So this post was originally going to be about my childhood. The challenges of growing up big, and the struggles I had overcoming that mindset as I grew older. But all that changed just a few minutes ago. I had a conversation with my Mom about a program that one of the daughters of a coworker is in. I took a look at the program and I’m very excited to say that I am going to be applying for this. As someone that has already finished my teaching certification this offers a chance to get my Master’s in Urban Education. But more importantly than that it offers the chance to make an impact in the Urban Schools that are struggling in Chicago. The Program is the Academy for Urban School Leadership, and it’s a one year program that would have me in the classroom four days a week with one day spent in graduate classes. The program uses a variety of things to promote achievement, and to develop the skills of the teachers in the classroom. Working with a mentor throughout the year I would get to perfect my skills and learn about how to run an urban classroom. But most exciting to me is the chance to use technology in the classroom. I have their promo video about something they call the TCH channel where videos of various members of the program are put up to highlight the best practices, and the exceptional work that is being done. Take a look:
If there’s one person that can be credited with the existence of this blog, and my desire to get back into the classroom again it is this person right here. The amazing and talented MochaMomma, between her and the rest of her very special family I found myself wishing that I was in that house everyday. And I still maintain that if she’d find me a spot at her school I’d be there in a heartbeat.
If there was one person that this blog owes its existence to it is Kelly. Thank you Kelly for that last little push to start writing and for the information on being successful at it. I’ve tried to follow your advice and do the kinds of things that will make people actually want to hear what it is that I’m talking about here. You have helped me in many areas and I have to thank you for being a role model of what I can be as an educator when I get back into the classroom. The dedication that you have for the kids in your school inspires me and the way that you go about taking on challenges to make their lives better is crazy and awesome. I love the passion you bring to life and your family is pretty awesome too. I don’t know that I would have done as well in the classroom had I not had your example to try to follow in caring about my kids. The laughter that you have brought into my life via messages, conversations, and even witty twitter remarks has brought many a smile to my face over the last year. I couldn’t sum up how I feel about having you as a friend. Thank you for everything, you’ve been a huge part of where I am now.
Sometimes when I talk about my story people look at me with a bit of disbelief when I talk about the fall of 2011. Especially when I’m talking to other teachers that remember the stress of their own experiences in the classroom, and I understand their doubts. Student teaching was a four month stretch of stress, feeling overwhelmed, and just trying to keep my head above water as I learned every lesson the hard way it seemed. When I headed into the classroom in those first days of the semester I realized that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had barely finished the On-Ramp class at Capital city, paid for my next 6 months of Crossfit and was still trying to figure out how Paleo was going to work for me day in and day out. But there I was with nothing to do but charge ahead and I had my goal after all. Lose the weight before the wedding in October. I wanted to look better for the wedding and I wanted to feel better and be healthier than I was. I look back now and question my planning on this decision. Throughout the semester I had many challenges, I was teaching one subject that I was not very experienced in, still working part time as a Park Ranger, and trying to fit in Crossfit workouts and stay on track food wise. Somehow I managed to make it work but I don’t know how, I guess you could say that the motivation to not fail was greater than the temptations to slack off. My day was broken down into chunks of time that I felt I could manage. I got up every morning and made breakfast, packed my lunch, got ready and headed out the door for the short walk to the school I was teaching at. After arriving I generally had about 45 minutes before I had to teach my first class. I made whatever copies I had to, checked in with both teachers I was working with. Yes I had two different teachers evaluating me, just another stress to have to function within two systems and switch back and forth between what each expected of me. And then get ready for my first hour seniors in Sociology. I had three classes of Sociology and two of US History. In all I never spent back to back hours in the same room, moving back and forth between two classrooms and a closet that I sometimes used as an office, and was doing three preps for the two subjects I was teaching. When my day was over at 3:30 I was hitting the door to do the short walk home. I had to get out the door so I could change and get out to Capital City for the first afternoon WOD at 4. I loved getting into that afternoon workout, it was a great group to workout with and I knew that I had to get back home because there was always lots of stuff to do waiting on me. After doing the WOD, hanging out for a few minutes and recovering a bit, it was back home for my evening block of work. Every night I cooked a large meal so that I could take my lunch in with me the next day. School lunches are not even remotely Paleo so I avoided that place like the plague. Then I would set up the table with some coffee and some water and get to work. Lesson planning, grading, creating the various materials that I would need, all my work needed to be done before I could head to bed.
The system worked because I put structure to my day, and tried to focus on what was ahead of me without getting too focused on everything else that I couldn’t control. I made time for the things that I felt were most important, student teaching and its required work came first, then Paleo and Crossfit, then any sort of social life. I sacrificed lots of social interaction because I knew that if I was going to be successful I had to measure my time carefully. By giving myself a plan and sticking to it, and also creating lots of lists of things that needed to be done I was able to make sure that my life didn’t go completely crazy while I was trying to get things done. I took pride in my work and knew that while I was in the school I was there to teach and also to learn. The students and I had a great relationship as we worked towards getting through the material. I will admit that I loved all of the students that were a part of my classroom. I have a few seniors that graduated and are at colleges but stay in contact. I’m amazed at how such a simple system could work so well and keep me from going completely crazy during a time where it felt like I had a million things to do and no time to do them in. The hour a day at Capital City was a savior. During that time I got rid of all of the other cares in my day and could focus just on getting through that WOD. Pushing myself harder and harder I was constantly getting better and on those days when I felt like the pressure was just too much. The workout was the release valve and I came home ready to pick things back up and try again. I wasn’t always the best at keeping everything going perfectly and I made one major sacrifice for those months, sleep. I never got a full night’s sleep, and I wish that there would have been a way to include more sleep in my life, but I pushed through and in the end I was able to accomplish more than I ever thought possible when I started.