Posted by: rdkpickle | 09.09.2013

can’t stop

Okay well it’s been a month and I’m still alive.

Things I spent the last month adjusting to:

  • Constantly changing rosters in the first week of school – at a private school, the students enrolled in your classes showed up for your classes. Here, my numbers are still changing.
  • Shorter classes (47 minutes is not enough time!) and a consistent schedule (every class meets at the same time every day – which overall makes things easier but makes a few things harder)
  • More of a separation between teacher and students – at FHS, my students stuck around in my classroom during breaks and after school for extra help, were emailing me constantly, and there were far fewer of them. With 150 new faces and no “extra help” period, I’m not having as many one-on-one interactions with students, about math or in general. And even if I were having the same number, it’d be a smaller percentage of my total students.
  • School clears out after the last class. This could be good or bad. I’m more likely to be able to get planning and grading accomplished after school (at my last school it was darn near impossible because there were always students around until around 6 pm, asking for help, coming by to chat, etc.)
  • Having to start from scratch with routines that were second nature (taking attendance, entering grades, printing/copying/scanning, email distribution lists – or lack of them – for students/parents, knowing who in the building can help you with each problem) as well as systems (class webpages for posting assignments/notes/answer keys, returning student papers in mailboxes, etc.)
  • Technology in the classroom – my school laptop dock is in the back of the room while my teacher desk is in the front. Also, I have a projector but no Promethean or Elmo, and I like copying guided/structured notes to save students from copying problems off the board. So I’m just projecting onto the whiteboard and writing the stuff I want to write in dry erase. It’s not ideal but it’s working okay.
  • Bringing my lunch. I was spoiled before.
  • Bringing my coffee. See above.
  • Classroom ambience – no wall to wall windows (boo.) But! No angry red parka! I have a thermostat in my classroom now (hooray!) And I don’t miss the artificial lighting of the cubes. Although (and I know this is maybe blasphemous) I actually miss the change of scenery that was the cubes, the common think-space with other awesome teachers. Or, maybe I just miss those awesome teachers. Yeah. It’s probably that.

I could write a lot more about how classes have been going and I surely will at some point but it’s late and I didn’t intend to post tonight anyway. I guess I just wanted to write something about the transition, maybe for future me in case I decide to pick up my life again and need to remember how beginnings feel or maybe for other teachers who are currently struggling.

Mostly this past month has just been a really gigantic reminder that teaching is HARD. Everyone keeps asking me how it’s going and because I am always honest I just say “it’s been a really tough transition” and they want to know if it’s because the public school system is different than the private school world or if it’s because I’m getting to know all new colleagues and rules and routines or if it’s because I’m teaching brand new courses or if it’s because I’m adjusting to living back at home again and I don’t know but the answer is YES. *AND* teaching is just ALWAYS hard.

Hopefully at least some of you can relate:

I’m hanging in there. I do not feel like I am doing amazing things in the classroom. I am barely finishing to-do lists for things that probably should have been done long ago. Time feels like my biggest enemy – I only make it about 3 hours into Saturday morning before I’m feeling full-on anxious about the week to come. I’m not really eating well or exercising and I’m having a really hard time getting myself to start things. I’m not feeling very inspired or motivated. I also feel strangely trapped by the high expectations of people who knew me and were so excited I was coming to teach here. I feel a lot of pressure, in general, from others and from myself. (Not just about school stuff.)

There is also a lot about the way I am feeling about things that started way back in the spring, so I can’t blame it all on the move. I do miss DC, and I do miss my old colleagues. I took it for granted how nice it was to have my work-friends also be my friend-friends.

I do wish I felt more like myself at present so I could be doing more to speed the transition along.

But it’s been a month and I’m still alive.

(I’ll let this doo wop cover of Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” send you out.)



  1. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how the transition has been going. Believe it or not, this sounds about normal to me. I’ve been having a similar transition and MY new school and district are extremely similar to my PREVIOUS school and district. So I can only imagine how huge this transition must feel. Still, I have a sense that the culture you’ve created around you in the past will manifest again as students and faculty get to know you. Things will smooth out this month. They are so lucky to have you there!

    Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

  2. Hang in there! I’m in my fourth year at my fourth school (I’m in year 27 overall) and I am just now starting to feel at home here. The main takeaway is in your post – teaching is HARD. Especially if you’re doing it right. Take comfort in how hard it feels since it is probably a strong indicator that you’re on the right path in your new environs.

  3. Congratulations on surviving your first month! I hope you are able to start doing good things for yourself in the eating and exercise realm. I know it’s hard when you’re busy, but it can really change how you feel and spill over into other parts of your life.

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