Home > Cambridge, Career, Reflection > Everything’s okay (but it’s completely overwhelming)

Everything’s okay (but it’s completely overwhelming)

Day 2 of first grade is over and it went relatively well.  My kids seemed about as well-behaved as other people’s kids, and we started to do some learning.  While no moment of the day feels out of control, I have to admit that the sum total of the day is drowning me.  I go from activity to activity, running each reasonably well, but I have absolutely no sense of where I’m trying to go or how I hope to get there, so the activities end up feeling like just that – activities to keep both me and the kids busy.  My entire approach to teaching is based on knowing, caring about, and communicating the “why” of what we’re learning, and without that, I feel like I’m just going through motions – playing teacher without actually being a teacher.

On the surface, this seems like a fixable problem – I just need to figure out where I’m headed and I’ll be fine.  It doesn’t feel that easy in practice though.  I am overwhelmed by how much I have to learn – terminology, structures, procedures, state expectations, county expectations, school expectations, in every subject – and by how much I have to remember about the educational theory and practice I’ve learned but haven’t used in 9-10 months – or ever.

And amid this information overload I’m struggling with a tremendous sense of isolation and a sharp sense of loss for my social situation during student teaching.  I ran into a lot of classroom management, lesson planning, and general uncertainty while in Cambridge, but one important difference between then and now was that I had a built-in, highly-interested support group to help me process my day.  During the day I could talk with my assistant teacher, my mentor teacher, or chat with other teachers during the school’s morning break or the hour-long lunch.  In my new school I spend all day alone with my kids, or if I’m not with my kids I’m in a tightly scheduled meeting.  There seems to be very little built-in adult contact within the building.  And it’s not good for me to come home and spend the evening by myself.  I need time for solo reflection, but without some interruption or chance for social processing, I risk getting caught up in discouraging thoughts.  I knew in Cambridge that our daily dinners at the local pub were valuable, but now that I don’t have them I see just how important they were to my resiliency and success in the classroom.  I don’t know how I could replicate this social contact in my new environment, so for now, awareness of the differences will have to be enough.

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