Friday, November 28, 2008

What I'm thankful for

I know, I know, it's been a very long time since I've posted. I'm sure my fellow teachers, at least, will forgive me, however. They know how busy a teacher's life really is, and can empathize. The first thing I want to say I'm thankful for, then, is Thanksgiving break! It allows me a couple of days to just catch my breath and relax before jumping back into things on Monday. I'm further grateful that my sister had to work yesterday (the day itself), so that our family is having the actual Thanksgiving dinner today. This allowed us to not worry about traveling across the state on Wednesday evening, and we could take our time and do it by daylight on Thursday. (I'm further thankful that this has been a pretty mild winter so far, and we didn't have to deal with snow or any other messy weather crossing the passes.)

Now that we have those immediate and preliminary thanks out of the way, let's get to what's really important, which is also my oh-so-subtle way of updating my readers on how the new job has been going.

  • I am thankful for a supportive family that is happy to see me get what I've been wanting for so long. I am especially thankful for my wife, who agreed to make this big jump with me.
  • Speaking of my wife, I am thankful for the excellent medical benefits I now have, which give her the opportunity to get some of the help she has needed for so long. I am also thankful that I can — and will soon — go in and get a check-up and some badly needed dental work.
  • I am thankful for our new house, and that we now live in a community that is much more affordable than the one we left. While it's going to be a very long time before we can pay off our debts, at least we're no longer losing money, and can start some modest savings.
  • I am thankful that I am now working in a small district. It's a lot easier to get stuff done here, I suspect, than it would iin some of the larger districts that I used to work in.
  • I am thankful for a wonderful, supportive staff who can swoop in and help me out when I am floundering, or answer any of the dumb questions I have.
  • I am thankful for a terrific principal who has the time and patience to help me out, and continually reminds me of what I am doing right instead of focusing on everything I'm doing wrong (I obsess about those enough already). He recently gave me my latest evaluation, and on a scale of 1 (needs a lot of help) to 4 (an expert), it came back almost all 3s, with a couple of 4s and some 2s, which he pointed out I'm already taking steps to improve on.
  • I am thankful for my students, who are fun to work with and teach. Despite some of the "new teacher" syndrome, I really feel like I am building some good relations and trust with many of them. I especially liked having one student who would check up on me before she started basketball practice while I was working late this week grading tests and preparing the final first semester grades. Her sense of humor was a much needed break and grounding in the real world.
  • I am thankful for the other math teacher who is retiring at the end of this year, because that pretty much ensures that I will have a job here next year no matter what. However, I'm also thankful for the strong indications already that they want to keep me on anyway, to give me that job stability that I have needed for so long.
  • I am thankful for the Friday afternoon staff trainings, which are going to allow me to renew my certificate again much more easily than last time.
  • I am thankful for the math curriculum we are using. It's well organized and pretty straightforward for a still-not-quite-sure-what-he's-doing teacher to use. It also doesn't pile too much onto students at once, and the homework has lots of built-in review, instead of focusing on just the current topic. I am further thankful for the support and resources that the publishers put up on the web for not only teachers, but also students and parents. In case you're interested, by the way, go take a look at

I will not go so far as to say it's all peaches and cream. I'm still putting in long days, and even doing some work over the weekends, to stay on top of things and one step ahead. I also have one class that has quite a few disruptive students who are making it hard for me to teach and the rest of the students to learn, but again I have some help there and some new things I'm going to try. I'm still paranoid that this is all going to be whisked out from under me, but that's gradually becoming quieter, and my confidence is growing. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not substituting, and I need to take a much longer look down the road, both with my students this year and my career. But in general, I feel really good about being here and doing what I do, and I'm starting to look forward to what's coming up.

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