I accepted my current position at Lansing Middle School in December of 2014. I was SO lucky to find such a fantastic job, especially at semester! I had two weeks of Christmas break to prepare; finding all of the stuff I had hoarded in college, emailing everyone I knew about teaching choir and trying to throw together syllabi, procedures and assignments.
When I interviewed, I was filled in on how much I would be responsible (my interviewing committee was comprised of awesome people, my supportive principal, my life-saver assistant principal and my mentor/music partner in crime, the band director. They told me I had 2 classes of 6th grade music appreciation (I hate the term music appreciation…I prefer “music exploration!”), 2 7th grade choirs, 2 8th grade choirs and a show choir during a study hall. I also had the option of a before-school 6th grade choir, which I quickly started. I had a total of 40 6th graders and 110 singers (7&8 combined). I also started an after-school singing club, which allowed kids to come in and sing with very little structure: I played piano, they sang along.
Fast forward to now and I am much wiser. I made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of fun and am ready to go back for year 2. I had some experiences, that I will list, so people can see the whirlwind that teaching is.
1. Completely cleaning out a classroom, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. (Always the first thing to throw away: the Doritos left in your office from a Christmas party.)
2. Learning a whole new school system, new staff and new students while learning how to teach and finding my teaching personality. I’m lucky to have a wonderful staff and even better secretaries….lifesavers, for real.
3. Classroom management: When to be stern, when to be understanding. Equality vs. Fairness….it’s hard!
4. Parents. Parent Emails. Parents that aren’t very nice and parents that are SUPER AWESOME! They will make you feel like you’re the best teaching in the world or they will make you feel stupid or they will make you want to bawl you eyes out. You develop a thick skin, especially when email is so easy to hide behind for some.
5. Middle School Drama. Yes there are a lot of things that upset middle schoolers. Boys, girls, dances, lunches, teachers, classes, hobbies, sports, things to do, drugs, alcohol, bullying, failing classes, problems at home, puberty, changing schools, living near a military community…..every day it is something different.
6. Change. Some kids aren’t ok with change….I had a student who was so attached to the previous teacher that they wrote a petition to get me to leave so the old teacher would come back. Student relationships matter.
7. Time management. I live 40 minutes from where I work and this poses challenges. I can’t afford to miss an alarm or forget something at home. What I love about living far from school is that the drive from K-7 to I-435 to I-35 may pose some traffic issues at 5:00, but it allows me to mentally prepare for the day in the morning and unwind on the way home (after you swing by Sonic on the way home because after all, contract time ends during happy hour!)
You also need to manage your time at school. Copies need to be made, meetings need to be scheduled, kids need to be listened to or tested or auditioned. I’m lucky to have my plan, lunch and supervised study hall back to back to back in the middle of the day, PLUS super helpful students who like to do things for you.
*Side note: I had a 6th grade student in my Music Appreciation class VOLUNTEER to file, organize and catalogue my entire choral library. 600 pieces. He digitized everything and we are working on a scanner check-out system with recordings! He was THE BEST!*
8. Make time for you. It’s easy to stay at school until o’dark thirty but you will go crazy. If you spend too much time there, your cats will miss you, (at least mine did). You need to spend time away from school so you have something other than singing tests and the latest womens choir crushes to talk about on date night.
I love to bake, read by my apartment’s super awesome pool, go for walks with my boyfriend, attend craft fairs and play with my cats. These allow me to not think about school for 5% of my day.
9. Professional Development isn’t dumb. I love conferences and meetings. I love learning new things from new people. I’m a hardcore introvert so I really enjoy sitting in a room listening to a lecture. I have learned more from conferences than I ever did in college; practical things that I can use in my classroom every single day.
10. I don’t know everything. I won’t know everything. I have a million questions every day, which drives people crazy, I’m sure. I LOVE teaching and there is always something new for me to learn to pass on to my kids. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
So this is a small glimpse of what my blog for K-State will look like; a no-frills look at the wonderful world of teaching. I will post as many pictures (my kids LOVE taking selfies with me for some reason, I wish I could post them) and stories, because I love talking about my kids. They’re ornery and weird and funny and awesome, they’re my choir nerds 🙂
This is my combined choir at our end of the year “Pops Concert”