The Graduation Rollercoaster

I received my cap and gown in the mail last week and I could not have been happier. After all my hard work in school, graduation is almost here! A few days later I received my honor cords and tassel pin from NSLS and I was beaming. After all these years, here I am, about to graduate with my Masters with honors. My husband has been nothing but proud of me throughout this whole process and he tells anyone and everyone that I have a 4.0 GPA, that I truly enjoy what I am doing, and that I am going to be an amazing teacher. Honestly, I have never been more excited than right now.

And yet…..

I think I’ve been feeling a little down for the last week or two. I have applied to a few jobs, which admittedly have been long shots, and there has been no response. I will begin to broaden my horizons to more realistic goals once school is over for the summer. I contemplated taking some summer classes, even enrolling in a few, but have since changed my mind. I am currently in this weird limbo where I’m not sure what to do about adding more endorsements – start now or wait to see if my future employer can offer financial assistance. But, the biggest downer has been the fact I cannot find a summer job. Lame, right?

Then came the cap and gown, the honor cords, and the pin. Just the boost I needed! Look at me, with all these accomplishments! Nothing boosts the ego better than a little self-recognition. Then came the email stating all graduates will receive eight tickets. Eight tickets…. Eight? Who are these eight people I am supposed to invite? All I did know is that I needed to have my hubby and my bestie there. That was a given. Of course, his parents are going to come too. And that’s when my mind started playing its evil tricks on me. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I would not have parents there. I tried not to dwell on the fact that there would not be any of my relatives there. I focused on just how damn proud my hubby and bestie are of me. Their love, pride, and support are more than anyone in the world could ask for.

So, why the long face, Seabiscuit?

Because sometimes life can be lonely. And it sucks. And I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s not about feeling loved because I feel that tremendously. However, there is a certain solitude sometimes that is hard to explain. Recently I was reading an article about the most important things to do in your first year of teaching to avoid burnout. Suggestions like breathe, don’t be too hard on yourself, and over plan were the words of advice I expected. Then the article slapped me in the face with “Call your mom. She loves you and is proud of you. She will cheer you up and make you remember why you are doing this” or something along those lines. Thank you Education World, I appreciate that advice.

Needless to say, I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. Then yesterday my funk blew up into a temper tantrum that might rival that of a toddler. Why? I’ve just become overwhelmed with this sense of loneliness. I feel like an orphan on so many levels. And it’s hard to explain to people without sounding depressed or angry. I’m not depressed. At least I don’t think so. Although, I may be a little bitter. I’m bitter about lost connections. I’m saddened by people who stopped trying. Did I stop trying too? I suppose I have. I know life gets in the way for everyone, but there are some people who really try and others who just don’t. And that hurts.

I have been thinking (and overthinking) about everything and I do know there are plenty of people who support me and are proud of me. I am by no means saying I do not appreciate these people in my life; I really, truly appreciate them. But, I sometimes feel like I am standing in a crowded room of strangers. It’s kind of like arriving at a busy airport or train station looking for the person who is supposed to pick you up. You are surrounded by people, and often times they are nice and even helpful, but they are not who you are looking for. It’s that void, the anxiety of waiting for the person to pick you up, that I sometimes feel in life. It’s hard to explain and I’m not sure my analogy did it any justice, but it’s a start.

Here’s the irony of my situation. I wholeheartedly know that when my name is called at graduation my bestie will be cheering the loudest of anyone in the entire auditorium (I mean, have you met her??). I also know that I cannot wait to lock eyes with my hubby when I am standing on stage because I cannot wait to see that “You did it!” moment that will consume him. So why am I in a funk, you say. Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like it really comes down to an internal battle of quantity versus quality. Again, hard to explain; that was my best attempt.

I would apologize for the less than uplifting teacher blog post, except I’m not really sorry. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about all this and I just wanted to get the words out. It’s my blog and I can post my thoughts, whatever those may be…. Spoken like a true toddler wrapping up a tantrum….. *insert foot stomp here*. I guess what I am saying is that I needed a place to talk myself through this whole situation. There is a lot more to it that bothers me, but I know people have busy lives perusing much more entertaining social media outlets. So, if you did actual get to the end of this post, I would like to thank you for listening/reading. While I may not have clarity, I do feel better expressing my frustrations. And I suppose that’s a start.

 

Not Exactly a Walk in the PARCC

parcc

It’s been a while since my last post, mostly because my school schedule was inconsistent. We were on spring break for a week and then had two weeks of PARCC testing. For those of you not familiar with PARCC, I will quickly break it down for you. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The tests are brought to us by Pearson, of course, and are designed to do just what the title states – assess students’ readiness for college and career through math and literacy assessments. Students have three math tests, which average around 110 minutes, and three literacy tests, which average around 80 minutes.

During the two weeks of PARCC testing, the students’ schedules were rearranged to accommodate those with special needs and procedures as well as the overall quantity of students testing. Since I am a long term sub in a supplementary role, I was a 1:1 proctor for a 6th grader in the mornings. The rest of my days consisted of homeroom monitoring and lunch duty. Given the inconsistent schedule, student behavior was less than desirable over these two weeks.

My biggest take away from this was my lunch duty. I was covering two lunch periods during PARCC, which was two too many. Aside from the overall NOISE in the lunchroom, the students are quite possibly at their worst. Many of them are disrespectful to each other as well as to teachers and staff. There are set rules and procedures that the students do follow, but their attitudes are on full display. And this had me questioning my ability to handle middle school. Additionally, the overall dynamic in the lunchroom is a little depressing. I was quickly transported to my own incredibly awkward youth. There are such defined boundaries in the lunchroom. It is easy to identify the different cliques and outcasts and the students are quite vocal about who sits where in the lunchroom. I also saw many students sitting alone, which had me wondering if their isolation was their choice or not.

Lunch duty had me longing to be in an elementary school. I began to focus only on the attitudes and misbehavior of the students at lunch, convincing myself this is how all middle school students behave. Then I ran into the 6th grader I was proctoring and he smiled and said hi to me at lunch. And the 7th grader from my 8th period said hi and asked when we would be having class again. I saw a few of my other students throughout the days during PARCC and they were all nice and friendly, unlike the unruly mob at lunch. I then began reflecting on my experience so far at this middle school. Things have been going well so far. Sure, it has been a little difficult and it has been a little outside my comfort zone. But, that was the plan, right? Explore my options, broaden my horizons, and so forth.

This week we are back to our normal routine, thankfully. I have taken the time to reiterate the day to day expectations for all my classes. I have reviewed my classroom rules and consequences for those not following the rules. For the most part, all my classes fell right back into the routine we had prior to PARCC, which has made me happy. Hopefully my turbulent two weeks was simply because of the scheduling changes and the testing. Hopefully things will return to a semi-normal state and I can really begin to reflect on my middle school experience. Just like with elementary, there are positives and negatives. I want to make sure I am weighing everything accurately so I can confidently apply for various teaching positions for next school year. And that in itself is an overwhelming and intimidating thought.