Struggling for Balance

The last couple of days, I’ve been struggling to find a balance between a variety of expectations I’ve encountered here. I have expectations of myself concerning what I want to accomplish personally and professionally, how I should adjust and work within a foreign teaching environment, and how and when I should socialize with my colleagues, friends and family. Then there are the expectations of my director, fellow teachers and students.

My desk at SLP.

Right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed with material. It’s not that the material is particularly difficult, but it’s actually quite simple. 90% of my worries are because I’m over thinking everything. I’m worried I’m missing something, as if there’s a trick up someone’s sleeve and I am too caught up in everything else to notice. Lessons are finishing early with ten or more minutes before the bell rings. In my experience, it’s not good to have your students sitting around for that long. Today, I managed to slide by with a class by doing a letter writing activity on the board using their new vocabulary. It didn’t feel authentic to me, and I hate that feeling when the kids know you’re pulling something out of thin air just to occupy their time. I would rather not finish everything in a lesson than leave empty minutes at the end of the period. When I try to expand on whatever material I have, the eye rolling and boredom begins because the questions are so repetitive. I think even the kids can tell when you’re following along with the Teacher’s Edition because you’re not the one coming up with the material. Then there’s the whole matter of just jumping into a class without knowing their strengths, interests or grasp of what they’re supposed to be learning. I’m actually only that troubled by my IP class, because they’re kinders and I have NO IDEA what to do with them.

My schedule for January.

I’m so concerned about proving my ability that I feel it’s necessary to spend hours going over lesson plans. The catch is, Tyler did the majority of January lesson plans for most of my classes. While I appreciate not having to write them for the next three weeks, I feel like I’m not really learning how to do it myself. But again, it’s pretty simple in that you follow the guidelines in the teacher’s edition. In other classes, there are no real lesson plans until you get in the classroom and write down what they’re doing. Then we have a new class of Phonics where we’re still trying to determine where the kids are in their ability. To put it simply, it feels very chaotic, even though I don’t think it’s meant to be. And to make up for that feeling of chaos, I’m trying to inject some kind of artificial order into my days by forcing myself to focus on school, school, school. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

In comes the social life, or lack thereof. That whole part of my life has been thrown out of whack since getting sick. I arrive, get sick, the majority of people leave, and when they return, I’m still sick. I have turned down offers of going out at night, going to lunch and other things because I know overextending myself at night will totally blow up in my face. (History likes to repeat itself.) Then there’s the MUST BE RESPONSIBLE AND WORK AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE SYSTEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE point. And the fact that I’ve spent about a third of my funds on medication/medical visits and furnishing my apartment’s bones. That doesn’t lend well to the point that I don’t get paid until February. I freak out about stuff like that. So I’m pretty sure I haven’t made the most sociable impression in my second week here.

I also realize that this will not be like Wales 2007. I partied hard every single 4 day weekend I had there. I had a great time and made great friends. But I didn’t have a full schedule or a job, and I was only responsible for me. Here, I’m coming from a year where I was responsible for 500+ students’ learning. I’m coming from a background where I’ve been too busy or tired to go out and party, let alone spending money on me rather than bills. To be honest, I feel old. I’ve been saying I’ve felt like I’m 25 for the last three years and this is the year it finally happens. Maybe this time around I’ll actually feel my age and register the fact that I’m still young.