Friday, September 23, 2011

first years

Oh my goodness.  I don't even know where to start- my sleepless brain keeps knitting together blog posts that I never have time to write, which is good because if put down on paper I'd probably learn that they don't make any sense.  The last blog post I manged to hit publish on had a broken link, which I never did get around to fixing. Life has changed a bit.

I'm loving life as a new mommy, but at times I start to have the feeling that I've been here before. Finally I realized that this whole experience reminds me a lot of my first year teaching. I hadn't thought about those first year emotions in a long time- I've just relished in loving my job. Until now I'd forgotten exactly how hard it was starting out.

Before my daughter was born, and before I started my first year I certainly felt like I had all the answers. I'd read the books, knew the theories, and felt ready for the new experience. Then it hit and I realized that nothing could begin to prepare me for the actual experience. Theory is one thing- but actual practice is totally another.

The thing that's hard in both situations is that just weeks before I'd been confident and set in my life. Then suddenly everything is turned upside down and that confidence is turned upside down. I think that's the scariest part- not knowing for sure when you'll get the confidence back. There are no books that can tell you when you'll start to feel like yourself again.

The learning curve is huge. As a first year teacher and a new mommy I'd look at my charges and feel overwhelmed with emotion- I love them so much and think they are such great kids. Why do they have to suffer through my learning curve?  They deserve a better first grade/new beginning to life than suffering through me learning what to do.

And the judgement- so many different theories out there. No matter what you do you'll never make everyone happy and someone will be there with a raised eyebrow and a "really? That's the choice you're going to make?" It can drive a person to drink. (Which was an option first year teaching- not so much now.)

Luckily people have been far more supportive of new mommy-ness than my first year teaching (I didn't work at the think-tank yet). Right now I'm feeling good and starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of this- sleeplessness and all.  It certainly took much, much longer for me to feel that way about my first year teaching.

There was so little support then- and what came being called "support" really was judgmental teammates who had little patience for a new learning curve. There was a lot of "I can't BELIEVE you're not doing guided reading correctly!" when no one had ever told me how to do guided reading. The closest I got to thinking that life would be better was buying an LSAT book and starting to study. But slowly it got better- I found my groove, managed to close my ears to negative attitudes and realized that I could do it.

I'm thankful that my new mommy learning curve has not been nearly as painful as that first year, but it has made me think a lot about those first year teachers. We've got to do more to support them, if not for the teachers themselves for their students and the future students they'll teach in  years to come. Not all new teachers have painful first years, but many do. The learning curve is ridiculously steep and those of us who have been around a long time tend to forget how difficult it is to keep all the balls in the air those first few months. The sink or swim belief that teachers are born and not made leaves a lot of students behind, along with a lot of would-be-great teachers.

Now if you'll excuse me- someone is crying and I have yet to figure out why. One of these days I'll learn how to write, proofread, and be a mommy, but for now the proofreading is what is going out the window- forgive me!


Anonymous said...

I love this! All so true!
And your readers will most certainly forgive the mommy-brain typos. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I'm in my first year teaching now, and I've had many evenings filled with tears over not feeling in control of my middle schoolers. It's so reassuring to hear that someone who is a great teacher today was once in my shoes.

magpie said...

I never cried until I started teaching.
I ran back to my old job after 2 terms.
6 years later I tried again.
Much better ☺ The support was much better too.☺☺☺

Sneaker Teacher said...

Congrats on becoming a mommy! We have so much in common! I would be so interested to talk to you about working on your doctorate with a new baby...I am due in March and will be doing the same!


molly said...

i think teaching is both an art and a science. the best teachers, are born with understanding the art of it, but all teachers need to know the science of it too. we need the studies, the research, the seasoned teachers advice...that's the part i still (in my 3rd year of teaching) know i do not have enough of. it's amazing how hard it has been to get people to teach me how to do things like guided reading groups without also having to deal with the critical looks on their faces when they hear what i have been doing. it helps to know you were there once too.
i haven't cried this year yet so maybe things are getting better, but we're only 4 weeks in. :) enjoy your baby girl.

organized chaos said...

Sneaker Teacher,
Congrats on the new baby! That's so exciting :) You will love being a mommy.
I actually took this whole year off from working on my doctrate. I knew I couldn't teach, be a new mom, and get my classwork done. I plan to reassess next year. I feel like that's not the advice you're looking for...