Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The things that got turned upside-down.

The minute the school year ended, it felt like I had just stepped off a roller coaster.

"Did I just do that?" I asked myself. "Was that my year?"

I looked around in the hallways and all the other teachers were green in the face. As students were walking out of the school, some ran to the closest trashcan and threw up.

Those that weren't throwing up held hair back but their faces were slack-white.

I wanted to pass paper bags to others so they could hyperventilate in good fashion.

After waving goodbye to all the buses, kids poking their heads out of the windows, begging for us to miss them, we dropped everything, zombie-walked to our cars, and just drove home.

It was the last day for the students, but we were going to get one. More. Day.

Last year, I wrote about how it was exciting, that all this change was needed.

Now that the change has torn my face off, I'm OK with just sitting around for a few. I'll be ready for the new school year when it rolls around, but let me just do nothing for a little while.

This year was wonderful and terrible, stressful and not-stressful, weird and then, by the end, not weird. I was getting used to the loopty-loops.

First, we had to understand what it was like to have young minds in our grasps for 90-minute periods, every-other-day. While studies show that this can be a good thing, there were moments it was like being a new teacher all over again. Sure, I had content and maneuvers to fake my way through some of those block days, but I spent hours reworking, re-planning and redefining what it meant to teach middle school. I wasn't alone, I know this.

All us teachers felt like newbies again. The quote, "This isn't a sprint. It's a marathon" is very true in this sense. I looked at my week, figured out what needed to happen, and instead of squeezing my eyes shut while the roller coaster car climbed that hill, I opened them mighty big. As my week of planning hit the top, I lifted my hands up and screamed all the way down.

This year had me teaching new classes and revamping old classes.

In the past, I taught sixth grade beginning journalism, seventh grade newspaper, and eighth grade yearbook. The lines never blurred. Those three classes were what they were.

Then, new electives were introduced, and since I never taught those classes, I had to create them from scratch. There was a ton of new planning, figuring things out, failing and trying again.

I taught sixth graders how to be broadcast journalists. I focused on eighth graders as they created print content as our newspaper turned into more of a magazine, and welcomed seventh graders as they worked on the yearbook for the first time, ever.

This whole year was a brand new ride at King's Island.

I also became the building's technology coordinator and during one of the early meetings, with all the other tech coordinators in the district, we were introduced to what the year held for us.

Not only was I going to learn a new schedule, with new classes. I was going to be in charge of rolling out a new online learning management system. First, came the research and presentations and debating and voting. Then came the actual using of the learning management system. And also the teaching of it to all the people.

I was like Moses holding out my tablets saying, "This! This is what your future holds!"

And all the other teachers started crying. Not out of joy, but out of, "What? MORE?"

Then, I had to walk around and pat everyone on the back while quietly whispering, "There, there. It'll get better. I promise."

I also took on our school's video announcements. I folded them nicely into my seventh grade curriculum, and although it was one more thing, it became a well-oiled machine as the year went on, and during our final staff meeting, it was met with great praise from my principal.

Although this roller coaster of a year is over, I think a new ride is being built over there. And it involves some major technology.

And once it's done, we'll all be riding it.

So, as crazy as all this crazy can be, it keeps it interesting.