To say that I successfully survived the first quarter of the school year would be like giving someone credit for having invented walking just because she knows how to take some steps. I made it to November mainly by not completely goofing, and at least in general, giving the aura of someone who knows what they are doing and why on a daily basis. I’m being honest. I think that’s hard for a first-year teacher to be. Especially since I seem to be surrounded by a building full of people who, if not in fact, at least in appearance, seem to have much more of a handle on things than I can ever hope to have. I’m still amazed when students say something about what we had learned the month before in true and correct context, or bring up a story we’ve read as a connection, as if it’s a miracle of nature that something of value has ever occurred in those four walls that I call my classroom. I’m still baffled by it.
I’ve realized just in this past week that the corners of my classroom, especially the corner behind my desk, are beginning to look like they’ve grown model sized cities, complete with skyscraper high paper piles and walls of binders (many of which I’ve forgotten the exact contents). Add to that my unfortunate plant, which thankfully a student has taken upon herself to manage for me unrequested, mostly because she noticed one day that I had forgotten to water it since let’s say the first week of October, though it could have very well have been September when I last remembered it was there. I try not to see that as being symbolic of my classroom in general; I’d like to imagine the reason for my piles and life-supported plant have more to do with how much more attention I’ve been trying to pay to the other living things that happen to wander in and out of my life daily, than with the fact that I’ve forgotten what the words, “has it all together” actually mean.
Also, and again I don’t take this as being a sign of my ineptitude, but I feel as though I’m constantly running around in between periods trying to paste up holes (not literally, my classroom is quite sound), reconfigure lessons and get the right papers and emails to the right place and people before the next bell rings. Only to breath deeply and start again. When I get a minute to just take everything in, I almost have a hard time believing it. It’s as though someone else, has somehow or other been keeping things together for me when I wasn’t looking.
Even with the piles and running around, I guess is what I’m saying, it’s been kind of amazing to see things sort of come together. I, in no way, feel so overwhelmed that I can’t imagine getting through another quarter, or even another quarter after that. I guess I imagined that my first year was going to be painful, as in horrifically painful with not a moment to breath. I imagined that the horror stories would eventually all come true, and that absolutely nothing would go right. Organized chaos, in comparison to that picture, seems kind of nice, almost just as it should be.