Hello, Oakland.

I'm back in what feels like "home"--California. Namely, the Bay. And I'm living the dream! How many people can honestly say they live where they've always dreamed of living and have a job doing what they trained for and have been wanting?

It's hard, man. I knew it would be hard... I wanted it to be hard... but damn, you sure don't know hard until you're truly in it.

My routine looks like this:

Get out of bed at 6:20 a.m.
On autopilot, turn on some happy music and groggily put the kettle on the stove and grind coffee beans.
Make coffee, have granola with a banana and honey in milk.
Drink coffee.
Put on a slammin' professional-yet-young and hip outfit. And high heels.
Drive 10 minutes to work (whoo!).

Get to work between 7:30-7:40.
Prep until 8:30.
Teach back to back blocks of Chemistry.
Prep for one block.
Teach (run, play, herd kids, cheer kids on-aka get them to participate) P.E. for one block.
Eat free lunch in the lunch room.
Teach another block of P.E.
Teach another block of Chemistry.
(Mon/Tues) Tutor for an hour, teacher-y things until anywhere between 4:30-6:00
(Weds) Do teacher-y things until anywhere between 4:30-6:00
(Thurs) Meeting for an hour, teacher-y things until anywhere between 4:30-6:00
(Fri) Meeting for two hours, teacher-y things until 4:30 or so

Get home. Rest. Eat a delicious meal prepared by the boyfriend and/or my sister in our wonderful home.
Teacher-y things from 9:00pm-11:pm.

(Saturday) Actively block out thoughts of work.
(Sunday) Continue to actively block out thoughts of work until 4pm. Then work from 4pm-10pm.

And damn. Not only is that 12 hours of work each week day, but it's 12 hours of pretty hard work. It's hours of putting together the best lesson plans that I can given that I have no curriculum to follow and little to no science resources (70 chemistry students and only 7 chemistry textbooks. No glassware. No chemicals.), and only a couple hours to put something together each night. I'm doing kitchen chemistry with sand that I collected at the beach, glass vases and empty jars I found around the house, and random coins I collected in my travels from other countries. I keep my energy up to run and play games with students at P.E. and stretch my brain for activities to do with them with nothing but a small parking lot for play space, a box of chalk, 9 jump ropes, no balls, and a frisbee. Mind you, this is P.E. with high school students, not little, easily-amused children.

And then there are the students who are acting out of line, the daily battles, the power struggles, the individual cries for attention and help ("Miss April, is this right?" "I finished!" "Where do I put the homework?" "No, you ain't takin' my phone!" "What time does this class get out?" "I'm hot! I want water!" "No, I don't have to listen to you!").

And there's the emotional toll of working with Oakland youth. Knowing in the back of my mind that I see one tiny piece of my students' lives each day, but that after they leave my classroom and leave our school, some are dealing with very grown-up issues--like being the main breadwinner of their family, having to show up to court dates, homelessness, violence on their commute to school, turning their life around after substance abuse periods in their lives, repeating freshman year for the third time, being in foster care and transitioning to moving into their own apartment now that they're 18 years old...

Today was my 12th day with students. Of those days, I'd say 2 were rough days and 10 were overall good days. I've only had one almost-fight. And to tell the truth, nothing spectacularly bad happened in those rough 2 days--I just felt less ready for the usual craziness that is our school on those days.

I've heard that optimism is often confused as one's ability to remain content in all situations, but that it's actually one's ability to understand that everything is temporary. I get that. Everything is temporary--good and bad. That's why you gotta enjoy the good while it lasts and let the bad times pass.
"You are an imperfect and incomplete answer to your students' immediate needs." --unknown
More than being a "good" teacher to my students, I just want to be there for them. I want to be a constant in their lives while they are in high school. I hope that my being a caring, honest, hard-working person is enough. I'm trying my best to be a strong teacher, but that part will come later with experience.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful for many things in my life right now. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have gone to two good schools, UC Berkeley and Mills College. I'm thankful for my parents for... everything. I'm thankful for the lowest times in my life and the lessons I learned in my darkest hours. I'm thankful for the three years I took for myself to grow, explore, and nurture new relationships. I'm thankful for second chances. Most of all, right now, I'm thankful to have a job doing what I've always wanted to do and for an opportunity to try and be like the people who I look up to most.

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