Year two is WEIRD. Let me tell you.
I expected year two to be smooth sailing. I’m teaching algebra 1 and 2, both of which I taught last year, as well as computer science. It’s new to me and the students, but I was and am excited to learn it together. I have 113 students, at least 2/3 of which I’ve taught before. I know the ropes. All of the unfamiliar from last year – what to bring for lunch, what to wear, who to ask for help, where the bathrooms are, which kids not to sit together – I have that down this time around.
I remember having no idea what I was doing the first four weeks of my first year. I remember being incredibly optimistic about their futures, and setting high expectations. It was about the fourth week that reality hit. I couldn’t do everything. I couldn’t complete 3 meaningful preps, and grade, and call parents, and manage behavior, and get enough sleep at night. I started hitting walls with my students. I would ask them to do something, and they’d tell me no. The high expectations I had set for myself and for my students started to feel impossible. Everything became a battle, internally and externally. Why am I putting all of this effort in for students who don’t want to learn? How do I get them to care?
This time, there was no honeymoon. Day 1 of school felt indistinguishable from any other day. We had been refreshed by the summer, but every activity felt like pulling teeth. I’ve had to build investment, build classroom procedures, build structure from the minute they first walked into my room. Last year, I feel like I had a few weeks to get my grounding, and to develop a plan that would fit my students. This year, I felt like I was struggling on day 2, while last year that feeling didn’t kick in until the end of September. Yes, this year I have a better idea of what to do, but that doesn’t mean I feel confident that it’s working.