Back in the teaching zone

That was easy.

It only took one class this morning for everything to click back into place. A kind of inner Ah yes, here we are all back in the office together. Here are the kids making noise in the hallways and shuffling reluctantly into the classrooms. Here are the sounds of jumping-jack-counting and soccer-ball-kicking floating up from the courtyard/playground outside. Here I am, walking into class and turning on my teacher mode and feeling the nerves melt away.

It definitely helps that this time, I actually have some semblance of an idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going. On the first day of the first semester, I certainly had no clue.

Here’s what I’ve been mulling over today, now that my first day with the 1st graders is under my belt:

Thank God I started with 3rd grade.

Trial by fire. Having no prior experience, I had no idea how actually sulky and despondent and difficult the 3rd graders were being during those first few weeks. I mean, I knew they were quiet, but I misinterpreted that as low level or shyness. No, no. Nope. No ma’am. Nope, it turns out they were just being stubborn pubescent teenagers refusing to participate.

I still love them to death, and of course by the end of the semester our class atmosphere was completely different, but looking back now that I have some perspective… good gracious they were tough nuts to crack. If I had started the other way around, with 1st grade, and then switched to 3rd, I’d be feeling pretty darn discouraged right about now.

13-year-olds are only just barely teenagers.

Honestly, the 1st graders are mostly still just kids. Most haven’t hit the hormonal apocalypse yet, and they approach things with a non-jaded, eager, willing zest. The opposite gender still has cooties (meaning I’m safe from the “Teacher, phone number!” demands). They’re still unabashedly outgoing and don’t care so much about avoiding social embarrassment (for the most part). There is also the psychology of going from King of the Pack in 6th grade elementary to Bottom of the Totem Pole in 1st grade middle. It’s enough to humble most of them and shift any attitude problems that may have developed. Usually.

All of this makes teaching them a breeze, comparatively speaking.

The 1st grade classrooms are nice.

Dude, the 5th floor is waayyyy cuter than my floor (4th) or the 3rd graders’ floor (3rd). There’s artwork in the hallways and a nice big desk at the front of each classroom (instead of the tiny podium I’m used to for the 3rd graders). Because there are only ~25 kids per class (not 36-37 like with 3rd grade), there’s also more space and the room feels more airy and roomy. A very pleasant atmosphere to teach in – and if you think that’s not important, think again.

And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete with a Korean surprise to kick things off.

After settling in, receiving my schedule and timetable, and thinking to myself how lovely it was to have NO 1st period classes ever . . . . . after lunchtime I was informed that my schedule will change. I’ll go to my small school on Monday and Friday now, not Monday and Wednesday. Which means after lunch, one of today’s classes was moved to Thursday and Friday’s classes were moved to Wednesday, etc. etc. Long story short, I now have 1st period classes four out of five days a week. Sigh.

But oh well, I’ll adjust soon enough. For now I’m simply relieved that the first day has been plunged into, like Polar Plungers getting that first icy blast of water over with. The worst is over, and now I will adapt to whatever comes next.


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