Baby Meetings is the affectionate (cynical) nickname I give our new teacher trainings. I meet in Orem with all the BYU people once a month. I have observation pre- and post-conferences with my mentor or principal every 3ish weeks. Every other week there is a training on class management that we are encouraged to attend, and finally Nebo School District's noob meetings once a month.
I am not bitter about these meetings, but often just confused at why new teachers, who have more work and less time than most teachers, are required to attend these meetings that just re-teach everything we just got in college, while the older teachers don't seem to know any of that information or the strategies, but never have to attend extra meetings. I suppose it may make sense in the future. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz.
Anyways. On Monday we had our baby meeting and they shared with us an article by the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, which is studying the experience of a new teacher and how to best support them. They have found that new teachers go through 5 basic phases. I found them both depressing, relieving and accurate. My husband is probably the one who needs to learn these the most, so he knows who I'm going to be over the next few weeks...
Phase 1: Anticipation
We get all anxious and excited. We completely romanticize teaching and vow to give 110% to these bright new spirits we've been appointed to educate. (HA!!!!) The adrenaline of this phase gets you through the first month. And it's just that. Complete adrenaline rush.
Phase 2: Survival
You knew you were going to be busy, but you didn't know you'd feel like you were constantly running. I've never worked harder in my life. It's like finals week every single day (so stop whining about it on Facebook. Yeah. We've all done finals weeks. You're not special.) I was staying late, going through red pens like crazy, researching all of my curriculum because I forgot so much from college and high school, and sleeping straight through the entire weekend. Despite the craziness, most teachers maintain tons of energy and basically we're just hoping it will subside. This lasted until about Fall Break.
Phase 3: Death (Just kidding. "Disillusionment")
Two months of nonstop work and stress takes its toll, physically, mentally, all of the -llys really. We start to really question our effectiveness, our self-esteem drops somewhat dramatically, and the idea that we're not even halfway done is a pretty ominous thought. Most teachers get sick in this phase as well. I hit this in early-mid November. Thankfully I've never questioned my desire to teach. There were moments when I thought "I am the worst teacher ever. I try so hard and really can't improve. I'm THAT bad." I got sick right before Thanksgiving and it really hasn't gone all the way away. I'm still functioning at like 70% healthy, with fluctuations. I think I'm on the upswing, though, and the break is coming soon. A lot of teachers also start to lose control of their classroom management. Luckily this hasn't really happened, so I'm very grateful for that.
Phase 4: Rejuvenation
This is supposed to happen over the break. We get to rest, spend time away from school, exercise, eat better, and have some time to prepare for the upcoming semester. We're ALLEGEDLY going to come back with an acceptance of the system and stresses of teachers, and be able to see our progress instead of our failures. We come back ready to make some changes and do more long-term planning instead of flying by the seat of our pants. Again, this is a myth. (No. This really will happen. We just like to pretend like we're hopeless in our baby meetings because it's hilarious.)
Phase 5: Reflection
As May rolls around and we're wrapping up, we get to look back on the year as a whole and see it for what it is. We can make better judgments about certain lessons and units, think about what we would do differently and prepare for next year. Our mentors encourage us to try to do this in bits and pieces right now. I definitely try to. Some days I take down a page of notes about how things went and how I'm going to do it differently next year. I get excited.
That's what it's all about right? Even though this death phase has been tough, I still want to do this. I'm still excited. I still love this job. It's all worth it. And thank goodness, because I would have blown my brains out already.
To My Prospective Teacher Friends: I don't write this to freak you out. I write this so you have an accurate perception of what it's like. Unfortunately my university classes only helped like 25%. The real thing is super different. But know going into it that it's all worth it IF THIS IS YOUR THING. And if it is, it's awesome.
Mad props to the Beard for sticking with me when I'm cussing out my kids as I grade tests on the couch in my grossest pajamas, not moving for days on end, eating nothing but popcorn all day and falling asleep at 8:30 pm.