Monday, August 18, 2008

Let the Anxiety Begin

All summer long, my friends have been busy doing things like planning curriculum, shopping for their classrooms, and generally getting ready for the upcoming year. Me? Not so much. It worked out well for my procrastination that I didn't know what classes I was teaching or even if I'd have a classroom. However, it turns out there's a downside to shirking responsibility for two months. All the freaking out that my friends have been experiencing all summer long has been condensed for me into two short weeks (this is not to imply that all freak outs will cease as of August 25, but that the nature of said freak outs will change after my first day of teaching).

Last week was "Algebra Week," when my department spends five straight days tweaking the algebra 1 sequence. As soon as the department chair told me on Monday morning what I'd be teaching, the anxiety surged through me to the the point of psychosomatic reactions. At one point on Monday, I looked down at my hand to find it shaking uncontrollably.

On Wednesday, I met with the Geometry team and one thing the veteran teachers mentioned was to be explicit with the students that this will be a more intense course than algebra was, with a faster-paced curriculum that includes nightly homework. On Wednesday night, I had my first teaching dream of the new school year. It was the first day of school, near the end of my geometry class. I was trying really hard to use positive classroom management techniques (even though in real life they'd told me that classroom management would be much less of a concern in Geometry), but there were a few boy who were being obnoxious. I passed out the first homework assignment, and when I told the kids that about the increased homework load, one boy threw a chair at the wall. I snapped and yelled at him to get out, complete with a grand sweep of my arm and a finger pointing to the door. So much for positive classroom management.

In case that dream wasn't haunting enough, on Friday a conversation came up about when teachers had had to break up fights at school. One of my colleagues mentioned a teacher who had to break up a fight on the very first day of school--because a student threw a chair at the wall. Good lord. I do not like the precedent/premonition that this is setting.


Linda said...

Think of all the horrible things that can happen. Imagine them over and over. Then the first days will seem like a snap in comparison. Actually, that is probably really bad advice. You will do fine. Freaking out is not fun but will get better as time goes by. Just hang in there.
I love you.

Anonymous said...

It is happening for real! All your hard work and training are coming together and bearing fruit for this wonderful venture called "teaching"!Congratulations, teacher!

The wonderful thing about all this, is that you, and your students, will continuously learn from each other. May this bring out the very best in all of you, and bring you great joy!

Best wishes for your "first day" of school!


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm not sure positive management works with chair throwing anyway. Neither does snapping...

Look, at least you had an original anxiety dream.

I still have the "standing nude in front of the students and not knowing it" dream. Ugh.

And yes, 25+ years later, I still have those dreams.

If it's a great first day, that's great. If it's a lousy first day, there are so, so many others that will be great this year.

CONGRATS on the real start. You'll be wonderful.

Roni said...

Good point jen. How positive can you be about chair throwing: "Thanks for not aiming at Billy's head. Now try your aim out on a smaller target like a locker in the hallway"? Nothing wrong with telling a kid to get out. It is, after all, your workplace, too.

You'll be fine next week. Busy, but fine. I did the same wait-and-see plan this year and it paid off. Things turned out to be not quite what I expected and probably saved myself a few dozen hours of needless typing and planning.