It’s so hard to know where to start since my last post was from the first day of school!!! So, I’ll do my best to sum things up (pun intended :-)). I’m sure memories will resurface in other posts throughout the summer.
First the facts… this was my first year of teaching and I was assigned to teach Algebra 1 part 2 (lower level math class for 10th and some 11th graders) and Algebra 3 (12th grade). I was the only first year math teacher at the high school but fortunately there were a few new science teachers who were a great support. My district is considered “urban,” but is definitely not inner city. Although 87% of statistics are made up on the spot, I’m know I’m pretty close when I say that about 60% of our student population is economically disadvantaged. This is even more apparent in the lower level courses I taught.
Now that I’ve set the stage, here’s a quick recap of 1st semester: It was awful! I can look back on it now and laugh about how bad it was, but it really was a tough season of my life! I had to adjust to living by myself (quite a change from college life!), being a teacher (not a student!), working with older students (I student taught 7th and 8th grade), transitioning to eating non-mushy foods (still recovering from my jaw surgery in the summer), getting to know people at a new church and new financial responsibilities. I was overwhelmed to say the least. My life was completely absorbed by school; it hardly mattered when I left my classroom, because I knew I’d just be doing school work from the time I got home until I went to bed. I was miserable. But, God was faithful! Through my daily, period-by-period, struggle to make it through each day, God sustained me.
Over winter break, I had a great time visiting with family in Colorado. I am blessed with a fabulous loving and supportive extended family who encouraged me to stick with it and trust God through the struggle. I came back refreshed and eager to make changes in how I spent my time and how I viewed my job. I started taking a weekly cardio dance class and committed to going to a weekly young adult Bible study. As I slowly reached out to other people and carved out time for non-school activities, I found that things at school were going better. It was definitely a process, but God was revealing how to find my identity as “Ms. S” in Him. He had already taught me how to find my identity in Him when I was with friends, but now I had to relearn who I was when 50 eyes were looking at me. Gradually I felt like I was being myself in my classroom; my quirky, nerdy, enthusiastic, funny, sometimes serious personality was on full display in room 122. And, by the end of the year, I came to enjoy every minute of it, praising God for such a great transformation! I think I’ve learned more this year than I could have ever taught my students!
Since my blog name is “SongofJoy88,” I’m planning on including some sort of connection to music in each post. These lyrics from Jonny Diaz’s song “Yesterday” fit my first year of teaching well. Check them out as you listen to the song!
Yesterday was a big disaster, yesterday I was the boss
Yesterday couldn’t have gone faster, yesterday was one big loss
Yesterday I was the big dog, yesterday I was the tree
Yesterday I rolled with the punches, yesterday keeps hitting me
But the bridge has burned, the thing I’ve learned is:
Starting new with a brand new sunrise,
Moving on with the things I’ve learned
Amazing grace has made me realize
That yesterday is a page that’s turned
(… is a page that’s) turned me ’round and upside down and everywhere but free
But I thank God for grace, amazing grace, that it’s not based on me…
Lord You came and set me free…