First Semester Insanity

Devin and I purchased our first home in Texas and moved in two days before I attended training in Fort Worth. Almost immediately after returning from the trip, I had to set up my classroom and attend professional development. We hit the ground running! Our home is perfect for us, and we are so glad we decided to buy. In the first month, we’ve already dealt with a leaking pipe, pest control problems, a short-term guest, and fixing holes in the fence so our dog (Peach, a chihuahua/terrier) doesn’t escape!

Since Devin had a few weeks of time before starting his Physical Therapy Assistant program pre-requisites, we decided to adopt a second puppy as a companion for Peach while we are away. Ginger, our new dachshund mix, is feisty and adorkable! However, we’ve had to house-train her and get her treatment for two types of worms. What a headache! She has been worth the effort, though, because she and Peach get along well, and she is a joyful addition to our little family.

The chaos continued to build for us. The Friday before school started, we were t-boned by a red-light runner on our way to a faculty back-to-school party. While we were not at fault and no bones were broken, the collision created several obstacles for us this week. The car I was given for high school graduation (my dream car, a light blue Honda CRV) was declared a total loss and we have to go car shopping next week. I didn’t have a concussion, but the pain levels in my back, shoulders, and neck have been high, along with constant fatigue and headaches. My right arm (where the airbags deployed) has massive bruising, too, and we’ve both seen a chiropractor several times this week and plan to for the next month. I have felt disappointed that I have not been 100% present and engaged with my new students and coworkers during the first week of school. I have needed frequent sitting breaks, tons of ibuprofen and tramadol, and it’s been hard to socialize– in additional to the normal “first week” pains. However, I pushed through! I remained positive, as engaged as I can be, and I am working on juggling the feelings of disappointment.

Regarding my first-year-teacher-first-week-of-school, my 10th grade students are amazing. I have been assigned mostly students that are not college-ready in reading/writing, and my job is primarily to get them to readiness so they can begin taking courses through the early-college system. These are struggling students, mostly at economic disadvantage, but they are highly motivated. It has been a joy to meet them, and get to know some of them! Of course, I have students that don’t want to be there, and I have students with some sass. But overall, the culture of the early college school is surprisingly positive and kind. Already in the first week, I have had five different students stay in my room at the end of the day or come early to introduce themselves. With me, they freely discuss fears about college courses, ask for help on the first few assignments and tests, and ask me about my life. The students and faculty are genuinely kind, eager to help, and they already feel like family– even though I haven’t learned their names yet!

The school is such a unique school to work in. They have “houses,” which are mixed grade-level social groups that stay with the kids all four years. In each house, they are divided into “families” of about 25 students, and I am “family mom” for the Llama Family! Our colors are orange (allowing me to get away with my Longhorn swag). Because the early-college school doesn’t do things like football, the school goes the extra mile to emphasize fun and school spirit through family and house competition. Similar to Harry Potter, houses compete to earn points throughout the year for things like school spirit, good deeds, participation in school events, etc. to win the House Cup at the end of each year. The first Friday (yesterday) was dedicated to families– we played games and competed in pep rallies throughout the entire school day. This system fosters so much character development and leadership in our students, and it was so powerful to see 500 kids shouting and cheering at the pep rally– not because of a sport, but because we are all together. They get pretty loud, too… I think I’ve been completely spoiled that my first school is such an amazing one!

This weekend (the end of my first week as a teacher) has also been chaotic. I left school ASAP and went straight to Austin yesterday to be a bridesmaid in one of my best friends’ wedding. I was asked to plan the Bachelorette party, which took some effort to prepare. However, I made it through last night and enjoyed the girl time, and I’m so excited and emotional to see my friend get hitched tomorrow. I have so many feels… Then, we leave Sunday night, and I go back to the grind Monday morning.

I want to give Devin a huge shoutout, too. He is starting his own grind at college on Monday, and he is about to face one of the biggest challenges in his life– college. I am SO proud of him for deciding to pursue this really hard thing, and honestly I’m surprised he is still committed to the idea of Physical Therapy!! I am hoping that he becomes successful at school and is able to find joy in learning like I did in college. So– go Devin!

Overall, everything has been up and down– emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. I’ve been exhausted for days straight, and I don’t sit down often. But, I’m doing well. I finally have my own classroom, and I see the fruits of my labor beginning to bloom. Devin and I are at a great place, despite the stress. I’m managing well, even though the circumstances have been pretty rough and I have very little control. I am angry, of course, with the educational system, and I don’t receive a paycheck for another two weeks, but I came into this with eyes wide-open. Underneath all of this, though, I have the feeling of many long-held dreams coming true, and that’s what’s been driving me through the pain, stress, and chaos of this month.

Hopefully things settle down in the coming weeks. Again, thank you for being invested in me. I really appreciate all your love and support.