Teaching in the Bush – 8 Weeks In

Eight weeks ago, I waited in my classroom for my first students to arrive – slightly nervous, mostly excited and completely unaware of what my students would be like. Today, I sit in an empty classroom looking back in time and setting goals for the coming quarter.

Like most new teachers, I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering if I am good enough to actually facilitate my students’ learning; I’ve been buried under new terms like: EOLs, DART, iCommunity, SIPs, HSGQE, SBAs, QAS, and that’s before even considering what at first felt like a byzantine system of standards. There have been moments when it feels like I’m drowning in a sea of work, frustration and anxiety. Thankfully though, I’ve gotten the professional and personal support that I need from my mentor and friends so that those frustrations and anxieties have been minimized which allows me to focus on teaching.

I have a better idea what I need to do in order to promote success in my classroom. There are concrete steps and goals that I have in mind and they are all small enough that none is overwhelming in and of itself; that’s important from a sanity perspective. I’ll provide better visual tracking of my students’ progress so that they know what they have to do, I’ll set clearer expectations, I’ll have a timeline published for expected progress. Most of my students are visual learners and I will do a better job catering to that.

It’s nice to have an idea of what I want to do and the feeling that I CAN make it there. That feeling certainly makes sitting in an empty classroom on a Sunday afternoon easier. It makes the noises of bush planes, Hondas and dirt bikes on their way to grand adventures less enticing. Sadly, those are adventures that I never take enough personal time to experience myself. Oh well, I suppose that after the next quarter is over, I’ll need another set of goals – might as well make that a personal set.

Working Sunday

Things kids say…

Every week, I work with my social studies classes to learn maps. My Intro to US class is learning all of the states and in addition to names, capitals and abbreviations, I’m trying to teach them a little bit about the history of each state. This week, we added Utah to our maps and I touched on Mormonism and mentioned that they had to give up polygamy to become a state.

After explaining what polygamy was to a group of middle-schoolers, one of them piped up: “But wouldn’t they run out of women?” I nodded my head. “So some of the men would have to marry men?”

Moments like that, when I can hardly stop myself from falling on the floor laughing are what keep me going.