A couple of weeks I agreed to return to Bishop Guertin high school to fill a sudden vacancy in the computer science department. I’d been away for 9.5 years working in industry. I was a little nervous about the prospects though. Organizations change over time. People change over time and I know that I have changed in the intervening years. So what would happen when a changed me returned to a changed school? I’ve had both good and bad experiences returning to some place or organization I had been away from for a while.
Four days of classes later I’m getting relaxed. Sure there are changes but in many ways it feels almost as though I had never left. There are a whole new batch of students of course. And some new faculty members and administrators. But there are a good many familiar faces among the faculty and staff. The physical plant is pretty much the same as well. That all helps.
Day one was pretty stressful. Normally a teacher has a week in school for meetings, learning the changes and generally planning for the new school year. I didn’t have that. The teacher I am replacing was really helpful and gave me a lot of resources to use. Unfortunately I was also trying to catch up with a contract project I was working on AND had some car trouble to take care of. I could have used a little more prep time. With help from the other computer teacher (an old friend) I was able to get though the day just fine. Mostly I ran into process issues like learning the attendance system and some hardware issues like an unfamiliar projector.
Still I didn’t feel like I had a minute of calm. Every second was doing something to prep for a class coming up what seemed like instantly.
Day two was better. I was still working on planning out my lessons but I was focused on several days rather than just the next group of kids to come into the room.
Day three better still. I even felt like I could take a short walk around the school during a prep period. The confidence was returning and I was starting to relax.
Today was day four and I felt almost like I was back in the swing of things. I have gotten in the groove of the rotating schedule, getting students to and from lunch break, taking attendance, and most everything else.
I’m still tired of course. My body is adjusting to a new reality. A reality that includes being on my feet a lot more than I am used to. A reality that means my work day starts much earlier in the day than I am used to. And not time to take a nap in the middle of the day either. I suspect that adrenaline is keeping me going much of the day.
Today in the second to last block of the day (a prep period) I started to drag. One more class to teach and I wasn’t sure how I’d be. As the students flowed into the room I felt my energy level rise again. The tired feeling was no where to be found as I taught the class. Kids will energize one if you really enjoy teaching.
I’ve still got some planning to do. I don’t have the schedule for the semester as solid as I’d like it to be. I’ve seen a lot of outstanding teachers over the last few years and I worry that I can’t reach those standards. Making things flow right takes planning and I haven’t had the planning time I’d have liked. I’m hoping to get some of that planning done this weekend though. At this point I have a much better feel for where the students are at, where I am at and where I need to get them.
The good thing is that I know the material cold. I don’t have to spend a lot of time learning the concepts and tools I am teaching. I’ve done it all before. It’s mostly a matter of getting back into the rhythm of things. That and the fact that I great students. Cooperative, engaged, and interested. I’ve really missed the students.