Being New

Posted: November 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
Balance beam

Photo by Ian Bailey-Mortimer used under creative commons license.

So, I’ve been thinking about being new. And, off-balance. This has nothing to do with the fact that I continue to wear heels more often than might be recommended.

It’s been a while since I’ve been really new at something, a job kind of something. I’ve been a teacher for a long time now. I’ve taught in public school and independent school, and I began my teaching life as a home-school teacher. I started classroom teaching in the Chicago Public School system (CPS) where I frequently changed grades. But, even if I was moved to a new grade, I was still teaching kids math and social studies, and language arts, and science. When I moved to an independent school it was a big shift in many ways. Yet, I was still teaching kids math and social studies, and language arts.

Now, I find myself in a totally new position– one that I actively sought out and was thrilled to get. And, I am trying to find my balance. The last time I was this new at a job was my first year at CPS. (Well, that and when my daughter was born, but that is a more private affair.) Challenging does not even begin to describe my first semester, ok my first year, in Chicago. There were probably  more than a few teachers and students who thought this girl will not last. There might have been a few family members who hoped I would move on quickly too.

As I continue to get my sea legs (which, I hope are the long, lean kind that stay in shape by themselves) I am reminded of many of those early days in Chicago. As much as I was not, and still am not, a perfect teacher (or anything else) I did get a lot better. I established myself as a dedicated and effective teacher who knew and supported her students. Ultimately, I earned the respect of the community. A parent once told me, as a compliment, “you know, you don’t look like you could keep those kids inline, but I told people you know what you’re doing.” I stopped having to work so hard at the basics of crowd control and got to spend my time and energy on being a good teacher. I worked really hard to get that teacher vibe thing; some people just have it. They walk into a room and kids are quiet, no matter what. I wasn’t born with that. I found some here and there over the years, but it was never totally easy. I am proud of a lot of the work I ultimately did  in my years with CPS.

Now years later, I find myself back in beginner mode. I have high standards for myself and am not interested in doing what I will officially refer to a “slack-ass” job. Since I can’t buy, beg, or steal anyone else’s experience, I guess I will just keep doing my best and gaining my own experience.

I’ll keep you posted.


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