Forget keeping my head above water -- first year teaching is like trying to build a ship while stranded in the middle of the ocean... and trying to keep 160 students afloat on said ship (plus myself).
Supposedly, 2nd year teaching is miles easier than 1st year teaching. I also assume that things gradually get better over this first year leading into the second year. Improvement is not a step-wise function. I think.
It's Week 9, and in a tiny, tiny way, Week 9 teaching is easier than Week 3 teaching.
I haven't quite pinpointed what has made it easier, but my hours spent working are more productive and efficient now than it was 6, 7, and 8 weeks ago. Whoo.
I am letting myself down in several ways that I cannot blame the kids for. I have an ideal classroom and lesson in mind and have never come anywhere near my mental image. I'm still getting my ish together in terms of figuring out what to teach 6th graders. I am just now understanding "I do, We do, You do". I am just now wrapping my head around procedures and am nowhere near successfully (100%) implementing procedures. I'm practicing staying patient with students, exerting my authority on students, being consistent and explicit in my expectations... yeah, all that stuff.
I don't do great every day. In fact, I kinda suck every day. But I'm moving forward an inch at a time. I'm learning. I'm learning the hard way, but the best way. I'm trying not to permanently damage any students along the way.
One last thing -- just when I had another round of "screw it, what's the point anyway?" failure feeling wash over me, I received a text message from a former student of mine thanking me for helping him in chemistry. This was a year ago and I had almost forgotten about him because we only had a few tutoring sessions here and there... I pulled him out of class once, went over homework at a cafe after school twice, and took him home once. One year later, he thanks me telling me that it meant a lot to him...
It's the small things. I gotta teach for the small things right now. Maybe the small things will lead to big things one day... that one day is neither here nor now. That text message was a thank you for a small thing; that text message is a here and now. I'm teaching for the small things.
Alright, Week 9. Let's do this.