Friday, January 25, 2013

I survived AND I'm a workaholic maybe?!

So I officially completed my first week as an 8th grade teacher and I survived WITHOUT even crying! Plus, let's add on the fact that I came in mid-year! People always tell stories about crying their first week in August because it's so overwhelming, but I feel pretty good. I'm still very overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. I think my brain has reached capacity and is on information overload right now. I don't even know where to start...

I've gone in early (between 7:00-7:30AM) each day this week and I've stayed until between 5:00-5:45PM. I don't have to be there until 8:15AM & I can leave at 4:30PM, but I've realized I'm such a type-A person, that I need to have everything in order, organized, neat, & prepared. Which might be a big part as to why I'm so overwhelmed. I've had to learn a lot of info in a short period of time especially being a mid-year teacher. Even when I get home from work, I go into my sister's room (since she's not home, I've made it like my office when I get home), sit at the little table and plan lessons, grade papers, figure teacher stuff out, etc. I honestly don't stop planning or think about teaching until I go to bed. Maybe it's because it's still taking me time to get into the flow of things, but I am trying to plan really good lessons that will engage my students. My brain is literally MUSH right now, like even typing this I can't think straight--no joke. I wanted to come home today & work on finishing all my stuff so I could enjoy my weekend & be done with it, but I am no use right now-haha!
I was thinking, I need to work on being quicker with my planning and try to do it primarily AT SCHOOL, not home. I do get a planning period of one hour, but sometimes I have meetings or have to run errands. I just hope I can quickly get more into the groove of things, however I feel like I've done awesome considering the circumstances. So yea maybe I'm somewhat of a workaholic; it's because I'm too determined I guess. So I really need to work on controlling that.Then again, I was also thinking maybe it's a good thing because it's not like I have any other commitments besides my pets honestly. Although it's mentally exhausting, it keeps my mind busy which is something I definitely need. If my mind is too free, then I think way too much about things I don't really want on my mind. Anyway, that's a different story. I don't mind working really hard, it's how I've always been. I just want to feel less overwhelmed and mentally exhausted. I'm also starting to get sick, so that probably doesn't help.

As far as the class goes, it appears that most of them like or LOVE me haha! They even state it. One kid even said, "You're too nice to be a teacher!" (There we go again with me being too nice...) I guess teachers are supposed to be mean all the time?!  Some of the students are really sweet to me and say really nice things. There are some that just melt my heart because of how quiet they are, how hard they try, and how engaged they are. They are the ones that make it worth it. I came in early today to do a review with any students who needed help before the math test they had today. The teacher across the hallway saw one of my students coming down the hall and asked him why he was at school so early and he told her, "My teacher is nice and is going to help me review for the math test." I was just like "AWWWW" when she told me. When I did my lesson plans and review games this week, a lot of the kids said things made sense the way I explained it and they felt more confident. However, the test results today were not what I wanted in general. That was the only moment I really felt like crying. It just sucks when I can't transfer my energy and motivation to other people. I feel like I try so hard for it to be contagious. I try to show my students that I care about them and their future. I show this by working HOURS on great lesson plans even though I'm sick and super tired. I come in early and stay late to help them and to plan. I am willing to try whatever I can to help them, even if I have 120 total students. So, it's just kind of saddening when I see a carefree attitude or the "I give/gave up"! I hope throughout the semester I can help with some of that. I just have a bleeding heart and feel like I can solve everything and help everyone. It's another part of the overwhelming feeling because I get let down when I realize that's not realistic. I can only do so much I guess.

Anyway, I work with some awesome people. EVERYONE I've met, whether they are a math teacher or not and even teachers from different grades have come up to me and asked if I needed help, materials, advice, or to vent that I could come to them. I'm glad to be around a supportive group of people. Makes me feel a little more at ease. I absolutely LOVE having my own classroom. It's still surreal when I use my key to unlock the door. Today my name banner got put up in front of my door and so now it looks real official! I also FINALLY got my important employee ID number & my county laptop. I was having to submit attendance manually everyday & had no way to log in to computers, so that was another challenge to face. I even had an IEP meeting & the students had an 8th grade writing test. Whew! Talk about overwhelming.
I honestly don't think people know how much a GOOD teacher has to do in a day. Like just follow one of us around 1 day & see how tired you'll be. I just want to sleep good, have fun, & relax for a bit.
BUT, I'm going to a Big Sister meeting for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of ATL tomorrow morning. After that though, I'm going to see my best friend forever (my sister) to stay with her for the night. I'm excited! I miss her and I love catching up with her. She's the one person I can truly count on & who understands me. I guess we'll have a 2  hour work sesh so she can do homework/study and I can plan with a normal functioning brain...I hope!

Anyway, I'm glad with how things are going and I think the good stuff will continue with my determination and by sticking to my goals list for the year!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

