I have officially entered a new season of life. I am teaching full time at what I would argue is the most challenging high school in the area, teaching one of the most dreaded subjects for most students, biology. I have quickly been made aware of how much of an issue being a young, white, female is at this school. Garnering respect is not easily accomplished, and I am facing battles of student discipline that I could never had imagined, teaching class sizes of 37 students. I started 2 weeks ago, and it has been a whirlwind. Things are slow to get processed and getting into the system for the district is taking forever. I am stuck tracking grades by hand, and sending attendance down the old-fashioned way. At least 3 days a week I am near tears behind closed doors and fighting to ensure students don't think I am at any point weak. I see the other new teachers in my department acting like their days are great, am I missing somethings or are they just not being honest?
I walk away feeling like I'm doing my best, but I am overwhelmed and lacking sleep. I question myself at every corner. I walked away from student teaching confident that I could do this, and now...? Grading quizzes this weekend, and I have kids who got a 100% and kids who literally got a 0%. Have I failed some of these kids already, or have they already failed themselves?
I had the privileged to work with a small group of 10 students during one of my classes because my co-teacher was with the other 25 while one of our autistic students was having a breakdown. While I was with those 10, I found myself again. I found the heart of why I teach. I had one student who was struggling with his quiz and was the last one left. The student was an English language learner so I read each question aloud with him, and reworded only a few questions. He was able to answer all of the questions right, I told him on the spot he earned a 100%. Being able to praise him, help him find success, and build him up was the most monumental part of my day. The smile on his face clearly showed me the impact I can make. I am in such a new phase of life, and it is going to take some adjusting. I am doing this for me, I am doing this to make a difference in my students' lives, and I am doing this for my future family. Some days are hard, but I feel blessed to be so supported.