Years of Teaching Series: Year 1

Hey everyone,
As I get geared up for another week of traveling around the world, I recently thought that writing about years of teaching would be at the very least interesting.  There are far more creative words I could use to describe the idiosyncrasies of teaching; however, I think I'll let my experiences do the talking.  As such, this may be a lot of rambling about personal anecdotes and vignettes from teaching years. Beyond an analysis of my teaching career, perhaps my readers may gain some more insight on me and the indescribable world of teaching.

Year 1: Houston, Texas. Forest Brook Middle School, 6th and 7th grade math. 
Forest Brook Middle School would be my first foray into teaching.  While it was not my first foray into education and working with children (for another post perhaps), it was the first time I had a curriculum, responsibility, a grade level and a full-on school of staff and children to work with.
I thoroughly enjoyed several aspects of my first year, but I have to say it was far more difficult than the years to say I learned as I much as I taught would be an understatement.

Throughout the year I taught classes to 6th grade at the beginning and end of school in which included my first great marks in that my entire 6th grade passed the state test.  This was a contrast to the wild 7th grade that I had in the middle of the day - my peaceful 3rd period and my absurd 5th and 6th period.  6th period had this great blend of some of the worst and the best students, one who would is responsible for a lot of TSS (Things Students Say) and others who even invited me to their quincineras.  However, that 5th period that is the class of nightmares - the entire class was a set of standout children. I often wonder if I could teach a class of students who included pregnant children, smart-aleck smarties, a very forward girl to the other students, a tall, smart girl who fought a lot, a future basketball star who never sat down, the laziest football player you'll ever see, the sneakiest kid you'll ever see, the leader of one of the school gangs, a 16 year old with dyslexia, and a kid who was arrested the next year for armed robbery of a jack in a box. Again, I wonder if I could teach them well now. Either way they were amusing beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Moving along from the students, the staff were intriguing as well. While some of the staff were quite fun, many of them had antiquated views that didn't work as well as they used to - granted the mean age was 40+.  Still, there was some wonderful people including the art teacher, the head PE Coach, a couple of teachers here and there, and of course my glorious mentor teacher, who I still talk to.

I'm not going to really discuss how Houston factored into teaching as I feel that is a different discussion about Houston as a whole; however, I will say the Houston students were probably the most indifferent about the world at large. Many of the students had never been to downtown Houston or had even left their region.  Furthermore, many of the staff had never left the city. At the same time, this allowed me to be focused in the world of students and staff that would introduce a variety of new concepts, like zydeco, that I didn't know before. Also, being the person who cheers on your students for football, cheerleading, talent shows, or hilarious school dances is a true change in perspective.

Lastly, the exposure I got to bold and disrespectful students was unprecedented, but I enjoyed it and had a great time working with the toughest students because they reminded me of the struggles of my brother. As such, I learned a lot about how teaching worked and a variety of strategies to use for the students. My students did pretty well with a 100% of 6th grade passing and nearly 80% of 7th grade passing - which led to some small subtle raise.  That, along with my enjoyment for being around brilliant, but misunderstand youth sparked my love and teaching which continues today.

Next post: I may take it back and go to my days at institute which was truly the first time I ever taught. Or I may discuss the 2nd year at Forest Brook Middle School in the now defunct North Forest ISD.