Thursday, September 8, 2005

I'm Still Alive

... I'm just very, very occupied with non-online things. My birthmother, Sherry, and my sister, Rebecca are doing as well as can be expected (still evacuated, with futures fraught with uncertainty, but both in good spirits nonetheless), so thanks to all for your prayers.

My new job as a teacher is infinitely more fulfilling (not to mention interesting and challenging) than Cubicle Land ever was. One reason I've spent so little time online is that, when I'm not at school, I'm mostly at my desk working on lesson plans for the following day. I still have some kinks to work out (detailed plans are anathema to this non-Judging Perceiver!). Here are some of my biggest challenges:

1) Planning for my English Lit class. I'll be looking over Beowulf and think, "Hmm, here's an interesting idea." Next thing I know, I'm digging through literary criticism books I have, surfing the net for information and photos, and outlining ideas for ... what? A paper? I'm supposed to be assigning papers, not writing them! Then I remember ... "Oh yeah, the lesson plan. Back to work, Waterfall."

2) Planning for my Composition class. There is just so much important information to share. It's overwhelming because I want to present it all at once--which is ridiculous. I need to remember to pace myself and to limit lessons to a managable scope. Learning to write is a slow, sometimes difficult process, and I need to respect my students' needs there. Sometimes I remember the saying, "Slow me down, Lord!" ... at the end of the composition class. I need to remember it before class--and not try to fit in too much stuff too quickly.

3) Trying to find a home. I don't have a classroom, so I've adopted a table in the school's foyer as my "office" during planning periods. It's been difficult anyway because I have so many books to carry (heavy books, too), plus my portable file cabinet. I don't have a cart, and I'm reluctant to purchase one because the new classrooms are supposed to be ready within a couple of weeks. Not having a classroom is also hard because there are only three minutes between classes--three minutes to address students' after-class questions, pack up, get to the next class, unpack, and get in the mindset to start a new subject. And there's only one overhead projector, so I usually end up making two trips to find it and bring it to whatever classroom I'm supposed to be in.

4) Picking up homework. I am the world's worst. My mind just gets focused elsewhere and I completely forget to take up homework. Not cool, because I assign the work and the kids take the time to do it. And I need to look over it and make comments, because those comments (particularly in composition) are a major tool for me in teaching, guiding, and directing. Bad Waterfall. Bad Waterfall.

5) Um ... that's about it for challenges. Not bad, huh? Truthfully, I couldn't be happier at this job. I'm never, ever bored, I'm making a difference, and I've lost five pounds in less than two weeks because I'm not nibbling on chocolate all day out of boredom. This is the door God has opened for me, and I'm so glad I was able to quit the silent desperation security of Cubicle Land in order to walk through this new door. The teaching life definitely has its challenges, but they are far outweighed by the rewards.

OK, time to go write a quiz on commas, a worksheet on sentence variation, and an English lit essay assignment!

(It still just tickles me to death that I get to talk about metaphor and foreshadowing for a living ... and that I'm actually getting paid to discuss stuff from The Norton Anthology of English Literature.)

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