Monday, August 20, 2012

i wore a sweater vest

My junior and senior years of high school, I had the same English teacher. A lot of students in the school purposely avoided having him (mainly because of the dreaded "senior project"), but he was absolutely, no questions asked, my favorite teacher. In elementary school, I used to say I wanted to be a teacher because I'd never really seen many other professions in action, but I can say with confidence that if I'd never had Mr. Ahlm, my major would likely have stayed resolutely away from the education department.

Every day I saw Mr. Ahlm at school, he had on a different tie and a sweater vest. On the off chance I saw him out in "the real world," it blew my mind to see him in a t-shirt. My English teacher wore sweater vests. End of story.

So today, when I officially became an English teacher in a regular American classroom, I wore a sweater vest.

I don't have enough to continue with the trend; in fact, I went to Kohl's on Saturday night in a panic hoping to buy more vests for my first week. Alas, today will be my only sweater vest day for a while. But that doesn't make me any less of an English teacher.

The past few weeks have been a blur of meetings, curriculum planning, and IKEA runs. As I said in my last post, it's weird knowing that I live here, and that I likely will live here for at least a few years (five years and I qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program; seven years and I qualify to be a hipster). Today, however, all the chaos and stress and late-night planning came together, and I got to introduce myself to 143 kids as their teacher.

It's going to be rough. I can already tell my third block class is going to secure my spot in a mental institution, and my sixth graders feel like slightly taller kindergarteners in their desperate need to please. One of my kids couldn't remember my name today and called me "Mrs. Racial," and another one gave himself papercuts to try to get out of class.

But then...

Then there's the little dude who said he likes to "write his heart out" at home. And the girl who asked if she could borrow books from my library even though she's not in my class. And my fifth block class that cheered when I told them what books we're reading this year. I laughed out loud as a kid tried to convince me that Batman takes place in LosAngelesNewYork instead of Gotham City, and I took a picture on my phone of the questionnaire response that said I might be his new favorite teacher. I let the whole class borrow books from my bookcase, and when I turned around, they were all quietly reading even though I had told them they could talk.

It's going to be hard; there's no question about that. But I've never been more excited to go to work, and that's saying something. Of course, there is the added bonus of securely knowing that I'll be able to pay all my bills every month for the next calendar year, and that I have mediocre health insurance in case I decide to play in traffic after third block one day. I also finally, finally, found a church home this past weekend, so I'll have friends here starting September 9 (stupid small groups being on break for the summer). It seems California really is home for now.


  1. Hey lady, I tried to connect with you on facebook and I can not find you! Thinking about you and wondering how Cali is treating you.

  2. Congratulations! So happy to hear you're settling in. Looking forward to more teaching adventure stories.