Stand back, I am a pro-fessional.

Eighth grade was my favorite year of school. As far as my middle school friends and sports were concerned, that year meant we were top dogs. We were the smart ones. The ones who had survived the most awkward years of life. It was good to be on top. And then freshman year came and we were still so far away from college, still so close to middle school, and so much more awkward than we ever realized. Both freshman year of high school and college were a little rough for me. I don’t do well when I’m the newb. I like to know what I’m doing and smoothly transition — but that rarely happens. So of course, last year was not my favorite year of my professional life. Though it is the only year I have to my credit… But this year, the second year here at Bethel, it’ll be way different. I’m certainly not top dog, but at least I know how to use the copier and how to call parents!

After a fantastic summer of living and learning and traveling and loving, I’m back in the Dungeon. It’s good to be back for many reasons. Most of them consist of the fact that this isn’t my first rodeo. In a few short days, I will be starting my second year as a classroom teacher. I am both terrified and excited.

The summer has given me perspective on my role as a teacher. I’m constantly thinking about how I am perceived as a teacher and how I can do things different. But having so much time off has really given me time to step back and think about how I want my classroom to be, what I want my students to learn, and how I’m going to do it. The first year of teacher truly is survival. It’s about making it through the day and doing your best as far as getting kids learning is concerned. It’s rough, to say the least. But with a little help from my roommate, a great staff and administration, and many prayers from my “faithful” readers, I made it. And my students truly did excel last year. But it’s time to get down to business and really bring it this year.

I sat down for about an hour yesterday to re-write some lesson plans (because the H drive, my personal spot on the network, crashed over the summer I have had to start over on a few things). And let me tell you, all those teachery things came back. It was second nature to determine what activities my students need, what concepts they’ll need to work on, how many whole class and small group activities I’ll need… It just came back and I know that what I’m doing this year will be both smooth and beneficial for everyone involved. My lesson plans even look completely different: there’s no script. There’s no frivolous words. Just a list of what needs to happen, where I can find it, and how I can do it. Done and done.

I spent two hours with the new English teacher yesterday. She’s 23 and just graduated from UCO. She’s a mom but still: she’s a newb in the classroom. I already love her to death. She’s funny and loud and ready to get down to business. But she’s also terrified and has no idea where to start. We spent a lot of time talking about the first day and what to include on the syllabus and how to organize time in the classroom. I do not pretend to completely know what I’m doing, but talking to someone who was basically me at this time last year is so refreshing. I have learned stuff. And I’m past the freakout stage. I really hope that I can help the new teacher to not make the same mistakes I made last year. I spent most of my first semester treading water while kids dunked me under. And it was not pleasant for anyone. I am hoping she doesn’t do the same.

My room may still be a hideous yellow and white, there may be mold growing in the corner, and my dry-erase boards WILL NOT COME CLEAN, but you know what… It’s good to be back in Wildcat country. It’s good to be starting my second year.

Here’s to being a professional for once!

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