classroom, and the list goes on. By the third day, I felt so overwhelmed with information coming at me a mile a minute, I just couldn’t get my brain to stop rolling.
I have about three long lists of things to do, ideas, and resources, and a couple of pads worth of sticky notes glued to every available surface. I have paper, books, and stuff scattered on my desk I don’t know what to do with. I have kids whose names I need to learn, let alone wanting to build a rapport with. I keep running downtown with lists of things I need to buy in order to help the classroom run more smoothly. I have curriculum I need to cover, and 45-minute periods fly by so fast, I barely get down to business*. As a result, stress got the better of me, which meant my emotions were hard to hide. In 24 hours, I think I must’ve shed tears as many times.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just sit there and cry all day; I was fine in the classroom. But the slightest questions from colleagues as to how things were going brought on anything from watery eyes to downright sobbing. So, it was time to reach out.
I approached superman a super-organized teacher for ideas/suggestions.
I met with a high school teacher for help with planning.
I met with a primary teacher for suggestions with my fourth graders.
I talked with the school “counsellor” and simply unloaded…super-nice, understanding guy, by the way.
I even talked with my principal who is so there for everyone. I like his style, but that’s for another post.
And my husband, oh, my husband. He has been the most caring, understanding, and loving person in the whole world. He has taken care of breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week. The house was kept tidy with my whirlwind comings and goings. He held me when I sobbed at 3am. He gave me practical advice about dealing with the bursts of information hitting me like pop-up windows on a cheesy site.
Now, I feel ready to start my second week. Yes, while other people are going on their last camping trip of the summer, hiking the Chilkoot before winter sets in, or closing down their summer cabins, I’ll be organizing. Prioritizing. Planning. Working.
Most importantly, I’ll be living from now on. Yes, living my first year of teaching. Experiencing it. Learning from it. Tasting it. And hopefully, loving it.
*Kids in grades 3-6 come to my room for their English class in the mornings. Afternoons, I go to the secondary wing for grades 7-10.