I wrote this the night before the first day of school and ended up not posting it.
September 5, 2011
So on the eve of my first day in the schools, I just wanted to write a little bit about what I was feeling.
I’m nervous because this is the first job I’ve had that I think I will stick with. When I taught freshman composition at Emerson, I knew it was just for the time I was a graduate student. I expected to move on to a different school in a different state. But I’ll be in Richmond for at least the next four years, and probably for a long time after that. It feels like more is at stake.
I feel conflicted sometimes about the program’s high expectations for us. I know that we’re going to be inexperienced student-teachers, and then next year, inexperienced first-year teachers. Yet, sometimes I feel like we should be ready to “revolutionize” RPS from the get-go. To me, this seems unrealistic and, in my opinion, a bit arrogant. I’m coming to RPS to learn, as a student first. Yes, I'll be a co-teacher, but I need to learn from those who have more experience.
I’m worried about the demands that teaching, as a profession, will place on me. I just read an amazing zine called TruckFace about a teacher's first year experience in Chicago’s public schools. She writes:
“A Typical Week: Monday. Wake up at 5:40 a.m. Coffee, bagel…Carefully plan out bathroom time throughout the day…Eat lunch at my desk during ninth period. Get home at 6:30 or so…Plop down on the sofa. Watch TV. Cry. Occasionally talk to roommates but usually don’t want to talk to anyone at all. Eat dinner. Take shower at 9. Try to go to bed around 10:30, if lucky. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: repeat all.”
Is there time for a family, time for my husband? Does it all get postponed to the summer? I sometimes feel selfish to ask this question because aren’t teachers supposed to be selfless, totally dedicated to the calling? But the human development text we read seemed to cast teachers as social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, surrogate parents. I’m very curious to see how many hours per week a teaching job is.
And I’m excited about learning through experience. We’re teaching three different classes and I know that it will be difficult and busy this year. But I can’t wait to dig in, and see what it is really like.