Wednesday began the new semester, and with that, my new course: Post-Secondary Prep. Can I just say that I'm totally loving it? I know - we're only a few days into the semester, but I really am enjoying myself and my students. I think they're feeling the same way.
I have always loved to read and write - for pleasure. That enjoyment seemed to easily translate into teaching English, at least, it made sense when that whole become a pediatrician - oh wait, you have pass calculus and organic chemistry to become a doctor? realization hit me smack in the forehead. What better than to teach what you love to do? Welp, it's not that simple. First of all, lets all rewind back a few years back to when we were sitting in those desks for six hours a day and our teacher was telling us that we had to read the first three chapters of A Tale of Two Cities. Remember the groan and suck of teeth, the silent promise never to read a single page because who gives a flying fart about some French peasants and aristocracy. I mean, what does that even mean - aristocracy? Remember locating the Cliff's Notes (cause there wasn't an Internet back then), scanning the synopsis and trying to skate by?
I do. I remember all of it. In fact, I remember not reading one single book in its entirety for all four years of high school except for All Quiet on the Western Front. Go figure. Now imagine trying to be the adult standing in front of those teeth-suckers and getting them to read a book they don't particularly want to read. And then imagine getting them to write a proper essay about the book they never read. Yeah. Right.
Despite dragging dead carcasses through quicksand (cause sometimes that's what it feels like being an English teacher), I did enjoy myself. I did not enjoy the endless paperwork or the grading, but I did enjoy getting students to identify with characters and attempt to get them to see something about life, perhaps even their life, within fiction.
But those days are done. And I'm nothing but smiles because now I get to be less of a teacher and more of a counselor. I was once accused of being a "cheerleader" instead of a teacher. One of my supervising teachers said this of me in my final semester of student-teaching. I challenged her asking what was so wrong with being a cheerleader. I wanted to know why that was an issue. I don't remember her answer; clearly it wasn't memorable. I think counseling students is a lot like being their cheerleader. In my new role, I get to take on those traits.
Eight years in and having recently ditched the traditional English teacher role, I think I'm coming into my own. I've found the capacity in which I'm supposed to teach. I get to help students look inward and question their values and what they want from life. I get to help them seek out the very best pathway that suits their dreams and aspirations, while illuminating possible roadblocks and challenges, and aiding them in attempting to create a framework so that they have a map for life after they leave the relatively safe haven of high school. Yesterday we discussed ground rules for discussions about controversial topics. We talked about the skills necessary to engage in a conversation where one party does not agree with the other. They were brilliant. They spoke about respecting one another, and questioning the topic rather than attacking the person. After we were comfortable with the rules, I lead them right into the fire - I told them they were going to discuss abortion and whether or not it should be legal.
They amazed me with both their candor and maturity. They policed one another making sure no one interrupted and they worked hard to stay on topic and avoid tangents. By golly, they were talking to each other with respect, and they were listening. They were actually listening to one another. And I loved every minute of it.
Three days in, and I love this class more than any other I've ever taught. It is my creation, my baby, and my students have embraced it (so far) with open arms.
In other news...
I'm down another pound or so!! Pat on the back. When I got up this morning it was too early, of course, so I had me-self a banana and natural peanut butter, then hit the gym. Yay for free passes. I ran 2 miles on the treadmill then did some weights. It's been a week since starting the challenge and I feel wonderful. I hit Whole Foods last night for this week's groceries and again, I did not break the bank. Yeah, baby - this woman is rocking it. I also brought home a peanut butter and chocolate bar for Big Red. Yes, it was organic made from angel wings, or something like that - but the guy deserved something for his willingness to go along with my dinner meals - the most recent of which was a flavorless meatless meatloaf. FAIL.
I recently read a friend's post, "Change Will Do You Good," on her blog Remission Statement. Mia writes about getting rid of her plastic storage containers and replacing them with glass. After reading her post, it got me to thinking about all the yuckiness out in the universe and today I purchased my first round of glass storage bowls. I plan to add more in the future. Mia also gives links to some other really cool finds that are both safe and reusable. Speaking of reusable, Big Red and I, after almost two years in this house, are FINALLY recycling. I got another trash can that would fit behind the one we have in the kitchen, and now that second trash can is the designated recycling bin. Inconvenience is no longer an issue - go us!