Our first full week of class is nearly over. It's been a whirlwind, and I kind of feel like a first year teacher again. By the end of last year, I had a good rhythm going and an organization that I was happy with. Taking 2 months off in the summer throws everything to the wind and I no longer have that rhythm. I know it will come back eventually, but for now, it feels sort of like I'm continually treading water and going no where.
I am starting a new organization system for notes/homeworks for myself. Last year, I used a binder for each class. Each day's materials were in a page protector, which included notes, answer keys and occasionally an actual written lesson. This worked, however, I am finding that I want to re-do some worksheets to use for this year, but am not ready to throw out the answer keys of the old ones. Thus, a dilemma. My page protector method was great, but it doesn't allow for the flexibility and movement I really need. So I am in the process (this will take all year) of switching everything to manilla folders. A green hanging folder holds each "unit" and within that are 2-3 manila folders: one for notes, one for worksheets, and one for tests and quizzes. Most of my department uses this technique, so I'm going to try it. Who knows, next year I might switch back to the binder/page protector method. Either way, I am still keeping a separate binder for each class of originals--makes photocopying (and stealing from my other classes) way easier!
Despite taking a cell phone from a student on Monday... and a second one (complete with being cursed at) on Wednesday, this week is shaping up to boost my self-esteem. Many of my students from last year have made a point of coming to see me and chat about their classes and summers. As my first class ever, they will forever hold a special place in my heart. In addition, a co-worker gave me a wonderful compliment: telling me yesterday that she was so impressed with what I did last year and that she couldn't believe how well I handled my first year! This was an awesome compliment coming from someone who has taught for nearly 20 years.
To top all of these warm fuzzies off, was today. I had a student last year who has had some true hardships in her life. I have told her story to my friends and family, putting most of them in tears. I was lucky enough to earn her trust last year, and she would come to me with various problems/concerns/joys/etc. Near the end of the year, she had to transfer to another school district. I was so disappointed to see her leave, but made sure she knew my door was always open. I received a couple emails before school ended, but hadn't heard from her all summer. Today, her boyfriend stopped into my room at the end of the day. She told him to ask me if I would come to her soccer game, which was at my school! I couldn't believe it... one of my former students remembered me, of all her teachers, and wanted me to be at her game. This was the best thing I could have asked for! It made me believe that I can and am making a difference to my students and that even if they don't learn any math from me, that I have mattered to them. And that... that is the kind of stuff they can't test for and the stuff that is even more important than what the Pythagorean Theorem is or how to do a two-column proof.