When I Consider Thy Heavens

ShipwreckWriter Blog

Sneaking In A Quick BLog - About Teaching In A Public School

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on January 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

It's been almost a year since my last blog entry. Time really does fly. Right now I'm supposed to be studying (AKA Lesson Planning) - but just thought of my old blog spot and thought I'd check in.

Since my last post, I started teaching Language Arts in a public high school in Kansas. This is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever done. It took a few weeks if not months to convince the students that I was a keeper. They had gone through several LA teachers over the course of the past few years. My task was to break the cycle and watch them excel. That is exactly what happened.

At first, my days (in August) were filled with non-stop lesson planning. There was nothing in place, so I had to start from scratch. Thankfully, the students had a wonderful middle school LA teacher who taught them a good foundation for English writing (and reading). I had that solid foundation to base my program on as we went forward.

My fist task was literally to sourt out the curriculum and find out which books went with what grade level. I was to teach tenth, eleventh, and twelth grades, two classes each with one of the senior classes being a College Prep class. I also have study hall (Prime Time) in the mix. Once the books were sorted, my next task was to figure out what could be worked into one year of learning for each grade level. As is usually the case, my planning tended to lean to the over-done if not downright abnoxiously too crammed in sort. Even so, I remain ambitious and convinced that these students deserve a curriculum that is rich in challenges. I will not insult them by offering them anything less. This is where the butting of heads may have came in.

My new students did not know me from Adam (or Eve). One even told me I did not look like a teacher. I wasn't sure rather to take that as a compliment or insult, so I decided to just take it in stride and not catagorize it either way. But now that I've had time to reflect on the comment, that student was probably right. I do not "look" like a teacher. I thought about going all out - getting the perfect hair cut and all. Instead, I just showed up right off the ranch as me. This strategy has proven to be a good one because by Christmas break, I evolved into Mrs. Norris. Strangely, now that the long break has come and gone, I feel the part.I'm a teacher!

It may have taken me half a year to catch on, but I did soon realize that we are all into this together - me and my students. I believe they have claimed me as their English teacher. I'm pretty sure my contract will be renewed. Although this has been one of the hardest tasks I have ever undertaken, it is also one that I'm about the most proud of doing. This has been a life-long goal of mine. One that I did not give in to until after the ripe old age of 50.I actually enrolled into my teacher program when I was 49, so that's enough math on the subject for today.

Obtaining my teaching license is the one thing I truly am the most proud of. Some may think it's the books I have written or the library I built, but it's not those things (although they are important to me). No - it's for sure the day I passed the last of three steps in my licensing exams and received my license in the mail from the state where I reside. If ever there were a living example of persistance, surely I'd qualify. Hopefully my late-in-life plans will inspire others who all too soon may throw in the towel on their life dreams. Don't do that! Go for it! Whatever you long to be or do - be it and do it! You can. If I can, anyone can - trust me!

I feel very blessed today on this extremely windy yet warm winter day in January of 2014. This year started here with an ice storm. But since I am a teacher, I was safe in my home looking out on the winter scene. Then our first day back to school came after the long break. The kids were as sick at the thought of being there as I was (and I say that with a light heart). Immediately I convinced them that there was much to look forward to. Why it was only 47 days until spring break for one. And Valentine's Day is coming next month, then Easter. It will be May before any of us know it. So before long, we were all making plans for spring break.

In closing, I want to thank the Lord for granting me the desires of my heart and allowing me to teach in a public school. I still think of my students that I've had over the years in non-traditional settings and wonder how they are. I'm pretty sure at some point I'll return to that realm, but for now, I'm very thankful for this opportunity to learn along with my students in a public school classroom. I knew when I walked in and saw the row of computers in the back of the room and the two tall and amazing east windows that I was blessed. My classroom seems so large - almsot as large as the daunting task that was laid before me last August as I began my lesson plans ( which is what I better get back to doing or else). Here's to the second half of my first year in a new career of teaching in a public school.

Happy New Year to all. May 2014 be a blessed year for everyone. God is so good.

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