Weeks of school, that is. Now, for the first time in many weeks, Saturday is a different day than the rest of the week. I eased back into the schedule and comfort of teaching in the past four days, knowing that it will get both easier and harder as the weeks progress. I am most nervous, however, about my graduate work, not teaching. I really do love staying home over the summer, saying often to my husband that I want to be a kept woman. But when I am in the moments of my profession that make my heart swell with joy, love, excitment, hope, and sometimes sadness, I know that I really do love my job. I might claim differently in thirty-five weeks or so, but for now I am sublimely happy.
Joy: I had a freshman who was "that kid". That kid who means so well, who has a terrible homelife (I knew after two days that his father beat him, beat in the past tense, as he is gone now), and who loves to talk and participate. But, his well-intentioned comments and antics are not received so kindly by his fellows. Watching them snicker after he's embarrassed himself with too much information makes my heart ache. Why, then, is this under the joy category? Because he dropped my class. Could I have made a difference in his life? Probably. I'd like to think so. But he dropped it to take Woods with a friend of his, and I'm sure he's better off, happier working with his hands and tools than speaking in front of classmates, many football players, who could make him feel bad about himself. When I get him back as a junior or senior, I'm sure he'll be a little more prepared, and a little less "frosh".
Love: I have seven of my speech team kids in my classes this semester. Additionally, I have a group of about five speech team students who stop by regularly to talk with me: share ideas, chat about nothing, gossip about boys, share summer stories, etc. I love these kids. Truly. I am altogether eager to step down as head coach (too much work with finances, paperwork, politics, etc.) and madly in love with being a mentor, a teacher, a coach, a friend to this select group of students.
Excitement: My students gave their diagnostic speeches on Friday, and they didn't suck. Though they all have many areas of improvement, none of them were so bad they couldn't even get through it. Or couldn't be heard. Or couldn't stop laughing. These 153 students (five sections at 34, 35, 35, 30, 19) should be an excellent group with whom to experiment and try new things. Hooray.
Hope: I miss my friend Molly, who has left the halls of my high school. Though we still email nearly as often as we used to during the school day, there is a discomfort in knowing she is 45 miles away instead of two floors away. Somehow, before she left, I let her guilt/convince/rally me to take over her post as literary arts magazine advisor. Knowing the budget had been cut and the post came without stipend, I agreed. We've not yet met this year, but we had a good showing at the freshman activities' fair the second week of August. My hope for these kids is they will share their passion for arts and literature in my classroom twice a month. I hope I can help foster their love through my own. I hope I can be as devoted as their former advisor, who personally provided the beginnings of a very nice budget in the form of a check and an inspirational letter. Sharing this will make an excellent first meeting in a week and a half.
Sadness: Last May our school suffered the tragic loss of one of its own. A car crash took the first student from our new school's midst. She was a smart, kind, athletic student whom everyone loved. I didn't have her in class, but I had many friends of hers. Having gone through this myself in high school, I could feel their pain as strongly as my own. So sad. So tragic. This year, I have her little brother in class. He is a freshman who stands about five-two and couldn't weigh more than ninety. When the students did their diagnostic speeches yesterday, many of them chose to share about their families (they had to speak for one minute straight about themselves, including anything they could think of). This student seemed almost obligated to do the same. Verbatim: "My family...well, there's me, and my mom and dad. But that's it. 'Cause now I'm an only child, I guess." He didn't even mention her. And everyone knew what he was not saying. As the tears welled up in my eyes, it took all of my energy not to let them spill over. All I could do was smile and call the next speaker.
Ups and downs mark every day of this illustrious career. I hope I can maintain a sense of pride, not to mention sanity, as I make my way through this year.