I’ve had an incredibly difficult start to the school year. In fact it’s been a real nightmare! Thankfully things finally seem to be gelling and coming together in a positive way! My morning class has been ok, but my afternoon class has had me pulling my hair.
I started a new job as a kindergarten enrichment teacher this fall in a program I formerly was only responsible for art enrichment one day a week. That means that not only do I teach art, but I teach the entire curriculum from literacy, to math and science, to Spanish. (I try to approach it all from an arts perspective, because I strongly believe visual arts, music, movement, and drama really are fundamental ways that we learn and retain information.) I was hired last minute, and I had to hire two assistants even more last minute(!) from a very sparse pool of applicants. However, the worst thing has been that I have a very unfortunate mix of children that are “like chalk and cheese” to borrow a phrase from my new favorite TV show (Doc Martin: which I’ve absolutely needed to watch every Friday night to decompress). I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole in terms of behavior issues the entire first month. I’d get one situation in hand and suddenly have two or three more pop up, and even with help from assistants we were barely treading water. As my supervisor put it quite aptly, “Your students are positively feral!” After a month, two children that provoked the majority of behavioral issues left the program which was a huge help. I still had my work cut out for me to shape up the rest of the “major players”, but finally that really seems to be happening! Most of my students are actually super sweet, cooperative, and wonderful, but the difficult ones seem to make the great kids invisible, primarily because they create so much stress and drama. I have been so exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, and it finally feels as if my life is getting back to normal and my energy and my smile are back!
When I got this job I was really happy because instead of coordinating several part time jobs I’d have one full time job in one location. I was also happy because I’d finally be making a living wage after quite a few years struggling and piecing together part time jobs. Soon I found myself thinking, “How am I going to make it to the end of the school year, I barely have the wherewithal to make it to the weekend!” I wanted to quit. The work I’d had the past few years as an art educator (which I’ve shared with you in this blog) had been demanding, and time consuming, but it was energizing and most importantly fun! All I could think of was that I had given up something that had really made me happy. I wanted to go back to my homeschool students. I wanted to be teaching art exclusively instead of being responsible for the whole curriculum. I felt guilty knowing that having a new teacher would be another upheaval and set back for this group. Then I began to realize my supervisor was considering firing me. She never came out and said it, but I sensed it. I realized I didn’t even care if I got fired. In fact it would have been a relief, and I kind of wish she had! Now that things are finally going well, I know I’ll make it through the school year. There will probably always be challenging moments or the occasional difficult day, just as there always are no matter how great your job is, but as long as things are mostly hunky dory I know I can muster up what’s required.
I’m still feeling as if I’m barely treading water in terms of all of the requirements of my job, but that’s definitely par for the course with a new job. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but today was the first time I got home from work early and had the time to write it!
Despite all of the challenges I do have some photos to share! There have been some activities that students have enjoyed and had fun getting creative!