Teaching

Trying Not to Psych Myself Out

 

It’s happening, folks–summer is coming to its official end, a point that is proved by the fact that I’ve been at the school all week fulfilling contract hours and getting my room ready and trying not to freak out about my next batch of victims, who will officially be starting school next Tuesday.

On all fronts, it appears that I’ll be having a bit of an easier year than last year (which shouldn’t be hard, considering that last year was the year from that-place-that’s-the-opposite-of-heaven). For starters, my class sizes are actually REASONABLE this time around; I mean, I actually already had desks in my room for all the students I wax expecting. Imagine that! In fact, the numbers I have in my Spanish classes have led me to shout more than one “Hallelujah!” every time I think about it.

To put things into perspective for you, my first year of teaching, I taught classes that ranged from 24 students to about 29 or 30. Last year, I didn’t have a single class with fewer than 30 students, and most of my classes were totally maxed out with 34 (which required me bringing in 4 extra desks, a feat that required some seriously creative finagling of furniture). This year, I don’t have any classes with more than 30 kids, and ALL of my Spanish classes have a range from 20 – 22. Hallelujah, indeed.

Secondly, this year should be a little easier because I know as of this very moment of only ONE “problem” student that I have, whereas by this same time last year, I already knew of about 11 (and really had about 45). So, using that same ratio as last year (only knowing of one-fourth of my behavioral problems), I should only have about 4 students this year who will give me ulcers and keep me up at night. Hey, I’ll take that number over 45 any day.

Third, my whole schedule has been changed this year so that I’ll be teaching twice the number of Spanish classes and one less Language Arts class each trimester. Basically what this means is that I’ll have a MUCH lighter grading load, as I won’t be having to read the 30+ twice-monthly major writing projects that would have come in as a result of having that other Language Arts class.

Fourth, everyone keeps feeling the need to reassure me that this year will be worlds different than last year, which has been kind of a double-edged sword–on the one hand, it’s nice to hear so many positive things about the group coming in, but on the other, it makes me wonder if everyone thinks I’m like this bomb that was bound to detonate soon if I didn’t get some reassurance that this group of kids was more manageable than the last. (And in all reality, had I heard that the incoming group was as hard as last year’s, I probably would have quit on the spot.)

All in all, I vacillate between being surprisingly unemotional and neutral about the upcoming year to being in a minor brain frenzy over the idea that it might just confirm, once and for all, that teaching 7th grade is just not for me, even if the kids aren’t so hard to manage as they were last year. I’m trying to stay positive, but I’m sure as next Tuesday draws ever closer, I might be a little freaked out about the endless possibilities of what could be.

Ah, how would it be to have a “normal” job where each fresh August doesn’t bring a sense of panic and uncertainty and an onslaught of out-of-control nightmares–what on earth would that be like?