Since August 9th, I am back at teaching (my own classroom) again. Although it's been a very bumpy start I love what I do.
It's not anyone's mistake, I simply got hired very late, because my Dutch teaching license still had to get approved for teaching in the U.S. Because of all this, I missed a week of training for new teachers ( I am sure that I would have been allowed to follow that training in the Netherlands, even though I wasn't 'approved' yet. Rules are very rigid around here).
I am teaching a bilingual (Spanish not Dutch unfortunately) special education MLP (Modified Learning Program) class about a half an hour drive from my house.
The difference with the Netherlands is, that it's a fulltime position, while most teachers in the Netherlands teach parttime. The great part about it is that I have two great teacher aides, who've worked in this school district way longer than me. They both speak Spanish and English, which is very helpful to our students (my Spanish is improving every day!)
I have to get up at 5am every morning, and believe me, I am not a morning person at all.
About everything that could go wrong, went wrong in my first weeks: my key fob didn't work, they gave me the wrong keys, I had no access to any websites ( while most of the curriculum is online), I couldn't login to my students IEP's, there were basically no supplies and they hadn't been ordered either, I missed most of the first very important emails, I found out I was supposed to be at a open house night, the night before, and I didn't hear anything back from the HR lady, whom I've asked some pretty important questions.
I was basically going into survival mode, taking everything one step at a time, while trying to remember to keep breathing (one of my colleagues was an angel), when I felt like crying and running away.
I did cry a lot, took a deep breath and just kept going. While working for 17 hours per day, most of the days. Now, after almost three weeks, I can finally see a lot of improvement, in all areas.
The one thing that kept me going, were my students. Everytime I arrived at my work, while I opened up my classroom (I still have to get used to all the (un)locking of (bath)rooms that is part of my job description too), and I am making sure that I am ready for the day, I look forward to seeing their smiling faces, hearing their curious questions and funny remarks.
When I pick them up from their buses, and greet each and every one of them, I get rewarded with a lot of smiles.
During the day, while on my way back from my study hall classroom to my own classroom, I can see my students wait in front of our room. Their faces looking around, trying to find me. The look I see on their faces, when they spot me in that crowded hallway, that is full of hormones and testosterone, is simply priceless.
That's why I do what I do, that's what I love about my job. Even when I was (close to) crying and running away these past few weeks, they were the ones who pulled me through.
They need me, they make me smile and I know I can still teach them a lot of functional life skills. Skills that will make their lives go way easier.
In these few weeks, I have gotten to know my students very well. I already know what works and what doesn't work for all of them. The first thing my attention goes to is making my students feel comfortable and good about themselves. The learning part comes next.
Today, I am in the hospital, because my spouse has surgery scheduled. I told my students that I wasn't going to be there today. They didn't like that one bit, but they each handled it their own way. When I explained why I wasn't going to be there, they did get.
So here I am, sitting at the hospital while typing this, thinking about my students, that I bonded with so quickly.
I am happy to be back with them tomorrow, although I have to admit that sleeping in (7am!) was awesome this morning.
Have a great day!
Filed under: Teaching