Thursday, August 23, 2012

Coffee, Teaching, And Assorted Complaints: Not In That Order

It's not exactly a secret that being a teacher isn't the easiest job in America. Even though it seems like most of the country is oblivious to that fact, it's not a secret. That being said, the first week of every school year possesses its fill of challenges. And, being a new teacher adds volumes to each bump in the road. Now, even though technically it's not my first ride in this particular rodeo - this is actually the sixth year, in a row, that I've been forced to succumb to the sound of my alarm clock at what I consider to be an ungodly time somewhere between 'zero dark thirty' and noon (which seems to me like a much more appropriate hour to stumble out of bed) - [see exhibit A]. Well, "forced" may be a bit overkill considering that most days I really enjoy my job.

Today was not one of those days.

Despite what I consider to be sufficient experience molding the minds of young America, I am now in a new position and legally certified to instruct a whole new demographic of students - which makes me disappointingly considered a "new teacher." Now take the average complications that arise for any new teacher, or teacher in general, and multiply it by the fact that my chosen concentration involves more than one grade which presents its own set of scheduling issues, and that my students are second language learners and may or may not speak any English. The latter being the least of my worries since I happen to be highly qualified in the English subject area - or at least I have a couple pieces of paper that say so.

It seems a bit outlandish of me not to note that there are a ridiculous number of teachers working in poor conditions with limited resources who have it far worse, and on my best day in the classroom outshine, outdo, and out spell me. But, since this is about me, please just keep that in mind while classifying my complaints in the 'fairly trivial' category.

I'm the type of person that suffers from fits of stress over a random, nonsensical array of issues. Things like packing and making phone calls to persons unknown send me into inconsolable stress comas - paralyzed by irrational fear [see: A Suitcase Full of Anxiety]. Yet, I managed to make it through my entire Masters' program vaguely resembling a cucumber - unscathed with the exception of finally being hit with the 'Freshman 15' (only like 7 years late..). Bearing that in mind, I am suddenly convinced that being even slightly unorganized, unprepared, or unknowing will ultimately cause an irreversible developmental road block in my students' academic careers - the start of a downward spiral that will end somewhere in a shallow ditch, or worse, with the phrase "do you want fries with that?"

Since the first couple weeks of school are always touch and go, I know that I will suffer deeply for at least the next 8 days while I complete this once a year transition from leisure summer beachcomber to employed life changer. And, who likes to suffer alone? This is particularly unfortunate for my father, who happens to be my bosses' bosses' boss, and who I feel a strong need to share my catastrophic thought process with.

I think the titles of two of the e-mail strings we shared today say it all:

Worst Week Ever
Code Stress Level Tangerine

**Please note that there is no exclamation point added to the end of either of these subject lines - clearly these word groupings are emphatic enough without going overboard. I may have a flare for the dramatic, but even I know where to draw the line..

Usually my codes simply involve a color, but I thought it was important to expand given the circumstances. 

The first line of inquiry dealt with my amazing assistant being promoted and my concerns over who would replace her which transitioned into a philosophical debate over various teaching styles that I, of course, translated into meaning that the world was going to end. This resulted in the second thread that began with me ordering the immediate purchase of a purse from Bloomingdale's to combat the rising 'fight or flight' hormones brought on by stress overload. 

I feel bad for my father sometimes. He is acutely aware of my mood tendencies; when I am mad, I clean, and when I am sad, I shop - and when I am broke and/or stressed, he is obligated to shop for me. It's an agreement he may be unaware he made, but I strongly believe he signed it in blood the moment I popped, blue no less, from my mother. It goes something like, "until my daughter, Lindsay Faith, is swept off her feet by the man of her dreams I am responsible for the following," and that list extends in the same fashion as a cartoon declaration that unravels until it rolls across the room. 

My first instinct is always to go for new shoes, but since the sea foam round-toe pumps I repinned on Pinterest were sold out, I opted for the bag. 

My stress did subside at one point during the day when the attractive fellow from new teacher orientation replied to my e-mail titled:

Code Aquamarine

Case in point.

I realize that much of my stress is coming from technical issues that I have no control over, yet I simply cannot shake this ominous wave of anxiety. Although, I must admit, this could all just be my body chemically reacting to the comeback that caffeine is making in my system after a three month hiatus. Who really knows.


Exhibit A: In order to combat drowsiness due to my untimely departure from my over-priced and simply heavenly mattress, I have now purchased a coffee maker specifically for my classroom so I can hit the snooze button one more time each and every morning in its' honor.