my dad: a self-made man

I have an interesting relationship with my dad. In so many ways we are totally different. We have different views on things, different personality traits, & different ways of responding to things. However, I've realized I also have a lot of traits I got from him. We aren't as close as we used to be, but we are a different type of close now. Now it's like when we talk, it's all grown-up business like him giving me advice about "big girl"stuff. Lately we've been talking about IRA investment accounts, insurance, careers, mortgages, relationships in general, etc. I wish we could be closer, but I don't know maybe it's just not the right time. Maybe (and hopefully) in the future as things settle down a little and us two girls grow up some more, we'll be closer again. But for now, I cherish these serious talks I have with my dad even if all that information is overwhelming. 
Tonight we had some family friends over and got to talking about those serious topics all together and then it ended up with just my dad and me discussing those serious topics. I guess I partially knew this, but sometimes just hearing more of what my dad handles without hardly ever seeming upset or stressed and knowing where he came from to where he is now, just shocks me. 
My dad lost both his parents by the time he was 18 years old. He graduated high school without his parents in Iran and that was it. He had even been kidnapped and placed at gunpoint until he gave the guys all his money. He can vividly tell you the story. Iran had a Revolution at the time, so he escaped on horse back. Went to Italy for a bit, and then ventured to America at the young age of 22. I'm 23 currently and to imagine going through all this ALONE, escaping in fear, and coming to some place where everything is unknown and English NOT being your first language is totally insane. He worked for basically nothing in New York. Had 3 jobs and was sometimes working 70 hours a week to support us. He told me tonight that when he bought the house we currently live in that he paid $40,000 in cash from what he had saved up. My jaw dropped because I was like "how is that even possible?" My dad is seriously smart especially when it comes to finances. My dad busted his ass and worked hard all his life on HIS OWN! He was telling me, you just have to be smart with your expenses. He currently has 26 bills he pays monthly, 26 bills! How do you even keep up with that? He has NEVER missed a payment and his credit score shows it. He said something like, "See, I paid that money, I bought 3 houses, I bought 4 cars, I paid 4 insurances, I put/am putting my 2 daughters through school (partially), and we still have gone on vacations pretty much every year." Let me remind you, that my dad had basically no guidance, barely any money, and no college degree when he came to America. Sometimes he says things like, "I wish I could make more money or do more," and I tell him ,"Dad, given your circumstances you should be really proud of yourself." There are people who are given everything and have so many opportunities and still aren't where he's at.
So although our relationship is kind of an odd one, I can say I truly respect my dad and look up to him in many ways.  Even with all that he may have going on, he still pushes forward and is always positive. I'm glad to have a dad who has worked hard, made it to where he is on his own, & continues to thrive for more and never settle. My talks with him about this stuff always encourages me to work for more and have those same traits.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Taking Risks & Making Changes...

I definitely try not to hold on to the negative past events, but I realized that exactly 2 years ago today my heart was shattered, my mind was lost, I was so low that I didn't know how I was ever going to make it through nor did I really want to. Now fast forward to the events that occurred today... I started a HUGE new chapter in my life. I am officially an 8th grade math teacher with my very own classroom! So ironic right? It's still so very surprising to me that I have handled things with so much strength. I don't feel that extreme pain when I think back, I don't dwell on those dates anymore, I don't linger on those thoughts/feelings. Like I've said before, it will NEVER be okay and it'll always have some affect on my mindset. That's just how things work. However, that event did not break me as a person. It almost did, but I made it through. And now look; I'm on to bigger and better things. I worked hard and put forth a lot of dedication to get to where I am now. And I'm definitely not stopping anytime soon if ever! I've begun to realize that my hunger for more is almost scary at times, but it keeps me moving forward. 

Ever since last year I wanted to work on being a more fearless person. It takes a lot of convincing and believing in yourself, but I think I've gotten rid of the fear that held me back before. Yes, I get nervous about things. I still experience serious anxiety moments at times. However, it's not fear. I took the step by getting certified to teach math. I was stressing big time about failing the test, but I passed. I even questioned if was even worth taking the test. Obviously it was worth it because I landed a job about 2 months later. Then I got to interviews, which I was happy to even get a chance. Then the email saying I got the job. I was in such shock.  I took risks & am making changes. I accepted a position working with 8th graders without any middle school teaching experience, as a first year teacher, AND mid-year (let's not forget that Spring semester is the standardized testing season!). I was thinking, "Wow, I am crazy! Given all these challenges, I'm still up for it & ready to take it head on!" Yes, it's overwhelming. Yes, it's going to be stressful at first. Yes, I'm going to have my work cut out for me. Yes, I'm going to be a zombie some days. Yes, I'll probably feel confused or frustrated occasionally. However, instead of being afraid I thought, "Well, if THEY knew that I never even did student teaching in middle school, am a first year teacher, and that it's the middle of the year, AND they STILL want to hire me, then they must have a lot of faith in me to do well. Therefore, I should have faith in myself because I know my work ethic and determination." So, it's risky, but you can't go your whole life being afraid. Some risks you have to take as a challenge.

If you know me well, you know I absolutely love horoscopes and I think generally they hold true. Well around New Years I read my year overview horoscope (Scorpio-- and it mentioned how this was a time of death & rebirth for Scorpio. Basically getting rid of certain aspects of me or my life & then experiencing transformation. It seems like a lot of aspects are starting to change in my life (in a positive way). This career is a big one like I said before, but I feel it's just the beginning. It's going to snowball into more positive and big changes. I like where this is going so far...

Pressure makes Diamonds. (I still live by that and always will)

*P.S. I might include teacher updates while still keeping with the normal flow of my blog, just for family or friends who might be interested AND of course for me to look back at in the future. So, my teaching update for today goes as follows (might be kind of random updates): I didn't officially start teaching today. My official start date is January 22nd. Today I met the teacher that is leaving, met my students, met a bunch of staff, obtained a BOAT load of information (about grading, behavior, meetings, policies, teaching tips, who to go to for what, schedules, & so much more), & got acquainted with my classroom! :D I can't wait to spruce it up & add my own touch. The kids REALLY loved the present teacher, some were even crying to find out that he was leaving. So, it looks like I have big shoes to fill. It's all VERY overwhelming. I have a lot to soak in, but once I get in the routine of how things work I think it should smooth out. All the staff that I met seemed so supportive and offered to help me and guide me. I will be working 8:15-4:30. Oh and I really realized how tiny I am today. Not kidding 90% of them are taller than me. While walking in the hallway during transitions I kind of blend it with the crowd (haha), could be good & bad! I hope they'll like me and that I help them succeed because I am definitely going to dedicate a majority of my time & thoughts to this career/my students. Stay tuned for more! :)