Wow, so who would have thought that March would turn into a month of very little teaching for me?? Holy moly. It started off with the regional basketball tournament, which made me miss 4 days. Then the next week was a 3 day week, I taught on Monday then was off to the district science fair on Tuesday and Wednesday... Then a day of inservice... The following week I was actually at work all 5 days, and then I took off for a week of sick leave/vacation days in Anchorage/Hawaii. Yesterday was my first full day teaching again. Holy cow. No wonder I am so grumpy--I missed my kids!!!
I never really realized how much I would miss my kids. It was hard to not see them for 6 days; I can't imagine what it will be like all summer long! HOLY COW!! And Monday I finally realized just how much they love me, even if they don't always listen or act like they care in school. I got back from Anchorage about 1:15 on Monday. I was dying to see my kids, but didn't want to completely interrupt the math lesson my sub was teaching. So I went to the office and visited with Steph for a few minutes before heading to my class. I walked into my room expecting to see all my kids playing with the building blocks. However, only one was in there with my elder, Aggie. He is one of my tougher eggs to crack--very stubborn. He dropped his paper on the way to the turn in tub and RAN over to hug me. After making him go back and walk, he and I went to find the rest of the class. They were playing inside recess with the kindergarten so I told him to go in and pretend like I wasn't even there. He grinned ear to ear because he knew this little secret. I walked in the door and nobody noticed for a solid 5 seconds. But then, it was chaos. I had 13 munchkins headed straight for me. I heard a chorus of "You're back!" and "I missed you!" and "Teacher, I love you." as I was surrounded football huddle style. A few gave a quick squeeze then returned to their games they were playing while most kept hugging until I shooed them away. One even asked me to promise that I wouldn't miss any more school days this year.
Is that why I teach first grade?! I think that has a lot to do with it... These little boogers have captured my heart.
Yesterday was tough... The first day back to work in 10 days makes for a rough morning of actually having to wake up to an alarm clock again! PHEW!! The morning was a little rocky at first, but the kids quickly fell into step with the plans. We had a rougher afternoon though... They ended up having to practice walking in the hallway again--I think my expectations are higher than the sub's... And we missed afternoon recess because it was tough to get through the math lesson on time. They weren't happy, but we talked about it and decided that tomorrow is a new day and we'll try harder.
I must admit that I am to blame ALOT for their behavior. I have only taught them 7 days this month so far out of 17. That is so not fair to them. So I am back in AUK for the next 7 1/2 weeks. I plan to be at school EVERY DAY and be the best teacher I can be. My kids deserve some consistency and a good stretch of undivided attention from their teacher.
Last night we had parent teacher conferences. I only had 6 of my 14 students' parents come. I had some good conversation with those parents about their child's behavior and what I have set for goals for their child for the next 7 weeks of school. I was hoping for higher attendance from parents, but there was a funeral in town that many were attending.
In my last post I told you about my decision to stay with LYSD. At that point I was hoping like crazy for a transfer to Mountain Village. My biggest reasons for that were: 1. the administration has a good reputation there--supportive, not micromanaging, etc. 2. more accessibility (I assume) to district office support staff such as the reading specialist, etc. 3. some good friends who live there and would be fun to hang out with more and 4. easier access to St. Mary's which in turn means Anchorage and the lower 48 if I needed to be home right away. However, I was really wondering if this would be the right move for me because I do absolutely adore the natives here in Alakanuk. I am starting to build some friendships with many people in the village. I wasn't sure if I wanted to start that all over again if this is in fact my last year in the district. I also had a hard time moving away from the students here... There are so many kids that I would miss TERRIBLY if I left. I would miss the high schoolers I worked with through basketball and volleyball. I'd miss the middle schoolers who always have a new handshake for me to try. I'd miss Jana's class and their jokes on my lunch break. I'd miss the kids I teach in after school program. And most of all I would miss my first graders who have come so far this year! I am amazed at what they've learned despite me trying to just stay afloat as a first year teacher.
Who's to say that I wouldn't build these kinds of awesome relationships with the kids in Mountain? I don't know. But ultimately I had to decide if it was worth it to try to become part of a new community or to stay put and dig my roots a little deeper into this community. My final decision came rather easily to me. I decided that AUK is home now. Its where my heart belongs for at least another year. Now, I must admit that I am taking this whole think called life one year at a time. I haven't made any sort of commitment--even to myself-- about how long I'll stay with LYSD or in a bush village or even in Alaska. The only deal I have made with myself is that since I am staying in AUK next year, I need to make a more focused effort in visiting more friends and seeing more places throughout this district. I have at least one friend I met through new hire orientation last fall in every school in the district. My goal is to make it to all the schools and villages to see people. This could happen by boat in the fall, ski doo all winter or plane anytime I feel the urge.
I also understand the toll this may take on relationships with people from the Pac NW and other parts of the lower 48. I've already started to drift a bit from some college friends and that sucks. However, I have also promised myself that I will do a better job of reaching out toward them via phone, Facebook, or Skype so that I won't lose those awesome relationships I have made. I have missed some family time--especially seeing Cody Nicole play in soccer games or dressing up for Halloween with her... I've missed hunting season with some cousins and some good fights with my siblings. But at the end of the day, when I look at the students I get to work with here, I must say that it feels right. I know I can't change the world over night, but perhaps if I stick with it I can change at least one kid's outlook on school or learning or life.
I know MANY of you had to listen to me contemplate my decision for next year. Thanks for your open ears and unbiased help in weighing my reasons for staying or leaving. I know that I've made the right choice, and if I didn't know that before I learned it on Monday when I was so warmly welcomed home by my students.
Life is all about adventure. Find one and live it up!